Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, both new members of the New York Mets

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Now that the Super Bowl has concluded, it's time to start looking towards Spring, which means baseball is right around the corner.

The hot corner to be exact.

The return of the MLB also means that it's time to start doing your research for your fantasy baseball league. We will get what should feel more like a normal baseball season in 2021 after the truncated 2020 campaign, which saw the L.A. Dodgers defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. We saw some star players deal with some significant struggles in 2020, including recently traded third baseman, Nolan Arenado, who will hope to rebound in his new home of Saint Louis this year.


It is difficult, however. to hold any poor performances against any player considering the length of the season and the conditions they were playing under. As we know, baseball is a game of hot steaks and cold streaks and considering the MLB only played 60 regular season games last year, nearly two-thirds of the season wasn't played. Players can go through a cold streak of that length and then turn it around in the second half of the season.

We have seen perennial MVP candidate, Jose Ramirez do just that in 2019. In the first half of the 2019 season Ramirez hit for just .218, seven home runs, and 35 runs batted in over 85 games. After the all-star break Ramirez slashed .327, 16 home runs, and 48 runs batted in over 44 games.

As fantasy managers we know that talent always shines through, so there will certainly be some players to target in your upcoming fantasy baseball drafts that may slip farther than they should based on last year's stats. Don't be the one that loses out on a league winner because of one down year.

Let's look at three players looking to have big bounce back seasons in 2021 that should help you win your league this season.

J.D. Martinez Boston Red Sox DH

So this is the lowest hanging fruit here. Martinez had a flat out terrible 2020. J.D. hit just .217 with seven homers and 27 RBI over 54 games. The entire Red Sox organization felt off last year, and Martinez may have been the biggest example of that. Usually one of the most consistent power hitters in the game, and someone that was coming off draft boards in the first three rounds of drafts last year, was possibly the biggest fantasy disappointment in baseball in 2020.

In 2019 Martinez hit for .306, 34 HR, and 105 RBI. In 2018 he slashed a line of .330, 43 HR, and 130 RBI and finished fourth in the American League in MVP voting. Boston's roster isn't quite as good as it was during those years, but they do still have Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers to help provide some protection in the lineup for their DH. Considering Martinez is a power hitter that you can likely grab in rounds 6-8 this offseason, if you are lacking power after your first few picks J.D. Martinez will be worth adding in the mid rounds.

Joey Gallo Texas Rangers OF/1B

Gallo has always been a polarizing commodity when it comes to fantasy baseball. His power has always been undeniable, but his batting average has never topped .253 in a season. In 2020 Gallo still wasn't able to hit for average, but his power also betrayed him leaving him with a final line of .181, 10 HR, and 26 RBI in 57 games. This has caused Gallo to be all but forgotten about until the end of drafts heading into 2021.

But if you go back to the 2019 season, Gallo was having another fantastic power hitting season and was on pace to have his best statistical season before a wrist injury ended his season halfway through the season in July. Gallo had a .986 OPS, 22 HR and 49 RBI through 70 games before hitting the injured reserve list. Now you can't ever expect Gallo to become a .300 hitter, but at just 27 years old, you should expect Gallo to return to his home run hitting ways before this season is over.

Gallo is projected beyond the tenth round in most formats currently, and if you target him around there you can stack up on pitching or focus on filling out other stat categories with other players before snagging your power hitter in Gallo late.

Carlos Carrasco New York Mets SP

Carrasco will likely be drafted ahead of the other two players on this list, but depending on who's in your league and the depth of their baseball IQ, Carrasco could also fall a lot farther than he should be in this year's draft. If you remember, Carrasco dealt with battling leukemia in 2019 while he was with the Cleveland Indians. He returned in 2020 and started 12 games, going 3-4 with 82 Ks and a 2.91 ERA.

Now with the New York Mets, Carrasco will be behind Jacob deGrom and ahead of Marcus Stroman in the rotation. Last season we saw Carrasco pitch beyond the sixth inning in nine of his 12 starts, which is important as his stamina and effectiveness were in question once he returned.

He's always been a work horse pitcher that is expected to carry a big innings workload, so to see he was able to do that in short order after his return gave the Mets confidence to sign him, and it should give you confidence he will flourish in this new rotation.

Not only do the Mets have a formidable rotation, but they have a dangerous lineup and the addition of Carrasco's former teammate in Cleveland, Francisco Lindor, gives the Mets a middle of the lineup that includes Lindor, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso. The Padres, Dodgers, and Cardinals have all considerable improvements as well this offseason, and the NL will be hotly contested. But if you want to run away with your fantasy league, drafting Carrasco to be your first or second pitcher will help get you there.

Steph Curry has came back from injury with one of his best seasons as a pro

Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports

As we're just over a week away from seeing the new play-in format the NBA has decided to go with this season, it means that teams are vying to be in the top 10 in their respective conferences to keep their postseason dreams alive.

We have seen LeBron James make public statements opposing the new format even though it was unanimously approved by the NBA Board of Governors last year. It's understandable that James would have negative feelings about the new format as his Lakers have struggled throughout the season as both him and superstar teammate, Anthony Davis, have dealt with injuries which have caused them to miss significant time.

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Cole Irvin is making waves on the west coast for the Oakland A's

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Baseball is a game of hot streaks and slumps, and as a fantasy baseball manager it's sometimes difficult to know when to part with someone on your roster to take a chance on someone new.

Here we'll examine three players you may want to consider moving on from if you have them rostered, and provide three potential replacements for them. Just like in real baseball, sometimes you have to make the tough moves in order to win. But if you don't know what the right moves are to make then you just end up looking like the Pittsburgh Pirates of your fantasy league.

Here's some advice for you so you don't become the Pirates of your league.


First Up

Cole Irvin Oakland A's SP (30% Rostered in Yahoo)

Irvin hasn't allowed more than two runs in the past four starts and will carry a 3.09 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 34/5 strikeout to walk ratio heading into his next one against Tampa Bay this weekend. To put how effective Irvin has been into perspective, he's averaging nearly a strikeout per inning while only .1 walk per inning.

Even if Irvin comes back down to earth a little, now is the time to pick him up while he's riding this hot streak. He is coming off a game against the hard-hitting Blue Jays where we saw him set his career-high in strikeouts with nine over eight innings. Take into consideration he has three quality starts (out of six) and his most recent loss was to the Rays who he sees again on Saturday. In that last appearance against Tampa he went six innings, striking out eight, allowed only two runs and earned a quality start in a loss.

If you're looking for a long term option at starting pitcher, Irvin presents a great opportunity to snag a hidden gem off waivers but don't expect him to last much longer if he puts in another strong performance against the Rays on Saturday.


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Oshae Brissett

AP Photo

Who needs an Avengers incorporated ESPN broadcast when the real nerd-sports crossover is right here?

Welcome to the final round of the basketball fantasy season. You're either in the championship or you've decided that you wanted to set your lineups early and actually enjoy watching basketball.

In any case, you need to fill your rosters and we have the players you need to look out for on those waiver wires.

Booms

Oshae Brissett Guard/Forward Indiana Pacers

You'd be excused for not knowing who Oshae Brissett was before this week. He went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft and started his professional career in the NBA G League. Now, he is making a name for himself in Indianapolis.

Last week, the former Syracuse forward averaged 16 points, made three three-pointers, 10.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and four blocks. With multiple Pacers players fighting injuries, Brissett should have plenty of opportunities to prove he can be a consistent contributor in the final stretch of the NBA season.

Ricky Rubio Point Guard Minnesota Timberwolves

Much like the Timberwolves, it has been an objectively bad statistical year for the Rubio. Also much like the Timberwolves, even he can have a span of success. Rubio didn't provide a ton in any category this past week, but he did average a solid 10.5 points, 1.8 made threes, four rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.8 steals and 0.8 turnovers.

Rubio may have had a good week, but even his good week isn't much in terms of massive contributions. He may be high on last week's rankings, but he isn't worth the pick-up unless you're really desperate for steals and assists.

Isaiah Stewart Forward/Center Detroit Pistons

Stewart goes back-to-back on the list despite his scoring numbers dropping. In three games last week, Stewart scored 11 points on 53.8 percent shooting, 7.7 rebounds, one steal and 3.3 blocks.

While minutes volatility is still a fear with any Pistons player, Stewart has shown that he can contribute in four or more categories for another week. Pick him up for the rest of the season if you can.

Saddiq Bey Small Forward Detroit Pistons

Bey may still be figuring out how to be successful in the league, but at least he can score like a seasoned vet. In three games last week, he averaged 17 points, four made threes, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals.

He's still a liability in terms of accuracy (39.5 percent from the field last week), but if you need scoring and rebounding, there aren't a ton of other options on the waiver.

Busts

Dillon Brooks Guard/Forward Memphis Grizzlies

The former Duck has developed into a consistent scorer for the Memphis Grizzlies. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, he doesn't provide much else. Last week, he averaged 17.5 points, but only managed to average 1.8 made threes, 1.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.8 steals.

He may not provide much in fantasy, but Memphis is fighting hard to stay in the playoff picture. Brooks will have plenty of chances to keep up his scoring numbers so if that's something you require, he is a great option to give you a boost.

Duncan Robinson Guard/Forward Miami Heat

Shooters in fantasy basketball are DCEU movies: Sure, you'll get a Snyder cut of "Justice League" or "Wonder Woman," but you have to wade through the other travesties to really appreciate them. Duncan Robinson's last week was "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice"-esque.

In four games, Robinson averaged three made three-pointers but only 10.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.8 assists. People aren't picking up Robinson for his other stats, but if he's not scoring or shooting at an elite level, he's a tough pickup at best.

Danilo Gallinari Forward Atlanta Hawks

Gallinari's up and down year hit another valley last week when he averaged 10.3 points on 37.9 percent shooting, 1.3 made threes, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

With Kevin Huerter and Bodgan Bogdanovic to compete with for minutes, anything consistent from the Italian baller can't be counted on moving forward.

Delon Wright Guard/Forward Sacramento Kings

Wright was making the most of his minutes in Detroit but since he was traded to Sacramento, his lack of opportunity has been frustrating for anyone who manages him. In four games last week, he averaged 10 points, one made three, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals.

If you are holding out hope that Wright will step up in the finals weeks of the season, I have a monorail I think you'd be interested in.