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Roto Roundup: Freddie Freeman, Ben Paulsen, Maikel Franco and others

Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Monday's roto action, including his mea culpa on Freddie Freeman, Maikel Franco, Ben Paulsen and others.

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Freddie Freeman: I was wrong on the Braves first baseman

If you read any of my rankings pieces this offseason, you probably read how down I was on Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in 2015. You might have read me say that a few times....yeah, a few times. I was adamant that he would be a huge disappointment, especially where he was being drafted. I even mocked people who drafted him in preseason mock drafts. I was yelling it from the heavens for anyone to hear and read. I was of the opinion that with the Braves in a rebuilding phase, that Freeman's numbers would drop and teams would pitch around him quite a bit.

I couldn't have been more wrong,

Yes, I am here today to admit I was wrong on Freeman. Go ahead Braves fans, lay into me. I deserve it.

As I write this, he is already 2-3 with a run scored and an RBI vs the Padres. The two hits raised his season slash line to .306-.371-.523 with 10 home runs, 37 runs scored and 35 RBI in 237 plate appearances. For a guy who I have panned since he doesn't hit for power, he already has 10 home runs through the first two months of the season. He is on pace to hit 28 home runs, score 100+ runs and drive in 100 runs, while hitting .300.

Not too many players can fill up the stat categories like that. According to the ESPN player rater, he is currently the 7th ranked first baseman, but he is one of five first baseman right now that is hitting .300 with 10+ home runs, 30+ runs scored and 30+ RBI. Pretty damn good.

For more on Freeman and the Braves, make sure you check out Talking Chop, SB Nation's Braves fan site

Roto Roundup

There were only eight games on Monday night, so the Roundup will be short today.

I was watching the MLB Draft last night on MLB Network when they cut to the Rockies-Cardinals game in Coors Field. They showed a replay of Matt Holliday coming in for a short fly ball and stumble and land awkwardly on the grass in left field. He was seen grabbing his knee, but he walked off the field on his own. Jennifer Langosch from MLB.com reported that Holliday was diagnosed with a right quad strain, and will be reevaluated on Tuesday. Jon Jay replaced Holliday in the Cardinals outfield, and they could call up outfield prospect Stephen Piscotty should Holliday require a stint on the disabled list.

Josh Donaldson may not be the fan favorite to start the All Star game at third base for the American League, but you can put money down that he will be representing the Blue Jays in Cincinnati in mid-July. Last night, Donaldson continued his onslaught on AL pitching by going 2-5 with a home run and 3 RBI in the Blue Jays 11-3 win over the Marlins. The big game improved his season slash liine to .310-.367-.582 with 16 home runs, 47 runs scored and 43 RBI thus far, and is on pace to hit 44 home runs, score 129 runs and drive in 118 runs.

The fantasy shortstop position has been a bit of a mess in the first two months of the 2015 season. Red Sox shortstop Hanley Ramirez has been the top fantasy shortstop to date, but until recently, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been a disappointment, Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond has struggled all season, and Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes has played in just 29 games thus far but has been on fire of late. Oh yeah, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has not met expectations to date either. All that said, you have guys like Brandon Crawford, Jhonny Peralta and Zack Cozart in the top 10 of fantasy shortstops thus far. Last night, Cozart enjoyed a big night at the plate, at the expense of Phillies ace Cole Hamels, going 3-4 with a home run, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI in the Reds 6-4 win. Cozart is now hitting .261-.314-.452 with 8 home runs, 27 runs scored, 25 RBI and 3 stolen bases in just over 200 at bats. He is on pace to hit 23 home runs, drive in 70+ runs, score 70+ runs, and steal 9 bases this season. After hitting just 11 home runs and stealing 10 bases over the last two seasons, fantasy owners would welcome double digit home runs and stolen bases this season.

Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco is off to a solid start in his first 100 plate appearances in the big leagues, and has been swinging the bat very well of late. Last night, he went 3-4 in the Phillies loss to the Reds, and is now hitting .275-.305-.549 with 6 home runs, 14 runs scored and 16 RBI in 95 plate appearances thus far. Since May 31st, when he was hitting .194, Franco has five multi-hit games in his last seven games, going 13-29 with 4 home runs, 7 runs scored and 8 RBI. He is owned in just 22% of ESPN leagues right now and that number should rise. If you are in need of a corner or utility hitter, don't hesitate to grab him. He has excellent power, and that power was on display last week when he turned on a 98 mph heater from Reds closer Aroldis Chapman and deposited in the left field seats at Citizens Bank Park. He could approach 20 home runs and 70 RBI in his rookie season.

Another hitter who should be owned in deeper mixed leagues is Rockies first baseman/outfielder Ben Paulsen. Paulson is no prospect as he is 27 years old, but anytime you can grab a Rockies hitter who plays regularly, you should. Last night, the Rockies were all over Cardinals starter John Lackey, knocking him out after he gave up 10 runs, 8 of which were earned on 12 hits in 4 innings last night, and Paulsen was one of the hitters leading the hit parade. Paulsen went 3-5 and was a home run shy of the cycle in the Rockies win. The three hits raised his slash line to .344-.394-.566 with 4 home runs, 12 runs scored and 9 RBI in 65 plate appearances. With first baseman Justin Morneau dealing with concussion symptoms yet again, Paulsen should see plenty of time in the Rockies lineup. Surprisingly, he has hit better on the road than at home thus far, so he hasn't hurt anyone when the Rockies leave Coors.

If you owned White Sox ace Chris Sale earlier this season when he had a few blow up starts and his ERA approaching 6.00, there was some cause for concern. As a Sale owner, you always have that Tommy John surgery thought stuck in the back of your brain, for sure. But since his two rocky outings back in late April and early May, Sale has been…..well…..he's been Chris Sale. He's been dominant, and that continued last night. Sale limited the Astros to just one run over 8 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk and striking out 14 in the White Sox 3-1 win. Yeah. Dominant. The win moved his record to 6-2 with a 3.04 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and a 93-17 strikeout to walk rate in 74 innings. Since his last blow up start back on May 6th, Sale has given up just 7 runs in his last six starts, covering 48.2 innings, with a 67-7 strikeout to walk rate. He has struck out 10 or more batters in each of his last four outings and in five of his last six outings. Sale is back and better than ever.

Fantasy Rundown

If you are looking for more fantasy advice, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown for all your fantasy baseball and football needs.