All stats are updated through Sunday, July 13.
A doubleheader between the Indians and Tigers throws off the equilibrium that should be inherent when every team begins the second half on Friday instead of some beginning it on Thursday as used to be the case. Both of those teams could have better matchups -- of the two, only the Tigers crack the top five -- but it goes without saying that an extra game during a three-day week is more impactful than an extra game during a seven-day week.
Every hitter of Fantasy significance who was sidelined by a day-to-day injury before the break -- which includes Victor Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, Alex Gordon and Coco Crisp -- is expected back Friday, so you can use them as you normally would, which probably means starting them in every case. Martinez, Ramirez and Gordon are "too obvious" at their respective positions, and Crisp is one of the top 10 sleepers for this week.
|1.||Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals||90/71|
|2.||Torii Hunter, OF, Tigers||77/62|
|3.||Coco Crisp, OF, Athletics||91/56|
|4.||Stephen Vogt, C/1B/OF, Athletics||54/48|
|5.||Arismendy Alcantara, SS, Cubs||63/41|
|6.||Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants||88/63|
|7.||Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF, Diamondbacks||91/65|
|8.||Josh Harrison, 2B/3B/OF, Pirates||65/46|
|9.||Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies||92/59|
|10.||Jed Lowrie, 2B/SS, Athletics||72/50|
And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...
Start: Stephen Vogt, Athletics
Whether it's because he's only now getting his first extended look in the big leagues at age 29 or because Fantasy owners perceive the Athletics don't have an opening for him, Vogt hasn't gotten much attention since his arrival June 1. But that needs to end. Since then, he's the seventh-best catcher-eligible player in both Rotisserie and Head-to-Head points leagues. The Athletics have found at-bats for him in the outfield and at first base, and that doesn't figure to change even with Josh Reddick on the verge of returning. Vogt's three games against the not-so-fearsome Orioles rotation make him an especially advisable play this week.
Instead of: Wilin Rosario, Derek Norris, Kurt Suzuki
Sit: Mike Zunino, Mariners
Zunino was a pretty hot pickup when he homered four times in the span of five games back in late June, but he hasn't been able to keep it going in 13 games since. Well, OK, he's homered twice during that stretch, but he has four hits total for a .087 (4 for 46) batting average. With Jered Weaver and Garrett Richards on tap for the Mariners this week, you'll want to steer clear of him.
Instead of: Vogt, Russell Martin, Travis d'Arnaud
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Bautista, Jose Abreu, Albert Pujols, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman, Todd Frazier, Victor Martinez, Brandon Moss, Jonathan Lucroy, Justin Morneau, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Adams, Eric Hosmer
Start: Adam LaRoche, Nationals
Just as soon as LaRoche gains "too obvious" status at first base, as he did last week, he loses it because of an ill-timed cold streak. I still say his overall production merits the distinction, but his ownership percentage says otherwise. Even though he's batting just .122 (5 for 41) so far in June, I'd be looking to start him this week with the Nationals scheduled to face three right-handers. LaRoche has a .914 OPS vs. righties, hitting all 12 of his homers against him. He's also batting .303 at home, which is where the Nationals will be.
Instead of: Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Mike Napoli
Sit: C.J. Cron, Angels
Cron's power potential is not only well documented, but well demonstrated by his six home runs in 18 games since Raul Ibanez made his last start for the Angels. But he showed in Week 15 (7-13) just how ugly it can get for a free-swinger like him when he doesn't hit home runs. With nothing else to fall back on, he scored all of three Head-to-Head points -- and that was in a seven-game week for the Angels. In a three-game week, with two of those games against Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, you may not want to chance it.
Instead of: LaRoche, Mark Teixeira, Michael Morse
Too obvious: Robinson Cano, Jose Altuve, Brian Dozier, Ian Kinsler, Dee Gordon, Anthony Rendon, Matt Carpenter, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis, Chase Utley, Daniel Murphy, Ben Zobrist, Howie Kendrick, Neil Walker
Start: Martin Prado, Diamondbacks
Prado overcame a slow start last year to hit .324 in the second half, bringing him back to more or less his usual numbers, and he was showing signs of a similar turnaround just before the All-Star break this year, batting .353 (12 for 34) in his last 10 games. He has a tough matchup Sunday against Jake Arrieta, but his other two against Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood are favorable enough for you to take a flier on him if you need help at any of the three positions he plays.
Instead of: Scooter Gennett, Aaron Hill, Tommy La Stella
Sit: Kolten Wong, Cardinals
Wong has played out of his mind in eight games since returning from a DL stint for a bruised shoulder, batting .321 (9 for 28) with three stolen bases and five home runs. He had only one home run before then. It may be the start of a legitimate breakout for the 23-year-old rookie, but it's worth noting the Cardinals didn't face a single left-handed pitcher during that stretch. Wong will probably sit against Clayton Kershaw Sunday, and he might struggle against Zack Greinke Saturday. In a deeper leaguer where you have few alternatives, you may not want to sit him because of it, but don't feel like you have to force him into your lineup in a standard 12-team league.
Instead of: Prado, Jed Lowrie
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Anthony Rendon, Todd Frazier, Josh Donaldson, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Kyle Seager, Matt Carpenter, Ryan Zimmerman, Manny Machado, Carlos Santana, Pedro Alvarez
Start: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
Sandoval has generally been an advisable start during an up-and-down season, and after a strong finish to the first half, this week is no exception. Sandoval hit .450 (9 for 20) with a homer in five games just before the All-Star break, and he gets to face a struggling Nathan Eovaldi and a perpetually struggling Brad Hand in two of the Giants' three games this week. Might as well stick with him.
Instead of: Lonnie Chisenhall, Trevor Plouffe, Conor Gillaspie
Sit: Aramis Ramirez, Brewers
Ramirez may have started the All-Star game, but he hasn't performed like an All-Star in 12 July games, batting .267 (12 for 45) with just one extra-base hit for a .581 OPS. Like Sandoval, he's the sort of player you'll want to start more weeks than not, but when he's already struggling going into a three-game week against Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister, you may want to weigh your alternatives.
Instead of: Sandoval, Nolan Arenado, Martin Prado
Start: Arismendy Alcantara, Cubs
It's worth mentioning for anyone who might have gone camping just before the All-Star break and missed it all: In five games since joining the Cubs, Alcantara has gone 9 for 23 (.391) with three doubles, a triple, a home run and a stolen base. He was the second highest-scoring shortstop-eligible player in Fantasy Week 15 (July 7-13), and he didn't even play the full week. He's obviously not quite this good, but why predict regression in a week he's scheduled to face Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Josh Collmenter?
Instead of: Asdrubal Cabrera, Alcides Escobar, Andrelton Simmons
Sit: J.J. Hardy, Orioles
Given how streaky his power can be and how far behind pace he is in terms of home runs, Hardy could be in for a big second half. But he's having a rough July so far, batting .196 (9 for 46) in 12 games, and he's scheduled to face Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Sonny Gray this week. Those games are in Oakland, too, not hitter-friendly Camden Yards.
Instead of: Alcantara, Jed Lowrie, Eugenio Suarez
OutfieldToo obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gomez, Adam Jones, Yasiel Puig, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence, Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley, Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, Jayson Werth, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss, Matt Holliday, Alex Rios, Melky Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce, Alex Gordon, Billy Hamilton, George Springer, Ryan Zimmerman, Gregory Polanco, J.D. Martinez, Josh Hamilton, Kole Calhoun, Shin-Soo Choo, Charlie Blackmon, Khris Davis, Matt Kemp, Bryce Harper, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Ben Zobrist
Start: Torii Hunter, Tigers
Though Hunter hasn't been quite as reliable this season as he was the last two, he's at least shown that when he's hot, he's too valuable to take out of the lineup. And he's indisputably hot right now, batting .400 (18 for 45) with three home runs in his last 11 games. The Tigers are one of the two teams playing four games this week (because of a doubleheader Saturday), and they have the better matchups of the two, facing only one top-of-the-rotation type (Corey Kluber).
Instead of: Michael Morse, Corey Dickerson, Lucas Duda
Sit: Steve Pearce, Orioles
It's never fun to pick against Pearce, who has been a huge find for those who remain diligent on the waiver wire into the summer months, but for the second straight week, the deck is stacked against him. Not only are his matchups against Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Sonny Gray tough, but all three of them throw right-handed. He's done most of his damage against lefties this season, batting .351 with six of his 11 home runs and a 1.185 OPS. Those games are also in Oakland instead of Baltimore. Pearce is just a .268 hitter on the road.
Instead of: Coco Crisp, Christian Yelich, Hunter
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.