As scrutinized as the first couple of weeks of the fantasy baseball season are. There are still some solid players that are playing above expectations that go unnoticed. Some of them are old hats that have made a strong comeback, while others are just rising to the occasion for the first time. Each fantasy baseball team has different needs and some of these players can fill those needs for their potential owners.

Travis Hafner – UT/DH – Cleveland Indians
Hafner has been zeroed in all season and looks like the old Pronk that we all used to know and love. While he may not keep this up the entire season you cannot ignore his .348/.395/.580 slash line so far. With the way all the Indians are playing right now, Hafner is a must-own must-start player until he proves otherwise. Keep in mind though that he only qualifies at the UT position in most standard fantasy baseball leagues.

Peter Bourjos – OF – Los Angeles Angels
Bourjos is not going to keep up his current batting average (.301), but he possess the rare speed and power combination that every fantasy baseball owner values. He is a threat to steal a base every time he is on and owns a .849 OPS so far this season and has turned it up lately. Hitting in front of guys like Bobby Abreu, Tori Hunter and Vernon Wells in the Angels lineup should net him a lot of runs scored this season as well.

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When talking about the best pitchers in the National League, two of the first names that come up are Roy Halladay and Josh Johnson. Halladay has been the premier pitcher in the major leagues over the past few years and brought the Cy Young Award home for the Phillies last year, but after last season and the start of this season it looks like he finally has a legitimate challenger in Florida’s Josh Johnson. Johnson is off to a fantastic start and is looking more and more like the pitcher to own in fantasy baseballthis season.

Halladay is not going to go down without a fight however. He won the NL Cy Young last year with a 21-10 record, 2.44 ERA, and 1.04 WHIP to go along with 9 complete games. What makes Halladay so special is his ability to pitch deep into games even on days he does not have his best stuff, evidenced by his 31 decisions in 33 starts. His immaculate control is another aspect of Halladay’s game that makes him so devastating. He struck out 219 batters last season while only walking 30. Halladay has struggled a little bit so far this season, but still sports a 2.83 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He has pitched into the 7th inning of every game so far this season including one complete game already, so he is showing no signs of slowing down this season.

Josh Johnson is making his case for top fantasy baseball pitcher though.

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Closer situations are the story in fantasy baseball this week. Some pens are struggling, others are fighting injuries and some are getting healthy. Saves is one of the most unpredictable categories in fantasy baseball because of all the variables that occur. Here are some players that are looking at more save opportunities coming up in the future and should be an asset in your fantasy baseball lineup.

Matt Capps – RP – Minnesota Twins

Joe Nathan has pitched his way right out of the closers jobs in Minnesota. They have decided to use him in less pressure situations until he is back to his old self. While this doesn’t mean that Capps will be the closer for the remainder of the season, he will be for the foreseeable future. Capps has struggled in his last few outings, but was lights out before that and definitely has the stuff to be a top tier fantasy closer if given the opportunity.

Jon Rauch – RP – Toronto Blue Jays

Rauch has taken over the closer role for the Jays with Frank Francisco on the DL. He has posted a 2.70 ERA and 1.20 WHIP to go with 3 saves so far this season. He has pitched so well that there is talk in Toronto that he may keep the job even after Francisco returns if he keeps pitching this well. This is more of a wait and see type situation than Capps, but owners should feel free to grab him and use him if u need saves immediately. (Continue…

While many fantasy baseball owners try to find sleepers in the draft, the more effective way to find them is in the early parts of the season. We have seen a lot of young pitchers make statements in the first couple weeks of our young season. While veterans may provide owners with more consistency, there is no doubting the young pitching talent that has sprouted up across the major leagues already, providing owners with a nice crop of fantasy baseball sleepers.
Zach Britton – SP – Baltimore Orioles
Britton started the season off on a solid note by holding the Rays to only three hits and one run over six innings in his major league debut. The young lefty had a 6:3 strikeout to walk ratio while keeping his pitch count down. While he will have to face a lot of tough offenses in the AL East, he should be added in all formats because of his potential. Expect him to be really up and down depending on the team he is facing, but keep him in your lineup for all good matchups.
Alexi Ogando – P – Texas Rangers
Expected to be the Rangers set-up man, Ogando was only pushed into the rotation by a spring injury to Tommy Hunter. He was very impressive in his first start last week shutting out the Mariners for six innings while allowing only 2 hits. He struck out 4 while walking only two. He is expected to be moved back to the bullpen, but Manager Ron Washington has said that if Ogando continues to pitch like that they may have to reconsider. This uncertainty makes him a very risky, but fascinating fantasy option. (Continue…)

Injuries are the story again this week in fantasy basketballnews. Players are resting for the playoffs; some are calling it a season and some players are stepping up to fill the voids. It is always good to check for new updates throughout the week, but here is the top injury news from around the NBA.

Carlos Boozer – F – Chicago Bulls
Boozer and Joakim Noah are expected to play every game this week for the Bulls. They have only played together 23 times this season going 18-5 in those games. While they have stuggled a little bit with their numbers when playing together, both players are too talented to be anything but must-start players as long as they are in the Bulls line-up.

Josh Smith – F – Atlanta Hawks
Smith suffered a knee injury last time out and has been ruled out for at least Tuesday’s game. While it is a huge blow to Smith owners, it makes Al Horford one of the most valuable big men in fantasy basketball while he is out. Look for updates on Smith, but he may rest until the playoffs even if healthy. Al Horford should see a bump in points and rebounds the entire time Smith is out. (Continue…)

 

Bryan Bickell

This week is probably your last chance to pick up the final pieces of your championship roster. There are still players out on thefantasy hockey waiver wire that can help your roster continue to improve. While some teams are packing it in, others are still fighting for playoff spots leading to some improved play of late.

Bryan Bickell – LW – Chicago Blackhawks
Since an injury to Patrick Sharp, Bickell has been moving up the Hawks lines. He finally slid into the first line against Columbus Friday to play alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. He has 17 goals on the season and if he stays on the first line for Chicago a hot finish could be in store. Keep an eye on Sharp’s status, but this is a much have pickup for fantasy hockey owners.

Cam Fowler – D – Anaheim Ducks
Fowler is only 19 and has had a very up and down rookie season. He struggled a little heading down the stretch causing manyfantasy hockey owners to drop him. While he is not a scoring machine, he has scored two goals and had six assists in the last nine games. He also has gained more time on the power play for the Ducks late in the season. Fowler should bolster the defensemen spots for needy fantasy hockey owners. (Continue…)

 

Despite everything that has happened this season, the Chicago Bulls own the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Injuries have really taken their toll on the Bulls this season, they have lost both Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer for lengths throughout the season. It’s a lot like NBC’s The Office, the cast is always shifting, but as long as the main man (Derrick Rose/Michael Scott) is around the conclusion remains the same, it was well worth the time to watch the final product.

When everything comes together the Bulls are scary good.

They boast the leading candidate for MVP in Derrick Rose with one of the best and deepest front-lines in the NBA.

There are no teams that want to see the Bulls in the Finals this season, but most of all the Los Angeles Lakers should want to avoid them.

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