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Fantasy Fix

By Dan O'Shea

Did you give up on Troy Tulowitzki like I did?

Then we're both sorry.

The Colorado shortstop who was skirting the Mendoza line just a couple of months ago (come to think of it, that was right about when his team's winning percentage wasn't much better) has hit over .440 during the last couple weeks and hit for the cycle Monday night against the Cubs.

I gave up on Tulo in early June when he sunk to .216, but he's now hitting .276 with 21 Hrs and 60 RBIs. He also has 15 stolen bases and six triples. He leads all MLB shortstops in home runs, and that final fact is why he tops our Fantasy Fix Action Ratings this week. Here's more FFAR talk:

Player: Troy Tulowitzki, SS
FFAR: HOLD or GET
Comment: If you got him, keep him because he will only get better. If you don't got him, get him by offering a top-tier player at another position. The SS slot has been disappointing this year, with Jose Reyes out and a few others having sub-par seasons. Tulo I think will end up with the second-best numbers this year at SS after Hanley Ramirez. He is looking an awful lot like the do-no-wrong star of the 2007 National League Champion Rockies (and the Rockies as a team are looking similar to 2007 form, too - hmm.)

Player: Barry Zito, SP
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: With an 8-10 record and 4.40 ERA, he may be only the fourth-best starter on the San Francisco Giants, but he traditionally turns it on in the second half, and has been very sharp over the last month. Also, the Giants could be in the thick of the playoff race right to the end.

Player: Alex Rios, OF
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: The newest member of the White Sox will get more at-bats than he did in Toronto. His overall numbers are still a concern, but he could get a modest boost in HRs, RBIs and SBs playing in The Cell for a manager who likes to run.

Player: Mike MacDougal, RP
FFAR: SKIP
Comment: At this time of year, it's next to impossible to find a good closer on the waiver wire. This guy, late of the White Sox and now with the Washington Nationals, has eight saves - without any blown - and six in the last month for a last-place team. The thing with MacDougal, though, is that he shows you a glimpse of what made him a first-round pick before he breaks your heart. The Nats have been winning lately, but don't expect that or Mac's good fortune to continue.

Player: Miguel Montero, C
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: As the season winds down, look for a little edge where you can get it. Montero, hitting .289 with 11 HRs, (six in the last month) and 37 RBIs, doesn't look gaudy, but he is currently ranked higher at his position than Yadier Molina, Russell Martin, Rod Barajas and other catchers you know. Yet, he is only 37% owned in Yahoo! leagues.

Player: David Wright, 3B
FFAR: TRADE
Comment: If you haven't already, trade him while he is still among the NL's leading hitters. I thought the homers and more RBIs would come as the Mets woke up, but instead, they have faded into a deeper sleep, and Wright has seemed run down. He still only has 8 HRs and, at 3B, you can do better than that. Trade to someone who like the SBs (all 24 of them) and is willing to give up power.

Expert Wire:
* Yahoo!'s MLB Skinny has Brandon Funston ruminating on when it's time for a losing fantasy team to pack it in for the year. I say it depends on when your trading deadline is, and many leagues probably still have a couple weeks to go before the action gets halted. Still, if you're last in a keeper league, start thinking about who you want to return next year - or who you would like to get as a keeper for next year by trading one of your top vets.

* Funston also has the Big Board up and running, and he's still awarding a spot near the top to Alex Rodriguez. Confused? You might not be after you see A-Rod's recent numbers, though for my money, Mark Reynolds, currently No. 9 on the Big Board, should be swapped with A-Rod, who is still far from being the A-Rod of 2007 (Of course, in some ways, that may be a good thing).

* Bleacher Report has some pick-ups if you are looking for stolen bases (and not much else). Actually, BR's first mention, Rajal Davis, could be a great late-season find if he continues to hit around .300 (.292 now). Only Nyjer Morgan (13) and Jacoby Ellsbury (12) had more SBs than Davis (10) last month.

* Looks like our friend Lastings Milledge will be called up, and The Faster Times is asking if he'll finally live up to the hype. We here at Fantasy Fix are both laughing and crying on the inside at this possibility, given our history with the top-hatted one.

Fantasy Football Update:
I'm skipping the usual top picks at each position format in favor of trying to pick out the guys I think will do better than their rankings, as well as picking a flop or two in waiting.

QB Pick 'Ems
Aaron Rodgers: You may already know I feel he is being way overlooked. I would say he's No. 4 on my list after Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and he seems to have the tools to at least do better than Manning and maybe even Brady if the Senator has trouble coming back from injury and doesn't like his new offensive coordinator. I would seriously skip the other guys if you have the chance to take them, and pick up Rodgers in Round 3 ahead of everyone else.

Kyle Orton: I'm not saying he should be your starting QB, but make him a bench pick (or a No. 2 QB in multi-QB leagues) and you could be pleasantly surprised. He has two talented, proven wide receivers and a good tight end to throw to, and could be a better fit than anyone might expect.

QB Avoid 'Ems
Matt Cassel: This goes against the prevailing wisdom - who would say pick up Orton and avoid Cassel given last year's numbers? But this year's early training camp reports aren't good, not so much in regard to Cassel's performance, but that of his receivers. I'm fearing the KC offense could start out of sync. I would take guys like Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub, Matt Hasselbeck and Joe Flacco over Cassel.

Trent Edwards: He'll be throwing to Terrell Owens, but he's still Trent Edwards. The Buffalo Bills offense may be a work in progress to more of a degree than anyone thinks this year, and I don't think T.O. is the difference between 200 yards passing and 400 for T.E.

RB Pick 'Ems
Knowshon Moreno: Denver Coach Mike Shanahan has caught heat from fantasy types for platooning his RBs in the past. Could this year offer more of the same with rookie Moreno and handy vet Correll Buckhalter? Maybe, but Moreno takes hits and keeps running and has some great moves. He could finish with top 10 numbers in an RB sector that is looking saggy this year.

Felix Jones: Most pre-season rankings don't even have him in the top 20 among RBs, but he is capable of piling up yards on breakaways, will get more touches this year and also probably will return kicks, meaning extra fantasy points. I would take him ahead of the fading Marion Barber.

RB Avoid 'Ems
Ronnie Brown: He helped bring the Wildcat formation back in vogue, but he faded in the second half last year, and wide receivers will be getting the ball more in Miami this season. I also like Ricky Williams and Patrick Cobbs to take a share of carries that were all Brown's early in the 2008 season.

Willis McGahee: His fade is no news at this point, but LeRon McClain and Ray Rice may keep the ball completely out of his hands. A star who had a good run that is now over.

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Next week: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends to keep an eye on.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.


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