Fantasy Forecaster: Week of July 28

Updated: July 28, 2014, 1:08 AM ET
By Todd Zola | Special to ESPN.com

Forecaster updated Monday, 1 a.m. ET

On tap: Welcome to Week 17 of the season. This marks the first week where all 30 teams have played over 100 games. That's right, there are fewer than 60 games per team left on the schedule. In standard rotisserie leagues, it's time to focus on where you sit within the categories and begin to manage to maximize points. In head-to-head leagues, your playoffs are right around the corner. Points-based head-to-head owners just need to keep plugging away; all you care about it points, it doesn't matter where they come from. In roto head-to-head, it's time to start taking a close look at your team construction. Are you optimally set up to win ample catgegories to keep advancing? This is the time to decide if punting one to fortify others is your best path to win more categories each week.

Fantasy Forecaster

This week's schedule features only 12 teams with the full complement of seven games which means the quantity of two-start options is less than usual. Thus, fantasy teams needing to make up ground may want to take a few more chances and use a two-start pitcher you'd normally reserve for better options since this week those options will encompass more one-start candidates.

The other pertinent aspect of Week 17 is the July 31 trading deadline is Thursday, which could wreak havoc on several team's rotations, as there are rumors surrounding the potential dealing of some of the fantasy elite such as David Price, Cliff Lee and Jon Lester. There's really not much that can be done in leagues with weekly tranactions other than to hope your team isn't negatively affected by a trade. That is, set your lineups as you normally would. In daily leagues, be ready to adjust your lineup or pick up free agents in a moment's notice from now through Thursday.

Quick click by section, if you're seeking advice in a specific area:
ESPN lineup deadlines | Interleague impact | Projected starting pitchers
Pitching scuttlebutt | Week 17 pitcher rankings | Pitching advantages
Hitting ratings | Hitting advantages

ESPN leagues: Lineup deadlines

Things are back to normal with the standard Monday-to-Sunday transaction period for weekly leagues. Left Coasters best make sure their alarm clocks are working as three of the first four days this week feature early games, beginning with a 12:10 p.m. ET encounter on Monday when the San Diego Padres travel to Turner Field to take on the Atlanta Braves. There are all evening games on Tuesday, but come Wednesday, there are six afternoon games on the docket beginning with a pair of 12:10 p.m. ET tilts. Thursday's afternoon slate of three games begins at 1:08 p.m. ET. But there is good news as the alarm clock isn't needed on Saturday with games not commencing until 4:05 p.m. ET.

Interleague impact

This week's interleague series:
Milwaukee Brewers at Tampa Bay Rays (3 games, Monday-Wednesday)
Colorado Rockies at Detroit Tigers (3 games, Friday-Sunday)

With only two interleague series on the ledger, there's really no repercussions in weekly leagues. Neither the Brewers nor the Rockies have a relevant hitter who will see a series worth of significant at-bats. Both squads likely will rotate their regulars through the designated hitter spot and get some at-bats for bench players. With the short slate on Monday, it may afford a chance to sneak an extra hitter into your lineup in daily leagues, but note Brewers-Rays is the early game.

Projected starting pitchers

The chart below lists each of the 30 MLB teams' schedules and projected starting pitchers, and provides a projected Bill James Game Score for each day's starter. Pitchers scheduled to start at least twice this week are in gold/beige boxes.

Pitching scuttlebutt

Ubaldo Jimenez (ankle) has yet to begin a rehabilitation stint but is progressing to the point he could embark on an assignment early this week. The team has indicated the longer it takes before he begins rehab, the more minor league starts he will need to get ready which makes sometime during Week 19 the earliest Jimenez may return. This gives Kevin Gausman a few more opportunities to prove he belongs in the Majors.
Allen Webster got the spot-start on Sunday to fill the void left after Jake Peavy was dealt to the San Francisco Giants. Going forward, Brandon Workman is expected to slide into that spot. He had pitched Thursday evening for Triple-A Pawtucket thus was unable to come back so soon on Sunday. If Jon Lester is moved this week, Webster is the primary candidate to join the Red Sox rotation.
• The Chicago White Sox have transferred Felipe Paulino to the 60-day disabled list. The chances are remote that Paulino pitches again this season.
Justin Masterson has convinced the Cleveland Indians brass that he's ready to rejoin the Tribe's rotation and is scheduled to come back on Saturday. Both Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister will be sticking around as Josh Tomlin is the odd-man out.
• Fantasy sleeper Brad Peacock of the Houston Astros never awoke and has been demoted with Brett Oberholtzer getting another shot at The Show.
C.J. Wilson will be coming off the disabled list to start Saturday's game for the Los Angeles Angels. Hector Santiago will likely slide back to bullpen duty.
•The Minnesota Twins' search for a fifth starter continues as Kris Johnson was sent back to Triple-A. Logan Darnell is next-in-line and could push Anthony Swarzak back to the bullpen.
• The much awaited return of Taijuan Walker to the Seattle Mariners rotation was short-lived with the indication he may not be returning anytime soon. Fellow prospect James Paxton will be given the opening on August 2.
• Wednesday will be interesting as David Price is scheduled to start what may be his last game for the Tampa Bay Rays. With the trading deadline the following day on July 31, all eyes will be on St. Petersburg to see if Price indeed takes the hill. Assuming Tampa does not get back a major league ready starter in the event Price is dealt, Alex Colome could be called upon to fill the void.
• Despite struggling in his return from the disabled list, Josh Beckett (hip) will remain in the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation. That is, unless, the team fortifies the back-end of their starting five with a deadline deal. The club has indicated it will skip Dan Haren's spot and use an off-day Monday to keep Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu on regular rest. There's a good chance this practice continues which could avail the big-three and extra turn or two.
Ian Kennedy was scratched from Monday's start with a sore left oblique. The hope is he'll be able to return for his next start on Saturday for the San Diego Padres. Converted outfielder Jason Lane will be recalled to take the start on Monday, but the game will essentially be a bullpen affair which doesn't set up well for Padres as they have no off-days this week.
• The St. Louis Cardinals are returning Carlos Martinez to the bullpen which leaves an opening on August 2. Barring an acquisition via trade, Tyler Lyons and Marco Gonzales are candidates to fill the void until Michael Wacha is ready to return in September.
•Yusmeiro bounces back to the San Francisco Giants bullpen following the acquisition of veteran Jake Peavey from the Boston Red Sox.

Todd's Week 17 pitcher rankings: Top 75

1. Yu Darvish (TEX) -- Mon-NYY (Phelps), Sun-@CLE (Bauer)
2. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) -- Thu-ATL (Teheran)
3. Cole Hamels (PHI) -- Tue-@NYM (Gee), Sun-@WSH (Strasburg)
4. Stephen Strasburg (WSH) -- Tue-@MIA (Alvarez), Sun-PHI (Hamels)
5. Max Scherzer (DET) -- Wed-CWS (Noesi)
6. Chris Sale (CWS) -- Fri-MIN (TBD)
7. Felix Hernandez (SEA) -- Wed-@CLE (Kluber)
8. Tyson Ross (SD) -- Tue-STL (Lynn), Sun-ATL (Harang)
9. Madison Bumgarner (SF) -- Mon-PIT (Worley), Sun-@NYM (Colon)
10. Johnny Cueto (CIN) -- Thu-@MIA (Koehler)
11. David Price (TB) -- Wed-MIL (Gallardo)
12. Jon Lester (BOS) -- Wed-TOR (Buehrle)
13. Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Tue-@CLE (Bauer), Sun-@BAL (Tillman)
14. Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Thu-@WSH (Gonzalez)
15. Jesse Chavez (OAK) -- Mon-@HOU (Oberholtzer), Sun-KC (Shields)
16. Sonny Gray (OAK) -- Fri-KC (Guthrie)
17. Corey Kluber (CLE) -- Wed-SEA (Hernandez)
18. Scott Kazmir (OAK) -- Sat-KC (Chen)
19. Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Wed-ATL (Wood)
20. James Shields (KC) -- Tue-MIN (Gibson), Sun-@OAK (Chavez)
21. A.J. Burnett (PHI) -- Mon-@NYM (Colon), Sat-@WSH (Zimmermann)
22. Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Tue-CWS (Quintana), Sun-COL (De La Rosa)
23. Adam Wainwright (StL) -- Fri-MIL (Peralta)
24. Jake Odorizzi (TB) -- Mon-MIL (Lohse), Sun-LAA (Weaver)
25. Homer Bailey (CIN) -- Mon-ARI (Anderson), Sat-@MIA (Eovaldi)
26. Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Thu-COL (Matzek)
27. Alex Wood (ATL) -- Wed-@LAD (Greinke)
28. Gio Gonzalez (WSH) -- Thu-PHI (Lee)
29. Jacob deGrom (NYM) -- Sat-SF (Peavy)
30. Ervin Santana (ATL) -- Mon-SD (Lane), Sat-@SD (Kennedy)
31. Julio Teheran (ATL) -- Thu-@LAD (Kershaw)
32. Jeff Samardzija (OAK) -- Tue-@HOU (Feldman)
33. Tanner Roark (WSH) -- Wed-@MIA (Hand)
34. Lance Lynn (STL) -- Tue-@SD (Ross), Sun-MIL (Lohse)
35. Alex Cobb (TB) -- Tue-MIL (Garza)
36. R.A. Dickey (TOR) -- Mon-@BOS (Buchholz), Sat-@HOU (Oberholtzer)
37. Marcus Stroman (TOR) -- Tue-@BOS (De La Rosa), Sun-@HOU (Feldman)
38. Ian Kennedy (SD) -- Sat-ATL (Santana)
39. Matt Shoemaker (LAA) -- Fri-@TB (Hellickson)
40. Jered Weaver (LAA) -- Tue-@BAL (Tillman), Sun-@TB (Odorizzi)
41. Garrett Richards (LAA) -- Wed-@BAL (Chen)
42. Jordan Zimmermann (WSH) -- Mon-@MIA (Eovaldi), Sat-PHI (Burnett)
43. Jesse Hahn (SD) -- Wed-STL (Kelly)
44. Mat Latos (CIN) -- Fri-@MIA (Turner)
45. Trevor Bauer (CLE) -- Tue-SEA (Iwakuma), Sun-TEX (Darvish)
46. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) -- Fri-@CHC (Hendricks)
47. Drew Smyly (DET) -- Thu-CWS (Danks)
48. Bartolo Colon (NYM) -- Mon-PHI (Burnett), Sun-SF (Bumgarner)
49. John Lackey (BOS) -- Fri-NYY (Greene)
50. Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Mon-@TB (Odorizzi), Sun-@STL (Lynn)
51. Jose Quintana (CWS) -- Tue-@DET (Sanchez), Sun-MIN (Gibson)
52. Clay Buchholz (BOS) -- Mon-TOR (Dickey), Sun-NYY (Phelps)
53. Odrisamer Despaigne (SD) -- Thu-STL (Miller)
54. Mike Minor (ATL) -- Fri-@SD (Stults)
55. Justin Verlander (DET) -- Fri-COL (Morales)
56. Tim Lincecum (SF) -- Wed-PIT (Morton)
57. Josh Beckett (LAD) -- Tue-ATL (Harang), Sun-@CHC (Jackson)
58. James Paxton (SEA) -- Sat-@BAL (Gonzalez)
59. Matt Garza (MIL) -- Tue-@TB (Cobb)
60. Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Tue-LAA (Weaver), Sun-SEA (Iwakuma)
61. Nate Eovaldi (MIA) -- Mon-WSH (Zimmermann), Sat-CIN (Bailey)
62. Chris Archer (TB) -- Sat-LAA (Wilson)
63. Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Wed-PHI (Kendrick)
64. Josh Collmenter (ARI) -- Thu-PIT (Locke)
65. Phil Hughes (MIN) -- Wed-@KC (Duffy)
66. Tsuyoshi Wada (CHC) -- Mon-COL (Flande), Sat-LAD (Haren)
67. Doug Fister (WSH) -- Fri-PHI (Hernandez)
68. Jake Peavy (SF) -- Sat-@NYM (DeGrom)
69. Alfredo Simon (CIN) -- Wed-ARI (Miley)
70. Chase Anderson (ARI) -- Mon-@CIN (Bailey), Sat-PIT (Worley)
71. Charlie Morton (PIT) -- Wed-@SF (Lincecum)
72. Shelby Miller (STL) -- Thu-@SD (Despaigne)
73. Roenis Elias (SEA) -- Fri-@BAL (Norris)
74. C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Sat-@TB (Archer)
75. Danny Duffy (KC) -- Wed-MIN (Hughes)

Two-start options for AL-/NL-only leagues:
Josh Beckett (LAD) -- Tue-ATL (Harang), Sun-@CHC (Jackson)
Chris Tillman (BAL) -- Tue-LAA (Weaver), Sun-SEA (Iwakuma)
Nate Eovaldi (MIA) -- Mon-WSH (Zimmermann), Sat-CIN (Bailey)
Chase Anderson (ARI) -- Mon-@CIN (Bailey), Sat-PIT (Worley)
Aaron Harang (ATL) -- Tue-@LAD (Beckett), Sun-@SD (Ross)
Scott Feldman (HOU) -- Tue-OAK (Samardzija), Sun-TOR (Stroman)
Mike Leake (CIN) -- Tue-ARI (Cahill), Sun-@MIA (Alvarez)
Edwin Jackson (CHC) -- Tue-COL (De La Rosa), Sun-LAD (Beckett)
Tsuyoshi Wada (CHC) -- Mon-COL (Flande), Sat-LAD (Ryu)
Jorge De La Rosa (COL) -- Tue-@CHC (Jackson), Sun-@DET (Sanchez)
Henderson Alvarez (MIA) -- Tue-WSH (Strasburg), Sun-CIN (Leake)

No-thank-yous, among two-start pitchers:
David Phelps (NYY) -- Mon-@TEX (Darvish), Sun-@BOS (Buchholz)
Brad Peacock (HOU) -- Mon-OAK (Chavez), Sat-TOR (Dickey)
Yohan Flande (COL) -- Mon-@CHC (Wada), Sat-@DET (Porcello)
Vance Worley (PIT) -- Mon-@SF (Bumgarner), Sat-@ARI (Anderson)

Pitching advantages

• When your staff is as strong as the Atlanta Braves', you don't need any favors but this week they have four dates with the San Diego Padres beginning with a home game to complete a wrap-around series then ending with a weekend series in Petco Park. In between the Braves travel to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers. Even though that's away from Turner Field where Atlanta sports a tidy 2.99 ERA, the Dodgers home weighted on base average (wOBA) is .310, a couple of points below league average. Ervin Santana is the main beneficiary as he faces the Padres and their lowly .273 wOBA versus right-handers twice.

• Progressive Field is not often perceived as a pitcher's park, but it depresses runs by 9 percent, which bodes well for a Cleveland Indians staff enjoying six games at home. The Seattle Mariners stop by first and will be facing a trio of right-handers. The visitors sport a .295 wOBA versus righties, which serves to embellish the home-field advantage. The Tribe will entertain the Texas Rangers over the weekend and although the Friday and Saturday starters aren't announced (awaiting the word Justin Masterson is good to go), chances are another troika of righties will toe the rubber for the home team. With a .297 wOBA against right-handers, the Rangers offense isn't as daunting as their reputation might suggest.

• The Los Angeles Dodgers also have six home games on the docket with the Atlanta Braves and then the Chicago Cubs coming to town. The Dodgers sport an impressive 3.17 ERA at home featuring Clayton Kershaw's ridiculous 1.67 mark at Chavez Ravine. This will help counter a Braves squad that hit lefties to the tune of a .328 road wOBA. The Cubs also hit lefties well, which makes Hyun-Jin Ryu's Friday start a bit of a risk, but on Sunday, Josh Beckett should ne able to handle a Cub lineup carring only a .284 wOBA versus righties.

• The Miami Marlins have the full slate of seven home games in a venue that squashes home runs but is actually a little above average in terms of runs factor. Still, with the Washington Nationals and a depleted Cincinnati Reds squad coming to South Beach, the Marlins hurlers are in a favorable spot.

• Citi Field will host six tilts this week with the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants each playing a three-game set with the New York Mets. This venue is the opposite of Marlins Park, as Citi Field helps home runs but diminishes run-scoring by 13 percent. The Giants pose a bit of a threat in this regard as they are third in the league in road homers, led by right-handed swinging Michael Morse and Hunter Pence. However, the Mets will counter with three righty tossers, so the damage could be minimal.

• The San Diego Padres play six of their seven contests in the comfort of Petco Park. After completing a set in Atlanta, they return home to face the St. Louis Cardinals and a rematch series with the Braves. Runs will be sparse in San Diego as Atlanta checks in with the 24th worst road wOBA, which is actually two spots better than the Cardinals.

• Here are this week's Streamer's Delight picks (pitchers must be available in at least 75 percent of ESPN leagues as of our publishing time on Friday):

1. Tsuyoshi Wada (COL, Monday): The deceptive southpaw faces a Colorado Rockies team that is below average away from home. If Wada can keep the walks in check (he issued four free passes to the San Diego Padres in only four innings of work after returning to the majors), he's got a chance at a big strikeout day as the Rockies carry a hefty 23 percent whiff rate versus left-handers.
2. Nathan Eovaldi (CIN, Friday): Eovaldi's strikeout rate has fallen off markedly as he's fanned more than three only once in his past eight starts. Since losing Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, the weakened Reds attack is striking out 22 percent of the time so Eovaldi has a chance to get back on track.
3. Trevor Bauer (SEA, Tuesday): While the acquisition of Kendrys Morales should help, the Mariners sport a .295 wOBA versus right-handers.
4. Marcus Stroman (@HOU, Sunday): It's a bit surprising Stroman's ownership didn't jet past the 75 percent unowned filter to be a candidate for this distinction following his sparkling effort against the Boston Red Sox last Thursday afternoon, but as of this writing, he's eligible. Houston sports a .292 wOBA versus right-handers so who knows, maybe Stroman will flirt with another no-hitter.
5. Joe Kelly (@SD, Wednesday): It's almost not fair selecting a candidate facing the Padres but Kelly is still not owned in a majority of ESPN leagues. After a brief three-inning stint upon his return from the disabled list, Kelly went seven strong against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 19 so he appears set to again stabilize the back end of the St. Louis rotation.
6. Jonathon Niese (SF, Friday): Niese's ownership is tempered as he is also a recent returnee from the disabled list. Though he gave up four runs to the Seattle Mariners in his first start back, six punchouts with two walks in six innings suggests his stuff is fine. The Giants bring a league average attack against southpaws to Citi Field but Niese should be up for the challenge.
7. Josh Tomlin (SEA, Thursday): Streaming against Seattle is almost as fruitful as doing it versus San Diego. Tomlin carries an impressive 8.0 strikeouts per nine mark along with an even more impressive 1.1 base on balls per nine. He's been a victim of too many homers. Seattle is 17th in the league in long balls, so Tomlin has a good chance to avoid his nemesis and let his skills shine.

Hitting ratings

The chart below lists each of the 30 teams' total number of scheduled games, home games and games versus right- and left-handed pitchers, and provides a matchup rating for the week's games in terms of overall offense, offense for left- and right-handed hitters and base stealing. Matchup ratings for each individual game are listed under the corresponding date.

Hitting advantages

• Here are this week's "volume plays," defined as the teams that play the most home games, or games against right- or left-handed starters:
Home games: Houston Astros 7, Miami Marlins 7, Detroit Tigers 6, Baltimore Orioles 6, Boston Red Sox 6, Cleveland Indians 6, Los Angeles Dodgers 6, New York Mets 6 and Tampa Bay Rays 6 .
Versus RH: Miami Marlins 7, Cleveland Indians 6, Houston Astros 6, St. Louis Cardinals 6, New York Yankees 6, Seattle Mariners 6, Cincinnati Reds 6, Toronto Blue Jays 6, San Diego Padres 6, Atlanta Braves 6 and Philadelphia Phillies 6.
Versus LH: Chicago Cubs 6, Detroit Tigers 5, Minnesota Twins 3 and Washington Nationals 3.

• The Detroit Tigers enjoy a week-long stretch in Comerica Park where they will welcome five left-handers. With a .380 home wOBA versus lefties, the scoreboard operator may need a vacation when the week is over.

• Even with one of the six being Clayton Kershaw, facing six southpaws puts the Chicago Cubs right-handed contingent in a good spot. As a team, the Cubs sport an excellent .327 wOBS versus left-handers.

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