Shameless cross-pollination!  Yes, just as shameless as Tony Parker cross-pollinating Brent Barry’s wife, I’m hijacking the open of my post to let you know Fantasy Basketball rankings have begun!  I hope Grey doesn’t suspend me for conduct detrimental to the team… I’ve got my top 50 up earlier than anywhere else (well, no one has recent rankings up!) and if you suffer fantasy depression through winter, and/or hate that Fantasy Football is nothing but pure luck, Fantasy Basketball is the rebound (womp womp) for you!  The mix of percentages and counting stats appeal the Fantasy Baseball-ist in everyone, so if you’ve thought about trying hoops, hop over to basketball and into an RCL when they open next month (I sense another hijack coming…)!

“Get back to the diamond JB, this is a friggin’ baseball blog!”  Fine!  Has any pitcher in the initial top-50 (non-injured) had as tumultuous a season as Danny Salazar?!  Maybe Justin Verlander… But now he’s injured too!  Salazar pitched like a gangbuster (…? can you be only one gang buster?  Ask Ness…) closing out last year, but lower velocity, control issues, and just overall ineffectiveness were so bad he went back down to AAA.  After two months in the Minors, Salazar has been pretty good in 4 of his 5 starts since the call up in late July, including a decent outing yesterday.  Just can’t get deep into games!  To be honest, I haven’t watched a single Salazar start this year (using all my Indians time on Corey Kluber, k?!), so I decided to break down his afternoon against the Orioles and if he needs to be scooped up in more leagues even if his rotation spot is non-guaranteed:

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We discuss Jarrod Dyson a lot in this column. He’s truly what cheap steals are all about. In limited plate appearances he is able to get on base and swipe bags. Not an ideal player to own in weekly leagues, but he can be a huge boost in the steals department for fantasy players in leagues with daily roster moves. So while the Prince of SAGNOF has gotten some love here both in the preseason and throughout the year, he’s getting the lede today just in case you forgot he’s out there (and he probably is with 7.2% ownership at ESPN). Dyson’s 27 steals have come in just 226 plate appearances this season. That’s a steal about every 8 plate appearances. After finishing up the series at Minnesota today, Dyson and the Royals head out to Colorado and Texas. The Rockies have allowed 68 steals, which is middle of the pack in the major leagues in that category. However, their caught stealing percentage (15%) ranks dead last in baseball. Here are some other steals picks for 2014 fantasy baseball…

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Well that’s a new one. No player. Nope. Not giving you a pitcher. Ok, I kinda am. Sale is da bomb dot gov. But you don’t need me to tell you that. Unless, of course, you haven’t paid attention to this sport we call baseball for the last three years, then maybe you need my insight on the guy that coulda been AL Cy Young if it weren’t for a DL stint. And heck, I’m not even giving you a specific hitter. I’m talking fat stacks…or phat stacks if I were Chris Tucker and it was 1997. Remember when he was funny? Yeah, I don’t either…anywho, this was a theory discussed with a good friend who’s into the DFS game and who had a great take on the psychology of a baseball game. So when you’re the pitcher opposing a certified ace and aren’t really ‘on your game’, you’re gonna get like your GF’s panties get during that certain time of the month: spotty. And when you get spotty, you get dicey. And when you get you know what, I just can’t do the Direct TV commercial. It’s been done to death. The key thing here is recognizing that the other team and their opposing pitcher can get a bit intimidated going up against an arm like Sale. These types of feelings are hard to get around. An error here, a booted double play there…the big thing is, Baltimore and Bud Norris are in a bad spot for today and I plan on taking advantage. And speaking of Bud…gross. That’s both about the beer and the pitcher splits. Norris isn’t great at all at this point but away from Baltimore, he has a 4.55 ERA and a near doubled HR/9 rate at 1.28 away from the ‘friendly confines’ of Camden Yards. In particular, lefties have given him the most trouble with 6 HRs in 33.1 IP and a .354 wOBA. So if you’re against a huge stack, keep in mind Adam Dunn, Alejandro De Aza, and Conor Gillaspie when you’re building your rosters for the day.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 20 Teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care!

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Hello, I’m Keith Morrison of Dateline. Today’s story is about a young closer who had the life that we all dream about — money, girls, Tony La Russa’s private phone number to find out if a product used animal testing. What Trevor Rosenthal didn’t have, his shut ‘em down stuff. We pick up the story right after Rosenthal took the mound on April 7th. He was in for his third save, but there was something wrong. Could it have been he lost his control? Or was something else lurking deep in his past — perhaps a high school sweetheart who assumed the identity of Rosenthal’s favorite Starbucks barista, who was putting Visine in his favorite latte drink. Visine that has been known, when digested, to cause runs. Coming up later, Rosenthal can’t find the strike zone for three months, he blows numerous saves, Pat Neshek looks incredible in a setup role and Matheny groans. This is the story of The $12 Salad That Became A Brain Freeze. So, the Cards have been patient with Trevor Rosenthal, even while he hasn’t looked good for the majority of the year, but recently he’s been hideous. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cards go to Neshek, who has a 0.86 ERA, 0.57 WHIP and four saves already. Yesterday, Seth Maness (no relation to Brandon Guyer) got the save, but that was more because Neshek had thrown already in the game. As for the title, you may not stay…for Trevor stung! Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Even though I’m recommending Mike Moustakas this week, I still can’t help but booooo! him. Honestly, all Royals hitters this year, except Alcides Escobar, gets the booooo! treatment from me. I’m starting to feel like I’m a Philadelphia resident with my booing of these players regardless of what they do. [Jay's Note: Needs more Duracell.] Even Alex Gordon has turned into boresville in my book. I’m going to take a moment and shred the Royals, who regardless of their recent run in real baseball, have been a fantasy train wreck. Eric Hosmer has been unable to build on last seasons breakout and has become the Midwest’s version of James Loney. Billy Butler can’t channel those moobs for power like he did in the past and will struggle to hit 10 HR’s this year. Norichika Aoki has been a dud of a lead-off hitter after Alex Gordon created a blue print in KC, and for all of his 14 dongs, Salvador Perez has not been the .290 hitter we all wanted to see. The naysayers can state that Hosmer was a line drive hitter with a very un-homerun swing, Billy Butler is a fatter version of Hosmer, Aoki was more of a pipe dream than a lead-off man, and that Sal has never got over the loss of his abuelita. Well screw you Royals! I will never draft another offensive player from this team again. You are all dead to me….in fantasy! Speaking of fantasy, have you signed up for a Razzball Football RCL League yet? Get on the good foot and shimmy over to the football side and sign-up? Click here and let all your fantasy football dreams come true… which of course is winning a bobble-head of yourself (and a Best Buy gift card is up for grabs if you create a league!). Buying one is just straight weird, but winning one is perfectly acceptable and very cool.

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Jake Arrieta ($8,000) takes on the Mets and their 90 wRC+ against right-handed pitching today. That mark ranks New York 26th in baseball while Arrieta continues to surprise in 2014. The Cub righty has posted a 9.22 K/9, a 2.37 BB/9, and a miniscule 0.33 HR/9 this season. That includes his recent clunker in Colorado. The 28-year-old has always had “stuff” but he’s been able to put it all together this year with his new team in Chicago. The stories of J.D. Martinez and Arrieta are a reminder that players can make adjustments to be successful in the majors when given the opportunity. This start is valued at $12.5 and ranks sixth on the Stream-o-Nator today. At $8K, he makes for an affordable number one starter while players like Jon Lester will cost you quite a bit more. On the topic of Lester, it may be wise to avoid him today. Not only will he cost almost $12K, but outside of Jason Heyward, the Braves have hit lefties well. Their 106 wRC+ against southpaws ranks 8th in baseball.

If you are new to DraftKings, use our promo link to get started. New players that click on that link will get a free contest ticket with a first time deposit (only new users eligible). The winner of the contest gets entry into our $500k Showcase with a $100k top prize. Once you’ve signed up, give our Razzball 20 Teamer a go. It’s full of Razzball writers and readers. Also, if you haven’t tried the DFSBot via Rudy, check it out: it compares projected values to actual DFS prices for the day. Here are some other picks for DraftKings contests on 8/17/2014…

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Prospects, prospects, and MORE PROSPECTS!!! Plenty of youngsters making noise as their seasons wind down and players scramble for the chance to get their feet wet when organizations call players up at the end of the month to get a taste of “The Show”.  That signals time for Razzball’s Sunday morning look at what’s become the most important commodity in our favorite game – prospects. Our “Prospect Primer” reflects a handful of the prospects I’m keeping a close eye on heading into Week 21 (for both shallow and deep fantasy leagues). Our bi-weekly prospect columns (Sundays and Wednesdays) will continue to focus on the more “well-known” prospects (our Top-50/Top-100) that are likely going to affect shallow to mid-level fantasy teams.

Disclaimer: The bi-weekly lists AREN’T a “re-ranking” of our Top-50/Top-100/Organization Lists. The players mentioned will typically be guys that owners in somewhat regular leagues NEED to be aware of (regardless of their current level) to keep from slipping behind as they want to stay competitive in “keeper leagues”. There may be a sleeper mentioned from time-to-time, but they may be more important to managers in deeper and more long-term leagues. The players listed aren’t in any particular order (you’ll notice they’re listed alphabetically), they’re simply guys you need to keep an eye on and someone you might be interested in targeting when you’re wheeling and dealing.

Now it’s time to refill that cup of coffee or take your lunch break and open your spreadsheets – here’s who I’m tracking over the next few days…

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A Gas Face can either be a smile or a smirk
When appears, a monkey wrench to work one’s clockworkZev Love X (later known as MF Doom)

Sorry but you’re going to be seeing a whole lot more of me going forward boys and four girls. Today I’m not only dropping my weekly DFS science on you suckas, but I’m also covering for the one and only Pete Nice on the Ones and Twos. Oops I mean the Two Start Pitchers article. Think of me as MC Serch but handsome and less of a dick. I can just sense the collective gas face that just came across Razzball nation. Don’t worry everybody, it gets worse! Yours truly will also be stepping in for J-FOH on the handcuff report this season over on the Football side. As well as anything else Jay let’s me publish. Pop Goes The Weasel Indeed. BTW if you haven’t signed up for any RCL’s yet, what are you waiting for? These leagues are filling up faster than Kim Kardashians bikini bottoms. So get in there, and click here. Oh I almost forgot yeah Daily Fantasy Baseball on DraftKings that’s why we’re here right? Right! Well then let’s proceed to give you what you need. The Legendary Lifshitz is back to guide you to fortune and fame.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 20 Teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care!

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James Paxton continued to pitch well last night versus the ferocious Tigers tossing six innings, allowing five hits, one run, walking one and striking out a pair to move to 3-0 on the year. We shall call you, Pax the Destroyer! Pax is also one of Guardians of the Galaxy, believe it or not. No, not the tree or the raccoon. No, he’s not Scott Hatteberg from Moneyball or the smoking hot green alien either, but the other guy. The big guy. Yeah, him, apparently, he can pitch too. Since returning from the DL at the beginning of the month, he’s got a 2.16 ERA in three starts, giving up 4 ER, 15 hits and 4 walks while striking out 11 in 16.2 innings against some of the leagues top offenses (Baltimore, White Sox and Detroit). Sure, the stats aren’t overwhelming, but he’s still adjusting after returning from four months on the DL with a strained lat, and if you take his early season stats into account, the Destroyer holds a 0.94 WHIP and a 24/6 K/BB ratio. Also, the sample size is tiny, but the .236 BABIP and the 2.61 xFIP sure are pretty to look at. The M’s need Paxton to step up big time down the stretch, and I think he could do the same for your fantasy team. Pax the Destroyer gets the Phillies next week, and he’s undefeated, getting better by the start. He’s available in little over 70% of leagues and you don’t have to be a space pirate, a weird alien tree man, or a even Xandarian collector to see he could be worthy of a pick up in most leagues.

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball Friday night:

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What a week to be a Nationals pitcher, you’re six games up in the division and you have the D-backs and the Giants rolling into town. So much of my focus this year has been on Daily Fantasy that I tend to see things through DraftKings colored glasses. If you’re unfamiliar with the format and scoring, pitchers have much higher floors than hitters and the scoring is laser focused on K’s and innings. Low strikeout/ good ratio guys need not apply. Both Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg have been good but I always seem to be a little underwhelmed by what I get from them. I’m hoping for a big week from both of them. The Diamondbacks and Giants are both in the bottom 1/3 of the league in wOBA over the past fortnight and both have a k% over 20%. Don’t be surprised if owners of the Nats frontline starters run the table in ratios this week.

Other than the aforementioned Nationals aces, Max Scherzer‘s week sets up to potentially be a monster one. The Tigers and the Scherz-nit travel to both Tampa and Minnesota, as he faces crappy offenses in pitchers parks. Reverse HodgePadre Ian Kennedy gets two road starts this week. I wonder if he’s the first Friars pitcher to be better away from Petco? It’s so confusing I devoted a chapter to it in my forthcoming book “Things That Don’t Make Sense”. Should be a best seller, Gary Busey did the foreword. Most of the content covers the last 5 years and a two week period in 1639. Diamondbacks Ace(?) Chase Anderson looks to continue his hot streak against Washington and San Diego. I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t come away with another two quality starts. Overall this week’s two start pitchers remind me of the stock at a Marshall’s, a couple of finds, a whole bunch of mediocre crap, and a few things so ugly they can’t be unseen.

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