Daily fantasy players generally don't care much for Major League Baseball's All-Star break, as it represents a four-day forced break from the rush of putting lineups together. But it does provide an opportunity for DFS players to step back, reset and examine what went right - or wrong - during the first half of the campaign.
The second half of the season kicks off Friday, and daily fantasy enthusiasts will find that the player pool is a little deeper than it was prior to the break - particularly at the top end of the salary list. Here are four players expected to come back this weekend, and how daily fantasy participants should handle their imminent returns:
OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
The daily fantasy world was shaken to its core when the best player on the planet was placed on the disabled list with a torn UCL in his thumb that has cost him nearly a quarter of the season. Trout was performing at an all-world level prior to the injury, and is expected to do the same when he returns to action Friday night against Tampa Bay.
Daily fantasy players should roster Trout without hesitation; even though he went just 2-for-9 in his rehab assignment, there is no indication that he will struggle to hit major-league pitching right away. Trout will immediately go back to being one of the highest-priced options on every daily fantasy slate, but nobody produces fantasy value as consistently as he does.
1B Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Davis suffered an oblique injury back in mid-June and sat out the next 26 games. On the positive side, he's expected to return sometime this weekend - possibly as soon as Friday night against the Chicago Cubs - and will find himself in the middle of what remains one of the most potent offenses in the American League.
That said, Davis was under-performing at the time of his injury, batting just .226 with 95 strikeouts through his first 217 at-bats - in other words, a Davis-esque stat line. Davis is the ultimate feast-or-famine option in daily fantasy, and it might be wise for players to avoid Davis until he kicks into one of his patented hot streaks.
SS Eduardo Nunez, San Francisco Giants
It's a great weekend for the scuffling Giants, who will be getting back a pair of key players (more on the second one in the next section.) Nunez was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his hamstring and missed the last 18 games of the first half, putting the brakes on what was a solid start to the season (.299, 17 SB).
The Giants might decided to be cautious on the basepaths with Nunez, who suffered a slight setback in his recovery earlier this month. Without the stolen base attempts, Nunez doesn't have much of a chance of returning value on his daily fantasy cost. Monitor his baserunning in the early going and feel free to insert him into your lineups when the Giants give him the green light.
LHP Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
He's back! Bumgarner is expected to take the mound Saturday against the rival San Diego Padres for the first time in nearly three months after suffering a freak shoulder injury in mid-April. The veteran left-hander pitched well in four starts prior to the injury, but might have worried some daily fantasy players after struggling in back-to-back rehab starts during his recovery.
But fret not: Even with the Giants' season spiraling into the abyss, Bumgarner is one of the top pitchers in baseball - and has the comfortable floor and sky-high ceiling worthy of selection in all daily fantasy formats. Wins might be harder to come by than in years past, but he should excel in every other fantasy scoring category. Trust him from the get-go.