The future is now in Chicago. After the Cubs called up top prospect Kris Bryant last Friday, Addison Russell joined him this week. I was a bit surprised to see him this soon, as the 21-year-old had only played five games at second base with Triple-A Iowa, but Tommy La Stella is injured and Jonathan Herrera and Arismendy Alcantara weren't doing much in the early going. It's worth a shot for the Cubs, who are pretty darn exciting these days. Russell is already owned in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues, so you won't find him among my recommendations this week, but I talked about him in this week's edition of the Rotoworld Mailbag.
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Adam Eaton OF, White Sox (Yahoo: 46 percent owned)
I had big expectations for Eaton coming into this season, but he has scuffled to the tune of a .196/.250/.250 batting line across his first 14 games. Still, should two weeks really change our perspective on him? I don't think so. The 26-year-old hit .300 with a .362 on-base percentage last season and hits leadoff for what should be one of the American League's best offenses. I expect him to score a bunch of runs and potentially reach 20 stolen bases for the first time. He recently said that he's been putting extra pressure on himself because of his contract extension, but look for better results soon. This is an excellent time to buy low if he's out there.
Brock Holt 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Red Sox (Yahoo: 30 percent owned)
I wasn't sure there would be room for Holt in Boston's lineup this season, but manager John Farrell continues to find ways to keep him involved. While he was on the bench Wednesday night, he started the previous four games between four different positions. You don't see that very often. The 26-year-old is off to a hot start this season and posted a surprising .281/331/.381 batting line last year to go along with 32 extra-base hits, 12 stolen bases, and 68 runs scored across 106 games. He's eligible at every position except catcher (at least for now) in Yahoo leagues, so he's a very useful roster piece in deeper formats. You'll just have to watch Farrell's lineup card closely.
Alfredo Simon SP, Tigers (Yahoo: 47 percent owned)
I'm not sure if I believe in Simon for the long haul, but he has made Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski look good so far by posting a 1.74 ERA with a 12/2 K/BB ratio in 20 2/3 innings across his first three starts this season. He's not a big source of strikeouts, but the control is good enough and he induces plenty of ground balls. I feel a lot better about Detroit's infield defense now that Jose Iglesias is back in the fold. Simon faces the Indians on Saturday (who have been one of the game's weakest offenses so far) and has a powerful lineup behind him, so I really like him as a matchup play.
Luis Valbuena 2B/3B, Astros (Yahoo: 28 percent owned)
Who leads major league third basemen in home runs? Go ahead and look, I'll wait. That's right, it's Valbuena. This might seem like one of these early-season fluke situations, but the 29-year-old quietly amassed 16 home runs to go along with a .776 OPS last season with the Cubs. He's getting regular playing time at third base with the Astros and has had a prominent place in the batting order in the early going. I could see him reaching 20 homers this year. He deserves more respect in mixed leagues.
Kevin Plawecki C, Mets (Yahoo: 13 percent owned)
Travis d'Arnaud was off to a great start this season, but he broke his right pinkie finger when he was hit by a pitch on Sunday and figures to miss at least the next month. Rather than rely on a combination of Anthony Recker and Johnny Monell behind the plate, the Mets called up Plawecki, one of their top position prospects. Known for his contact ability and a line drive swing, the 24-year-old compiled a .292/.268/.435 batting line in the minors. We have seen a bunch of catchers go down to injury recently, so he's well worth a try in two-catcher formats.
Yasmany Tomas 3B/OF, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 44 percent owned)
Jake Lamb was a popular add in the early part of the season -- and for good reason -- but he hit the DL this week with a stress reaction in his left foot and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks. As a result, the third base experiment will continue for Tomas, who was called up from Triple-A Reno last week. He hasn't shown an ability to handle the position, so his future is still likely in the outfield, but playing time is all fantasy owners care about. And he should have it, at least for the short-term. There are questions about his plate discipline, so I don't have high hopes for him in 2015, but the power makes him worth a flier. If Chase Headley (Yahoo: 49 percent owned) is still out there in your league, I'd rather own him, since Tomas could struggle to find at-bats again (or even go back to the minors) when Lamb returns.
Tony Watson RP, Pirates (Yahoo: 24 percent owned)
Last week I mentioned hard-throwing Arquimedes Caminero as a sleeper in the Pirates' bullpen. I stand by that, but now that Mark Melancon looks more vulnerable than he was even a week ago, it's time to make sure that you have safely stashed away Watson, who figures to be next in line on the depth chart. He's left-handed, which is a little unconventional for a closer, but he owns a 2.65 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his career and has generally held right-handed batters in check. Watching him get the final six outs of Wednesday's win over the Cubs should have been the last call. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle isn't ready to give Melancon a break from the closer role yet, but I think more chances will follow for Watson. He's the pitcher to own in this bullpen.
Jake Marisnick OF, Astros (Yahoo: 10 percent owned)
The Astros' outfield looked pretty crowded going into spring training, but the team planned to make it a priority to give Marisnick as much playing time as possible. It's paying off so far, as the 24-year-old is batting .350 (14-for-40) with four extra-base hits (including on home run), six RBI, four stolen bases, and six runs scored across his first 14 games. He's currently riding a .394 BABIP and his plate discipline has been shaky so far in the majors, so I'm not really buying in the batting average, but I could see him reaching double-digit homers and 20-plus steals.
Shopping at the five-and-dime
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Wilmer Flores 2B/SS, Mets (Yahoo: 6 percent owned)
Flores is never going to be confused with a Gold Glover at shortstop, but amid all the consternation of his deficiencies, it's easy to forget that he can hit a little bit. After a strong finish to the 2014, the 23-year-old has three home runs and seven RBI across his first 13 games this season and has hit safely in seven out of his last eight games. Flores was a .292 hitter in the minors and added power as he worked his way up the ladder, but he has long been considered a man without a position. I don't think shortstop is where he belongs, but he could hit 15-plus homers this season. That's MI (middle infielder) material.
Michael Saunders OF, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 8 percent owned)
Saunders was a popular sleeper going into spring training, but he required knee surgery after stepping on a sprinkler during a freak accident in late February. After a minor scare with his hamstring, the 28-year-old was recently able to resume a minor league rehab assignment and could make his debut with the Blue Jays as soon as Friday. As I said in Tuesday's Rotoworld Roundtable, I'm excited to see what he can do after moving from Seattle to hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. Don't forget that he had 19 homers and 21 steals as recently as 2012. He could surprise.
J.T. Realmuto C, Marlins (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Realmuto was called up last week after Jeff Mathis suffered a fractured right ring finger, but the Marlins haven't been using him as a backup. He has started six out of the last seven games (coming into Thursday), as the Marlins appeared to be losing patience with the disappointing Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Realmuto, 25, has emerged as one of the better catching prospects in the game and hit .299/.369/.461 with eight homers and 18 steals over 97 games last season in Double-A. While Kevin Plawecki is getting more attention, Realmuto might actually be the better pickup in fantasy leagues. He has a real chance to run away with the starting job in Miami while d'Arnaud will eventually displace Plawecki.
Jarrod Parker SP, Athletics (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
A name brought up by Matthew Pouliot in our Rotoworld Roundtable, Parker missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. It was the second Tommy John surgery of his career, which is a scary thing, but he hasn't had any setbacks until this point and will begin a minor league rehab assignment Thursday with High-A Stockton. He'll likely stay in the minors for close to the full 30-day rehab window, but this would still put him on track to join the A's in late May if all goes well. Reports on his velocity have been encouraging, so he should be on your radar as a possible DL-stash. The 26-year-old pitches in a favorable home ballpark and owns a 3.68 ERA across his first 62 starts in the majors.
Editor's Note: You might be overthinking your daily fantasy MLB strategy each day -- and it might be getting in the way of you building better FanDuel lineups. Check out this article "That Time I Did Not Quit Fantasy Sports" by RotoGrinders' JM "JMtoWIN" Tohline for some tips on fantasy research, life priorities and everything in between - as well as a few of his top picks for this week.
Alex Colome SP, Rays (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Colome was late to spring training due to a visa issue and then found himself hospitalized for pneumonia, but he's back to full health now and has made three minor league rehab starts. His next start could be in the majors. It feels like we have been talking about Colome forever, but it's high time for the Rays to see what they have with him. He's a nice sleeper.
Carlos Quentin OF, Mariners (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Quentin was traded from the Padres to the Braves in the Craig Kimbrel deal earlier this month only to be given his release a couple of days later. The injury-prone slugger latched on with the Mariners this week and has been assigned to Triple-A Tacoma. He has the ability to opt out of the deal by May 12, so we could see him in the majors again soon. Quentin is a much better fit with an American League team where he could DH, so this situation is worth monitoring.
Martin Maldonado C, Brewers (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Rough times for the Brewers. In addition to having the worst record in the majors, they are currently missing Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, and Scooter Gennett to the disabled list. With Lucroy expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a broken toe, Maldonado should get the majority of the playing time behind the plate, with the recently-recalled Juan Centeno also in the mix. The 28-year-old has hit just .191 since 2013, but he has 17 homers in 602 career plate appearances in the majors. He's worth a shot as a stopgap.
Rafael Montero SP, Mets (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
Montero began the year in the Mets' bullpen, but he was optioned to the minors last week with the idea of stretching him out as a starter. He's expected to be called back up for a spot start against the Marlins on April 28 in Miami and remains a threat to take Dillon Gee's spot in the starting rotation. Go ahead and pick him up in leagues where he was dropped.