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Fantasy Fix: False Starts

Don't you hate it when you draft a top-tier player and he can't even make it past Opening Day (or even to Opening Day) without getting hurt?

That's already the kind of season we're having in 2014. The top two fantasy starting pitchers are already on the disabled list, along with one of the highest-ranked shortstops.

Here's the breakdown, with suggested next steps:

Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD: He came home from the opening series in Australia with a back injury, and is now looking at missing at least a few weeks while the Dodgers treat him with kid gloves. That's a big hit for fantasy teams that drafted him as high as fourth or fifth overall in some leagues.

Possible pick-up: Yovani Gallardo, SP, MIL.

Former top pitcher drafted in less than 70% of Yahoo! leagues after an up-and-down 2013. Yet, he looked impressive beating the Braves on Opening Day, yielding no runs in six innings with four strikeouts and a 1.00 WHIP.

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Yu Darvish, SP, TEX: The second-ranked SP in most fantasy leagues was scratched before the season started due to a neck injury. He's already throwing bullpen sessions, but the Rangers, like the Dodgers, aren't going to rush things with their precious cargo.

Possible pick-up: Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, BAL.

No one comes close to matching Darvish's strikeout power, but Jimenez did strike out 194 in 182 innings last year, and had a strong second half. He's still available in 23% of Yahoo! leagues, and since he was probably a last-round pick in many leagues, he could prove easy to acquire via trade.

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Jose Reyes, SS, TOR: It took him a single regular season at-bat to once again live up to his "injury prone" tag, pulling up lame with a hamstring issue.

Possible pick-up: Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox.

Not surprisingly, he was overlooked in a lot of leagues, with current Yahoo! ownership at only 69%. But his impressive 30 SBs last year give him the profile of a bargain-basement version of Reyes.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Closing Time is already on the Emilio Bonifacio bandwagon, after the Cubs' 2B/3B/OF went 4-for-4 on Opening Day. No, it's not too early at all to start picking up Cubs.

* Bleacher Reports sizes up this year's rookie class.

* Fantasy CPR notes another Opening Day injury, this one to Mets closer Bobby Parnell. Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth look to be in play as replacements.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

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