If your fantasy portfolio is anything like mine, it probably means that there’s some work to be done to ensure you’re sitting at the top of the standings at the end of the season. Sure, there have been some good calls along the way. Drafting Mookie Betts looks like it’ll work out just fine. That late round SAGNOF pick of Jonathan Villar is making you look like Nostradamus right about now. But it hasn’t exactly been all sunshine and katydids for your fake teams. That Stanton/Upton/Heyward monster outfield that you assembled on draft day has put up some scary numbers this year (and not in a good way). Perhaps you decided to go the two ace route since a Harvey/Archer combo was just too good to pass up back in March. And just like that, you went from feeling like Nostradamus to Nostradumbass. Fantasy can be so cruel sometimes. The point is that things don’t always go according to plan. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of time to turn things around, and plenty of widely available players with which to do so. The purpose of this article is to identify some of those players who have the potential to provide significant fantasy value in the second half of the season as well as a few of the expendable players who might be burning holes in your roster.

Today, we’re going to look at some hitters of interest while focusing on pitchers in the near future. Without further ado, here are some potential second half treasures on the hitting side who are widely available in ESPN leagues (ownership percentage in parentheses):

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has been a model of consistency throughout the majority of his MLB career. This has been especially true in terms of his disciplined approach at the plate. From 2012 to 2015, he led MLB in walk rate (18.8%) by a comfortable margin and was one of only two qualified players (A.J. Ellis being the other) with an O-Swing% under 20%. Simply put, if a pitch was out of the strike zone, Votto rarely swung at it. This impressive strike zone awareness resulted in him being one of only four players (including Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, and Paul Goldschmidt) to produce a .300+ batting average as well as a .400+ on base percentage during that span. This season, however, his walk (13.9%) and strikeout (26.6%) rates have regressed, hurting his usually stellar batting average (.230) and OBP (.348) in the process. The man with the precise, almost robotic approach at the plate is suddenly about as effective as R.O.B. was for the 8 bit NES back in the day. Are the 32-year-old’s skills starting to erode? Is it time to say sayonara to Mr. Votto?

Let’s take a look at Votto’s profile to see what, if anything, has changed for him this season. Here are a few observations:

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Regulators Mount Up! Or if you’re recovering from last two nights like I am, grab a Gatorade, a couple Tylenol, finish watching the second season of Bloodline and post all the spoilers so Grey flips out. If you’re not hurting like me, then hopefully most of you are enjoying a day off and if you’re not, I’ll be sure to poor a little out for my DK homies that are out there grinding. First and foremost, I’d like to thank all of our current and former Military for their service. Without your selfless sacrifices we wouldn’t be able to enjoy trivial things like copious amounts of alcohol, BBQ’s and fantasy baseball, so again a HUGE THANK YOU! Now onto the trivial stuff. There’s some nice early action this morning with Jeff Samardzija, aka Puke Soup and Jose Quintana, but since you partied like a rock star and woke up late, let’s concentrate on the games that are still open. Nate Dogg aka Nathan Karns is priced at a very reasonable $9,500 today, with a home start against San Diego. Currently Karns is averaging 17 points a start, granted he had a semi-clunker, 5 Ing, 3 K’s and 3 ER last time out against Oak, but he’s averaging a strikeout and inning. Not too shabby for an under the radar guy. Hopefully he gets a call from Velasquez and Cueto after the game so they can compare notes and laugh about the double digit K’s they all racked up against an underwhelming Padres lineup. Tanner Roark, $9,600 can be rostered with Karns and still leave you with plenty of dough for offense. I don’t know what Dusty’s been feeding Roark, but whatever he’s doing the shizz is working cause dude is is striking people out. His K rates were mediocre/not too good previous to this year, but in 2016 he’s averaging over 8 K’s a game and he’s lowered his K/BB over a full point from 2014. I thought his 15 K’s vs Min was a fluke, but surprisingly he’s still knocking them down.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well reserve your spot in the 25 Team Razzball Exclusive League set to run today to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

One of my longtime rules of fantasy baseball (and this one is shared by many) is to avoid older hitters.  David Ortiz?  Never drafted him (often and including this season to my detriment), Albert Pujols?  Nope.  Robinson Cano?  Again, my bad this season, but still I’m not drafting him.  Ben Zobrist?  Just can’t do it.  I know three out of the four guys I just mentioned are having great seasons thus far, but let’s see how they look in August, shall we?  We shall, since August is coming whether we want it to or not; how’s that for ominous?

Thing is I just don’t want to take the chance of injury or decline.  As I get older, and though I’m no athlete, it just takes longer to recover.  Recover from injuries, running or long walks even, the few weights I do lift, and mainly, hangovers.  I keep telling myself I’m one more bad hangover (which at this point is five or six beers and home by 11:00 PM and still takes two days to feel right again) from giving it up.

But good beer is so, so good.  Just not at the ballpark for $10 a 12 ounce.  As such when I go see my Cubs play the Cardinals in a couple weeks I’m bringing in a bottle of water, refilling it as often as I like in the many fountains, and eating hot dogs and nachos until my heart’s content.  You know who also makes my heart’s content?  Brandon Phillips.  (Well, no, he doesn’t but I didn’t have a good transition there and that one did the trick.  Or it didn’t.  You decide!) But he’s an old guy and you don’t own them; you just said this.  I know, but to be clear, I won’t draft these guys; nor will I trade for them.  What I will do is pick them up off of waivers/free agent wire and plug them into my lineup.

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If there is one thing that rarely scares me in DFS, it is ace pitchers facing off against a high-powered offense. Clayton Kershaw against Toronto; so what? Noah Syndergaard against the Cubs–big deal. Outside of a road start at Coors Field, I don’t ever overthink using an ace. The question that needs to be answered is whether or not Danny Salazar is an ace. In some folks’ eyes, he certainly is. From other viewpoints, he’s a solid number two with upside. There is probably a third group that says he’s totally overachieving, but they’re wrong and their opinion doesn’t count. This brings us to Wednesday’s split slate. The Houston Astros have a very good offense with a ton of power. On the flip side, they lead the league with 318 strikeouts. It’s either boom or bust for the Astros and with a strikeout specialist like Salazar on the mound, I’m willing to bet on bust. Salazar is holding opponents to a .142 average and has struck out 43 batters in 37.2 innings pitched. Walks are still a problem for Salazar (3.8 BB/9), but he has negated that by allowing a league low 4.3 H/9. He is the best pitching option on the board with the most upside and it isn’t even close. Use him in both GPPs and cash games.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 10 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! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Jose Fernandez exploded onto the Miami scene harder than Vanilla Ice in 1990, dude was mowing people down like he was the Cuban sales manager for John Deere. JFer looked like he was going to be the foundation for the Miami rebuild collecting All Star honors & ROY in 2013. He was young, exciting, electric, fiery and then he had a visit with Dr. Freeze. Dr. Freeze immediately put him on ice and for the next 14 months the only time we got to see JFer pitch was for a 5 hour energy commercial on the MLB channel (seriously, that commercial ran non stop last year). Thankfully he came back late last year and looked sharp racking up 79 K’s in 65 Ing’s with a solid 2.91 ERA. He was in Grey’s top ten SP’s at the beginning of the year and personally I was excited to see him come back and pick up where he left off. Then the season started, Chen was tapped as the opening day starter and after that it seemed like the JFer banner season went sideways. I’m not sure what happened in the clubhouse or front office, but who the eff decided that JFer wouldn’t be the opening day starter? I get that they’re trying to keep his innings down, but this is your 23 year old franchise starting pitcher you’re messing with. I get that they’re supposed to be professionals and it’s business, but this kid just got bumped for Wei-Yin Chen on Opening Day. Yeah I’d be super pissed too. I’m not saying his rough start is due to not getting the nod on Opening Day, but maybe, just maybe he’s like that crazy ex GF that messes with you just to prove a point. I could be way off base here, but maybe, just maybe JFer is making a point to Loria and the rest of the Miami Minions, he’s Numero Uno snitches! I’m banking on the fact he sowed his April oats, he’s done pouting and that he’s proved his point to the peeps in charge. This wild horse’s reigns have been weighing him down to start the season and now it’s time for the guys in charge to let this stud run free like Nyquist, cause he’s a got a lot more in the tank Vanilla’s five point oh. At $11,300 he’s on the bottom end of the aces, but I think he be under owned due to the juicy match-ups for Corey Kluber and Jon Lester.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 10 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! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’d like to dedicate this post to all the mothers out there, and to the most important mother in most of our lives, Manny Machado.  The Oxford Dictionary defines mother, “something that is an extreme or ultimate example of its kind especially in terms of scale.”  So, one can say that Manny Machado is the mother of all shortstops and 3rd basemen.  Yesterday, on Machado’s Day, a true mother in the most arcane sense, he went 2-for-4, 6 RBIs with two homers (8, 9).  He’s gaining shortstop eligibility for next year because Hardy hurt himself and the Orioles realized that necessity is the Machado of invention.  So, next year, is there any way he’s not in the top three overall for all of fantasy?  I guess if he gets hurt.  Did I just jinx him?  What a Machado f**ker!  Whatever the case, there’s no way I can pay you back, but the plan is to show you that I understand; you are appreciated.  Sweet Manny, don’tcha know, I love ya (Dear Machado).  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Jose Altuve is on pace for 60 homers.  He can’t even reach the cereal in the morning!  If an opposing manager were to ask to see Altuve’s bat, they would crack it open to reveal gumballs because he’s the leader of the lollipop guild.  If the major leagues were to institute a Daffy Duck ‘You Have To Be This Tall’ sign before getting to the batter’s box, Altuve would need his mother to escort him into the batter’s box every time.  That’s assuming she’s tall enough!  If she’s not, who does he get?  His uncle?  Erik Kratz?  If might were height, Jose Altuve would be a giant.  That much is true.  I love that lil’ bugger!  I want a Teddy Ruxpin in the shape of Altuve to cuddle at night.  Last night, he went 4-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs with his 9th homer, hitting .330.  So, the question is, can he keep it up?  Up is not a word I associate with Altuve, and, no, he can’t keep it up.  No one could keep up this pace.  Of course, he’s still a .315 hitter with an easy 110 runs, 35 steals and 70 RBIs, i.e., a top ten bat.  So, keep it up?  No, not without four phonebooks under him.  Do enough to make you glad you didn’t sell high?  As a French dwarf would say, “Wee!”  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Daniel Murphy is the hottest homophobe since Kirk Cameron got three offers in one week for three different Christian movies, “A Behind…Left Behind,” “Groundhog’s Day Is For Satanists, God Makes The Seasons,” and “Make Me Dinner Woman, And No Leftovers.”  Daniel Murphy’s hotter than Kim Davis looks to lesbians looking for a challenge.  Daniel Murphy is hotter than Ted Nugent’s nougat, which he has to heat to 214 degrees to get the sugar to melt.  Yesterday, Murphy went 4-for-5, 4 runs, 3 RBIs and his 4th homer while hitting .398 on the year.  I’m not saying we need to throw Ted Williams’s head in the microwave to defrost, but we may want to leave it on the counter to slowly bring it to room temperature.  Okay, Murphy’s BABIP is absurdly high (.427), which means he’s hitting about a hundred points too high, so his average will come down.  He’s also not hitting for a ton of power, so it’s a good story right now for the MLB that their hottest hitter is a bigot — The Ghost of Ty Cobb, “That sounds rad.” — but it’ll end eventually.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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If you happen to be a non-millennial reading this then you remember a time when # meant “Pound” and didn’t mean “Hashtag”.  If you are a millennial you’ve likely already skipped this intro and skimmed the rest of the picks.  After all, you’re entitled to win at DFS with minimal research and time invested.  The DFS sites owe it to you, just like your boss owes it to you to give you that raise despite the fact you don’t actually do any work all day.  We’ll be using the pound sign today to discuss how the O’s are going to # on Mat Latos this evening.  I’ve had issues with Latos for some time, I mean, what self-respecting Matt goes by Mat anyway?  This year though, the issues with Latos are greater than ever.  This guy has the nerve to masquerade as an ace with his sub 1 ERA and WHIP.  We here at Razzball aren’t fooled however.  We see the real numbers under those fraudulent ones and we are ready to pounce.  The 4.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 tell the real story, as does his 3.56 FIP.  The regression fairies are just dying to pay Latos a visit, right after they finish cutting off all their jeans into shorts for the summer.  I, for one, want to be there when this correction happens, and not just for the cut off jean shorts.  Chris Davis will be heavily owned but if Pedro Alvarez finds his way into the lineup tonight, he might be an under the radar play that could pay handsome dividends.  The Orioles don’t have much else in the way of lefty batters however Mat Latos hasn’t really shown a dramatic platoon split in his career, so just load up on every O you can get your salary cap around and enjoy the #ing.

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 10 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! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

Please, blog, may I have some more?