The skill of fantasy sports is making it to the playoffs. The luck of fantasy sports is what happens in the short sample that is the postseason. Let's have a gander at Week 26, below.
Keep in mind, the starting assignments will never be as tentative as they are this week. Playoff teams may rest guys as they get October situated, tired arms may be shut down, milestone-driven arms could get extra turns, etc. I've marked some of the more variable starters with an asterisk, but honestly, I could assign it to everyone. Let's be careful out there. (Note: These ranks will be updated during the day Sunday as more rotation information is available. For the latest version, please refresh the page.)
AL Two-Start Pitchers
- Cliff Lee (at BOS, at CHW): Clear off some mantle space.
- *Josh Beckett (CLE, NYY): Second turn no sure thing.
- *Ervin Santana (at SEA, TEX): Hard to imagine he'll see the second turn with playoffs looming.
- Mike Mussina (at TOR, at BOS): Chasing 20 wins, might face skeleton crew in Boston.
- Scott Baker (CHW, KC): Should be a sneaky value in 2009.
- *James Shields (at BAL, at DET): Carries 5.06 ERA on the road.
- Javier Vazquez (at MIN, CLE): ERA never seems to match the peripheral suggestion.
- Gil Meche (at DET, at MIN): Two tricky ones, but I like how he's throwing.
- *Jered Weaver (at SEA, TEX): Six usable turns in a row.
- Ryan Rowland-Smith (LAA, OAK): Quietly useful for six straight turns.
- David Purcey (NYY, at Bal): Strikeout potential makes him worth considering.
- Greg Smith (at TEX, at SEA): Heaven and hell matchups on road.
- *Josh Outman (at TEX, at SEA): A's likely stick with four starters here.
- Kevin Millwood (OAK, at LAA): Not the easiest matrix to figure out.
- *Zach Miner (KC, TB): League has caught up to him.
- *Dustin Nippert (OAK, at LAA): Might see two turns with Brandon McCarthy injury.
- Zach Jackson (at BOS, at CHW): See you at Augusta.
- Brian Bass (TB, TOR): First starts of the year, keep expectations tempered.
- Ryan Feierabend (LAA, OAK): Numbers steer you far away (7.25, 1.75, .349).
NL Two-Start Pitchers
- Tim Lincecum (COL, LAD): Two starts his young arm doesn't need.
- *Cole Hamels (ATL, WAS): Second turn could get scrubbed if they're in.
- *Johan Santana (CHC, FLA): He's cranked it up a notch down the stretch.
- Ricky Nolasco (at CIN, at NYM): An electric season not fully appreciated.
- *Jake Peavy (at LA, PIT): Returns from stork duty, check second-start status.
- *Rich Harden (at NYM, at MIL): I wouldn't bet on seeing the second turn.
- Brandon Webb (at STL, COL): Just another guy over last month.
- Aaron Harang (FLA, at STL): He's quietly put it together again.
- Edinson Volquez (at HOU, at STL): Command issues in recent turns.
- *Chad Billingsley (SD, at SF): Second turn unlikely unless team slumps.
- Ubaldo Jimenez (at SF, at ARI): Power stuff is back.
- Dave Bush (PIT, CHC): Best work comes at home, but teammates are in the tank.
- Randy Johnson (at STL, COL): Does he keep second turn if they're out of it?
- Todd Wellemeyer (ARI, CIN): Better stamina than most expected.
- Kyle Lohse (ARI, CIN): He'll be a poor investment next year.
- Jair Jurrjens (at PHI, at HOU): Despite strikeouts of late, he's hit the wall
- *Jon Niese (CHC, FLA): Could lose second turn if Mets need game.
- Scott Olsen (at WAS, at NYM): Scary on the road (5.79 ERA, 1.49 WHIP).
- *Wandy Rodriguez (CIN, ATL): Coming back from oblique injury.
- Jeff Suppan (PIT, CHC): Chuck and duck.
- Shairon Martis (FLA, at PHI): Other shoe dropped in last turn.
- Jason Marquis (at NYM, at MIL): Not the easiest of assignments.
Week 26 Game Counts
I'm not a weatherman and I'm not a mind-reader; the participation rate of name players will always be tricky in the final week.
Tampa Plays Eight Games: David Price gets the start Monday at Baltimore (one day earlier than first expected), while Matt Garza has been pushed back to Saturday, taking him out of the two-start rotation. Joe Maddon will probably rest his key hitters a little bit, but at least they're starting with an eight-game slate to work with. So long as they're healthy, you probably should stick with your main Tampa Bay guys in weekly leagues.
Teams With Seven Games (AL Clubs listed first): Angels, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Red Sox, Tigers; Cardinals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Mets, Reds.
Teams With Six Games: Athletics, Blue Jays, Rangers, Twins, Royals, White Sox, Yankees (we'll miss you, old friend); Astros, Braves, Brewers, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rockies (all on the road).
Point, Click, Acquire
Possible guys to grab, if they're out there.
Hope it falls well for you, amigos. Your championship is our reward.