Depending on how busy the trade market is this weekend, everything you are about to read here could be rendered irrelevant by the time lineups lock. With a whole weekend's worth of potential trades -- plus Monday afternoon before the 4 p.m. deadline -- Fantasy owners are kind of flying blind heading into this weekend.
Trades are , of course, an opportunity for new value to crop up, as contenders shore up weak spots in the lineup and teams that are out of it look to give young guys an opportunity to prove themselves down the stretch. However, you can't exactly prepare for them ahead of time -- you just have to react, which makes Week 18 (Aug. 1-7) one of the toughest in the league to figure out.
The biggest hitter news this week is probably that this is your first full week of Dee Gordon, as he was reinstated from suspension just Thursday. The Marlins play six times in Week 18, and though they may look to rest him once, you can't risk sitting Gordon at Coors. He won't benefit from the thin air in terms of homers, but there is a lot of room out in the Coors Field outfield, and it is no surprise that Gordon has hit .354 in 18 career starts at there. Add in that both the Cubs and Rockies rank in the bottom 10 in caught-stealing percentage, and you can't consider sitting Gordon.
There are at least a few injury notes you need to know about heading into the week, of course, headlined by Yoenis Cespedes' recurring quad issues. Cespedes sat our Thursday's game, but was able to start Friday. With Cespedes ailing, he could miss some time moving forward, while Juan Lagares needs thumb surgery, so there is an opportunity for Michael Conforto to stay in the lineup every day. He hasn't hit since April, but the Mets have seven games, including two in Yankees stadium, so you might want to get Conforto in your lineup.
Hunter Pence could also be back from the DL this week, and the Giants' acquisition of Eduardo Nunez could lead to some interesting juggling in the outfield and infield over their seven games. Pence should be worth starting in Week 18, with the series in homer-friendly Citizens Bank Park making up for a tough one immediately following in Washington.
Best hitter matchups for Week 17
The Astros have figured out their early-season malaise, and should continue to hit this week, with seven games at home against some mostly mediocre pitchers. They avoid Aaron Sanchez in the Blue Jays' series, the Blue Jays' best pitcher, and then get to go against the Rangers in a weekend series. They will have to face Yu Darvish Sunday but have Martin Perez and Lucas Harrell to open the series, a nice combination for the Astros to take advantage of. You're always starting George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, but you should also still stick with top prospect Alex Bregman, while considering a recent-hot Marwin Gonzalez and Colby Rasmus, with five righties on the schedule.
Six games at Coors means every team with exposure there gets some love this week. The Rockies obviously get the biggest boost with six games, though they are one team that could obviously be impacted by trades. Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez owners should obviously make sure to check their lineups before lock Monday, but they are must-start options if they make it through the deadline. The tougher call will be rookie David Dahl, who would be worth starting in all formats with six games on the way in Coors; however, the potential return of Gerardo Parra from the disabled list should give you pause. If Parra is ready to be activated this week, Dahl becomes a risk.
The Dodgers catch the tough part of the Red Sox rotation, with Steven Wright and David Price on the schedule, and they get Jon Gray at Coors on Tuesday, limiting the appeal a bit. However, they edge out the Marlins because Miami has to face the likes of John Lackey and Jon Lester at Wrigley to open the week. Still, your Marlins and Dodgers get the Coors bump, making Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal worth your time for L.A.; Martin Prado and Derek Dietrich could also be in play.
Worst hitter matchups for Week 17
The Twins get lucky this week, in that they don't have to face Corey Kluber, but that means they still have Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco opening that Indians' series. The Rays rotation isn't as daunting, but Tropicana is always a tough place to hit, and Blake Snell, Chris Archer and Matt Moore can still shut you down when they are right. You are still starting Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier with seven games on the way, but you might not want to get hot-hitting rookie Max Kepler in your lineup after adding him.
There aren't many parks in baseball the Athletics can travel to and be in a worst offensive environment than their home park, but Angel Stadium is certainly one of them. Add in the three-game series against the tough Cubs' pitching staff, and you might be looking at sitting all-or-nothing A's hitters like Khris Davis and Marcus Semien.
The Brewers' schedule actually isn't that tough, with the Padres and Diamondbacks' rotations both featuring some pretty mediocre options. The bad matchups this week aren't actually that terrible, but the Brewers could be trading Jonathan Lucroy among others this week, and have posted a collective OPS 71 points lower away from home, so there is some risk here.
The Royals don't have many hitters of note for Fantasy purposes, with Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain standing as your only true must-start options. You can't consider sitting either of them with seven games on the way, but Kauffman Stadium is no great place to hit, and they do have to face Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman there, after hitting at Tropicana over the previous four games. It makes sense to bench Kendrys Morales, who is just 5 for 34 since suffering a foot injury nine games ago.