The All-Star break is just a few days off, but it's more than just a midsummer classic -- it's also a time for new beginnings and huge returns, as fantasy is about to hopefully get some of its biggest names back.
This Sunday's Fantasy Baseball Weekly Planner breaks down the best of the names we could see back in lineups in just over 10 days.
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SS Derek Jeter, New York Yankees -- He picked up his first hit on his rehab assignment Sunday and some believe he might be activated even before the break. Regardless of his official return date, the health and stability of his twice-broken ankle will still be on his mind.
"That's going to take a while," he told MLB.com on Sunday. "That's like any injury. I've pulled a hamstring, and you still think about it a month, two months away. It's there. It is what it is, so I'll think about it, but I'm trying not to. I'm asked about it every single day, therefore I think about it."
3B Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees -- He won't be on as quick of a timetable as Jeter, and some still question whether he will actually return, but A-Rod figures to be ready just after the All-Star break. While Jeter has solid fantasy value because of the position he plays, A-Rod actually has greater potential to impact mixed leagues because of the power potential. A healthy A-Rod can still hit 10-to-15 homers in the second half. Roll your eyes and laugh, but we're serious here.
SP Brandon Beachy, Atlanta Braves -- His rehab started before, so his start Tuesday is merely a resumption of his assignment. He might not need many more starts if he can get through them healthy. If he is right, he stands to be a must-have in all fantasy leagues. Chances are he impact fantasy teams more than A-Rod or even Jeter.
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies -- His return is academic for fantasy owners. He is a must-start in all leagues, unlike those above. He wants to return with a brief rehab stint, so he could be back for the Rockies before the break, but you cannot use him in fantasy until afterward. Ask Jacoby Ellsbury owners how dangerous returning early from a rib injury is. Tulo would be best served taking it easy until the break.
SP Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers -- He might make another start or two for Triple-A Round Rock, which can position him for a rotation spot with the Rangers later this month. A healthy Ogando can be a winner for Texas and fantasy owners. He also happens to be available in one-fifth of fantasy leagues.
Others on rehab assignments who we can expect to be ready after the break: OF Dexter Fowler, COL; 3B Brett Lawrie, TOR; OF Adam Eaton, ARI; and SP Nate Eovaldi, MIA.
Player of the week
SP Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays -- This is the kind of production we expected years ago. The third-year starting pitcher breakout candidate is making good on his promise as of late, winning four consecutive starts. He is now a must-start ace in all leagues and he stands a very good chance of holding this status throughout the second half of the season. Full-season numbers of 15 victories, 200 innings and 165-plus strikeouts are within his reach for the first time. If anyone is selling, it is a good time to buy.
Player of the weak
1B Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians -- He has always been a hitter who struggles with strikeouts and cold spells, but he is deeply on the wrong side of streaky right now, going hitless for the week after a June where he hit just .187 with two homers. You are justified cutting him in smaller mixed leagues, but you know he is just as likely to break out of this with a five-homer week as he is to completely lose a starting job.
OF Adam Eaton, Arizona Diamondbacks -- Remember this name from spring training? Well, he's nearing a return and can impact all fantasy leagues, particularly rotisserie formats. He can hit .300 with a couple steals a week through the second half of the season, assuming he proves healthy and worthy of regular duty in the D'backs outfield. Take a flier on him right now. Waiting until the All-Star break might be too late.
1B Logan Morrison, Miami Marlins -- He has announced his return with authority, at least statistically. The hype of his recent five-game hit streak (three homers) hasn't significantly impacted his fantasy ownership on CBSSports.com. He still is available in almost 60 percent of those leagues. He is good enough to start in all fantasy leagues at this point, even at the deep and productive first base position. Don't sleep on the talent in overlooked places like South Florida. Morrison is legit.
1. OF Raul Ibanez, Seattle Mariners -- Career years don't happen at age 41. His pace of 39 homers would be a career high. Sell. Sell. Sell.
2. SP Martin Perez, Texas Rangers -- The 22-year-old lefty has arrived. He is a must-add in all leagues, especially because he is pitching for a contender.
3. SP Jhoulys Chacin, Colorado Rockies -- He keeps stringing up victories, but he really isn't pitching as well as his record, save for a three-start string in June. He's a good sell-high candidate.
4. 3B/1B Juan Francisco, Milwaukee Brewers -- He is on the right side of streaky and has an opportunity for regular at-bats now. Consider him viable in deeper leagues.
5. OF Rajai Davis, Toronto Blue Jays -- He has earned his playing time with his performance and is a must-have outfielder in rotisserie leagues because of his 40-plus steals potential.
1. SP Roy Oswalt, Colorado Rockies -- He will get off the Schneider, but he is not trustworthy in fantasy right now. You're justified cutting him if you need a pitcher you can start right now.
2. OF Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins -- His disappointing season adds injury to insult. He will be out until mid-August and is only worth stashing in leagues with DL spots or ample reserves.
3. SP Chien-Ming Wang, Toronto Blue Jays -- He lost his rotation spot and his roster spot after two disastrous outings. He might never be fantasy viable again.
4. SP Trevor Cahill, Arizona Diamondbacks -- His DL stint for a hip issue gives us an explanation for his struggles. He should get healthy and still provide value down the stretch in fantasy.
5. SP Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants -- The all-field, no-hit Crawford we had come to know is back. He's not worth owning, much less starting, in any fantasy leagues right now.
Most viewed (Rotoworld):
1. OF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He is not going to miss time with the return of Carl Crawford, and it is highly likely he will be on the final All-Star roster, too.
2. OF Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles -- The 27-year-old breakout hits a career-high homer and winds up the AL's leading vote-getter in the same week. Now, what's his ceiling, 50 homers? 60? Perhaps. His numbers make him a fantasy first-rounder next year.
3. RP Carlos Marmol, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He might never close again, but the bet here is he winds up pitching in the Dodgers' bullpen before the end of the year.
4. OF Adam Eaton, Arizona Diamondbacks -- He can still make the impact that everyone expected of him in the second half of the season. He is nearing the completion of a rehab assignment, so now is the time to jump on board, particularly in rotisserie formats.
5. SP Ricky Nolasco, Los Angeles Dodgers -- You have to like his opportunity after the trade across the country. He will get more run support and wins potential. He's a viable starter for all fantasy leagues again. He is better than the mediocre package the Marlins got for him.
Most traded (CBSSports.com):
1. SP Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers -- It is a terrible time to deal him, unless you're getting an elite hitter for him. You also shouldn't be trading hitting for pitching, or any pitcher for Verlander. HOLD
2. SP Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies -- We have maintained the Phillies were going to get hot, but the loss of Ryan Howard crimps that hope. Hamels was great last time out. Now is the time to capitalize. SELL
3. OF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers -- His power came back, but so did the shoulder questions. This is a good time to try to get some value for him because there's no telling that shoulder will allow him to be as elite as he should be. SELL
4. SS Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays -- He is back and he is scorching. Outside of rotisserie leagues where you need the steals, though, he likely has more value to you in trade than on your roster. Capitalize on his fast start in the wake of his return. SELL
5. SP Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants -- Yes, this past start against the Dodgers was a disaster, but before that he had been pitching much closer to his 2012 form. Perhaps someone will be sick of him and give him up for a reasonable deal. BUY
Tout Wars moves
Taking a flier on a starting pitcher -- Barry Zito has been damaging my ERA for weeks since I traded for him, so it is time to find something better off the waiver wire. Here are the starters I am going after with small FAAB bids this week.
1. Tyler Skaggs, Arizona Diamondbacks
2. Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
3. Edinson Volquez, San Diego Padres
4. Randall Delgado, Atlanta Braves
5. Allen Webster, Boston Red Sox
My daily lineup
If you play in those daily fantasy leagues, here are the players by position that yours truly will be going with for Monday's games. If you want to challenge me, hit me up on Twitter @EricMackFantasy:
SP -- Max Scherzer
SP -- Mike Minor
C -- Josh Phegley
1B -- Justin Morneau
2B -- Kelly Johnson
3B -- Anthony Rendon
SS -- Starlin Castro
OF -- Jason Heyward
OF -- Ryan Doumit
OF -- Kendrys Morales
DH -- Leonys Martin