So you just lost Ryan Zimmerman, or found out Derek Jeter is going to be out until the All-Star break (if not longer), or you grabbed Jose Reyes early in your draft to anchor the team. Now there is a gaping hole in the once-promising lineup. What can you do?
Fortunately, there is always someone else out there. Much of the fun in fantasy sports is unearthing the gems that go unnoticed on draft day and emerge to lead a team to the league title. That team could be yours, if you are willing to scour the waiver wire, read box scores and find those gems.
The players in the next few slides are available in most, if not all, fantasy leagues, and they can immediately be plugged in to save your season. These players aren't superstars, but they are above-average replacements and many possess additional upside.
Perennially underrated, Ryan Doumit hit .275 with 18 homers and 75 RBI in 2012. On most days, he serves as designated hitter for the Twins, while occasionally filling in for Joe Mauer behind the plate, or playing a corner outfield spot.
Doumit is nothing special. He will hit about .270 with 12-20 homers and 65-80 RBI over the course of the season, playing something like 120 games combined. However, for someone who is trying to fill the position cheap until Brian McCann returns from injury or Yasmani Grandal gets back from suspension, Doumit could be your saving grace.
Ultimately, catcher is a difficult position to fill in fantasy as is, so a player like Doumit, getting consistent at-bats and hitting for power, ends up underrated and fortunately underowned.
Chris Carter hit 16 homers in just 67 games for Oakland in 2012. In the three years leading up to his major league debut in 2010, Carter hit 25, 39 and 28 homers respectively with 312 combined RBI.
Carter now serves as the designated hitter in Houston for the decrepit Astros. He has four home runs in 20 games thus far and should continue to hit for power. Unfortunately, Carter strikes out a lot. In fact, he has 34 strike outs in 74 at-bats, so you will need to insure his batting average.
While the low average will keep his ownership low, Carter is a viable placeholder for Mark Teixeira or Corey Hart, if you were counting on power from the position in building your team.
Matt Carpenter played his 10th game at second base on April 21, making him eligible in many formats. In most leagues, this is the fourth position where he is useful. He played 44 games at first base and 33 at third in 2012, adding 21 games in the outfield.
In 114 games last season, Carpenter batted .294 with an .828 OPS. He will hit for a little power, perhaps reaching 12-15 homers if given full-time at-bats. But the average alone is undervalued, as the game has swayed toward pitching, making high average that much harder to find in standard leagues.
Carpenter was a .299 career hitter in the minors, and considering the Cardinals' dearth of infield talent, he should hit well enough to stay in the lineup and make for an excellent replacement for Aaron Hill.
Third base has been hit especially hard by injuries. Ryan Zimmerman, Aramis Ramirez and Hanley Ramirez are on the DL. Alex Rodriguez may or may not play a single game this season. And popular replacement options like Alberto Callaspo and Ian Stewart have themselves been hurt.
Ryan Roberts took advantage of his first regular playing time in 2011 with 19 homers, 18 stolen bases and 86 runs. He followed that up by again reaching double digits in homers and steals despite a part-time role in 2012. Now he has fallen into at-bats with Tampa Bay and is batting .302 with a pair of home runs.
Roberts, given full playing time, will bat around .250, but that is not as damaging as it would have been five years ago and well worth the 15 homers and 15 stolen bases he is capable of.
Lucas Duda has five home runs in 17 games for the New York Mets, with a .604 slugging percentage. He is coming off a 2012 in which he hit 15 homers in 121 games. Duda benefits from the lack of options in the Mets outfield and is earning his at-bats after serving as part of a platoon to this point in his career.
There is some legitimacy in the show of power from Duda. He had a .949 OPS in Triple-A and hit .304 with 23 homers in his last full season in the minors. Unfortunately, Duda tends to be an all-or-nothing hitter, evidenced by his 15 walks and 18 strikeouts through 48 at-bats this season.
Duda will not hit for a high average, but the Mets do not have many options threatening his playing time, and Duda has enough pop to produce 25 home runs over the course of the season.
It was easy to miss considering the dumpster fire that was the 2012 Marlins organization, but Justin Ruggiano batted .313 with 13 homers and 14 stolen bases in 91 games last year.
He now has three each of homers and steals through 19 games in 2013. While the team is still atrocious, Ruggiano has locked down full-time at-bats, showing the only real power threat beyond Giancarlo Stanton on the team. While he strikes out too often to expect him to repeat as a .300 hitter, Ruggiano is capable of a 20/20 season.
His value falls short of most 20/20 guys based on the surrounding cast, which will limit his chances to score runs or knock them in, but for those missing the services of Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Bourn, Curtis Granderson or others, Ruggiano may prove a pleasant surprise.
With Erick Aybar on the disabled list, Peter Bourjos falls into, perhaps, the most coveted lineup spot in the major leagues, leading off ahead of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
Bourjos showed his potential in 2011, when he batted .271 with 12 homers, 22 stolen bases and 72 runs, also leading the league with 11 triples. He struggled to find playing time in the crowded 2012 Angels outfield, but has now regained a permanent starting role ahead of the most dangerous 2-3-4 in baseball.
Bourjos possess both the gap-power and speed to get on base, get himself over and score a ton of runs off the powerful bats behind him. If he performs, Bourjos has a chance to stay at the top of the order when Aybar returns, but hitting anywhere in that order, he has the skills to be a positive fantasy contributor.