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, Aug. 21.
Hanley Ramirez looks like he'll be able to return from an oblique injury Sunday, which is why I go ahead and list him as "too obvious" at shortstop. It's a weak position, after all, and you'll have some warning before the lineup deadline if he suffers a setback.
You'll also have some warning for Carlos Beltran, who should learn what his latest elbow flareup means for his short-term availability Saturday. As for Salvador Perez (knee), Yan Gomes (head) and Michael Cuddyer (hamstring), you'll just have to wait and see. All three are worth starting if they return to the lineup.
While the widely available Steve Pearce is back playing regularly for the Orioles (and performing quite nicely at that), the widely owned Gregory Polanco has suddenly fallen victim to a timeshare, displaced if only for now by a red-hot Travis Snider. It probably won't last long, but if it continues over the weekend, you may want to try someone else with so much on the line this time of year.
And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...
|1.||Michael Morse, 1B/OF, Giants||78/57|
|2.||Justin Morneau, 1B, Rockies||96/58|
|3.||Stephen Vogt, C/1B/OF, Athletics||64/49|
|4.||Jedd Gyorko, 2B, Padres||61/47|
|5.||Billy Butler, 1B, Royals||80/64|
|6.||Starling Marte, OF, Pirates||90/74|
|7.||Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF, Yankees||88/68|
|8.||James Loney, 1B, Rays||65/48|
|9.||Dexter Fowler, OF, Astros||47/27|
|10.||Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, Orioles||26/13|
Start: Stephen Vogt, Athletics
Seems like every week, Vogt winds up being either the start or the sit at this position. Last week, he was the sit, but the Athletics were playing only five games. This week, they're playing seven. Granted, at least two (and maybe three, depending who the Angels find to replace Garrett Richards) are against lefties, but he's been so productive against the righties, batting .341 with an .882 OPS, that he should make the most of the at-bats he gets. His matchups against Scott Feldman and Brad Peacock are especially favorable.
Instead of: Russell Martin, Wilson Ramos, Wilin Rosario
Sit: Mike Zunino, Mariners
The up-and-down season continues for Zunino, who now finds himself in a 2-for-19 slump. That's bad timing with Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark coming to town. Of course, he'll have a chance to right the ship against the Rangers' awful rotation first, but considering five of his six games are against right-handers, I don't like his chances this week. He's batting just .186 against righties.
Instead of: Russell Martin, Dioner Navarro, Jason Castro
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Anthony Rizzo, Albert Pujols, Victor Martinez, Freddie Freeman, Todd Frazier, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Santana, Adrian Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche, Chris Carter, Buster Posey, Lucas Duda
Start: Justin Morneau, Rockies
Though back from the DL for three weeks now, Morneau hasn't exactly put Fantasy owners' minds at ease, missing two games recently with neck stiffness -- the injury that put him on the DL in the first place. He was considered "too obvious" before those troubles began, though, so in a week like this one, when the Rockies have favorable matchups and not too many lefties (only two) on the schedule, you should probably run him out there. Unlike some Rockies, he'll actually be able to take advantage of those matchups since he hits just as well on the road (.319) as at home (.316).
Instead of: Chris Davis, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard
Sit: Allen Craig, Red Sox
Craig is back in the Red Sox lineup after resting his foot for three weeks, but with talk of him potentially needing surgery in the offseason, I'm not convinced his Lisfranc injury is any better. And you have to think it has something to do with his season-long slump. The Red Sox are under no obligation to play him every day, and even if they do, he's liable to struggle against Marcus Stroman, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb.
Instead of: Morneau, Billy Butler, James Loney
|1.||Royals||NYY1, MIN3, CLE3|
Start: Jedd Gyorko, Padres
Because of an extended bout with plantar fasciitis, Gyorko hasn't had a chance to put together an extended hot streak. But as we saw last season, when he hit .344 (32 for 93) with five home runs over a 23-game stretch early in the year and .282 (24 for 85) with seven home runs over a 22-game stretch later, he's capable of some special things when he does. Even with his hamstring at less than 100 percent, I wouldn't want to take the chance of his .326 (14 for 43) batting average and two home runs in his last 11 games being the start of one.
Instead of: Howie Kendrick, Brock Holt, Kolten Wong
Sit: Neil Walker, Pirates
Though his home run Monday was obviously a good sign, Walker has been in and out of the lineup so much lately with a back issue that I don't see the need to chance it with him at such a deep position. The Pirates' unfavorable schedule against John Lackey, Lance Lynn, Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto clinches it for me.
Instead of: Gyorko, Omar Infante, Brandon Phillips
Start: Martin Prado, Yankees
The Yankees have faced three left-handed starting pitchers in their last five games, so it's not surprising Prado has hit .389 (7 for 18) with a home run and a 1.111 OPS during that stretch. After all, he's hit .368 with a 1.011 OPS against lefties this season. And guess what? The Yankees have four more on tap this week, including hittable types like Robbie Ray, Mark Buehrle and J.A. Happ. Might as well stick with the hot hand, right?
Instead of: Brock Holt, Pedro Alvarez, Lonnie Chisenhall
Sit: Casey McGehee, Marlins
After a brief respite in mid-August, McGehee's second-half slump has resumed with a .080 (2 for 25) batting average over his last six games. What's most discouraging about that stretch is it came against the Diamondbacks' and Rangers' bottom-feeder rotations. His matchups this week aren't particularly unfavorable, but his .220 batting average and .598 OPS since the All-Star break pretty much speak for themselves.
Instead of: Prado, Aramis Ramirez, Nick Castellanos
|2.||Red Sox||@TOR3, @TB3|
Start: J.J. Hardy, Orioles
Even though Hardy says his left thumb still bothers him -- understandably considering he missed only three games after spraining it Aug. 9 -- he's hit well since his return, batting .292 (7 for 24) with a home run in five games. That gives him a .292 batting average, four home runs and .817 OPS since the All-Star break. With the Orioles playing seven games this week -- and three against the Twins pitching staff -- he's a good bet to contribute in Fantasy.
Instead of: Erick Aybar, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jean Segura
Sit: Brock Holt, Red Sox
Holt only recently became eligible at shortstop, and no doubt, owners are anxious to use him at the weakest position in Fantasy. But this week probably isn't the best time. Not only is he slumping right now, batting .221 (29 for 131) with a .557 batting average since the All-Star break, but the Red Sox have some of the toughest matchups of any team this week, facing pitchers like Marcus Stroman, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb in their six games.
Instead of: Jhonny Peralta, Hardy, Alcides Escobar
OutfieldToo obvious: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista, Carlos Gomez, Michael Brantley, Adam Jones, Yasiel Puig, Justin Upton, Andrew McCutchen, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Alex Gordon, Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, Ryan Braun, Jayson Werth, Matt Kemp, Matt Holliday, Ben Zobrist, Bryce Harper, Josh Harrison, Chris Carter, J.D. Martinez, Corey Dickerson, Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, Brett Gardner, Lucas Duda, Nick Markakis, Denard Span, Marlon Byrd, Kole Calhoun
Start: Michael Morse, Giants
After a prolonged slump spanning more than half the season so far, Morse seems to have, in the words of manager Bruce Bochy, "gotten his timing back." He's batting .435 (10 for 23) in his last eight games and .319 (30 for 94) with an .855 OPS in 29 games since the All-Star break. He was a fixture in Fantasy lineups back in April and is showing that kind of potential again. With four games against the Rockies' ramshackle starting rotation and seven at home, where he's batting .317 with an .882 OPS on the year, he's a good bet to keep it going this week.
Instead of: Charlie Blackmon, Ben Revere, Carl Crawford
Sit: Josh Hamilton, Angels
Particularly if you play in a Head-to-Head points leagues, where he's scored double-digit points (a low benchmark, to be sure) in just two of the last six weeks, you'd probably love an excuse to sit Hamilton about now. Well, here it is: Not only is he batting just .204 (19 for 93) over his last 25 games, but for the year, he's batting .252 with a .627 OPS at home, where the Angels play all seven of their games this week -- and against pitchers like Henderson Alvarez, Jon Lester, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija.
Instead of: Morse, Starling Marte, Dexter Fowler
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