If you're afraid to release your drafted stars whose weak performances are killing your fantasy squad, you risk missing out on some early-season hot up-and-comers that could make or break your team.
Remember this: in fantasy, you need to play it week by week, and you need to take advantage of the fact that your players aren’t “real.”
In the real world players demand and possess no-trade clauses, so Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman can’t run around signing free agents and immediately packaging them for positional or rotational upgrades.
In fantasy, you can, and you must.
Here are the top five free agents you should acquire. They have staying power, but you can flip them to upgrade your weak shortstop position or find more starters to replace Carlos Zambrano or Tim Wakefield.
Sign and trade my friends. Sign and trade.
Owned in only 77 percent of CBS Fantasy Leagues.
Ranks 24th among starting pitchers in 2010 production.
How quickly we forget. Shaun Marcum missed all of 2009 after undergoing elbow surgery.
In 2008, Marcum was virtually dominant. That year, Marcum put up 123 strikeouts over 151.1 innings. His ERA was 3.39.
With 23 strikeouts and a 1.00 WHIP in 27 innings this year, Marcum looks to have picked up right where he left off before going under the knife.
As the now de facto staff ace of the Blue Jays, Marcum will be expected to shoulder more innings than ever.
That could pay huge dividends to fantasy owners who snag him now.
Keep in mind as well that more casual fantasy players know Marcum’s name, and that’s something you can take advantage of in a multi-player deal.
Owned in only 76 percent of CBS Fantasy Leagues.
Ranks seventh among outfielders in 2010 production.
Josh Willingham is great offensive option to bring home some bacon to accompany the eggs your highly touted outfielders are currently laying.
Batting .320 with three homers and 11 RBIs, Willingham has kept it going before—though not since 2005—and could do so again if teammates Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, and Cameron Maybin keep swinging hot bats as well.
Owned in only 80 percent of CBS Fantasy Leagues.
Ranks 6th among Outfielders in 2010 production.
When Jose Guillen landed in the Championship-destitute Kansas City in 2008, he largely sealed his publicity fate. How often do you hear anyone talking about Guillen anymore?
A career .273 hitter who traditionally averages 20-plus homers a season, Guillen is off to a torrid start, hitting .377 with 6 homers and 13 RBI during the young 2010 season.
Will he cool off? Obviously, yes. But while you’re waiting for Nick Markakis and Jason Bay to wake up, play Guillen instead.
If he’s still hot when they show up for 2010, you can package deal him for something else you need, like a closer or a second baseman.
Owned in only 34 percent of CBS Fantasy Leagues.
Ranks 18th among starting pitchers in 2010 production.
With Carlos Zambrano being unceremoniously exiled to the Chicago bullpen, expectations on Carlos Silva have clearly climbed a few feet of ivy.
If you like, listen to those who will contend Silva’s heyday will be short lived, but I prefer to see him as a huge opportunity.
Many starters are struggling, and other fantasy teams need wins, now. Grabbing Silva, packaging him, and flipping him has low-risk, high-reward written all over it.
True it’s been a long time since Silva dominated like he has thus far in 2010, but many pitchers experience a statistical resurgence when they move from the American to the National League.
Silva could be a top-50 pitcher the whole year, and you would have drafted him if you’d known that.
Pick him up now.
Owned in only 21 percent of CBS Fantasy Leagues.
Ranks 15th among starting pitchers in 2010 production.
The negative Nellys will tell you that Livan Hernandez streaks annually only to fall off once you’ve picked him up.
That said, Washington is a new team, and it’s a team that’s turned things around, at least early on.
In 24 innings for the Nationals this year, Hernandez has gone 2-1 with 9 strikeouts while posting a 0.75 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP.
I say he has staying power. Will he produce at this level every week? Of course not, but neither will Jon Lester continue dealing meatballs.
Hernandez is an excellent fifth starter, and he’s free.
If he stays hot, keep him or trade him, but it’s a win-win either way.