Throughout the season, I am going to periodically update the positional rankings. Ideally, this will help fantasy owners to get a better idea of which players are playing well at that time.

For each set of rankings, I will list the top players at each position and then a brief explanation of why I ranked them in that order. I'll take a look at which teams are on each team's schedule, so that may play into the rankings.

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For example, I'm more likely to rank Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria ahead of Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds if Longoria is playing three teams that rank near the bottom of the American League in pitching during an upcoming week.

Also, I will only rank players for the position at which they have played the most games in 2008, even though a lot of players may be eligible in multiple positions. This means Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton will be found under center fielders, although he is eligible to play second base in most formats. Please take this under consideration when judging which players to pick up.

In my opinion, the best way to do the rankings is to list the top 15 players at each infield position and for relief pitchers. I'll do the top 30 for outfielders and starting pitchers. Most fantasy leagues have 10 to 12 teams, so you may see a few available players in your league if I rank the players this way. Let me know if you think there is a better way to do the rankings and I'll be happy to adjust my setup.

Here are the position-by-position rankings for 4/17 (preseason rank listed in parentheses):

Catchers

1. Brian McCann, Braves (3)

2. Victor Martinez, Indians (1)

3. Joe Mauer, Twins (5)

4. Bengie Molina, Giants (6)

5. Geovany Soto, Cubs (14)

6. Russell Martin, Dodgers (2)

7. Jorge Posada, Yankees (4)

8. Ryan Doumit, Pirates (NR)

9. Jason Varitek, Red Sox (8)

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10. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox (NR)

11. Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers (9)

12. Kenji Johjima, Mariners (7)

13. Mike Napoli, Angels (17)

14. J.R. Towles, Astros (16)

15. Ramon Hernandez, Orioles (10)

Quick take: McCann's hot start has propelled him to the top of the catcher rankings. He's hitting .271 with three home runs and nine RBIs through Wednesday's game. The biggest surprise so far this season has been Soto, who is hitting .280 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. Martin is struggling so far – .208 batting average, one home run, one stolen base – but he'll pull it together soon.

First basemen

1. Albert Pujols, Cardinals (1)

2. Lance Berkman, Astros (6)

3. Derrek Lee, Cubs (7)

4. Carlos Pena, Rays (8)

5. Justin Morneau, Twins (5)

6. Ryan Howard, Phillies (2)

7. Prince Fielder, Brewers (3)

8. Carlos Guillen, Tigers (12)

9. Mark Teixeira, Braves (4)

10. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres (9)

11. Todd Helton, Rockies (11)

12. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox (13)

13. James Loney, Dodgers (16)

14. Paul Konerko, White Sox (10)

15. Casey Kotchman, Angels (18)

Quick take: New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado belongs on this list somewhere, but I'm just not sure where he falls in line. Howard and Fielder will eventually be back near the top of this list, but others have surpassed them for now. Pena has 10 hits so far this season and six of them have been home runs.

Second basemen

1. Chase Utley, Phillies (1)

2. Brandon Phillips, Reds (2)

3. Brian Roberts, Orioles (4)

4. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays (12)

5. Robinson Cano, Yankees (3)

6. Ian Kinsler, Rangers (6)

7. Dan Uggla, Marlins (5)

8. Rickie Weeks, Brewers (8)

9. Orlando Hudson, Diamondbacks (14)

10. Howie Kendrick, Angels (11)

11. Jose Lopez, Mariners (22)

12. Kelly Johnson, Braves (9)

13. Jeff Kent, Dodgers (7)

14. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (10)

15. Mark Ellis, Athletics (16)

Quick take: The top of the second base rankings are pretty close to what was expected during the preseason. Utley is off to a solid start. Phillips and Roberts have already started stealing bases. Cano is struggling a bit, but he'll pick it soon enough. Kendrick is hitting .500 so far this season (18-for-36), but isn't listed higher because he is currently out with a hamstring injury.

Shortstops

1. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins (3)

2. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies (1)

3. Miguel Tejada, Astros (6)

4. Jose Reyes, Mets (2)

5. Derek Jeter, Yankees (5)

6. Yunel Escobar, Braves (16)

7. Rafael Furcal, Dodgers (13)

8. Michael Young, Rangers (7)

9. Jeff Keppinger, Reds (NR)

10. Edgar Renteria, Tigers (9)

11. Orlando Cabrera, White Sox (11)

12. Jhonny Peralta, Indians (12)

13. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (4)

14. Khalil Greene, Padres (10)

15. Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks (15)

Quick take: The biggest surprise so far among shortstops has been Keppinger. Through Wednesday's game, Keppinger is hitting .322 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. He's filling in for Cincinnati's Alex Gonzalez, who is injured and not expected to be back until sometime in May. Be sure to grab Keppinger if he's still available. Also, don't panic yet if you own Tulowitzki. He started off slow last season as well, so he'll likely begin hitting sometime soon.

Third basemen

1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (1)

2. David Wright, Mets (2)

3. Chipper Jones, Braves (6)

4. Joe Crede, White Sox (22)

5. Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks (14)

6. Alex Gordon, Royals (15)

7. Chone Figgins, Angels (9)

8. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (3)

9. Bill Hall, Brewers (NR)

10. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs (4)

11. Garrett Atkins, Rockies (5)

12. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals (7)

13. Adrian Beltre, Mariners (10)

14. Hank Blalock, Rangers (13)

15. Evan Longoria, Rays (17)

Quick take: Crede, Reynolds and Gordon are all playing better than expected so far this season, but it's hard to tell how long it will last. Cabrera and Atkins aren't living up to expectations yet, but they're both starting to get hot. Both players had four hits on Wednesday. Longoria is quickly climbing up the charts after receiving a promotion to the major leagues on April 12.

Outfielders

1. Matt Holliday, Rockies (1)

2. Vladimir Guerrero, Angels (4)

3. Manny Ramirez, Red Sox (7)

4. Carlos Lee, Astros (10)

5. Grady Sizemore, Indians (5)

6. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays (25)

7. Carlos Beltran, Mets (3)

8. Magglio Ordonez, Tigers (6)

9. Carl Crawford, Rays (8)

10. Alex Rios, Blue Jays (13)

11. Nick Markakis, Orioles (12)

12. B.J. Upton, Rays (14)

13. Raul Ibanez, Mariners (29)

14. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (NR)

15. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners (17)

16. Torii Hunter, Angels (15)

17. Josh Hamilton, Rangers (38)

18. Eric Byrnes, Diamondbacks (18)

19. Bobby Abreu, Yankees (19)

20. Jeff Francoeur, Braves (22)

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21. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs (2)

22. Nick Swisher, White Sox (23)

23. Jeremy Hermida, Marlins (36)

24. Luke Scott, Orioles (50)

25. Corey Hart, Brewers (24)

26. Rick Ankiel, Cardinals (NR)

27. Ryan Braun, Brewers (9)

28. Chris Young, Diamondbacks (31)

29. Adam Dunn, Reds (11)

30. Nate McLouth, Pirates (NR)

Quick take: As owners who grabbed him in the first round expected, Holliday is playing well so far in 2008. The Rockies outfielder is hitting .315 with three home runs and 11 RBIs. The Cubs placed Soriano on the disabled list yesterday. He needs to get healthy or there will be plenty of upset owners in the fantasy world. Ibanez is proving to be a good sleeper pick. He's hitting .323 with five home runs, 15 RBIs and 11 runs scored.

Starting pitchers

1. Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks (4)

2. Jake Peavy, Padres (1)

3. Johan Santana, Mets (2)

4. Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (12)

5. Aaron Harang, Reds (13)

6. Ben Sheets, Brewers (26)

7. Carlos Zambrano, Cubs (8)

8. Cole Hamels, Phillies (11)

9. Josh Beckett, Red Sox (3)

10. C.C. Sabathia, Indians (5)

11. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (7)

12. Felix Hernandez, Mariners (16)

13. Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees (18)

14. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox (20)

15. Javier Vazquez, White Sox (31)

16. Tim Hudson, Braves (25)

17. Fausto Carmona, Indians (21)

18. Jered Weaver, Angels (27)

19. John Smoltz, Braves (15)

20. Justin Verlander, Tigers (9)

21. Brett Myers, Phillies (22)

22. Brad Penny, Dodgers (23)

23. Chris Young, Padres (19)

24. Matt Cain, Giants (33)

25. James Shields, Rays (41)

26. Erik Bedard, Mariners (10)

27. Roy Oswalt, Astros (14)

28. Tim Lincecum, Giants (45)

29. Oliver Perez, Mets (38)

30. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (40)

Quick take: Webb earns the top spot in this week's rankings because he picked up his fourth victory yesterday. Beckett and Sabathia haven't pitched well yet, but don't give up on them yet. Matsuzaka could be one of the top pitchers in the American League before the year is over. Bedard would be listed higher, but he needs to get healthy. I'm sure the Mariners fans agree with me.

Relief pitchers

1. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox (2)

2. Bobby Jenks, White Sox (6)

3. Mariano Rivera, Yankees (8)

4. Joe Nathan, Twins (3)

5. Francisco Rodriguez, Angels (1)

6. Jason Isringhausen, Cardinals (20)

7. George Sherrill, Orioles (NR)

8. Matt Capps, Pirates (NR)

9. Francisco Cordero, Reds (11)

10. Todd Jones, Tigers (13)

11. Billy Wagner, Mets (10)

12. Trevor Hoffman, Padres (5)

13. Huston Street, Athletics (19)

14. Jose Valverde, Astros (9)

15. Takashi Saito, Dodgers (7)

Quick take: Seattle Mariners closer J.J. Putz is the biggest omission from this list. Once he gets healthy, Putz will be among the top five closers. Sherrill and Capps flew under the radar before the season, but both have become reliable closers. Despite looking shaky at times, Hoffman has four saves, which is tied for second in the National League.

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