You cannot deny the power of fantasy football. It tends to take the consciousness of all but the most diehard fantasy baseball fans this time of year. With the football preseason in full swing and fantasy football drafts coming up, we decided it would be a good time to reflect on what the first round of a fantasy baseball draft should have looked like in hindsight.
This might not help you win your fantasy baseball league down the stretch this season, but it can serve as a big-picture view for those already assessing their first-round keeper options for next year.
1. 1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers -- Triple Crown winners are rare enough, but how rare is it to say a Triple Crown winner is having an even better year for an encore. He is on pace for career highs in every major category.
2. OF Mike Trout, L.A. Angels of Anaheim -- I had to sit through a fantasy roundtable of Tout Wars analysts suggesting Trout would be a disappointment in Year 2 this past March. It was painful to listen to and more laughable now. He is every bit worth his elite fantasy status and Year 2 clinched it.
3. 1B Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles -- The 27-year-old breakout is having a legendary fantasy season. In fact, some might crown him the pseudo single-season home run champion if he can surpass Roger Maris' 61 homers. Davis is on pace for 59 and, if not for the strikeouts, he would be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick.
4. OF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies -- Another 27-year-old enjoying a banner year. If not for his recent finger misfortune he might have challenged to post the best season of his young career.
5. SP Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers -- Pitchers rarely go this high in rotisserie leagues, but pitchers also never are on pace for a 23-1 record and 250 strikeouts. Does anyone even remember what the heck the Diamondbacks got for this ace anyway?
6. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks -- Those that doubted his 2012 breakout have egg on their face now. Goldy is one of the star sluggers of fantasy now and should be for the next five-plus years. He is not far from a .300/40/130/20 pace.
7. OF Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates -- He got off to a slow start, but a monster start to his second half (.350) has kept him in the first-round conversation. The 26-year-old has held value nicely coming off his 2012 breakthrough and it sets him up for a huge age-27 2014 campaign.
8. SP Matt Harvey, New York Mets -- While Scherzer is the better pick for this season to date, Harvey is the more likely to sit at No. 1 among starting pitchers next March. The Mets should have a sneaky contender that can make Harvey a potential 20-game winner -- as long as this first full major-league season ends without injury.
9. OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox -- A contract year has done wonders for the oft-injured streaky outfielder. His near 60-steal pace is invaluable in rotisserie formats.
10. 2B Robinson Cano, New York Yankees -- This hasn't been a great contract year by his lofty standards at the thin position, but his consistency counts for something. He is hitting just .216 in the second half, so all that can change before season's end. If Cano finishes at .300, he warrants a top-five pick.
11. SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers -- Despite being behind two pitchers in this re-draft, no pitcher should be ranked ahead of him down the stretch. He is in a pennant race and will finish stronger than Scherzer or Harvey.
12. SS Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers -- He has come back down the Earth as expected in the second half (.247/1), but that monster first half has carried him to remain in the first round of this re-draft, barely. Segura is going to be a risky pick at his elevated draft position next March, because there is little proof his first half wasn't a fluke. He needs a strong finish.
Now for the rest of the staples of the SI.com's Weekly Planner ...
Player of the week
1B Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins -- He has stayed healthy this season for the first time in years, but the power numbers have been there until recently. The six homers in August have rejuvenated the 32-year-old former slugger and should help him land a starting job somewhere as a free agent this winter. The fact he is headed for free agency gives him a boost in value down the stretch, even though he is out of the postseason race in Minnesota. He is certainly motivated to earn every last dollar he can. Start him with confidence in mixed leagues again.
Player of the weak
SP Phil Hughes, New York Yankees -- A disappointing career has hit a low point as this player turns 27 years old. The fact he has proven incapable despite entering his physical peak is a sign he will never make good on his once elite potential. Not only is he not worth trusting in any fantasy league, he is not even worth his rotation spot with the Yankees. It is time to move on with this career bust.
SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers -- The 26-year-old import is now 11-3 with a 2.93 ERA, having gone undefeated since June. He is 4-0 with a 2.55 ERA in the second half. If not for Yasiel Puig stealing the rookie show in Los Angeles this summer, Ryu would be a great Rookie of the Year pick. He gets far less fantasy love than Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller (11-7, 2.89), but Ryu's numbers are about as good, if not slightly better because of fewer losses.
SP Joe Kelly, St. Louis Cardinals -- He gets a bit lost in that Cardinals rotation, especially with 2012 first-round pick Michael Wacha returning from the minor leagues, but Kelly is a must-start fantasy option right now. Kelly has allowed just seven earned runs in his six starts, including a remarkable two in his past four. The 25-year-old is a shot in the arm for a fantasy staff that is crumbling before fantasy crunch time.
1. SP Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians -- His 10-strikeout performance earned him a spot in the Indians rotation for the stretch. The 23-year-old has been a strikeout machine in the minors, combining for 129 in 93 innings between Double- and Triple-A.
2. RP Danny Farquhar, Seattle Mariners -- The 26-year-old rookie was handed the closer's role and hasn't disappointed. He's viable in all rotisserie leagues at the very least right now.
3. SS Stephen Drew, Boston Red Sox -- He is notoriously streaky and the 30-year-old is on the right side of streaky right now. Expect him to frustrate the heck out of you again some point before the end of the season. He won't be able to hold off Xander Bogaerts in the long term.
4. SP Bruce Chen, Kansas City Royals -- Whenever you think this 36-year-old is washed up, he comes out and puts a run like this together. Eventually you are going to wonder how he was so good, because he will wind up being equally bad.
5. OF Robbie Grossman, Houston Astros -- He is making the most of his opportunity, but don't expect the power to continue. He had just two homers in 253 Triple-A at-bats.
1. SS Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers -- The trade for Jose Iglesias at the trade deadline was the only signal you needed. His suspension ends his fantasy season.
2. SS Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres -- His suspension might hurt the most among all of the Biogenesis guys, because those steals are tough to replace -- particularly at shortstop.
3. OF Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers -- He is a tiny bit of proof former PED users aren't necessarily destined for the scrap heap. Despite (presumably) not having the aid of Biogenesis this year, Cruz was enjoying his most productive season. It should lead you to draft him and others appropriately next March.
4. RP Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle Mariners -- His sudden demise led him to starting games in Triple-A. There is still a chance he is closing games for the Mariners before the season is out -- not to mention next spring.
5. SP Tommy Milone, Oakland Athletics -- The 26-year-old lost his rotation spot, but odds are he will be needed to start games for the A's again in September.
Most viewed (Rotoworld):
1. 3B Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees -- Somehow he was the only one to avoid an immediate suspension, because he appealed. It wasn't a great week, but it did end with a homer. You can use him in deeper formats in the coming weeks. The appeal process figures to take awhile.
2. SS Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He was enjoying a huge rebound before this shoulder issue reared its ugly head. He didn't hit the DL, though, so you might be justified running him out there this week in deeper leagues.
3. OF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies -- He avoided finger surgery and should return before the end of the month. You're going to be without him for a few weeks, though.
4. OF Alex Rios, Texas Rangers -- His power numbers are down, but a pennant race with Texas can ignite him. He's still a must-have in rotisserie formats, regardless.
5. RP Bobby Parnell, New York Mets -- A promising first season as a closer might have expired because of a neck issue that could require season-ending surgery. LaTroy Hawkins will lead a closer-by-committee for the Mets, which will also include David Aardsma.
Most traded (CBSSports.com):
1. SP Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers -- His mini-slump is out of the way. He should be a monster for his owners down the stretch. BUY
2. SP CC Sabathia, New York Yankees -- He might have gotten his slump out of the way, but he just doesn't have much trade value yet. You might as well cross your fingers with him. HOLD
3. 1B Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers -- His power decline is strange, but you won't get anyone of equal potential down the stretch -- especially someone in a pennant race. HOLD
4. OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox -- The pending free agent doesn't have the 20-homer numbers, but his steals, average and consistent production are too valuable to trade. HOLD
5. OF Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves -- He is a streaky player on one of his patented hot stretches. You might see if you can get a kings ransom for him, because he's bound to cool off before the end of the season. SELL
Tout Wars moves
Traded OF Colby Rasmus to Fred Zinkie of MLB.com for OF Ichiro Suzki, SP Chris Tillman and $7 FAAB -- Rasmus was a reserve pick that is enjoying a career year in his age-27 season, go figure. He is tough to part with, but my team is near the top in power and short on on-base percentage, steals and victories. This trade attacks my weakness and might give me a chance to press for the top of the standings before season's end.
Taking a flier on some basestealers -- With Albert Pujols on the DL and some dead weight still on my bench of my pitching staff (Barry Zito and Jake McGee), I am going to take a look at some basestealers available on waivers.
- SS Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers
- OF Craig Gentry, Texas Rangers