By Chris Cwik, CBSSports.com
It’s hard to preach patience with an unproven Fantasy asset. That was the case with Brad Miller after his early struggles. Miller had a nice rookie year, which led to many buying into the hype for his second season. When things didn’t pan out, most owners cut bait, deciding to ride the hot hand.
Nearly three full months into the season, Miller is finally starting to show the signs that made him a mid-round pick on Draft Day. Given the lack of depth at the shortstop position, there’s still a chance Miller plays a significant role in Fantasy leagues over the second half.
Brad Miller, SS, Mariners (27 percent started Week 13)
Week 14 schedule: At Astros, White Sox
Don’t look now, but Miller is starting to fulfill his early-season hype. While it’s been a small sample, Miller has been much better in June. In 74 at-bats, he’s hitting .311, with four home runs. Fantasy owners are betting on a few things here. First off, Miller had some hype coming into the year, and there was no way he this awful at the plate. Second, shortstop is so thin that even a slightly better version of Miller can provide value. On top of all that, he plays in two hitter-friendly parks.
Players I would start him over: Yunel Escobar, Xander Bogaerts, Jed Lowrie
Alex Wood, SP, Braves (58 percent started Week 13)
Week 14 schedule: Home against the Mets, Diamondbacks
Gavin Floyd’s season-ending injury isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Braves. Alex Wood looked like a pretty legitimate starting option to open the year, and was only shifted to the bullpen to accommodate the veteran. Aside from a slightly higher than usual strand rate, there’s nothing in Wood’s profile to suggest his performance as a starter was a fluke. Facing off against the Mets and Diamondbacks makes this a strong week to get Wood into your lineup.
Players I would start him over: Josh Beckett, Jake Arrieta, (one start) Phil Hughes
Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets (49 percent started Week 13)
Week 14 schedule: At Braves, home against Rangers
Wheeler has been surprisingly hittable for a pitcher with his stuff. The .332 BABIP should begin to fall at some point, and that could lead to Wheeler pitching more like his 3.28 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) suggests. Though both the Braves and Rangers entered the year with potentially strong offenses, neither has lived up to the billing this year. Wheeler has been somewhat inconsistent this season, but it’s tough to pass on these opponents.
Players I would start him over: Chris Archer, Rick Porcello, (one start) John Lackey
Brock Holt, OF, Red Sox (41 percent started Week 13)
Week 14 schedule: Home against Cubs, Orioles
Brock is not only performing well, but he offers eligibility at some nice positions. In most leagues, Brock can play third, first and the outfield. There’s legitimate concern about his .395 BABIP falling, but Holt is hot right now, and looks to be an everyday player with the Red Sox moving forward. Playing the entire week at Fenway helps make him slightly more enticing. He’s more of a hot hand type than a permanent solution for now.
Players I would start him over: Domonic Brown, Torii Hunter, Starling Marte
Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox (29 percent started Week 13)
Week 14 schedule: Home against the Angels, Mariners
Most Fantasy owners have been down this road before, and have been left disappointed. Truthfully, Beckham is not an option in shallow leagues. He could, however, provide some value in deeper leagues, or as an injury replacement. While his average and on-base percentage remain underwhelming, Beckham has hit for more power this season. He’s already hit seven home runs, passing his 2013 total. The overall slash line may not be pretty by the end of the season, but Beckham could club 15+ home runs if he keeps this up. That has some value at a thin position.
Players I would start him over: Brandon Phillips, Aaron Hill, Omar Infante
Josh Beckett, SP, Dodgers (76 percent started Week 13)
Week 14 schedule: Home against the Indians, at Rockies
Beckett is the latest pitcher going to Colorado who winds up in the sit portion of these articles. The Rockies are a good offense this season, and that’s taken to another level in Coors Field. Though the match against the Indians isn’t all that bad, the second start should be enough to worry Fantasy owners. Beckett has shown a ton of improvement this year, but still struggles with the long ball. Colorado is the worst place for that type of pitcher.
Players I would start instead: Alex Wood, Hiroki Kuroda, (one start) Ervin Santana
Chris Archer, SP, Rays (71 percent started Week 13)
Week 14 schedule: At Yankees, Tigers
Archer falls into the same trap at Beckett. He’s been solid this year, but has two tough opponents. Offensively, the Yankees haven’t been exceptional, but they play in a small park. The Tigers, on the other hand, have hit regardless of the ballpark. Those factors make Archer a risky start Week 14. There’s a lot to like about his breakout this year, but he may need a break from Fantasy lineups for now.
Players I would start instead: Zack Wheeler, Henderson Alvarez, (one start) Aaron Harang
Marlon Byrd, OF, Phillies (65 percent started Week 13)
Week 14 schedule: At Marlins, Pirates
Byrd hasn’t been a poor Fantasy option thus far, but he’s shown some weird peripherals this season. He doesn’t walk, and he strikes out a ton, suggesting his .265 average isn’t going to get any better. His main asset has been his power. This week, that’s a major question mark. The Phillies travel to two of the stingiest parks in the majors when it comes to home runs. That likely limits what Byrd can do. He’s a decent option most weeks, but he’s much riskier this time around.
Players I would start instead: Billy Hamilton, Marcell Ozuna, Desmond Jennings
Aaron Hill, 2B, Diamondbacks (57 percent started Week 13)
Week 14 schedule: At Pirates, Braves
Hill’s peripherals seem to be moving in the wrong direction. Never a strong walker, Hill has seen his walk rate plummet to a career-low 4.5 percent. On top of that, his strikeout rate is nearly five percent over his career-average. Hill’s power hasn’t manifested yet this year, and it doesn’t seem likely to happen Week 14. PNC Park plays very friendly to pitching, while Turner Field is neutral. He hasn’t been all that great thus far, and there’s no upside with his Week 14 matchups.
Players I would start instead: Gordon Beckham, Scooter Gennett, Josh Harrison
Wily Peralta, SP, Brewers (47 percent started Week 13)
Week 14 schedule: At Toronto
Peralta has been a strong breakout pitcher this season, but finds himself taking on one of the best offenses in the game. Considering he only has one start Week 14, there are probably other options available that put Peralta in the sit category. Miller Park has always played friendly to home runs, but Rogers Centre is equally as bad for pitchers. Give Peralta a week off and get him in your lineup Week 15.
Players I would start instead: Tim Hudson, Jose Quintana, Matt Garza
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