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. 28.
Yadier Molina, who has spent the last seven weeks rehabilitating from thumb surgery, is expected back in the lineup Friday. Because he's beating his initial timetable of 8-12 weeks, you'll want to monitor him over the weekend to make sure he's swinging the bat like he's capable. Considering he went 5 for 6 on his rehab assignment at Double-A Springfield, I'd anticipate activating him right away.
To the surprise of many, the Pirates demoted high-profile rookie Gregory Polanco to Triple-A Indianapolis Monday, giving Travis Snider a shot as their everyday right fielder. Snider has cooled off since the move, though, and Polanco didn't perform all that poorly, really, while with the Pirates. He'll be back, just maybe not this week.
In other Pirates news, Pedro Alvarez is in a walking boot after spraining his foot diving for a ball Tuesday, which gives you all the more incentive to sit him. His playing time wasn't assured anyway with the Pirates no longer trusting him at third base.
Anthony Rizzo and Adrian Gonzalez both have sat recently with stiff backs. Neither sounds like more than a day-to-day thing, but anything back-related has a tendency to linger. Neil Walker has been in and out of the lineup with a sore back for weeks. Still, you'll want to start them if they appear ready to go Monday.
And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...
|1.||Kennys Vargas, 1B, Twins||60/50|
|2.||Justin Morneau, 1B, Rockies||96/73|
|3.||Yan Gomes, C, Indians||87/36|
|4.||Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs||64/29|
|5.||Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals||74/14|
|6.||Dustin Ackley, 2B/OF, Mariners||73/62|
|7.||Erick Aybar, SS, Angels||87/71|
|8.||Brock Holt, 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Red Sox||70/52|
|9.||Michael Morse, 1B/OF, Giants||80/59|
|10.||Wil Myers, OF, Rays||81/42|
Start: Yan Gomes, Indians
Gomes had achieved "too obvious" status in the weeks leading up to his Aug. 21 concussion, but his minimal stay on the 7-day DL may make some of his owners hesitant to activate him right away, especially if they happen to notice his Indians are among the teams with the worst matchups this week. But four of his seven games are against left-handed pitchers, against whom he's batting .343 with an .895 OPS this season. That's reason enough for me to start him.
Instead of: Travis d'Arnaud, Kurt Suzuki, Carlos Ruiz
Sit: Stephen Vogt, Athletics
We all know what's up with Vogt by now, right? The Athletics haven't started him against the last eight left-handed starting pitchers they've faced -- understandably, considering he's batting .219 with a .680 OPS against lefties -- so in a week when they're facing four in six games, you can't expect him to do much for you. Bonus material: The matchups aren't the worst, so teammate and fellow catcher-eligible player Derek Norris, who's batting .323 with a .913 OPS against lefties, could be a worthwhile replacement.
Instead of: Gomes, Russell Martin, Norris
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Albert Pujols, Victor Martinez, Freddie Freeman, Todd Frazier, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Santana, Adam LaRoche, Buster Posey, Lucas Duda, Matt Adams
Start: Kennys Vargas, Twins
Fantasy owners are just aching to start Vargas with the way he's performed since arriving Aug. 1, and they have every reason to this week. Though I've written on more than one occasion that he's bound to regress, I do trust in his power, and only one of the pitchers he's scheduled to face this week, Kevin Gausman, allows home runs at a below-average rate. Hector Noesi, John Danks, Jered Weaver and Matt Shoemaker, meanwhile, all allow them at an above-average rate.
Instead of: Brandon Moss, Steve Pearce, Ryan Howard
Sit: Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks
Trumbo looked like he was on the verge of a hot streak when he hit a bunch of singles in early August, but the home runs never came. Now, he's batting .233 (7 for 30) in his last eight games and has to travel to pitcher-friendly Petco Park and Dodgers Stadium this week. He's batting only .229 on the road. He'll also face almost exclusively right-handed pitchers -- including bat-missers like Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy and Zack Greinke -- and has done most of his damage against lefties this year, batting .262 with an .856 OPS compared to .228 and .625 against righties.
Instead of: Vargas, Justin Morneau, Michael Morse
|4.||Twins||@BAL1, CHW2, LAA4|
Start: Dustin Ackley, Mariners
Ackley certainly qualifies as a hot-hand play, batting .364 (12 for 33) with four doubles, a triple, a homer and two steals in his last nine games. And if you take it back further than that, he's batting .313 with an .859 OPS in his last 37 games. Not only do the Mariners play four games at Texas this week, where they'll face a hitter-friendly pitching staff in a hitter-friendly environment, but all seven of their games are on the road, where Ackley is batting .282 compared to .230 at home. And six are against righties, which is as helpful as you'd expect for a left-handed hitter like him.
Instead of: Scooter Gennett, Kolten Wong, Aaron Hill
Sit: Arismendy Alcantara, Cubs
With his batting average on the verge of dropping below the Mendoza line, Alcantara has picked it up in his last five games, batting .412 (7 for 17) with two home runs and two steals. But a five-game stretch isn't a definitive turnaround, and the Cubs' matchups against Jimmy Nelson, Yovani Gallardo, Wily Peralta, Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole aren't exactly favorable. Let's keep the .226 hitter seated, shall we?
Instead of: Ackley, Brock Holt, Yangervis Solarte
Start: Trevor Plouffe, Twins
The Twins have been piling up runs in August, and Plouffe is one of the big reasons why, batting .301 (28 for 93) with three homers and an .851 OPS for the month. He's been at his best lately, batting .375 (9 for 24) with a homer and five doubles in his last six games. Given the Twins' matchups this week against pitchers like Kevin Gausman, Hector Noesi, John Danks, Hector Santiago and whatever schlub the Angels find to start Friday's game, he's a good bet to keep it up.
Instead of: Aramis Ramirez, Martin Prado, Casey McGehee
Sit: Nick Castellanos, Tigers
Though he hasn't gotten a ton of attention in Fantasy, Castellanos has been halfway decent in his last 20 games, batting .306 (22 for 72) with three home runs and an .856 OPS. But his matchups this week should bring him down to size. He's facing the Indians' strikeout-tastic foursome of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer as well as Jake Peavy, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson.
Instead of: Plouffe, Brock Holt, Yangervis Solarte
Start: Erick Aybar, Angels
While the slump finally came for Aybar right after the All-Star break, toppling the house of cards that made him appear to be one of the top shortstops in Fantasy before then, he's come out of it with a 13-game hitting streak in which he's batted .449 (22 for 49). Only two of his 22 hits during that stretch have gone for extra bases, but solid contact is solid contact. And he should have more of it in store this week against pitchers like Brad Peacock, Kyle Gibson, Ricky Nolasco and Tommy Milone.
Instead of: J.J. Hardy, Asdrubal Cabrera, Zach Walters
Sit: Elvis Andrus, Rangers
For all that has befallen the Rangers during their disastrous 2014, Fantasy owners haven't grown the least bit disenchanted with Andrus, who's still started in 82 percent of leagues. Because he lacks power, his value has always depended on his supporting cast. Look around him. Other than Adrian Beltre, there's nobody left to drive him in. He's also not running so much anymore thanks to a career-worst 63.9 percent success rate on stolen bases. He's just the 16th-best shortstop in Head-to-Head points leagues over the last eight weeks and has iffy matchups against the Royals and Mariners starting rotations this week.
Instead of: Aybar, Brock Holt, Yangervis Solarte
OutfieldToo obvious: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista, Carlos Gomez, Michael Brantley, Adam Jones, Yasiel Puig, Justin Upton, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew McCutchen, 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, Billy Hamilton, J.D. Martinez, Corey Dickerson, Lucas Duda, Christian Yelich, Jay Bruce, Nick Markakis, Denard Span, Kole Calhoun, Charlie Blackmon, Starling Marte, Josh Hamilton
Start: Jorge Soler, Cubs
As I pointed out with Arismendy Alcantara, while the Cubs aren't among the teams with the worst matchups this week, theirs aren't the greatest either. Even so, I'm encouraged enough by what Soler has done only two games into his career to take a shot on him right out of the gate. OK, so it's more about his upside and what I perceive to be major-league readiness than what he's done in two games, but all the same, if you don't know where else to turn at outfield this week, the numbers he put up in the minors were Kris Bryant-like and deserving of more hype than they got. Plus, I feel like prospects of a certain caliber have an advantage over opposing pitchers at first, as Gregory Polanco showed.
Instead of: Marlon Byrd, Curtis Granderson, Rajai Davis
Sit: Khris Davis, Brewers
Despite his ups and downs, Davis has provided enough power that you just can't chance sitting him in some leagues, particularly those that require five outfielders. But he seems to be on the downswing now, batting .200 (3 for 15) in his last six games. Plus, the Brewers face nothing but righties this week. His batting average is 40 points lower against them than lefties. Maybe you give Davis the week off in shallower formats.
Instead of: Soler, Wil Myers, Michael Morse
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