By Sam McPherson

Welcome back to fantasy baseball! The 2016 Major League Baseball season is now underway, and for the next 26 weeks or so, you’ll need to tinker with your team to keep it competitive in your fantasy league.

Most season-long fantasy baseball leagues these days operate with standard statistics: runs, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, and batting average for the position players, and wins, saves, strikeouts, WHIP and ERA for the pitchers. Some leagues require daily maintenance/transactions, while others rely on a weekly-lineup format. Either way, the advice you’ll find here every Monday morning through October should help you get the most out of your fantasy baseball roster in 2016.

Now that the first games have been completed, the season is in full swing. Depending on when you drafted your team, you probably need to make some changes to your roster due to injuries or unexpected demotions to the minor leagues. Checking the waiver wire right away can yield some fantastic results, as undrafted players still offer a lot of potential for your team. Not managing your roster effectively right out of the gate can have serious, negative consequences for your team—and the whole season.

Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now

1. Pedro Alvarez, 1B, Baltimore Orioles: If you sense your team is low on power, this could be the pickup for you. Underrated by most owners in the draft, Alvarez is probably on the waiver wire in half the leagues out there. His swing is perfect for the right-field stands at Camden Yards, and Alvarez was an All-Star slugger for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013 when he led the National League in home runs (36). He could surpass that number this year.

2. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies: First, he plays in Coors Field half the time, which means he’s probably going to put up better offensive numbers than the guy already on your roster at the position. Story had 70 extra-base hits in the minor leagues last year, and he kept ripping the ball in spring exhibitions. As the Rockies’ new starter in Troy Tulowitzki’s old realm, he could be the sneaky grab of the year for shortstops.

3. Jeremy Jeffress, RP, Milwaukee Brewers: Thanks to a freak spring injury to Will Smith, this guy is the new full-time closer for the Brewers. If your draft was early in March, Jeffress probably is sitting on the waiver wire still. Saves from unexpected sources are always the best waiver-wire pickups, and this fits the bill for the first week of the season if your draft didn’t yield enough in the statistical category.

4. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins: He made his MLB debut last season, and Buxton is only 22 years old. He should be good for close to 10 HRs and 30 SBs this season, although his batting average may still need some work. However, if you need steals, he can offer some power to go along with the speed on the base paths. He’s flying under the radar right now, because he wasn’t that sharp in his 2015 debut. Remember, even Mike Trout looked bad in his first September appearances.

Players to Sit/Drop This Week

1. A.J. Pollock, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: His horrible elbow injury on Friday means he will probably miss most of the 2016 season. Don’t hold on to him, because even if Pollock comes back late in the year, it will be difficult for him to be productive while burning off rust and coming back from the injury. Pollock is a great player, but this is a lost season for him.

2. Will Smith, RP, Milwaukee BrewersAs noted above, Smith is out as the closer in Milwaukee. He hurt himself while taking his shoe off in the locker room last week. A torn LCL isn’t good, and no matter what the rumors claim about a short recovery, a bum right knee for a lefty is going to result in some delivery problems. Let someone else take a risk here, while you grab Jeffress instead.

3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Boston Red Sox: He’s been benched in Beantown, and Sandoval was bad last year anyway. You probably shouldn’t have even drafted him in 2016. However, he’s not going to play a lot in Boston now until he loses weight and gets serious again, and the Red Sox won’t be able to trade him, either, with his bloated contract. Move on from Kung Fu Panda, and never look back.

4. Jesse Hahn, SP, Oakland Athletics: A lot of people thought he would be a sneaky late-round pick in fantasy baseball, but Hahn had a terrible spring exhibition season and was sent down to Triple-A Nashville. In order to avoid injury, he stopped throwing a key pitch (the slider) this spring, and that may mean Hahn’s best days are already behind him at age 26. His career 3.23 ERA withstanding, he’s not the same pitcher that he was in 2014-15 without that key pitch.

Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.

Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.

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