Slumps happen and they suck. As savvy fantasy owners, it's our job to decipher whether such struggles are temporary, or if they're fundamental flaws that will lead to a prolonged bout of dreadfulness. That's what this column is all about -- finding trends and figuring out what they mean. So, let's get down to business.

Coco Crisp's on-base percentage will climb

Finally free of his time-share in Boston, Crisp (OF, KAN) is batting leadoff and playing regularly for the Royals. Despite a .200 batting average, Crisp has a .373 OBP due to 11 walks, including nine in the past week. With two long balls, seven RBIs and seven runs, Crisp is providing some definite value in mixed leagues. Curiously, he has no stolen bases through 12 games. Expect that to change as Crisp will provide adequate production in all five major roto categories.

Andre Ethier enjoys his stay behind Manny

Ethier (OF, LAD) excelled hitting behind Manny Ramirez (OF, LAD) in the second-half of '08 and seems to have solidified his spot there in the past few games. Ethier finished a mammoth second week with four homers and 12 RBIs. The 20 homers and 77 RBI Ethier accumulated last year should provide a basement for his potential hitting behind Ramirez. It also doesn't hurt that he has scored 11 runs and added a stolen base. Cha-ching!

Wandy Rodriguez becomes a staff ace

Considering this is a section on trends, let's take a look at Rodriguez's (SP, HOU) last three years.

2006: 135.2 IP, 9 wins, 63 walks, 98 Ks, 1.60 WHIP, 5.64 ERA

2007: 182.2 IP, 9 wins, 62 walks, 158 Ks, 1.32 WHIP, 4.58 ERA

2008: 137.1 IP, 9 wins, 44 walks, 131 Ks, 1.31 WHIP, 3.54 ERA

So, is it a surprise that W-Rod has started the way he has? I'd say no. He 3-for-3 in quality starts, has 18 Ks in 19 IP, a 1.00 WHIP and a 1.89 ERA. Obviously that will get worse, but all signs point to him having a career year, and his being owned in just 46 percent of Yahoo! leagues is a bit confusing. This guy has a chance to be a top-30 pitcher.

Heath bars aren't this good

Trevor who? That's what Padres must have been thinking, after Trevor Bell had seven saves and a 0.00 ERA through the first two weeks. With only two walks, Bell's WHIP sits at 0.60. Let's not forget a few things here. First, this is the same Bell who had a 3.58 ERA and seven blown saves in seven chances last year. Second, the Padres are not going to keep winning at this rate. I don't know how to say this, but they kind of aren't a big deal. Bell will cool off, and you should try trading him for someone in need of saves.

As Vlad takes a seat, Rivera will step up

In another sign that Vladimir Guerrero (OF, LAA) is deteriorating faster than Jessica Simpson's music career, the oft-injured slugger will be out four to six weeks with a torn right pectoral muscle. This means even more playing time for Juan Rivera (OF, LAA) and some time for Robb Quinlan (OF, LAA). I'll throw a bone out there for Rivera, who is finally healthy and is the same player that hit 23 bombs and knocked in 85 runs in 2006. The power may not come, but Rivera is a good bet to hit .285 with plenty of RBI opportunities. Quinlan? Nah, can't tell you to give him a chance.

Lowrie's injury could be good news for Lugo's stock

Rumors are circulating that Jed Lowrie (3B/SS, BOS) may have season-ending surgery to fix his sprained left wrist. Even if he doesn't need surgery, the popular sleeper choice was off to a horrendous start. This is good news for the one or two people out there who still believe in Julio Lugo (SS, BOS). Honestly though, he's not a bad pickup. He should get a majority of the playing time and should get you double-digit steals, even with a restructured right knee. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Alex Gordon on the shelf for 10-12 weeks

If you are sick of Gordon (3B, KAN) underperforming, your wish may have been granted, as the yearly bust is out until the All-Star break with a cartilage tear in his right hip. So, who does this affect? For starters, it moves Mark Teahen (1B/3B/OF, KAN) to the hot corner and may delay his second-base eligibility for those leagues that require five games at a position. Alberto Callaspo (2B/SS, KAN) will get most of the starts at second and has some value in AL-only leagues.

Jason Kubel is taking charge in Twins outfield

Although most of Kubel's (OF, MIN) starts are at DH, he was one of five Twins outfielders fighting for playing time. Last season, Kubel rarely started against left-handers. This year, Kubel has been given two starts versus southpaws and has gone 2-for-7 with an RBI. He absolutely destroys right-handers, hitting .342 with two dingers this year. The power is legit, and Kubel should approach 25 homers and 85 RBIs. As long as he receives consistent playing time, he's completely mixed-league worthy. The guy is a professional hitter.

Brian Barden is firmly entrenched as Cards three-bagger

When Troy Glaus (3B, STL) went down with an injury in the preseason, young Cardinals prospect Brett Wallace was all the rage. That was until Tony LaRussa pulled a quick one and said Wallace will not be an option for the Opening Day squad. Instead, LaRussa went with Barden (3B, STL), who had 44 career at-bats. Terrible move, right? Wrong. Barden is hitting .409 with three homers in 22 at-bats. Barden's main competition, David Freese (3B, STL), is hitting a robust .158 with two RBIs. There's no long-term value with Barden, but he's a respectable replacement in NL-only leagues until Glaus returns.

Travis Snider is making a push for more playing time

There's almost nothing worse than a manager sitting his stud rookie to make sure he is "brought along slowly." This is the case with Snider (OF, TOR), as he sits against lefties and No. 1 starters. The 21-year-old man-beast has been batting ninth when playing, but has shown he can hit for average AND power. He's hitting .290 with three homers, including two prodigious bombs this past week against Minnesota. While it may be frustrating to watch him sit two or three games a week, it won't last long. He's simply too good. My guess is that one month from now he will be batting sixth and playing every day.

Acquire Armando Gallaraga however you can

In a brutal year for Tigers' pitchers, Gallaraga was brilliant last season. He struck out 126 and finished with a 3.73 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He's brought that success into 2009 where he's 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. He won't strike out an enormous number of batters, and his stuff isn't "wow" good, but he gets the job done. He should match or exceed last season's numbers, and for some reason the guy is available in 27 percent of leagues. Make an offer to his owner and see what you can do to get him on your team.

Don't be fooled by Jason Marquis

With an off-season trade to Colorado, it was expected that Marquis (SP, COL) put up ridiculously bad numbers. To date, he's done the opposite. He's 2-0 with an ERA under 2.00 and a WHIP at 1.00. This will not last. I've watched him pitch the last few years and he simply doesn't have the command to consistently perform at a high level. He walks too many batters and gives up the long ball far too often. As the weather warms up, Marquis will start getting bombarded all over the field.

Add Tommy Hanson ... now!

With injuries to Tom Glavine (SP, ATL) and Jorge Campillo (SP, ATL), Hanson (SP, ATL) will be a Brave sooner rather than later. It might be another month, but be rest assured that he will be up shortly. When he does, he will strike people out from the get go. The guy has simply dominated at every level he's pitched at, and although he may give up a few runs like any rookie pitcher, the Ks should always be there. If you can afford the roster space, make sure you add him now, before the rest of your league does.

All Average Draft Positions provided by mockdraftcentral.com.

Follow Brad on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bradrysz

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