Better player or better matchup?

Jorge Cantu has two homers, four hits and five RBI's in two games against Washington.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's an age-old questions, like which came first - the chicken or the egg?

In fantasy sports the question becomes: Is it more important to start the better player or the better matchup?

If I asked you who was the better fantasy first baseman, Houston's Lance Berkman or Florida's Jorge Cantu, it probably wouldn't take you long to answer the question correctly - Berkman.

After all, while Cantu did set a career high with 29 HRs last season, Berkman also hit 29 HRs in 2008 and beat Cantu in runs scored, RBIs, batting average, stolen bases and slugging percentage. And Berkman has put up similar numbers over the last eight years, while Cantu has not.

But heading into Week 1, Florida was playing the Washington Nationals and Houston was up against the 2008 Central Division Champion Chicago Cubs. So while Berkman faced "aces" Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster, Cantu was up against John Lannan and Scott Olsen. No offense to Lannan and Olsen, but I know who I'd rather face.

The results speak for themselves.

Berkman went 1-for-2 in the opener with two walks and 1-for-4 in game two. He has no runs scored and no RBIs.

Cantu is on pace to hit 162 homers and knock in 405 runs. OK, obviously the "sample size" is a "wee bit" small. But Cantu went 2-for-4, with a homer and three RBIs in the opener and 2-for-3 in game two with another homer, two runs scored and two more RBIs.

The moral of the story is don't just blindly start your stars - check the matchups. There may actually be a better opportunity even if it means starting a "lesser" player. Unless your first baseman is Albert Pujols, I prefer best matchup to better player.

Two-game totals
Jorge Cantu 7 3 4 1 0 2 5 0 0.571 1.571
Lance Berkman 6 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.333 0.333

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at