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Fantasy Fix: 2B and Big Z

If someone told you that a second baseman was tied for the National League lead in home runs, you would have to guess it was Chase Utley (or Ryne Sandberg if you happened to not know what year it was).

But the 2B who has swatted seven homers already this season and was tied for the NL lead through Monday was none other than the Arizona Diamondbacks' Kelly Johnson.

Fantasy Fix was so down on Johnson in the pre-season, I said to avoid him in your draft.

Don't look at me like I'm crazy - there was good reason I slammed him.

In 2008 with the Atlanta Braves, Johnson looked like a budding fantasy star at a position traditionally lacking such. He amassed 12 HRs, 69 RBIs, 11 SBs, a .287 average, 39 doubles and six triples that year.

Furthermore, when 2B Dustin Pedroia won the American League MVP in 2008 and Utley got serious consideration in the NL, prospect-minded fantasy team owners had their eyes on Johnson as the next great 2B discovery heading into 2009.

But a .224 average, 8 HRs and 29 RBIs in 106 games last year left most people feeling burned, so it was no surprise not to see him drafted in many leagues in 2010.

Now Johnson has one less homer in April than he had all of last year. Can you trust that power, plus a .302 average, to continue?

I'd still say Johnson will be nowhere near the league lead in anything at the end of 2010, but I've already been wrong about him once. If you need a 2B - and the position remains pretty shallow, so many teams do have that need - then by all means snap him up and enjoy the ride.

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It's Week 4 in the fantasy baseball world, and for my money, Robinson Cano is the new Dustin Pedroia.

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Fantasy Find of the Week: Fausto Carmona, SP, Cleveland.

He went from being a 19-game winner in 2007 to the depths of the minors last year, but he has been great in his first few starts this year. He pitched 7.1 inning with four strikeouts and no walks for a win last week, and though that doesn't sound too glamorous, the improved Indians will get him wins and his ERA will come in handy in leagues with across-the-board stats. Just 33% owned in Yahoo! leagues.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee.

It usually takes him half a season to remember he can run, but 4 SBs last week on top of 2 HRs and 8 RBIs made for a plentiful week for the top-ranked fantasy outfielder.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia.

Guys always seem to fold like a house of cards the week they are awarded a big contract. Howard, just christened a $125 million man, came up with almost nothing in the last week - no HRs, 2 RBIs.

Fantasy Match-up of the Week: Justin Upton, OF, Arizona.

He's slowly waking up from an early slump, and hitters' parks like Coors Field in Colorado and Wrigley Field later this week will help.

Expert Wire
* Roto Arcade says Buster Posey, the catcher thought by some to be the next Matt Wieters, might be appearing in the majors shortly. Seems like a strange move, since both Bengie Molina and Eli Whiteside have been playing well behind the plate for the Giants.

* Bleacher Report lists Grady Sizemore as a buy-low candidate and Kelly Johnson as a sell-high prospect. Sizemore has been terrible this year and, as we noted, Johnson has been amazing, but I agree that they will be headed in opposite directions soon.

* Closing Time puts the spotlight on catcher Miguel Olivo, whose home runs usually are his chief fantasy contribution - and he couldn't be on a better team to have a career year in that department.

* SB Nation asks if SP Brad Penny is for real after winning his first three games and posting 0.94 ERA. Penny probably will be the latest middle-of-the-road pitcher to be coached to a career year in St. Louis. Believe the hype.

* Bleacher Report is almost alone in suggesting that Carlos Zambrano retains some fantasy value after moving to the bullpen. True, if your league counts holds, he'll get you some points, but if he becomes a bigger fantasy factor again this season, it'll be because he's waived his no-trade clause and is headed elsewhere.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Comments welcome. 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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