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Fantasy Fix: Year of the Rookie

There is little left to be said about the fantasy basketball season, now in playoff mode, other than this: If you need a last-minute pick-up, and JaVale McGee, PF/C, Washington, is available in your league, grab him immediately.

Why? Thirty-five rebounds in two games going into Tuesday is why. A 28-point, 18-rebound, 5-block Monday night is why. McGee has been one of the nicest surprises of the NBA season, a guy who barely registered in the top 100 players back in November, but should skirt the top 50 at the end of it. His 9.8 PP, 8.2 RPG and 2.4 BPG suggests he'll make a nice fourth-round pick next year with the potential to average a double-double.

Now, fantasy basketball has never been my strong suit. Fantasy baseball, on the other hand, represents renewal for me. It's time for our annual recitation of the rites of spring, and for me to have another six months to try to get things right.

This year, that means paying more attention to rookies. Last year was the Year of the Pitcher, but this year will be the Year of the Youth. There are a number of rookies - some who received extended tryouts late last season - who should make an impact this season. Some, like Jeremy Hellickson, SP/RP, Tampa, are well-known and probably already spoken for in preseason fantasy drafts. Others weren't necessarily draft fodder but should still be on your radar as possible pickups during the season:

1. J.P. Arencibia, C, Toronto.

In a brief stint last year, he only had five hits in 35 at-bats, but two of those hits were home runs. He's got great power, and though he was drafted as a back-up in some leagues, he is still available in 78% of Yahoo! leagues.

2. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City.

Huge home run and RBI numbers in the minors had everyone salivating heading into spring training, but he was a bust at camp. Still, like Pedro Alvarez last year, Moustakas could be a third-baseman who has a very productive second half.

3. Kyle Drabek, SP, Toronto.

Another much-hyped rookie, probably taken in only the deepest leagues. He should be good for a strikeout per inning, and double-digit wins if he sticks.

4. Jake McGee, RP, Tampa.

He'll be more of a set-up man at first, but some think he's the closer of the future in Tampa.

5. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Cleveland.

Like Moustakas, he was sent down rather than making the club. Unlike Moustakas, he was hugely productive this spring, hitting .500. He'll be back.

Sleeper Rookie: Darwin Barney, 2B/SS, Cubs.

I kid you not, the kid has the right kind of position eligibility to be of value in deep fantasy leagues (he may even earn 3B rights when Aramis Ramirez inevitably strains something). If he hits better than Jeff Baker, he could find himself starting full-time at 2B, delivering modest, but regular hitting and speed value in the mode of a Ryan Theriot or Elvis Andrus. Not a draft pick, but one to watch.

Expert Wire
* rightly says Starlin Castro's draft value has been rising as spring has sprung.

* RotoWorld reports on how "Salty" - Boston catcher Jared Saltalamacchia - is busting out, no doubt before his annual fizzle.

* Bleacher Report likes Seattle pitcher Michael Pineda as a big-time sleeper candidate.

* Bleacher Report also has a guide to avoid foolish fantasy draft picks. No. 10 says it all: Don't pick Brad Lidge.


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 his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

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