It's been a long 11 days for some, but the last day of the first scoring period is finally here.
Often, this means taking chances with higher-upside, riskier players to make up ground in head-to-head formats. If you're probably going to lose anyway, why not go down fighting?
Others are looking to protect leads, especially ratios in rotisserie leagues. Regardless of your format, we have all the rankings and player recommendations you need to finish the week on a high note.
Jordan Montgomery (L), rostered in 50 percent of ESPN leagues, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles: There's a coin-flip chance Montgomery isn't available in your league, and he therefore barely qualifies for this list. Despite being largely right-handed, the Orioles have carried over their scuffles versus lefties to the beginning of the 2018 campaign. The Orioles strike out at a generous clip versus southpaws, embellishing Montgomery's above-average strikeout rate.
Tyler Mahle (R), 23 percent, Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates: Mahle impressed in his first outing, but temper expectations for his second and beyond. He's not dominant, so Mahle will be prone to rough outings. The Pirates possess one of the weaker lineups, and PNC Park is a great place to pitch, reducing the chances of a bad start.
Eduardo Rodriguez (L), 19 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Rodriguez is set to make his 2018 debut after recovering from knee surgery last August. The setup couldn't be any better, facing the offensively challenged Rays on one of Tampa Bay's bullpen games ... following a game in which Tampa's bullpen was taxed. Boston's relievers, on the other hand, are well rested.
Reynaldo Lopez (R), 16 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers: Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito get more attention, but Lopez is just as much a part of Chicago's future. Last season, Lopez struck out only 30 in 47.2 frames with the White Sox, though he's off to a good start in that department, whiffing six Blue Jays in six innings in his 2018 debut. The largely right-handed Tigers give Lopez another chance to rack up some punchouts.
Pitcher to avoid
Chase Anderson (R), 88 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs: This comes with an asterisk, as Anderson is showing signs of breaking out, while the Cubs will eventually get it going. Still, if you're in a close ratio race, it's defensible to reserve Anderson.
All eyes were on the Brewers-Cubs tilt Friday night after Milwaukee took a 4-2 lead. Josh Hader was called upon in the fifth to pick up Brandon Woodruff, suggesting he'll remain in the Andrew Miller role and not step into the closer role while Corey Knebel is out. The Cubs tied the game, much to the chagrin of fantasy enthusiasts everywhere. Matt Albers did come into the deadlocked affair, earning the win, but the truth is Jacob Barnes tossed two innings on Thursday, so we wouldn't get a real feel of the pecking order, if there is one, anyway. In fact, we might not see it until all the relievers are on equal rest, which might not transpire until early in the week.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The "*" symbol means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
Chris Iannetta (R), 44 percent, Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves (LHP Sean Newcomb): The trick Sunday with all hitters, especially catchers, is identifying an option very likely to be active. Teams using platoons are prime candidates. The Rockies don't use a strict platoon, but with lefty-swinging Tony Wolters as the backup, it's almost certain Iannetta will be in the lineup, which is always a good thing in a home game at Coors Field.
Ryan Rua (R), less than 1 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Jaime Garcia): Rua is usually thought of as a platoon outfielder, but he snuck in enough games at first base to be eligible there, as well. With a lefty on the hill, Rua will probably be in the Rangers' lineup. Garcia was impressive in his season debut, but he's coming off the worst season of his career.
Cesar Hernandez (B), 25 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Miami Marlins (RHP Trevor Richards): The Phillies have a lot of movable parts, though Hernandez has been the regular at second to open the season. Check to make sure he's in the lineup; if he is, Hernandez will likely be leading off. He already has two steals and could add to that, since Marlins Park lends itself to small ball.
Miguel Andujar (R), 7 percent, New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (RHP Mike Wright Jr.): Early-season injuries have shaken up the Yankees' order, setting up Andujar and Tyler Wade for a lot of playing time in the short term. Wright is one of the weaker arms on the slate, putting Andujar, Wade and veteran Neil Walker in great spots for a productive game.
Dansby Swanson (R), 21 percent, Atlanta Braves at Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland): Coming off a down year, it behooves Swanson to get off to a good start, increasing job security while Johan Camargo is on the shelf. He's doing just that, with a chance to keep the momentum with the series finale at Coors Field, enjoying the platoon edge on a southpaw looking to bounce back from surrendering a pair of homers to right-handers.
Luis Valbuena (L), 3 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics (RHP Kendall Graveman): Valbuena has already been featured here on multiple occasions. This time, he's joined by teammates Martin Maldonado and Jefry Marte. Marte is likely to play, since Shohei Ohtani will take a break from hitting homers to start on the hill. Graveman is generous to hitters from both sides of the dish, so don't sweat his lack of a platoon edge. Kole Calhoun's slow start has led to some impatient teams releasing him, so it's worth checking your waiver wire, as he's also in a great spot to get it going.
Logan Forsythe (R), 4 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants (LHP Ty Blach): Forsythe has hit southpaws well, putting him in great position for a productive day against Blach. The crafty lefty allows frequent contact, aiding the matchup.
Nicky Delmonico (L), 2 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers (RHP Mike Fiers): Fiers is expected to be activated off the disabled list to start his first game of 2018. While he has no restrictions, he isn't likely to work deep into the contest, meaning Delmonico benefits from the platoon edge and multiple likely innings against a subpar Tigers bullpen.
Steve Pearce (R), less than 1 percent, Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers (LHP Cole Hamels): This pick comes with an asterisk, since there's a good chance Pearce is lifted for a pinch hitter, probably Curtis Granderson, if he's due up against a righty reliever. In deeper leagues, two or three chances against Hamels warrants a lineup spot, as the veteran lefty is vulnerable to right-handed power.
Tyler Naquin (L), 1 percent, Cleveland Indians (RHP Jason Hammel): Naquin was sent to Triple-A Columbus on Thursday, but with Lonnie Chisenhall landing on the disabled list, the Indians were able to recall Naquin earlier than the usual 10-day requirement. The speedy outfielder steps right back into the lineup, but beware: Royals backstop Cam Gallagher threw out an impressive 23-of-43 base-stealers last year in Triple-A, though he was only 1-of-6 with the big club.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth), as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.