Head-to-Head Risers and Fallers: Chris Denorfia, Sergio Santos and Others

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Identifying risers and fallers in head-to-head points leagues for Week 1, including Padres OF Chris Denorfia and Blue Jays RHP Sergio Santos.

Every Monday morning, I'll highlight two risers and two fallers in head-to-head points leagues. The general idea here is to unearth players whose contributions are either a) increasing or b) decreasing in head-to-head formats, but that doesn't necessarily preclude them from having positive or negative value in rotisserie formats as well.

I'll do my best to stay away from the obvious names, so, generally, the "risers" will have ownership rates south of 10 percent -- but, for clarity, that's not set in stone. The "fallers," meanwhile, are more or less the players that I'm down on compared to the majority.

Risers

Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres

Denorfia quietly led the Padres in runs scored (67) last year, and he recorded his first 10/10 season across 520 plate appearances. However, it's hard to imagine Denorfia receiving that many at-bats again without an injury opening things up in the outfield. Enter -- and then exit -- Carlos Quentin. The oft-injured outfielder will start the season on the 15-day DL (shocker, I know), but it could be an even longer absence, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune's Dennis Lin. With Cameron Maybin also sidelined, Denorfia immediately becomes a prime target in points leagues as a high-contact hitter. For comparison, Pirates outfielder Starling Marte -- considered a low-end second tier outfielder in roto leagues -- scored just one more point than Denorfia in 2013. The Friars outfielder can approach 60 runs and double-digit home runs and steals once again if Quentin is sidelined indefinitely.

Sergio Santos, RHP, Blue Jays

If I'm going to mention a reliever in this white space, it's only because I think he has real staying power. On Sunday, it was announced that Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen would start the season on the 15-day DL with a lower back strain. I should also mention that Janssen dealt with shoulder issues as recently as this spring, so he's no guarantee to come back ready to go when his 15 days are up. This creates a huge opportunity for Santos, who hasn't been a clean bill of health himself, having thrown only 30-plus innings since 2012. Last year, the 30-year-old recorded a 1.75 ERA and 0.58 WHIP to go along with 28 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .128 BA in 29 relief appearances. He's not going to be that good again, but he could put up big strikeout numbers if healthy -- last year, his swinging-strike rate was 17.7 percent. I'd gamble on Santos in any and every league I'm in; it's possible he runs with the job should Janssen require a longer stint on the disabled list.

Fallers

Corey Hart, 1B/DH, Mariners

I love the way Hart plays (when he plays, that is), but it's getting hard to justify owning him outside of deep or AL-only leagues. He's already out of the lineup for tonight's season opener, and manager Lloyd McClendon has already said that Hart will sit against right-handed pitchers early on. Sit against right-handed pitchers? That's a giant red flag right there. His spring numbers were atrocious (.132 BA, one extra-base hit and 18 strikeouts in 38 at-bats), and the Mariners have a logjam at first base/designated hitter with Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison also deserving of plate appearances. Hart is still owned in 96 percent of ESPN leagues, but I would almost rather own Morrison, who is still available in 99 percent of leagues. You don't have to make that switch, but it's not looking good for Hart, who missed the entire 2013 season with two knee surgeries. It's fair to wonder if Hart will receive consistent playing time at any point this year.

Jon Jay, OF, Cardinals

It might surprise you, but Jay was a top-45 outfielder in points leagues last season, outpacing Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Hamilton in the outfield. He did it on the heels of a career-high 628 plate appearances, batting .276 with seven home runs, 10 steals and 142 R+RBI. That's not going to happen again, not with defensive whizkid Peter Bourjos coming over from the Angels to roam center field. Additionally, the emergence of first baseman Matt Adams pushes Allen Craig out of the infield and into right, so playing time will be hard to come by for the versatile Jay. Left field, of course, is manned by Matt Holliday. Barring injury, Jay is the odd man out.

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