Though normally in Fantasy Baseball, you'd start your best players every week regardless of matchups, in those weeks when you do need a fill-in, whether because of injuries or the total collapse of a trusted starter, Scott White is here to help.
At each position, he'll list the players who are "too obvious" for the upcoming week, meaning the ones you wouldn't consider sitting for anyone off the list, and then suggest a start and a sit based on a variety of short-term factors.
All stats are updated through Thursday, May 1.
In an interleague-heavy week, take note of the AL teams traveling to NL parks, where they no longer have use of the DH. The player most likely to suffer this week is Billy Butler, who could sit out all three of the Royals' games at San Diego unless they decide to play him at first base or Eric Hosmer in right field for the first time this season. Likewise, Adam Dunn could sit out the White Sox's two games at the Cubs, though they have entertained the idea of playing him in the outfield. Dunn is low-end enough that you don't need much of an excuse to sit him. You've probably hoped for an excuse to sit Butler, given his slow start, and now, here it is.
Manny Machado returned to the lineup for the second game of a doubleheader Thursday after a lengthy rehabilitation from knee surgery. He was a must-start in Fantasy for most of last season and will eventually get back there, but you should always be cautious with players returning from injury. Plan on starting Machado Monday, but keep that fill-in handy just in case he doesn't look right this weekend.
And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...
|1.||Victor Martinez, 1B, DET||92/71|
|2.||Howie Kendrick, 2B, LAA||85/73|
|3.||Miguel Montero, C, ARI||78/66|
|4.||Dayan Viciedo, OF, CHW||66/55|
|5.||Carlos Ruiz, C, PHI||60/50|
|6.||Omar Infante, 2B, KC||45/34|
|7.||Rajai Davis, OF, DET||64/53|
|8.||Erick Aybar, SS, LAA||51/38|
|9.||Matt Joyce, OF, TB||47/36|
|10.||Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, DET||67/39|
Start: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
After a disappointing 2013, Ruiz has come back with a vengeance so far in 2014 and has been especially hot of late, batting .480 (12 for 25) with a home run and four doubles, not to mention six walks to only two strikeouts, in his last seven games. He has typically performed better against left-handers in his career, hitting .300 with an .836 OPS against them even with disappointing overall numbers last year, and has three on tap this week. The Blue Jays and Mets starting rotations shouldn't present too much of a challenge either.
Instead of: Yan Gomes, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Josmil Pinto
Sit: A.J. Pierzynski, Red Sox
Pierzynski isn't off to a bad start for the Red Sox but hasn't gotten the most regular playing time, having started just two-thirds of their games heading into Friday. With the Red Sox scheduled to play only five games this week, he may not get enough at-bats to make a relevant contribution. And considering some of the pitchers on tap -- including Homer Bailey, Yu Darvish and Martin Perez -- he may not do much with the at-bats he gets.
Instead of: Pinto, Dioner Navarro, Mike Zunino
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, Freddie Freeman, Edwin Encarnacion, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Abreu, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Anthony Rizzo, Justin Morneau, Allen Craig, Carlos Santana, Matt Adams, Eric Hosmer, Mike Napoli
Start: Victor Martinez, Tigers
That Martinez isn't universally started is one thing. That he's started in so few leagues I can get away with highlighting him here is enough to make me think I'm playing a different game from everyone else. A Fantasy mainstay for much of his career, Martinez rebounded from a slow start to regain must-start status in the second half last year and has seemingly picked up where he left off, producing a near-.300 batting average while performing at a 25-homer, 90-RBI pace. Against the Astros and Twins this week, two rotations that don't have a single pitcher worth rostering in standard mixed leagues, he'll do some damage.
Instead of: Brandon Belt, Chris Colabello, Mark Teixeira
Sit: Adam LaRoche, Nationals
LaRoche's quadriceps injury doesn't seem like anything that would sideline him into the weekend, but the bigger issue for him heading into Fantasy Week 6 (May 5-11) is the schedule. They have the toughest of any team, going against Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Dan Haren, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez. He's off to a good start, but at a deep position, you're not obligated to stick with him every week.
Instead of: Martinez, Teixeira, Ryan Howard
|3.||White Sox||@CHC2, CHC2, ARI3|
|5.||Rangers||@COL2, COL2, BOS3|
Start: Howie Kendrick, Angels
Kendrick, like Victor Martinez, is too high-end to be so overlooked when he's performing so well. Having hit .386 (17 for 44) with two doubles, one triple, two home runs and three stolen bases in his last 12 games, he entered Friday's action ranked fourth among second basemen in both Head-to-Head and Rotisserie leagues. Granted, he won't maintain this pace, and second base is a deep position, but if you don't have one of the "too obvious" options, you might as well play the hot hand, especially with him facing David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, Dustin McGowan and J.A. Happ this week.
Instead of: Dee Gordon, Emilio Bonifacio, Neil Walker
Sit: Brandon Phillips, Reds
Coming off a year when a disproportionate RBI total helped inflate his value, Phillips has somewhat predictably disappointed Fantasy owners so far and has been especially useless lately, batting .179 (10 for 56) over his last 14 games. Though he may be overrated, he can't possibly be this bad, but with the Reds playing only five games this week, you probably won't regret sitting him even if he has some kind of turnaround.
Instead of: Kendrick, Bonifacio, Omar Infante
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre, Matt Carpenter, Anthony Rendon, Aramis Ramirez, Pedro Alvarez, Martin Prado, Carlos Santana, Kyle Seager, Nolan Arenado
Start: Nick Castellanos, Tigers
The Tigers have stellar matchups this week, facing pitchers like Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, Brad Peacock, Dallas Keuchel, Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson and Samuel Deduno. Castellanos hasn't been especially productive, but given his upside, he's as likely to take advantage as anyone in the lineup. At a position that doesn't seem to offer enough to go around, he's still available in one-third of CBSSports.com leagues.
Instead of: Pablo Sandoval, Brett Lawrie, Will Middlebrooks
Sit: Marcus Semien, White Sox
Despite a high strikeout rate and low batting average, Semien's all-around production has made him a sneaky Fantasy play in the early going, but those days may be nearing an end. He was only able to move to third base when Gordon Beckham returned from an oblique injury because Conor Gillaspie was sidelined by a hand injury, but with Gillaspie expected back Wednesday, Semien could be forced to the bench mid-week. Even with favorable matchups for the White Sox, you should look into alternatives.
Instead of: Trevor Plouffe, Castellanos, Todd Frazier
|2.||Red Sox||CIN2, @TEX3|
Start: Erick Aybar, Angels
Though never a high-end option, Aybar has had his stretches of mixed-league relevance and seems to be in the midst of one now, batting .459 (17 for 37) with five doubles, a home run and a stolen base in nine games. The streak coincides with an adjustment from the left side of the plate, where he now stands more upright. You hate to chase the streaks, but against pitchers like David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, Dustin McGowan and J.A. Happ, Aybar is a good bet to keep this one going.
Instead of: Xander Bogaerts, J.J. Hardy, Jhonny Peralta
Sit: Everth Cabrera, Padres
Though he has hit pretty well since the start of the season, everyone has wondered where the stolen bases have gone for Cabrera. And now, everyone has an answer: He still hasn't fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered April 14, according to manager Bud Black. Cabrera had a couple steals more recently, so he may be on the road to recovery, but against pitchers like Yordano Ventura, James Shields, Jose Fernandez and Nate Eovaldi, you might want to play it safe with him. Also, the Padres aren't facing a single left-handed pitcher this week. Cabrera, a switch-hitter, hit .365 with a .934 OPS against them compared to .248 and .651 against righties last year.
Instead of: Aybar, Jimmy Rollins, Brad Miller
Too obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Gomez, Matt Holliday, Adam Jones, Justin Upton, Hunter Pence, Alex Rios, Jayson Werth, Yasiel Puig, Ben Zobrist, Nelson Cruz, Charlie Blackmon, Yoenis Cespedes, Wil Myers, Shin-Soo Choo, Allen Craig, Starling Marte, Domonic Brown, Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, Matt Kemp, Alex Gordon, Carlos Beltran, Coco Crisp, Austin Jackson, Michael Brantley, Michael Morse
Start: Dayan Viciedo, White Sox
Batting .432 (19 for 44) with seven doubles, one triple and one home run in his last 12 games, Viciedo has been the hot hand for a while now -- long enough for you to wonder how much longer this streak could possibly last. But with six walks to just four strikeouts during that stretch, he's seeing the ball exceptionally well still and doesn't face the stiffest competition this week in Edwin Jackson, Jake Arrieta, Brandon McCarthy, Wade Miley and Mike Bolsinger.
Instead of: Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Khris Davis
Sit: Brett Gardner, Yankees
Though his five steals in his last five games make him seem like a hot-hand play, Gardner is another potential victim of this week's interleague-heavy schedule. He doesn't play DH himself, but the Yankees may see Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano, who alternate between DH and the outfield, as more integral to the lineup and bump Gardner to the bench, with Beltran in right field and Soriano in left, for their three games at Milwaukee. It's no certainty, of course, but with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza on tap, Gardner would be an inadvisable start anyway.
Instead of: Torii Hunter, Norichika Aoki, Matt Joyce