On tap: The first week back after the All-Star break is a short one, with a handful of teams scheduled to play Thursday and the rest returning to action Friday. As such, there aren't any two-start pitchers for fantasy Week 16, and some pitchers won't get to pitch at all. Furthermore, the difference between a four- and three-game week for a hitter is more significant, since three is 75.0 percent of four while six is 85.7 percent of seven (when you're talking a typical full week).
Thinking ahead: For those of you whose leagues combine Weeks 16 and 17 into one scoring period, the Cardinals, Orioles, Padres and Pirates are the four teams to play 11 games between now and July 26, with the Orioles (DET-4, TOR-4, LAA-3) the only one to play entirely at home. The Blue Jays, Brewers, Cubs, Marlins, Mets, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Royals and Tigers each play 10. The other 16 each play nine.
Quick click by section:
Note: Weather reports are based on upcoming weather forecasts (through Friday), as well as historical trends in those cities. "Poor weather" doesn't guarantee rainouts; those are merely the teams with the highest probability of one or more.
Note: Hitter-friendly ballparks are based primarily on recent statistical data (2005-08) comparing home/road performance, much the same method as our Park Factor page. Some personal opinion does go into making ballpark selections.
Note: Looking for a decent hitter value pick for this week? Here are 10 strong matchup choices, among the beneath-the-elite crop:
Note: Matchups are determined by examining both an opponent's catcher and pitching staff. Obviously, teams like the Mets (catcher: Brian Schneider) and Tigers (Ivan Rodriguez) rate as tough teams to run on, while teams like the Braves (Brian McCann) and White Sox (A.J. Pierzynski) rate as easy teams to run on.
Note: As with the hitter-friendly ballparks, pitcher-friendly ballparks are based mostly on 2005-08 data, with some personal opinion involved.
A week off: Among the pitchers whose first starts of the second half aren't scheduled until Week 17 (next week), making them must-avoids, are Collin Balester (WAS), Miguel Batista (SEA), Erik Bedard (SEA), Jason Bergmann (WAS), Nick Blackburn (MIN), Eddie Bonine (DET), Dave Bush (MIL), Paul Byrd (CLE), Jose Contreras (CHW), Kevin Correia (SF), Kyle Davies (KC), Adam Eaton (PHI), Dana Eveland (OAK), Sean Gallagher (OAK), Matt Ginter (CLE), Rich Harden (CHC), Matt Harrison (TEX), Runelvys Hernandez (HOU), Luke Hochevar (KC), Edwin Jackson (TB), Josh Johnson (FLA), Randy Johnson (ARI), Jon Lester (BOS), Radhames Liz (BAL), Jason Marquis (CHC), Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS), Luis Mendoza (TEX), Charlie Morton (ATL), Brett Myers (PHI), Roy Oswalt (HOU), Micah Owings (ARI), Chan Ho Park (LAD), John Parrish (TOR), Mike Pelfrey (NYM), Joel Pineiro (STL), Sidney Ponson (NYY), Darrell Rasner (NYY), Jo-Jo Reyes (ATL), Kevin Slowey (MIN), Andy Sonnanstine (TB), Eric Stults (LAD), Jeff Suppan (MIL), Javier Vazquez (CHW), Chris Volstad (FLA), Kip Wells (COL) and Barry Zito (SF).
Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.