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Fantasy Baseball: Head-to-Head Risers and Fallers for Week 1

Alex Kantecki highlights three risers and three fallers in head-to-head points leagues, including Freddie Freeman, Gerardo Parra and Jose Fernandez.


Each Tuesday, I'll bring you three risers and three fallers in head-to-head points leagues. Keep in mind that the majority of these players hold value in any format and you shouldn't ignore them if you play in a standard rotisserie league. With only one day in the books, today's edition might be a little "over-reaction theater-ish," but I still feel strongly about the following player's prospects (or lack of prospects) nonetheless.


Freddie Freeman

When the Braves acquired the Upton Brothers this winter, everyone's attention went straight to Jason Heyward, a preseason MVP candidate whom many agreed would benefit greatly from the addition of the the two young vets. And while I'm fully on board the Heyward train for 2013 and beyond, I think the biggest winner of the Upton acquisitions will be Freeman, who is coming off a quiet 20/90/90 season of his own.

On Monday night, Freeman got off to a strong start, smacking three hits -- including a thunderous two-run homer off the Phillies' Cole Hamels in the first -- with three RBI in his team's 7-5 win. The 23-year old hit just .259 a year ago, but he's already shown the ability to hit for power and average in his young career (he batted .282 in 2011). I think Freeman is in store for a huge MVP-caliber season with upwards of 30 home runs, 90 runs and 100 RBI. He'll have plenty of nights like last night hitting directly behind Heyward and Justin Upton, and you should go bother his owner until he caves and gives you Freeman for pennies on the dollar.

Gerardo Parra/A.J. Pollock

Parra and Pollock are direct beneficiaries of the preseason injury to outfielder Adam Eaton, who is expected to be out until mid-to-late May with a left elbow sprain. The Diamondbacks outfield went a combined 9-for-13 in a 6-2 win against the Cardinals Monday night, and Parra and Pollock were in the middle of every scoring rally.

Parra finished 4-for-5 with three doubles and a run (including one 415-foot double that would have been a home run had it been hit five feet to the right), and Pollock went 3-for-5 with four total bases and two RBI. Parra will be the team's everyday leadoff hitter until Eaton comes back, and while he doesn't do any one thing great, he can provide you with a little something in every category. If he performs like he did last night, it will be hard for manager Kirk Gibson to keep him out of the lineup, even when Eaton comes back. He's always succeeded in a part-time role, so it will be interesting to see how he holds up now that he has a full-time gig.

Pollock's playing time, meanwhile, will be more sporadic once Cody Ross comes back from injury, but in a deep or NL-only league, I can see him helping out in a pinch. He makes great contact, rarely strikes out and he's another grinder full of grit you never stop hearing about.

Jose Fernandez

The Marlins surprised everyone when they announced that 20-year old Fernandez would be a part of the team's Opening Day rotation, but thanks to injuries to starters Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez, he'll make his first major league start on Sunday against the New York Mets despite NO experience past Advanced-A ball.

Currently, Fernandez is the the No. 1 ranked prospect in the Marlins' system, and No. 6 overall in baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus. He has an explosive fastball that sits in the mid-to-high 90s to go a long with a plus change-up, curve ball and slider, and last year -- albeit against inferior competition -- he showed decent control (2.79 BB/9) with a K/9 of 9.65.

In NL-only leagues, he should already be on your roster. In mixed leagues with 14 or more teams, he's worth a speculative pickup prior to his big league debut. A strikeout pitcher in a favorable home park is never a bad thing, and that's what Fernandez is.

Others on the rise: Bryce Harper, Nationals, Jered Weaver, Angels, Jackie Bradley Jr., Indians, Jeff Samardzija, Cubs, Norichika Aoki, Brewers, Chase Utley, Phillies, Collin Cowgill, Mets


CC Sabathia

I wasn't terribly high on Sabathia coming into the year, as I had him ranked just outside the top-10 starting pitchers in my preseason rankings. He burned me with a slow start last year and I pretty much ignored him in drafts this time around. And after one lackluster start, I'm glad I did. Sabathia labored through five innings Monday, tossing 102 pitches and giving up four runs on eight hits and four walks in an 8-2 loss to the rival Red Sox. Sabathia is a horse, having thrown 200-plus innings in six straight seasons, but last year was the first time he didn't start 30 games since 2006. And then there's this to worry about:

At some point, all those innings are going to take a toll on Sabathia. That time could be now. The Yankees depleted offense won't be able to bail him out of bad outings like yesterday's.

Ike Davis

It only took one day for Ike Davis to show the world why he's a head-to-head points league headache. In a laughably bad start, Davis struck out four times in five at-bats while the rest of his teammates cruised to an 11-2 victory against the Padres. Davis struck out 141 times last year with a .227-average and even if he hits 35-40 home runs like everyone says is coming (I'm not buying it), all the strikeouts are going to pile up and put a wrench in his value. I don't think it's worth taking all of those negative point days in exchange for the days he does go yard.

Carlos Gomez

Gomez didn't have the best Opening Day on Monday, going 0-for-4 with two runners left on base and one TOOTBLAN, which stands for Thrown Out On The Base Paths Like A Nincompoop, and is a totally real thing now, courtesy of this guy:

I checked back and didn't see Gomez ranked in my top-50 preseason outfielders. I know I wasn't high on him to begin with, but I think that might have been an oversight turned good call by the end of the year. Gomez rarely takes a walk (career walk rate of 5 percent), and his 19 home runs from 2012 were 11 more than his previous high. He has a career OBP of .293 so I definitely do not see Gomez coming anywhere close to his 39 steals from a year go. If he has a good run at any point this season, I'd go ahead and sell this nincompoop.

Others on the fall: Ryan Ludwick, Reds, Aaron Hicks, Twins, Carlos Marmol, Cubs

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