Every year, there are surprises in fantasy baseball. Some players come out of nowhere and breakout or, in the case of Aaron Judge, absolutely dominate. Other players regress after a breakout season the year before. There are even the players who have long track records of mediocrity who, all of sudden, appear to have figured something out en route to becoming legitimate contributors both in fantasy and in, you know, real baseball. I like to call these players Justin Smoak-Logan Morrison-Yonder Alonso. The more popular terms among Razzballers for these players are Schmohawks and Hot Schmotatos.

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If Tyler Chatwood ($15,300) never had to step foot in Coors Field again, he would probably be contending for the Cy Young every year… ok he wouldn’t be, but thats how good he has been on the road since 2013. Only Clayton Kershaw ($25,200) has a better road ERA during that span. Chatwood has a 2.35 ERA this season so far on the road; now he gets the low hitting Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates ranked 25th or worse in each of the following hitting categories: Runs, HRs, avg, and OPS. So you can say he is set up nicely against that line up. Kershaw is also on the slate and has to go on the road against the defending American League champs. The Cleveland Indians offense has  been horrendous versus LHP (.236 AVG .691 OPS), making Kershaw an automatic play in cash games. There are some nice pitching options that won’t cost you an arm and leg, though, so let’s take a look at the picks…

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I use a number of different tools, sites, and metrics every week to adjust my rankings and to determine exactly who I should focus on each week. I usually try to focus on players owned in less than 60% leagues, players who are rising or falling and who you should probably buy low or sell high on, or players who are new to the Top 100 or on the cusp of joining the ranks. It has only been a few weeks since I took over these rankings for the legendary M@, so I am still working on creating the most efficient system (I spend wayyyyyy too much time agonizing over these rankings every Sunday).

I start by going over my notes and spreadsheets from the previous week, then take a peek at Razzball’s Player Rater and look at the current rankings and the Rest of Season Projections. Once I jot down some notes from those, I take a look at ESPN’s PR15 Player Ratings for the last 15 days. Lastly, I check FanGraphs with a focus on the best wOBA for the last 14 days and the last 30 days. Usually, once I am finished with that process, I have an idea of who I am going to write about and a starting point for adjusting the rankings.

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Let’s begin by having a moment of silence for the fact that we will be without Mike Trout for two months. I dropped him to 23 in the rankings below, which are considered ROS trade value. I know it is hard to justify Trout over some talented players who aren’t going to miss two months, I just couldn’t bring myself to drop him much lower. The Razzball Player Rater has him all the way down to 71 for ROS projections. Personally, if I were to trade Trout, I would hold out for the highest bid and make someone overpay. Otherwise, I’m not moving him. And in keeper leagues, I would still have him at number 1 and wouldn’t entertain offers.

Now, for the players who are playing right now. The two players I moved up and want to focus on this week are Justin Bour and Justin Smoak. I received some questions and comments on here and on Twitter last week about Smoak, so let’s take a look at him first. He has looked great this season, but I have my doubts.

While Smoak’s slash line and counting stats look great right now, unless he finally figured everything out at 30 years old, I have my doubts. Yes, he is currently on pace for almost 40 home runs. Yes, he is striking out 17.9% of the time, which is almost half as much as he did last season and is well below his career average of 23.5%. Through 55 games and over 200 plate appearances in 2017, the metrics back up what he is doing.

But here’s the thing.

Smoak has been in the league for eight seasons and has over 3,000 plate appearances. He’s a career .227 / .311 / .402 hitter. His previous high for home runs in a season is 20, which he did back in 2013. Take a look at his wOBA by season:

Translation: Smoak isn’t this good. This probably isn’t going to last, and a regression is coming.

Now, as far as Justin Bour goes, I am still skeptical but am less skeptical. Bour is 29 but has just over 1,000 plate appearances at the MLB level. He has displayed this kind of power before, both at the major league level and in the minors, so it is easier to believe that his current power stroke is real. Will he continue to hit up around .300? No, but it is reasonable to expect him to hit in the .250-.270 range and offer up 30 home runs, as long as he can stay healthy (which he can’t always do).

The main point here is that, while Bour is only a year younger, he doesn’t have as much of a negative track record that we can hold against him. He has also displayed plus-power in the past, while Smoak has always struggled to fulfill his potential in that department. Bour is likely to regress a bit as well, but I don’t think his regression will be as extreme as Smoak’s. If I had to pick between these two first basemen as a guy I value higher ROS I am taking Bour every time. Maybe I’m just biased now that I live in South Florida, or maybe their track records are telling us everything we need to know about them…

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The title is referring to 24.  I never saw 24.  Well, I’ve seen the number.  I never saw the show.  No interest really.  Not my sorta thing.  I do have a Kiefer Sutherland story though.  I think I recapped it in my book, Who Is Grey Albright?  Long story short, at my first job ever in Boston (and really only job ever where I collected a weekly paycheck), I was working in a film production office and someone called for the producer and I asked them who they were.  “Tell him, it’s Kiefer,” and I was like, “Kiefer?  Kiefer who?”  “It’s Kiefer Sutherland, you jackass!”  I wasn’t made for answering phones, apparently.  Y’all gotta admit; you hear the name Kiefer out of context and it’s a bizarre name.  Though, it wasn’t fully out of context, I suppose, since it was a film office.  Any hoo!  Whatever Trevor Bauer did prior to yesterday’s game, do it again!  Was it the pre-game chucking of a softball three-quarters of hectare?  Then do that!  Yesterday, he went 7 IP, 3 ER, 8 baserunners with 14 Ks.  Well, hello, there.  Can you stay a while?  Maybe I can make you a Cuba Libre and some Brazilian cheesy bread?  His peripherals are gorge too — 11.5 K/9, 3 BB/9 and a 3.03 xFIP.  Of course, his opponent, Sonny Gray went 4 2/3 IP, 7 ER, and thus illuminates the problem.  Gray was solid too, a game ago, and now look at him.  I’d grab Bauer for some Ks, but the risk is enormous.  He doesn’t just happen to have a 6.00 ERA even after yesterday’s game.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Over the past few weeks, Yasmani Grandal has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball. Despite being a pinch-hitter who sometimes wears the wrong helmet, he has been hitting .345 with a .392 wOBA over his last 30 days. Part of that has to do with an unsustainable .409 BABIP during that span, but most of it has to do with Grandal being locked in and being more aggressive at the plate. While he has a history of being frustrating to fantasy owners who aren’t utilizing him in OPS or OBP leagues, Hot Yasmani has been very different this season.

Regular Yasmani is a patient hitter who posts OBPs 100 points higher than a mediocre AVG, who walks 15% of the time and strikes out 25% of the time. He can hit home runs but hurts AVG in standard leagues. Last season, he rewarded fantasy owners with 27 home runs, which is great, especially at the catcher position. But, again, he hit just .228, struck out 25.4% of the time, and recorded just 86 hits. That means a third of his hits went for home runs. With 116 strikeouts and 62 walks, it also means that he either struck out or walked 50% of the time. Other than the home runs (which, again, are great to get at the catcher spot), those numbers are fine for OBP/OPS leagues but are not ideal for your standard leagues.

Hot Yasmani, 2017 Yasmani, is a different story. Hot Yasmani has no time for patience at the plate. He wants to eat. HY’s BB% over the last 30 days is less than 6%, and it’s below 10% on the year. He already has 42 hits and is on pace for well over 100 for the first time in his career. He his hitting around .300 after hitting below .235 the last four seasons. The home runs are down, for now, but he is making up for it with career marks in nearly every other offensive category (except walks, of course). I included HY in this week’s Top 100 because he is no longer just posting good numbers for a catcher; he’s one of the hottest hitters not named Charles Cobb Blackmon (full name, look it up) right now.

Now, for a few guys who are not so hot right now…

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Let me know if you can tell what song I’m listening to while I write this.  Scott Schebler hit his 13th home run; it was the third straight game with a homer.  Whoa, make me sweaty (Bam-ba-Lam)!  I’ve mentioned before (numerous times) that Schebler was always loved by Razzball/Steamer projections, but why?  He’s so rock steady (Bam-ba-Lam)!  Whoa, Dave Righetti (Bam-ba-Lam)!  Schebler took a while to catch on, but he’s still only 26, and, as a 23-year-old in the minors, he hit 28 HRs and stole 10 bases while hitting .280 in Double-A, and continued that in Triple-A, always hitting for power and getting some steals.  He’s not from Birmingham (Bam-ba-Lam)!  Way down in Alabam’ (Bam-ba-Lam)!  Well, he’s shakin’ that thing (Bam-ba-Lam)!  Boy, he makes me sing (Bam-ba-Lam)!  Whoa, drop confetti (Bam-ba-Lam)!  Across the board now, ROS projections are singing Schebler’s praises and I’m done fighting him.  If you combine his ROS projections and what he’s done so far, they have him down for a 30 HR, 10 SBs, .255 guy.  Whoa, pot of neti, (Bam-ba-Lam)!  At this point, there’s no reason to not own Schebler until further notice.  Whoa, sometimes I dress my dog up like a yeti, (Bam-ba-Lam)!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Matt Adams was acquired by the Braves for Juan Yepez, who was always a little too excitable for the Braves — Yepez!  See?  Not a good look.  It was a tearful exit from the Cardinals’ clubhouse for Adams.  His emotions hit a crescendo when he realized he couldn’t carry out all the food he had accumulated in the clubhouse refrigerator.  Through tears, “Why didn’t I learn to balance soda on my head like I was Jamaican?”  Hey, mon, they have grape soda in Atlanta.  Adams will be the 1st baseman in Atlanta until Freeman returns, while conceding to Loney on occasion, assuming Adams doesn’t try to eat him, “I thought his jersey read Baloney!  I’m a terrible person!”  Adams gets a boost in value, but mostly just for NL-Only and very deep leagues.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Don’t get me wrong, I love playing roto fantasy baseball. But as I look despairingly at my overflowing DL slots in my leagues, wondering whether I have the stamina to keep grinding away at this six-month marathon, this war of attrition, I’m reminded all over again why I also love DFS. DFS is the oasis you stumble into from the Roto Desert, just often enough for a little refreshment and to refill your water bottles, when your roto camels are so loaded up with DTD and DL’d players that their knees are buckling and your first-round picks are obviously so parched they haven’t had the strength to get more than 3 hits in the last week (I’m looking at you, Miggy). At the gates of DFS, Jose Altuve hands you a glass of champagne and says, “Welcome to Fantasy Island.” You walk in and the place is swarming with star players, just lying about under the palm trees, waiting for you so they can help make you rich. You can have any player you want (for a price, of course). Chris Sale? Sure! Bryce Harper? Why not! Mike Trout? Go for it, if you’ve got still got room in your salary cap! I feel like a kid in a candy store, getting to build the most fantasiest fantasy FanDuel lineup I possibly can. Sometimes that build is easy and sometimes it’s a challenge and sure, it doesn’t always work out, but you know what? You just shrug it all off and try again next time.

Here endeth my little ode to DFS; now let’s go ahead and sample today’s buffet at the FanDuel oasis.

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well, be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot  for your daily baseball plays. Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

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As I was rummaging through player statistics looking for some bit of data that would help both me and my eight loyal readers, for some reason I began to wonder if it would be possible to add a team to an existing points league right now using only players that went largely undrafted in the majority of leagues to fill my starting lineup. I’m defining “largely undrafted” as any player with an average draft position of 220 or greater. It escapes me as to how I arrived at the 220 number, but I think it’s safe to say that anyone drafted at that point wasn’t really a player the drafting team intended to bank its success upon. So the rules are simple, I construct a starting lineup of 16 players (10 batters, 4 starting pitchers and 2 relievers) using only players with an ADP greater than 219. These players do not need to be on the waiver wire. I am allowed to take them from their current teams. Without this clause, said exercise would be futile because, at this point, all waiver wire gems have already been snatched up.

For those of you that thought draft season was over, guess again.

Without further ado, let’s draft our expansion team…

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