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Fantasy Baseball Today
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by Heath Cummings | Senior Fantasy Writer

Editor's Note: CBS Sports is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league for opening day on FanDuel. It's $10 to enter and pays out $20,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $3,000 and four tickets to the game of their choice. You can join here.

Positional rankings | Top 300 | Draft Prep Guide!

We're approaching the point of the preseason where average draft position is supposed to start making a little bit more sense, and for the most part it is.

Of course, that doesn't mean I agree with everything I'm seeing.

There are some glaring issues with the date (Darvish, I'm looking at Yu) that I'm not really addressing because I think you're smart enough to see what's happening. There are also some players I won't draft, but I don't particularly think their ADP is all that wrong (think most of the hitters 31 years or older and 240-plus pounds).

What follows are 10 players I think are simply, maybe a little bit subtly, out of whack in terms of where they're being drafted. 

Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants

Round drafted: Roto: Rd 3, H2H: Rd 2

Seventh pitcher selected

Bumgarner is coming off the most impressive postseason pitching performance I've ever seen. Unfortunately, that has driven his price through the roof and he's being drafted ahead of several pitchers who were better than him last year. Counting that spectacular postseason, Bumgarner threw 270 innings, a huge increase over his career high. At this draft position, I'd much rather take a hitter and grab Zack Greinke a round or two later. 

George Springer, OF, Astros

Round drafted: Roto: Rd 3, H2H: Rd 6

Eighth outfielder selected

Baseball loves its prospects and I'm no different, but this seems a little silly to me. Yes, you could project Springer to 40 home runs this year. Using the same math, you could also project him to a Major League record 228 strikeouts. I love Springer as a prospect and I'd love him this year at the right price, but in the third round the price is wrong. I'd rather have Matt Kemp, Bryce Harper or Corey Dickerson

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers

Round drafted: Roto: Rd 3, H2H: Rd 5

Third third baseman selected

I've talked about Beltre a lot on the podcast but just in case you don't listen (you should start!), here's a quick breakdown. Beltre is about to turn 36 years old and has seen his power numbers drop each of the past three years. Your best hope is that he matches last year's batting average, but that .345 BABIP doesn't look sustainable. I'd much rather have Nolan Arenado and would even prefer Todd Frazier.

Chris Davis, 1B/3B, Orioles

Round drafted: Roto: Rd 8, H2H: Rd 11

Ninth third baseman and 15th first baseman selected

Speaking of players I'd rather have than Beltre, Davis is one, and he comes much cheaper. I think most of us thought Davis and his 53 home runs were due for regression last year, but what happened was ridiculous. His BABIP was destroyed by the shift, he had a suspension for a drug that he's now approved to take and his home run totals were cut in half. Expect more regression in 2015, but in a different direction. I would rather have Davis than Kyle Seager or Carlos Santana.

Dellin Betances, RP, Yankees

Round drafted: Roto: Rd 9, H2H: Rd 10

Sixth relief pitcher selected

Surely this just shows that we've had an influx of New York drafters lately, right? We don't even know for sure that Betances is the Yankees closer and his recent comments about his velocity aren't exactly confidence-inspiring. Betances was amazing last year in middle relief but the uncertainty surrounding his role and his stuff this spring makes his ADP absurd. I would rather have Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon or a variety of late-round closers.

Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers

Round drafted: Roto: Rd 8, H2H: Rd 10

Fifth shortstop selected

Outside of Betances, Andrus is the most egregious overpay on this list. With six full years in the big leagues, there's little reason to expect much more than what he has been. That means an average around .270 with around 70 runs, 30 steals and absolutely no power. There's a chance he's the fifth best shortstop this year, but there are plenty of players you can select much later who have similar possibilities. I'd rather have most if not all of them at their current draft positions.

Garrett Richards, SP, Angels

Round drafted: Roto: Rd 11, H2H: Rd 9

33rd starting pitcher

The only explanation for Richards lasting this long is that people have injury concerns. I would argue that even if he misses the entire month of April he's a steal at this price. Richards broke out last year on a big way, increasing his strikeout rate to minor league range. He might see a slight regression in his ERA but he should be a top 25 pitcher regardless. I'd take him ahead of James Shields, Michael Wacha, and Gio Gonzalez.

Brandon Moss, 1B/OF, Indians

Round drafted: Roto: Rd 13, H2H: Rd 15

19th first baseman and 44th outfielder

The only concern I had about Moss heading into 2015 was his recovery from hip injury. A 1.257 OPS in spring training has quelled those concerns. In Moss, you're getting a power hitter moving into a much better ballpark coming off an unlucky year. It's not difficult to project him as a .260 hitter with 35 home runs and 100 RBI. That's ridiculous value in the 13th round. I'd take him before Hunter Pence, Mark Trumbo and Adam LaRoche.

Yordano Ventura, SP, Royals

Round drafted: Roto: Rd 14, H2H: Rd 11

42nd starting pitcher selected

Like Beltre, if you listen to the podcast you're well aware of my feelings for Ventura. For a large part of 2014 he was a one-trick pony, putting together his impressive rookie campaign without much more than a blazing fastball. Ventura was nails down the stretch for Kansas City and bounced back from a disastrous wild card game to pitch like an ace in the playoffs. Ventura is being drafted like a fourth starter, but he has an excellent chance of being a top 25 pitcher. I'd take him above Justin Verlander, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Anibal Sanchez.

Taijuan Walker, SP, Mariners

Round drafter: Roto: Rd 19, H2H: Rd 16

68th starting pitcher selected

Walker is one of the best bets to be this year's Ventura. I had the feeling coming into spring training that the Mariners were really going to make Walker earn a spot, and he has done exactly that. Walker has thrown 18 shutout innings this spring, with a WHIP of 0.56. If that doesn't earn you a roster spot I'm not sure what will. Walker has been above nine K/9 at every level and looked up to the challenge in limited action last year. I'd take him before Ervin Santana, Matt Cain and Jake Odorizzi.

1427382189
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst

Editor's Note: CBS Sports is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league for opening day on FanDuel. It's $10 to enter and pays out $20,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $3,000 and four tickets to the game of their choice. You can join here.

Positional rankings | Top 300 | Draft Prep Guide!

In deeper leagues, and even in standard Rotisserie formats, the sad truth is that not everyone can get as many closers as they like. In AL- and NL-only leagues, you might be lucky just to get one reliable saves source.

That's how the likes of Wade Davis and Tony Watson have made it into our average draft position rankings (ADP), even though both are firmly ensconced in setup roles. In leagues where closers are scarce, it helps to know which potential closers to target. They're often more worthy of a late-round pick than starting pitchers, as you can often find serviceable starters on waivers in most formats.

I've compiled my top 10 list of closers-in-waiting for you to peruse, borrow, or critique. As good as they are, I've left Davis and Watson off this list, as the closers they set up (Greg Holland and Mark Melancon) are among the best in Fantasy. I have also excluded unsettled or committee situations, since it's unclear who is closing and who is waiting. There are some worthy targets in those situations, to be sure, and Andrew Miller and Brad Boxberger in particular would be at the top of the list if we knew for sure they weren't going to be closing games in early April.

Finally, I've excluded injured closers who are just waiting to get healthy to reclaim their roles. Sorry, Kenley Jansen and Sean Doolittle, but you're more closers-in-recovery than closers-in-waiting.

Enough with the rules of this game; let's count 'em down.

10. Miguel Castro, Blue Jays: The 20-year-old has yet to pitch above Advanced Class A, but he's drawing attention with a great spring. Later in the season, he could provide manager John Gibbons with an alternative if he wants to move lefty Brett Cecil back into a setup role.

9. Adam Ottavino, Rockies: Ottavino has one of the less-imposing roadblocks in the form of LaTroy Hawkins, but there are few pitchers I would completely trust in Colorado's closer role.

8. Edward Mujica, Red Sox: With a true opportunity, I think Mujica would be a fine Fantasy closer. However, Koji Uehara just might stay healthy once he's ready to return. If he doesn't, there's also Alexi Ogando to potentially take away save opportunities.

7. Kevin Quackenbush, Padres: He's another perfectly good closer candidate. I'm just not sure he will get much of a chance at a promotion unless Joaquin Benoit is dealt.

6. Evan Marshall, Diamondbacks: I have a strong suspicion that Addision Reed won't last the year as Arizona's closer, and I like Marshall's chances of replacing him better than Brad Ziegler's.

5. Jonathan Broxton, Brewers: Broxton was effective in 2014 and enjoyed a late season surge in strikeouts. Francisco Rodriguez was just not very good in the second half last year, and I'm not at all convinced he's still fit for the closer's role.

4. Bobby Parnell, Mets: He's on the fringes of being a closer-in-recovery, but there's enough ambiguity about the Mets' closer situation that he qualifies for this list. Manager Terry Collins seems to like him enough that I could see him supplanting Jenrry Mejia at some point.

3. Jordan Walden, Cardinals: Walden's got closer stuff, and if Trevor Rosenthal can't make friends with the strike zone in the early going, I could see manager Mike Matheny handing the keys to the ninth inning to his new setup man.

2. Joakim Soria, Tigers: Anyone setting up for Joe Nathan would seem to have a good chance to close eventually, and Soria has been an exceptional closer in the past. He certainly looked the part for most of last season.

1. Ken Giles, Phillies: It has to be just a matter of time before Jonathan Papelbon gets traded, and then the closer's job will assuredly belong to Giles. As a rookie last season, he had no problem thwarting opponents to the tune of a .450 OPS, and he did so in a setup role. It was a pretty impressive feat, and it bodes well for him having success when he inherits Papelbon's job.

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by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer

We may have to learn to say Asher Wojciechowski this season. (USATSI)
We may have to learn to say Asher Wojciechowski this season. (USATSI)

Editor's Note: CBS Sports is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league for opening day on FanDuel. It's $10 to enter and pays out $20,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $3,000 and four tickets to the game of their choice. You can join here.

Positional rankings | Top 300 | Draft Prep Guide!

It's like these guys want jobs or something.

It seems like every game Wednesday was started by a pitcher competing for a rotation spot, and seemingly all of them put their best foot forward.

Eddie Butler, who has company in top prospect Jon Gray, allowed one earned run in five innings, lowering his ERA to 2.63. Asher Wojciechowski, who's trying to make Roberto Hernandez obsolete, allowed one earned run in 4 2/3 innings, giving him a 1.08 ERA. Matt Andriese, who's a good bet to at least begin the year in the rotation with the injuries to Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly and Alex Colome, allowed no earned runs on three hits in five innings, striking out six. David Phelps continued his bid to overtake Tom Koehler, two-hitting the Tigers over five scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 0.56.

That's not even including Taijuan Walker, whose coronation seems a foregone conclusion after he allowed no runs on two hits in six innings Wednesday. He has allowed just six hits in 18 shutout innings this spring.

In fact, we were just warming up with those four. They're the ones who would have the least Fantasy impact if they won a rotation spot. So of Wednesday's hopefuls, who would have the most? I have a couple names for you.

1. Carlos Rodon stops time and space

You know how at the end of The Matrix Neo has that lightbulb moment that makes him stop bullets and go all inner light on Agent Smith? Isn't this the same thing?

(Thanks to MLB.com for the video.)

Rodon was the third overall pick in last year's draft, so you have to expect the White Sox will coddle him to some degree. But at age 22, he doesn't have much developing to do and clearly has the upside to contribute in Fantasy right away. Even if he doesn't claim the job in spring training, he'll be up soon enough, so he's not a bad draft-and-stash in mixed leagues.

2. Daniel Norris looks major-league ready

While Marcus Stroman's torn ACL seemed to clear the way for both Aaron Sanchez and Norris to make the Blue Jays starting rotation, there was some question as to whether or not the latter was ready. But on Wednesday, he showed why he's so highly regarded, allowing one run on three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in six innings. In his last three starts, he has allowed just two earned runs with 16 strikeouts over 15 innings. At least in leagues where his relief pitcher eligibility makes a difference, he's a must-draft, and he's beginning to close the gap on Walker in general sleeper appeal.

3. C.J. Cron needs more love

He hasn't gotten much hype as a sleeper, but remember Cron hit eight home runs in 123 at-bats in his first two months in the majors last year before the Angels dropped him to part-time duty. Well, Josh Hamilton's shoulder surgery puts him in line for regular at-bats at DH, and he's proving he deserves it this spring. With another 2-for-3 performance Wednesday, he's now batting .396 (19 for 48) with two home runs and seven doubles, tied for the lead among all hitters in both the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues. Get him on your radar as a late-round corner infield option in Rotisserie leagues.

4. Kyle with a K

Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson, who averaged just 5.4 strikeouts per nine innings in his first full season last year, struck out seven Rays in six innings Wednesday, giving him 17 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings this spring, and it may not be just a spring oddity. According to The Associated Press, he plans to emphasize his changeup more this season.

"I think it's just going to make my fastball better, which is the one thing I was looking for."

Not saying I'm drafting him in mixed leagues or anything, but if he can just get to seven per nine, it'll make him much more viable in that format.

5. Gee, we hardly knew ye

If you were planning to target Dillon Gee with a late-round pick -- and you'd have to be in a deep league to do so -- you might want to ease up. Rafael Montero is having a fine spring, allowing one run on three hits in four innings Wednesday, and has seemingly gotten back to what made him a highly regarded prospect in the first place, issuing no walks over 7 2/3 innings in his last two starts.

"I was very impressed with the way [Montero] threw," manager Terry Collins told MLB.com. "That was the best I've seen. We've heard for two years about what a strike-thrower he was. Last year, when he came up, I don't know if it was nerves or what, but we didn't see that. Then twice this spring now we've seen exactly what everybody is talking about. He's had two very good outings in a row where if it's not a strike, it's near the zone. That's the kind of pitcher we know how he should be."

Gee is about as plain Jane as it gets, so in the long run, you'd prefer Montero win the job. That's not to say he'd be a hot commodity in mixed leagues if he does, though.

1427293293
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer

Rusney Castillo started Tuesday. Shane Victorino didn't. In fact, Victorino hasn't played since Sunday and hasn't played back-to-back games, at least not in the Grapefruit League, this spring.

Why does it matter to Fantasy owners? Because manager John Farrell said earlier this spring that Victorino would be his starting right fielder if he was fully capable, and right now, he seems to be doubting he is.

1. Your daily Red Sox outfield update

Don't take my word for it. Take it from Farrell himself.

"We need to get a better gauge on Vic's durability, if we can, over the coming days. We acknowledged from the first day in camp, the outfield, there's going to be a lot of focus on our outfield. That pretty much hasn't changed, but what we've seen are some really encouraging things. And that's how quickly Rusney's come back and shown decent timing at the plate [and] what Mookie's done in center field speaks for itself."

If the Red Sox can't trust Victorino to play every day coming off back surgery, they're more inclined to keep Castillo around, and the more he spells Victorino, the more apparent it'll be he's the superior player. I think at first Farrell was worried Castillo wouldn't be ready for the start of the season after missing the first three weeks of spring training with a strained oblique, but he's been effusive in his praise since Castillo returned. Not that it's tempered his enthusiasm for Mookie Betts, of course.

2. Andrelton Simmons showing signs of a breakthrough

One overlooked storyline in the Braves' offseason rebuild is that they have a real hitting coach now. Kevin Seitzer made an impact in both Kansas City and Toronto, most notably getting Alex Gordon's career on track in 2011, and with Simmons, he already has a strong base to work with. Quite simply, the 25-year-old shouldn't hit only .240 when he strikes out as little as he does. My thinking is he got too home run-happy after sending 17 out as a rookie, so I'll take it as a good sign that his home run Tuesday was a scorching line drive and not a towering fly ball, as you'll see in this MLB.com video.

Simmons is batting .467 (14 for 30) this spring, so you can welcome another sleeper to the shortstop position.

3. Vogt for me!

My one hesitation with drafting Stephen Vogt as my starting corner infielder with the intention of moving him to catcher as soon as he's eligible is that he's coming off surgery to correct a foot injury that clearly impacted his performance down the stretch last year and only returned a couple weeks ago. I wanted some indication that he's back healthy again. Tuesday's 3-for-3 performance certainly helps, especially since he homered in the contest.

4. Jean Segura getting results

We haven't made much of it yet because he wasn't getting any results with it, but Segura changed his stance this offseason, making an effort to stay back by putting more weight on his back leg and moving his hands back, and early in camp, it drew rave reviews. Maybe now, we're beginning to see why. He went 3 for 4 Tuesday with a double and is now 6 for 12 (.500) in his last four games. He's been kind of the hitter version of Mike Fiers, his career defined by extreme highs and lows. Maybe, as with Fiers, it'll be something small that gets him back on track.

5. Ew, Andrew Heaney

When the Angels acquired him for Howie Kendrick this offseason, Heaney seemed like a lock for their starting rotation, but his miserable spring continued Monday when he allowed four earned runs on eight in 4 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 8.36. He also served up two home runs, giving him three this spring, and that was his problem in his brief look in the majors last year, when he allowed six home runs in 29 1/3 innings. Fortunately for the young left-hander, Nick Tropeano hasn't been any better this spring, but for all his upside, Heaney doesn't look like much of a sleeper right now.

And finally ... because it's spring training and spring training is, at its essence, fun, I give you the bunt heard 'round the world.

Take note, Matt Adams, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann. That's how you beat the shift. I had been thinking it was too simple of a solution since obviously the pitcher is still there to field it, but when you bunt it that hard, it's indefensible with no third baseman there. Unfortunately, it doesn't say much for Fielder himself. Neither of hits Tuesday left the infield. He still has just one extra-base hit this spring, which doesn't inspire much confidence coming off neck surgery.

1427207373
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer

Editor's Note: CBS Sports is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league for opening day on FanDuel. It's $10 to enter and pays out $20,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $3,000 and four tickets to the game of their choice. You can join here.

Positional rankings | Top 300 | Draft Prep Guide!

The Red Sox didn't play Monday -- their game against the Cardinals was rained out -- yet I still found a way to talk about Mookie Betts.

Or rather, manager John Farrell did, delivering what may be my favorite quote of the spring thus far.

"Goddarn, man, he's on time from a hitting standpoint," Farrell told the Boston Herald. "He gets himself on time, he's able to handle multiple types of pitches in the strike zone, and he's facing some pretty [darn] good pitching in spring training here. Albeit spring training, but he's facing some good stuff and has handled them well."

Anything else, John?

"It's probably been more on how the reads and routes in center field would develop, and particularly balls over his head," Farrell continued. "We purposely positioned him more shallow in center field just to give him a chance to see some balls over his head better. So, the defensive side of center field has been where we've seen that progression."

Folks, that's a full-on man crush. I've never been more convinced that come opening day, Betts will be batting leadoff and manning center field. Stop being so scared and draft him already.

1. Yasmany Tomas answers his critics

Between the reports of him potentially opening the year in the minors and this piece by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, it's been a pretty bad week for Tomas, who was the first of two high-profile Cuban defectors to sign this offseason. So his best game of spring training couldn't have come at a better time. He went 3 for 3, raising his spring batting average to a respectable .267, and hit his second home run. Both have been to the opposite field.

Now, this latest one did come off Chin-hui Tsao, which doesn't necessarily prove anything, but you see the power potential. Don't drop Tomas off mixed-league radars just yet.

2. Jon Gray enters the fray

You may have heard the Rockies made the surprising move of releasing Jhoulys Chacin this week, but you may not have considered all the ramifications. They have an open rotation spot now, and they haven't sent Gray, their young pitching phenom, to their minor-league camp yet. The 23-year-old allowed no runs on two hits with no walks walks and two strikeouts over a four innings in his start Monday against the Brewers, hitting 97 mph with his fastball, and now has a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings this spring. Coors Field is a tough venue for a pitcher of any skill level, but Gray may be worth a late-round flier now that he's officially in the running.

3. Mat Latos not winning any believers

I don't like Latos this year. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder why I left him out of my Busts 2.0 column. Maybe because nobody else seems to be buying into him either, and that's not going to change after his performance Monday against the Mets in which he allowed nine earned runs in three innings. He did fine last year after returning from a forearm injury, compiling a 3.25 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, but his average fastball velocity dropped about 2 mph and his strikeout rate along with it, leading me to believe he was narrowly avoiding collapse. For at least one exhibition start, he couldn't.

4. Matt Shoemaker rights the ship

OK, I'll admit to growing disillusioned with Matt Shoemaker given his struggles early this spring. It didn't help that I seemed to be one of his only believers in the industry. Considering I was basing it all on a 10-start (and 11-appearance) stretch to end last year, I was beginning to think I was jumping the gun. But then he pitched six shutout innings against the Mariners Monday, allowing two hits and one walk. Of course, he had only two strikeouts, and given that much of what he had during that 10-start stretch last year came in two exceptional starts, I may still be overrating him in that regard.

5. Curtis Granderson may be onto something

I feel like it hasn't gotten enough attention in Fantasy Baseball circles, but Granderson is back working with Kevin Long, who the Mets hired as their hitting coach this offseason. Long, you'll remember, was responsible for Granderson's first resurgence, when he hit 40-plus homers in back-to-back seasons for the Yankees. Granderson went 3 for 4 Monday, raising his spring batting average to .452 (14 for 31). He has just four strikeouts to six walks. He may not have another 40-homer season in him, but he's spoken positively about the work he's done with Long already. Maybe he's worth a longer look in the Round 20 range.

1427124386
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst

Editor's Note: CBS Sports is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league for opening day on FanDuel. It's $10 to enter and pays out $20,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $3,000 and four tickets to the game of their choice. You can join here.

Positional rankings | Top 300 | Draft Prep Guide!

This past weekend, Fantasy analysts from across the internet gathered for the live, in-person Tout Wars auctions in New York City. For me, it was my third year taking part in the mixed league auction, and over the five hours of bidding, I came away mostly happy with my team.

It's practically inevitable that over such a lengthy and intense auction, I'm bound to make some mistakes. I might also discover a new strategy that worked in my favor. Both things happened this time around.

Before breaking down two of the lessons learned from this year's auction, here's the team I drafted for this 15-team Roto circuit.

C Mesoraco $20
C A.J. Ellis $1
1B LaRoche $16
2B Semien $6
3B Castellanos $2
SS A. Cabrera $6
CI I. Davis $1
MI Amarista $1
OF Stanton $40
OF Springer $31
OF Dickerson $25
OF Revere $6
OF Tomas $5
DH K. Vargas $3
P Sale $28
P deGrom $14
P Carrasco $13
P Wacha $11
P Bauer $2
P Pomeranz $1
P Keuchel $1
P Uehara $13
P Britton $13

Reserve draft ($0): David Peralta, Jake Marisnick, Jace Peterson, Tyler Matzek, Trevor May, Devon Travis.

If you want to take a look at all of the Tout Wars rosters, you can view them here.

Now on to the lessons!

1. Don't panic if early spending is greater than you anticipate.

The most notable early trend in this auction was big spending on closers. Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland and David Robertson all went for at least $20, with Chapman fetching the highest price at $23. Mark Melancon ($18) and Dellin Betances ($17) went for $6 and $4 more, respectively, than what I had them priced at. Given that Holland was my highest-priced closer at $16, I was started to get a little panicked about getting saves at a reasonable price.

I wound up getting Koji Uehara and Zach Britton at $13 apiece. Both of those were $2 overpays as compared to my auction values, but compared to the closers who had already gone off the board, they were relative bargains.

If I had been patient, cheap saves were there to be had. Later in the auction, Addison Reed, Santiago Casilla, Brett Cecil, Joe Nathan and LaTroy Hawkins were all bought for $5 or less. While Cecil wasn't named the Blue Jays' closer until the day after the auction, that's a price I would have been glad to pay, and Casilla was also a tremendous bargain.

2. Nominations matter.

There were several times that I was caught off guard as my turn came up to nominate a player. The first time this happened, I was perusing my catcher values, and when my name was called, A.J. Ellis' name popped out of the spreadsheet. With Tout Wars being an OBP league, I thought I could get the other owners to spend a few dollars too many on a catcher who walks a lot but has an unclear role. No one bit, and I was stuck with a $1 part-time catcher.

At the time, I thought this was a blunder, though not a costly one, but it worked out for me. By filling my second catcher slot with a $1 player, I prevented myself from almost assuredly spending more to fill that vacancy later in the auction. In turn, I had the money necessary to get Marcus Semien as a $6 bargain late in the proceedings, giving myself a notable upgrade over the $1 options. In the future, I just might intentionally try to fill a spot or two with $1 players early in order to spare myself from overspending.

Other nomination gaffes didn't end as well. After getting Uehara as my first closer, I thought it would be a good idea to throw another closer out for bidding, given how inflated prices had been up to that point. However, I ignored the trend of closer prices falling, and Hector Rondon would up going to MLB.com's Fred Zinkie for a mere $10. If I was determined to nominate a closer at a point at which I didn't want to spend more money on saves, at the very least, I shouldn't have nominated one who I actually coveted.

In a fast-paced, lengthy auction, perhaps errors like these are hard to avoid, if not inevitable. If I've got work to do before the 2016 auction, though, it's in learning to take my time in waiting out spending trends and plotting out a nomination strategy.

1427121706
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer

Editor's Note: CBS Sports is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league for opening day on FanDuel. It's $10 to enter and pays out $20,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $3,000 and four tickets to the game of their choice. You can join here.

Positional rankings | Top 300 | Draft Prep Guide!

An eventful Sunday wrapped up an eventful weekend, making it especially hard to narrow this list down to just five.

I could have talked about Matt Harvey two-hitting the Yankees over 5 2/3 innings (pretty sure he's going to be an ace this year), Kendall Graveman throwing another gem (a good sleeper if you can live without strikeouts) or Mookie Betts hitting an inside-the-park home run (way to answer Rusney Castillo's three-run shot Friday).

I could have talked about this monster blast by Nelson Cruz and my reasoning for removing him from my bust list (version 2.0 coming soon).

Thanks to MLB.com for the video.

Or David Wright going back to his roots with this opposite-field shot. (He's only batting .346 (9 for 26) this spring, doubters.)

But rules are rules, and I came up with five items more pressing to Fantasy owners, if you can believe it.

1. Heat or hot air?

I bought into a rebound season for Justin Verlander back before spring training, when he reminded everyone he was recovering from core muscle surgery last season and couldn't throw with his usual mechanics, but I had hoped to see some results by now. He allowed five runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings against the Nationals Sunday, giving him a 6.08 ERA for the spring. It was his second straight miserable start and another in which his fastball sat in the low 90s, according to the Detroit Free Press. Maybe he turns it on in April, but considering he's going in the sixth round on average in Head-to-Head points leagues and the 11th round in Rotisserie, I'm not so sure he's a bargain anyway.

2. Ryan Braun turns it on

After beginning the spring 0 for 13, Braun homered both Friday and Sunday and is 3 for 6 in his last three games. The turnaround is notable not just because of the disappointing year he had but also because he's coming back from thumb surgery -- one that doesn't have much of a track record but that hopefully helps him recapture his MVP form. Apparently, he's been looking good behind the scenes.

"You can see the at-bats improving," Jonathan Lucroy said. "I take BP with [Braun] every day and his ball is looking like it was in 2012. It's flying off his bat."

3. Michael Taylor powers up

Taylor, who's expected to begin the year in center field with Denard Span recovering from core muscle surgery, homered twice Sunday to raise his spring batting average to .324 (11 for 34). Of course, he has also struck out in about a third of his at-bats, which is why he needs home runs to matter in Fantasy. He hadn't hit one in two weeks. With his combination of power and speed, he should be getting more looks in Rotisserie leagues.

4. Jason Hammel has it working

After getting off to a bumpy start this spring, Hammel seems to be in midseason form now, striking out nine Padres while allowing just three hits in five shutout innings Sunday. He now has nine shutout innings in his last two starts, allowing five hits and no walks with 12 strikeouts, which is basically who he was last year apart from a rough four-start stretch when he first joined the Athletics. That the Cubs, the team that supposedly sold high on him midway through last season, were the highest bidders for him this offseason tells me he's more legit than most Fantasy owners think.

5. Arismendy Alcantara puts the pressure on

Javier Baez was the favorite for the Cubs second base job coming into spring training, but even with a 1-for-3 performance Sunday, he's still batting just .135 (5 for 37) with 13 strikeouts. Alcantara, meanwhile, has overcome a slow start to go 6 for 15 (.400) in his last five games, homering in his second straight Sunday. Joe Maddon batted him ninth in the game, behind the pitcher, perhaps getting a feel for what the lineup would look like with him in it. While you'd prefer him to hit higher than that, it's hardly a deal-breaker for a middle infielder with the capacity for a 20-20 season. Whether he has a job to himself at the start of the year or not, Alcantara figures to get a high number of at-bats thanks to his versatility.

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by Al Melchior | Data Analyst

Editor's Note: CBS Sports is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league for opening day on FanDuel. It's $10 to enter and pays out $20,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $3,000 and four tickets to the game of their choice. You can join here.

Positional rankings | Top 300 | Draft Prep Guide!

George Springer has proven to be one of the more polarizing figures in preseason player debates this year. One could read a lot of different things into his 78-game major league debut, and I have been among those to take a more optimistic view, at least in terms of his value this season in Rotisserie leagues.

I agree with the pessimists that Springer's history of high strikeout rates does not bode as well for him in Head-to-Head points leagues, and I have him ranked 15th among outfielders in that format. In Roto, though, I have Springer ranked seventh, and according to FantasyPros.com, that puts me in a tie for the highest ranking in the industry.

So perhaps Andy G. spoke for much of the Twitterverse when he sent me this message.

Yes, really.

And here's why I'm taking Springer ahead of Brantley, whom I have ranked 11th, in Roto drafts, and spending $3 more for Springer than Brantley in auctions. I expect that Springer should be able to maintain his run production pace from last season. If you factor in the improvements to the Astros' lineup, my projection of 93 RBI and 86 runs could actually be very conservative. I have Brantley projected for 89 and 88, respectively, figuring he will regress from last season's totals of 97 and 94.

So while they should be close to even in RBI and runs, I expect they will also be close in stolen bases. In fact, I projected them both for 20 steals. This is where I take a leap of faith with Springer. While a 20-stolen base pace is normal for Brantley, it would require Springer to roughly double his pace from his rookie year. However, Springer's minor league numbers suggest he has 40-steal potential, and he wasn't reticent about stealing during his brief time in Triple-A in 2014, or during his three-game rehab stint at Class A Quad Cities (for, naturally, a quad injury). It's highly conceivable that Springer's injured quad could have suppressed his steal totals with the Astros.

To recap, it's a virtual draw between the two outfielders three categories into our comparison. That leaves batting average, which is clearly the province of Brantley, and home runs, which are Springer's specialty. I don't see Brantley repeating last season's 20 home runs, and I've projected Springer to have a 35-to-14 edge. I give Brantley a .305-to-.245 advantage in batting average. While the additional homers that Springer provides should move his owners up three spots in the home run rankings (in a 12-team mixed league) if they substituted him for Brantley, the projected 60-point edge for Brantley in batting average should translate into an increase of 2.7 spots in the standings for that category.

It's close enough that if you doubt Springer's ability to steal 20 bases or hit .245, it makes sense to go with Brantley. I'm confident enough that Springer will meet or exceed those benchmarks that I'm giving him the nod in my Roto leagues.

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by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer

Carlos Martinez has pitched well this spring, but not as well as his competition. (USATSI)
Carlos Martinez has pitched well this spring, but not as well as his competition. (USATSI)

Editor's Note: CBS Sports is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league for opening day on FanDuel. It's $10 to enter and pays out $20,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $3,000 and four tickets to the game of their choice. You can join here.

Positional rankings | Top 300 | Draft Prep Guide!

We've been drafting Carlos Martinez as if he had a rotation spot all to himself. And who could blame us? General manager John Mozeliak basically said after trading Shelby Miller this offseason that he wanted to clear a spot for the young right-hander.

But at the time, Jaime Garcia was still recovering from shoulder surgery, his second in as many years. He keeps pitching like this, and Martinez owners may be in for some disappointment.

1. Carlos Martinez has company

Garcia had seven strikeouts in four innings against the Mets Thursday, and thanks to MLB.com, you can see them all here.

When he struck out five in four innings against the Orioles last time out, I assumed it was because he was facing a 'B' lineup, but he was putting away legitimate big leaguers in that video. Afterward, manager Mike Matheny described Garcia's stuff as "freakish." He's the one deciding on that fifth starter, you know. What's also freakish about Garcia is that with all the injuries he's suffered over the years, he's always been effective when he's been off the DL. If you're looking for a late-round SPARP in a Head-to-Head points league, I'm beginning to think Aaron Sanchez might be the better investment than Martinez.

2. Not Fiering on all cylinders

Tyler Thornburg got the start for the Brewers Thursday, but more notable for Fantasy owners was who didn't. Mike Fiers was scratched with what the Brewers termed shoulder weakness, which is about as vague as medical terminology gets. It doesn't seem like a big deal -- he could pitch in a game as early as Saturday -- but considering he allowed four runs, three earned, over two innings in his last start, walking three and striking out none, you have to wonder if all's right with him. He's like the little girl with the little curl: When he's good, he's very good indeed, but when he's bad, he's horrid. I'll need to see some results before I draft him as more than my fifth starting pitcher in a mixed league.

3. Wilmer Flores looks the part

The one misstep for Jaime Garcia Thursday was this pitch to the Mets' Wilmer Flores.

You know what stands out to me in that video? Flores looks fit. He looks like a shortstop, and we've been hearing reports about how he got in shape this offseason to make him a viable option there again. He's certainly proven himself with the bat. That home run was his second of the spring to go along with a .406 batting average and just three strikeouts in 32 at-bats.

"Wilmer Flores, he just doesn't miss," new hitting coach Kevin Long recently told the New York Post. "If you throw a strike, he's going to do damage."

I'm thinking even mixed-league owners need to take notice.

4. Taijuan Walker shows poise

To hear Walker himself tell it, he didn't have a good start Thursday against the Indians.

"I was up with the fastball and threw too many fastballs," Walker said. "That one inning I got in trouble, so I have to try to fix that and limit that."

I'll say. He allowed four total baserunners in four shutout innings with five strikeouts. What a dunce. That he doesn't need to be at his best to dominate is a sign of how far the 22-year-old has come. He has allowed no runs (on four hits!) in 12 innings over four starts, striking out 13. You have to think he has a rotation spot all but locked up now.

"He's doing a nice job. He's shown a lot of poise in camp from a pitching standpoint," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He's thrown more strikes. I've been very pleased."

Big-time sleeper here.

5. Devon Travis making a push

When Travis began the spring 0 for 10, he looked like he wasn't ready to handle the Blue Jays' starting second base job, but the rookie has caught fire recently, batting .526 (10 for 19) with four doubles and three walks to just three strikeouts over his last eight games. The Blue Jays acquired him from the Tigers this offseason with the future in mind, but considering their best option at the big-league level is Maicer Izturis, that future is near. As shallow as second base is in AL-only leagues, he should be just as much on your radar as Micah Johnson.

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by Heath Cummings | Senior Fantasy Writer

Editor's Note: CBS Sports is hosting a one-day Fantasy Baseball league for opening day on FanDuel. It's $10 to enter and pays out $20,000 in cash prizes. First place wins $3,000 and four tickets to the game of their choice. You can join here.

Positional rankings | Top 300 | Draft Prep Guide!

With this being my first blog post I feel like I should tell a little bit about myself. I guess the first thing I'd say is I am not a very patient man. I've completely, shamelessly embraced the instant gratification movement. While it's absolutely a character flaw, it generally meshes really well with Daily Fantasy Sports ... generally.

Unfortunately, FanDuel released opening day pricing waaaay too early, and I've waited as long as I can. We're more than two weeks away from opening day (an absurdly long time in the world of DFS) and I've resisted the urge to look for as long as I can. There will be a much more official article when we get closer to the actual games, but I don't have the patience to wait for that. 

For Starters

The very first decision to make on opening day (and every day) will be at pitcher. On a day where there are so many great options, I want the best. I don't believe that necessarily means the most expensive. I'm fading Clayton Kershaw ($11,700) against an improved Padres lineup in what should be some of the best weather of the day. I could be convinced that the best option is Felix Hernandez ($11,200) against the Angels, but for now he's number two in my book. 

My favorite pitcher at this early stage is David Price ($10,600). Price dominated the Twins in four starts last year, amassing 34 strikeouts in 29 innings. He's likely to be one of the heaviest favorites in Vegas and there's a good chance he's throwing on a cool, dreary day. As of today I'd project Price for around 18 FanDuel points, with a ceiling approaching 25.

As evidence of how early it is, we still don't know if the Nationals are starting Max Scherzer ($11,000) or Stephen Strasburg ($10,500). Either one would be a really nice Plan C. 

Bargains

You can't afford a stud pitcher unless you find a few bargains at hitter. Opening day options at hitter are limited because of all the aces pitching, so I'm targeting the worst starters. After some discussion around the office we're projecting they will be Kyle Kendrick (vs. Milwaukee) and Josh Collmenter (vs. San Francisco).

While I'm definitely going to exploit Kendrick, Carlos Gomez ($4,300) and Jonathan Lucroy ($3,800) aren't exactly bargains. Thankfully, a couple of great options are available on the Giants. Joe Panik ($2,400) and Brandon Belt ($3,800) are both in my lineups assuming they're hitting in the upper half of the order. If Angel Pagan ($2,900) leads off he may complete a mini-stack. I'll also be watching the Braves closely. Andrelton Simmons ($2,700), Eric Young ($2,600) and Jace Peterson ($2,200) all project as values depending on where/if they hit in the order.

Stack Attack

By far my favorite teams to stack (selecting multiple hitters from same team) of opening day is the Brewers. The only issue is that their top four hitters cost $15,600. With Price included, that only leaves $8,800 for 1B, 2B, SS and our third OF. That won't do. Gomez and Lucroy are definitely in play, but I don't plan on playing Braun. I will mix in some Khris Davis ($2800).

Other stacks I'm considering at this stage are the Braves (contrarian) and Giants (value). I'm not really a huge fan of stacks in cash games, but I'll use them a lot in tournaments. It makes even more sense on opening day when you're trying to avoid the likes of Kershaw, Hernandez, Price, etc.

I'd like to say I'll be back in a couple of weeks to further discuss this slate, but I think we both know I can't wait that long.

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