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Salary Cap Chronicles: Finding a Groove

Scott Jenstad

Scott Jenstad is a veteran of both NFBC and CDM fantasy games. He has won three NFBC Main Event league titles and finished twice in the Top 10 Overall. Scott is a hardcore fan of the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland A's and Golden State Warriors. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJenstad.

It looks like we have finally found a groove in the Head2Head game. The first three days of the short week have been great and I have opened up nearly a 100 point lead in my matchup and lead my league in points. Led by the Nats pitchers, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun, I have had another solid week. It realty seems like it's just rinse and repeat with these guys week in and week out. The top end guys will have to be rotated some based on matchups, but I can't see even wanting to mess with Trout and Trumbo at their cheap prices unless their schedule really looks awful one week.

It is very nice to get back to full weeks of baseball and we jump right into a big one with Week 16. More than half the league has seven games this week and only the Blue Jays face a five-game schedule. This will certainly be a week to avoid the usual solid Jays plays like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie. Looking at schedules in the National League, the Reds and Diamondbacks both look good with five of their seven games at the respective home stadiums, which are both usually very solid for offense. In the AL, the Red Sox look very solid with five home games and then a trip to Texas for the last two games of their week.

In addition, make sure to note that due to a doubleheader, the Braves and Nationals play eight games this week.

Catcher: Carlos Ruiz and Yadier Molina continue to be the class of the catcher crop at relatively bargain prices. However, Buster Posey is really starting to hit and is the only expensive catcher right now who is earning his salary. It stuns me just how bad Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli have been this year. I went 1-1 on these guys as I faded Napoli all over where he was going, but I grabbed Santana early in multiple leagues. Thanks for very little Los. There is no way to argue against playing Molina or Ruiz even though they only have six, but I think I will try and fit in Posey for the extra game on his schedule as well as getting to hit outside of AT&T Park for most of his week.

First Base: Good ole Jumbo Trumbo just keeps raking away. I thought the power was real on Trumbo, but I also thought his lack of patience at the plate would lead to a tough year as pitchers made adjustments on how pitch him. There is wrong and then a little further down the road is where I reside on that call. Trumbo has a full seven-game week and should absolutely be on everyone's short list at 1B this week. If you are looking for a bigger name with some upside, look no further than David Ortiz. Big Papi has a very nice schedule on paper and has absolute mashed the last month. I am thinking Papi may be an option for me at Flex this week.

It can never be a mistake to take Joey Votto, especially with his schedule this week. However, he has struggled a bit in the power department as of late with only two HR since June 15. Of course, Votto can get hot anytime and carry your team. It amazes me how the second half starts each year and Mark Teixeira gets hot. He had a gigantic series at home this weekend versus the Angels. He gets seven games this week, but spends a majority of his week in pitcher's parks in Oakland and Seattle. Finally, Paul Goldschmidt remains a solid play if you want to save some cap from the top end guys. Goldy also has a seven games slate this week.

Second Base: Robinson Cano sure is proving to be the elite 2B in the league. Not only is he over .380 for the last month, he has also hit 10 bombs. He gets the tough Yankees schedule this week with almost all their games in tough hitter's parks, but a seven game Robby Cano can't be a bad thing. Aaron Hill continues to stay hot and the D-Backs play five of their seven games at home making Hill a very solid play for this week. If you want to play a schedule guy who will probably be low % this week, look no further than Brandon Phillips with five home games this week. If you need to save cap, you can always slide back to one of our favorites in Jason Kipnis. Kip has slowed up a little bit, but still provides a lot of value for his meager price tag.

Third Base: With the Jays' five-game schedule, I will have to change at 3B this week and get my boy Ency out. Among the guys with seven games, Mike Moustakas is the first guy who jumps off the page at me. Moose has hit seven homers the last month and has managed to keep the average pretty solid too. However, we have a guy with eight games who has been heating up recently in Ryan Zimmerman. I was not a huge Zimm guy coming into the year and he struggled mightily out of the gate, but has started to finally get it going lately. It is hard to pass on Zimmerman with the eight-game schedule. If you don't trust Zimm just quite yet, rock solid David Wright has seven games this week and that always makes him a play. If you wanted to go a bit outside the box and save cap to ramp up elsewhere, I will definitely consider Will Middlebrooks with the nice Red Sox schedule now that he plays every day after the Kevin Youkilis trade.

Shortstop: This position continues to be a combination of bad and injured. We grabbed Ian Desmond last week who has been so good lately and he proceeds to get hurt. Desmond is out with an oblique and the quotes on it range from a day or two to a DL-stint. Either way, we will need to look elsewhere this week at SS. Looking at stats, a surprising guy at SS with a lot of points in the last month is Alcides Escobar. He homered twice this week off Jake Peavy, but hopefully no one is buying him as any sort of power source. I am not sure I am ready to play Alcides in a salary cap league like this quite yet, but he could be a creative play this week with seven games. The Indians have seven this week, which means that Asdrubal Cabrera and his solid profile are very much in play. As usual, I hit a wall early when trying to find playable SS, but I suppose you could grab Mike Aviles, but he has cooled off big time since his excellent start to the season.

Outfield: The Trout, McCutchen, Braun triumvirate continues to be just awesome. Trout is a slam dunk with seven games this week, but Cutch and Braun only have six. However, both of these guys are so good right now that they are very much in play even with one less game. Looking outside those three guys, the first name that jumps out is Alex Rios. I know half of you just groaned, but Rios has been a solid contributor this year, especially lately as he is near .400 for the last month. Rios gets seven this week and is a strong option. Other pricier options that could be plays in seven game weeks are Curtis Granderson and Shin Soo Choo. Even though we don't like playing pure speed guys in H2H, there is no denying that Michael Bourn could rack up points in an eight-game week. On the cheaper side, some options I really like and will strongly consider are Jason Kubel and Jason Heyward. Another guy who has seven games and has been playing really well is Michael Brantley. I don't think I am quite a believer just yet, but I will keep my eye on him. Finally, a couple other options for this week are Jacoby Ellsbury and Jay Bruce. They both have nice schedules and can rack up points in a hurry, of course if you play Ellsbury, you do so with the knowledge that he may be dealing with a lost of rust in his swing and legs.

Pitching: The Nationals continue to get it done and they are a very strong option this week with their eight-game schedule. Sweetening the pot even more, not only do you get eight games, but you get two start weeks from Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez. It is going to be hard not to take the Nats this week. The other eight-game team is the Braves and they could be a play also. The two starts guys for Atlanta are Mike Minor and Tim Hudson. Their schedule looks decent, but with the games being even, I think I have to go Washington over Atlanta. If you wanted to look at some of the seven-game week teams, the Mets are the first team I came across that warranted a closer look. They get three games at home versus the Dodgers (although Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are back) and you get two starts from RA Dickey. The Giants also have seven this week including two starts from Madison Bumgarner. I would like the Giants more if they were at home, but with five of their seven games on the road. The Yankees look very good on paper with 6 of their 7 games on the road against Oakland and Seattle. They would probably be my choice this week if the Nationals did not have an eight game slate.

After a lot of back and forth, I ended up with this:

Catcher: Buster Posey ($9.5)
First Base: Mark Trumbo ($6.1)
Second Base: Aaron Hill ($7.2)
Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman ($7.1)
Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera ($8.7)
Outfield: Ryan Braun ($12.0)
Outfield: Andrew McCutchen ($10.3)
Outfield: Mike Trout ($7.0)
Flex: David Ortiz ($10.0)
Pitching: Washington Nationals ($19.2)

Total: $97.1