In fantasy football, it’s usually a good idea to own both a team’s starting running back and his backup. If the starter gets hurt, you won’t have to scour the waiver wire for someone else you know will get regular carries. You already have him.
Depending on your league, you may have the ability to stash guys on your bench that don’t necessarily have a lot of value, but could potentially be the best option available if the inevitable happens and one of your key players gets injured.
Here are a few must-have replacements in-waiting …
Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds
Keeping Mesoraco on your bench and hoping manager Dusty Baker starts giving him more time than Ryan Hanigan might end up being very frustrating. Baker does love Hanigan and isn’t one to trust a young catcher like Mesoraco with his pitching staff.
Don’t blame Baker, though. Hanigan is one of the better defenders and game-callers around and does a good job of getting on base (.370 OBP), if nothing else at the plate.
It’s not nice to hope for an injury, but one to Hanigan might be Mesoraco’s only shot for extended playing time to prove himself to his manager. And if Baker trusts him, the Reds offense can potentially be much better.
The top catching prospect in the game heading into 2012, Mesoraco struggled at the plate without regular playing time. He’s 13-for-40 with two homers and three doubles this spring and could slowly start shifting his playing-time percentage closer to 50.0 by midseason, even if Hanigan doesn’t have the misfortune of suffering an injury.
Mike Olt, IF/OF, Texas Rangers
Olt, a third baseman by trade, increased his versatility last year by playing games at first base and right field. He’ll begin the season in Triple-A, but the odds are very high that he’ll get a regular spot sooner or later.
Whether it’s soon to be 34-year-old Adrian Beltre, 37-year-old Lance Berkman (32 games played last season due to knee injury), 32-year-old Nelson Cruz (four DL stints for hamstring injuries in 2010-11) or Mitch Moreland (missed more than a month in 2012 with a hamstring injury) landing on the disabled list, it will very likely be Olt that gets the call to take their lineup spot.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
As things stand, Taveras will start the season in Triple-A where he’ll get regular at-bats and bide his time until a spot opens up for him. Sure it’s risky to keep him on your roster in a non-keeper league when there’s a chance he doesn’t see the majors until September.
There’s also a good chance this top-hitting prospect is getting regular at-bats much earlier. Carlos Beltran will be 36 in April, and although he’s had two relatively injury-free seasons, those knees aren’t going to hold up forever.
And remember that on the chance that Beltran does stay healthy again, there are two other outfielders very capable of straining an oblique or hamstring to open up a spot for the 20-year-old Taveras, who hit .321 with 23 homers, 37 doubles and 94 runs batted in with Double-A Springfield in 2012.