Head-to-Head Risers and Fallers for Week 7

Al Bello

Alex Kantecki identifies three risers and three fallers in head-to-head points leagues, including Mitch Moreland, Jhonny Peralta and Drew Smyly.

Risers

Mitch Moreland (31.5% ESPN; 14% Yahoo!)

Moreland is what I call a "forever sleeper." Never quite good enough to be drafted as a starter, but plenty good enough to be taken as a boom or bust late-round flier. So far, Moreland is rewarding those owners who drafted him with a .292/.345/.538 slash line to go along with seven home runs, 15 runs and 15 RBI. Batting regularly in the six hole, the Rangers first baseman has six multi-hit games in his last 12. His .246 ISO is a career best, and ZiPS projects him to finish with 20 home runs and 63 RBI, both light numbers in my estimation. The key for Moreland is opportunity, and he's finally getting that in Arlington. Moreland is on pace to set a career-high in at-bats after logging 357 in 2012, and I believe he will set career marks in home runs and RBIs as well. Moreland is all about the home cooking (.362/.434/.638 triple slash line at home), and the Rangers start a seven-game homestand starting May 16.

Jhonny Peralta (89% ESPN; 47% Yahoo!)

I had to go back and check Peralta's Yahoo! ownership twice because something didn't seem right. Peralta is currently the No. 6 shortstop on the ESPN Player Rater, but he's being treated like a backup middle infielder by Yahoo! owners. His rank puts him ahead of preseason darlings Starlin Castro, Jimmy Rollins, Asdrubal Cabrera and Elvis Andrus, and while I think Castro will vault ahead of Peralta in no time, I'm not so sure about the other three. We all know Peralta had a down year in 2012. Way down. The Tigers shortstop hit a team-dragging .239 with 13 home runs a year after carrying teams at short with a .299-BA, 21 home runs and 86 RBI. His power is down this year (.131 ISO in 2013; .145 ISO in 2012), but his line drive percentage is way up (26.5% in 2013; 22% in 2012). Ultimately, I think his power tops out at 15 home runs, but he could put up 75 RBI in a perfect season. His average remains the biggest question mark. ZiPS projects him to finish at .278, and I think you should gladly take anything over .270. If you're struggling at short, give Peralta a chance. Maybe 2011 wasn't a total fluke.

Drew Smyly (5.6% ESPN; 22% Yahoo!)

No, Drew Smyly doesn't have a spot in the Tigers' rotation, but he does find himself as a very valuable reliever in head-to-head points leagues. And that's what it's all about, isn't it? With 77 points, Detroit's long man has been more valuable than David Price, R.A. Dickey and Cole Hamels. Not bad for a middle reliever. With a 24:6 K:BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings, Smyly has found himself a nice little niche in Detroit. A much bigger niche in the form of a starting job would be ideal, but Rick Porcello would have to really stumble for that to happen. I still believe Smyly gets his shot at the rotation eventually. When he does, make sure that you're the first to grab him.

Fallers

Paul Konerko (89.1% ESPN; 77% Yahoo!)

Watch out Paul Konerko. There's an "age monster" coming your way. That's my not-so-clever way of stating the obvious: Paul Konerko is old. The 37-year old from the South Side is showing serious signs of slowing down, hitting .214/.273/.349 with four home runs and a .135 ISO to start the year. I can't say that I didn't see this coming, as I wrote about Konerko's impending collapse back in November. In the Official Fake Teams Head to Head Points League, I bypassed the usually steady and reliable points league vet for a younger option in Freddie Freeman. Freeman's been hurt and hasn't produced much yet, but I still believe I made the right decision to let Konerko fall in another owner's lap. Nothing is going right for Konerko right now, as he's battling through a career-worst 18.7% strikeout rate and 6.5% walk rate. His career marks are 14.5% and 9.8%, respectively, so you just know something's wrong here. The White Sox really don't have any other options at first base besides Adam Dunn, so Konerko is still going to get his at-bats. What he does with them is a "whole nother story."

Rickie Weeks (65.8%; 69% Yahoo!)

The truth is Weeks has been in a free fall since the get-go, but it has now gotten to the point of extreme ridiculousness. With a batting line of .181/.302/.276 and a lousy pair of home runs, I'm amazed the Brewers second baseman is still owned in more than 50% of leagues. I likely would have dropped him weeks ago. I must admit, however, I did have Weeks as a top-10 option at second in the preseason despite the possibility of a subpar batting average. Shamefully, I even ranked Weeks a spot higher than the Phillies' Chase Utley, which is an egregious mistake I cannot take back. I didn't expect things to get this bad for Weeks, who hit .269 as recently as 2011. Even the power is totally missing for Weeks. The best you can do is bench him and hope for a turn of fortunes in July, when he typically heats up.

David Price (100% ESPN; 98% Yahoo!)

What a difference a year makes. To give you an example of just how far the reigning AL Cy Young award winner from a year ago has fallen, in an in-season "experts" draft on Yahoo!, Price went No. 82 overall. As in, the eighth round! Admittedly, that was probably too low, but it's still very telling that he slipped so far. That tells you that many view Price's struggles as un-fixable. And it all starts with his velocity, which is down from 95.5 mph in 2012 to 92.9 mph in 2013, according to FanGraphs. A loss in velocity of that much heat is a killer for a pitcher, especially to a starter with command issues. Luckily, that's not the case with Price, who is operating with a career-best 5.8% walk rate. His strikeout rate is down a little, but he's also been unlucky thus far with a 62.7% strand rate and .338 BABIP. Price is in my "Fallers" section for now, but I think he has a great chance of turning things around from this point forward. Buy low on Price before it's too late.

Alex Kantecki is a contributor for Fake Teams, Big Leagues Mag, Dobber Baseball and Vigilante Baseball. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotodealer.

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