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If your drafts are over, it's time to switch to in-season mode. If your drafts aren't over, they will be soon. Then you'll need to abruptly switch to in-season mode.
So welcome to Fantasy Week 1 (April 3-10)! The wait is over, and on Opening Day the games will count. And the next ones, and the roughly six months' worth of games after that.
Before we preview some of the most important aspects of Week 1, we need to address the question of which stats will count in Fantasy. It's an eight-day week, with this Sunday's three games kicking off the season. Not every league counts those games, but if you are in a CBSSports.com commissioner league, your commissioner can include the first Sunday in your league's schedule.
With that housekeeping detail out of the way, let's get on with a sneak peak of Week 1.
Regardless of your league's schedule settings, there are six teams -- the Diamondbacks, White Sox, Dodgers, Athletics, Giants and Rangers -- with seven-game schedules. For leagues that are including the first Sunday in Week 1, the Rays and Blue Jays can be added to the list of seven-game teams. This is not all that relevant for your rotation decisions, as the pitchers who will benefit from the full schedule by getting a second start are generally must-start types. However, if you were on the fence about starting Jose Quintana or Scott Kazmir, their two-start status makes them worth using in virtually all formats.
With few exceptions, owners should plan on using the top starting pitchers they drafted. Since Week 1 begins with most teams running out their two best starters for their first two games, the pitchers who are getting two starts are typically the ones who were universally drafted.
There are only three starters who appear to be worthwhile waiver targets. Edinson Volquez (vs. NYM, vs. MIN, 62 percent owned) is scheduled to pitch on both Sundays of this initial scoring period. He would be a solid replacement for teams with a hole in their Week 1 rotation and little depth. Martin Perez (vs. SEA, at LAA, 13 percent owned) isn't quite as appealing as Volquez, but he has value with a pair of starts, and he is available in nearly all mixed leagues. After a rough spring, Rich Hill (vs. CHW, at SEA, 57 percent owned) is decidedly riskier, but he's a waiver option in many leagues for those who want to chase the upside he showed last September.
Hitters who could benefit from the fuller schedule include Josh Reddick (vs. CHW, at SEA, 67 percent started), Joe Panik (at MIL, vs. LAD, 65 percent started), Ender Inciarte (vs. COL, vs. CHC, 26 percent started) and Chris Colabello (at TB, vs. BOS, 23 percent started).
Those pitchers and hitters could come in handy because there are six teams that are limited to five games this week. The Braves, Tigers, Marlins, Nationals, Royals and Mets have the shortest schedules, and if you are in a league that doesn't begin until Monday, the latter two teams have only four games. In fact, if you are in one of those leagues and you own Matt Harvey, there is an outside chance that he won't make a start for you in Week 1. Regardless of your league's settings, you may also be at risk of not getting a start from either Steven Matz or Bartolo Colon, both of whom could be used as relievers in the opening series against the Royals. Also, owners in leagues that start Monday will only get five games from the Cardinals and Pirates.
Hitters you might need to sit include Mike Moustakas (vs. NYM, vs. MIN, 63 percent started), Ryan Zimmerman (at ATL, vs. MIA, 49 percent started) and Michael Conforto (at KC, vs. PHI, 43 percent started).
Just as the length of a team's schedule can help you decide on who to put in your lineup, so can the venues where a team plays. Four teams in particular will enjoy a full schedule at a hitter-friendly venue. The Orioles, Reds and Brewers will all play six games at home, while the Astros will visit Yankee Stadium and Miller Park. That makes it a great week to start Jonathan Schoop in standard mixed leagues (vs. MIN, vs. TB, 39 percent started), and Chris Carter (vs. SF, vs. HOU, 13 percent started) and Luis Valbuena (at NYY, at MIL, 11 percent started) in deeper mixed leagues. It's not such a great time to trust Chris Tillman with two starts or Mike Fiers with a lone start at Yankee Stadium.
Dodgers and Angels pitchers are far more fortunate. Dodger Stadium is a good park for pitchers in general, but it's not an easy place to keep the ball in the park, especially against left-handed batters. That will be less of a problem for Clayton Kershaw and company this week, as they will head to PETCO and AT&T Parks. Of course, park factors are not something to worry about for Kershaw, but they could make a difference for Scott Kazmir, who will make a start in each venue. Actually, PETCO Park is a pretty fair home run park for left-handed hitters, but Kazmir's start at AT&T Park should make it worthwhile to put him in your rotation this week.
Owners should start Garrett Richards regardless of the venues, but of the Angels' other starters, Matt Shoemaker stands to benefit the most from pitching at Angel Stadium. He appears set to make his debut against the Rangers, and is worth adding in deeper formats.
Players with Heath or Injury Risks
A handful of mixed league mainstays could be at risk of missing all or part of the coming week. The news of Andrew Miller planning to pitch despite sustaining a chip fracture in his right wrist sounds positive enough, but planning to pitch and actually pitching are two different things. Even if Miller does take the mound, and even if he does get this week's save opportunities, one has to wonder if his pitching and fielding could be affected by the pain of his injury. For this one week, it may not be worth the risk to keep Miller active.
The Nationals don't need to use a fifth starter in Week 1, so if Joe Ross' recovery from getting hit on the heel by a comebacker doesn't delay his entry into the rotation, the schedule likely will. If Ross pitches this week, it will probably be in relief.
Gerrit Cole is one of the few aces not penciled in as a starter for the first or second game of the season. He has been working his way back from a rib injury, and he may need to make a start in a minor league game this weekend to get some work in. If all goes well, Cole should make a start during next weekend's series in Cincinnati. Before putting Cole in your rotation for Week 1, make sure to check on his progress before lineups lock.
The decision on whether Yasmani Grandal (forearm) will be ready for opening day could also go down to the wire. He will catch in an exhibition game against the Angels on Saturday, so there should be more news on him soon.