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After the All-Star-afflicted Weeks 15 and 16, it's business as usual in Fantasy Week 17 (July 27-Aug. 2) -- a fairly even number of good and bad matchups, no doubleheaders and only one team (the Mariners) playing an abnormal number of games (five).
One way it stands out, though: The five best matchups really are a step above the rest. Sometimes that fifth one is kind of a stretch, and often the sixth- and seventh-best are realistically just as good. Just something to keep in mind if you're debating between a player whose team is on the list and one whose isn't.
Among the teams that don't appear on these lists, the Red Sox are facing four left-handers this week, which makes David Ortiz (.424 OPS) and Pablo Sandoval (.411 OPS) both no-goes in mixed league. The Yankees also face four left-handers, which makes Chris Young a sneaky play in deeper leagues where you don't need him to get full-time at-bats.
Best Hitting Matchups for Week 17
1. Cardinals: CIN3, COL4
2. Cubs: COL3, @MIL4
3. Mariners: ARI3, @MIN4
4. Giants: MIL3, @TEX3
5. White Sox: @BOS4, NYY3
• Randal Grichuk is the player to add for the Cardinals. In five-outfielder leagues, he should already be owned now that we know he'll stick in the lineup even with Matt Holliday back from the DL, simply shifting over to center field. You'll want to start Holliday himself even with the lingering concern over his quadriceps, and if Stephen Piscotty emerges as the starting first baseman over the weekend, he's a good play in deeper leagues.
• Kyle Schwarber should be an obvious start at this point, but he's currently sitting in 37 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. The Cubs face almost exclusively righties in their seven games, so playing time isn't any more of a concern for him than any other catcher-eligible player. Of course, a bunch of righties isn't necessarily a good thing for Dexter Fowler, who has been heating up lately. He's batting .212 against them compared to .338 against lefties.
• Matt Duffy isn't as hot as he was a week ago, but he's the kind of fringe player you pick up because on matchups. It helps that he's eligible at two premium positions, second and third base. Brandon Belt is another sleeper play, but he's a little more boom-or-bust. He's batting .321 (18 for 56) so far in July, though.
• You may think the White Sox's matchups are wasted on them since, offensively, they're terrible, but Melky Cabrera is suddenly looking like the player everyone drafted him to be, batting .337 with a .963 OPS in his last 26 games. Adam Eaton is finally showing his strengths, reaching base at a .455 clip in his last seven games -- and with two home runs to boot. Even new callup Tyler Saladino, who has homered twice in his 10 days on the job, is worth a look as a shortstop-eligible player.
Worst Hitting Matchups for Week 17
1. Nationals: @MIA3, @NYM3
2. Athletics: @LAD2, CLE4
3. Dodgers: OAK2, LAA3
4. Rockies: @CHC3, @STL4
5. Mets: SD3, WAS3
• The matchups are reason enough to sit all of your fringy Athletics in mixed leagues, but for Marcus Semien and Brett Lawrie in particular, you'll want to lower your expectations. Both have unfavorable splits against right-handers, with an OPS 100-200 points lower than against lefties, and the Athletics face six of them in their seven games.
• The Dodgers' five game-week gives Joc Pederson owners the perfect excuse to sit the ice-cold rookie. Three of their five games are against left-handed pitchers, and Pederson wasn't doing much against them even when he was going well, compiling a .712 OPS on the year. You think that's bad? Justin Turner, defying traditional splits, is batting .175 against lefties compared to .366 against righties. You probably won't be as conflicted about sitting him.
• Rockies hitters historically struggle on the road, and this year's version of Corey Dickerson is no exception. He's batting .264 there compared to .389. While his expected return from plantar fasciitis is a positive development, you may want to give him a week to prove his health. Carlos Gonzalez has never been good on the road, so particularly with unfavorable matchups, you may want to sit him, red hot or not.
• Pretty much no one in the Mets lineup is must-start these days, but Lucas Duda is probably the one you'd be most hesitant to sit. He has a dramatic reverse platoon split this year, though, compiling a .698 OPS against right-handers compared to .911 against left-handers, so the five righties on tap actually work against him. The position is too deep for you to start a player batting .166 with three homers in his last 45 games anyway.