It started with Chase Utley coming back Monday after missing just a month with a broken hand. He had a homer in his first game back, so he's starting to get himself back in form. Tadahito Iguchi, who played well in Utley's place, loses a lot of value on the bench, but he did go deep on Monday, almost as a last hurrah.
Alfonso Soriano is also back in the lineup after missing just over three weeks with a quad injury. While he went hitless in his return on Tuesday, you have to get him back in the lineup. Soriano is back hitting leadoff with Ryan Theriot dropping to the No. 2 spot. Meanwhile, Matt Murton loses time in left field.
Joining Utley and Soriano back in the lineup is Ben Sheets, who's been out since mid-July with a finger injury. I guess you expect the annual injury from Sheets, who was a solid 10-4 with a 3.39 ERA before going on the DL. Hopefully there won't be any more hiccups down the stretch. Meanwhile, Sheets takes the rotation spot of Chris Capuano, who hasn't won in 16 starts.
But while those big names are coming back, Mike Mussina is taking a break, at least for one start. After getting bombed in his last three outings, the veteran righty is being replaced rotation for his next start by Ian Kennedy, the Yankees' first-round pick last year. Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain have climbed rapidly through the Yankees system together this season, and now the former USC star gets his chance at the big time. Kennedy, who will be called up when rosters expand on Saturday, is 12-3 over three levels of the minors this season with a combined 1.91 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings. Luckily for Kennedy, he'll draw the Devil Rays in his debut.
Also, after the Dodgers got a win out of David Wells on Sunday, they're now taking a chance on Esteban Loaiza, claiming him off waivers from the A's. Loaiza had been hurt most of the season, but allowed just three runs over 14 1/3 innings in his two starts this season (both against the Blue Jays). He'll be moving to a similar home stadium situation in L.A., so if he's healthy, he might be worth a flyer in NL-only leagues.
Switching over for a couple of football notes … -- One player who might now sneak into the final round of some deeper fantasy leagues is Darren Sproles, who might step in as LaDainian Tomlinson's backup for the first few weeks of the season. Sproles, who missed all of last season with a broken leg, has been running well during the preseason and might have earned a roster spot with Michael Turner struggling with a high ankle sprain. Sproles is still best used as a return man, but now has a little extra value as insurance for Tomlinson.
-- Should Torry Holt's draft value go down? Holt said his recovery from offseason knee surgery is going slower than he expected. However, he has played this preseason, so it's not like he'll be completely out of action. He might be slowed a bit for Week 1, but he finds ways to put up stats.
-- Bengals kicker Shayne Graham has a hip injury suffered in Monday night's game against the Falcons. The team signed Aaron Elling to kick in the final preseason game this week, and there's a chance Graham could miss the season opener. Something to consider if you're still drafting. Graham is a decent option at kicker otherwise given Cincinnati's offense.
-- The Packers' running back situation for Week 1 is still up in the air. Rookie Brandon Jackson is recovering from a concussion and Vernand Morency has been sidelined for most of camp with a knee injury. There's a shot that Noah Herron could be the starter for the opener, although he wouldn't be more than a very late draft pick if you're desperate.