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Struggling Red Sox offense worth watching this weekend

The Red Sox lineup has not shown a lot of pop in 2017 without Big Papi. Should fantasy owners be concerned? Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox led the major leagues in runs scored last season and were fourth in 2015. Things certainly look a bit different this April, as they’ll enter a big weekend series against the champion Chicago Cubs at Fenway Park tied for 26th in the category, with the Royals being the lone American League team having scored fewer times. This quote from shortstop Xander Bogaerts to ESPN’s Scott Lauber after Thursday’s 3-0 loss to the New York Yankees pretty much says it all: “David (Ortiz) is not here. He was a huge part of our team the years that I’ve been here. We definitely miss him. We’ve got to do it without him.”

Even though he remains owned in 0.3 percent of ESPN standard leagues -- hey, he might return! -- fantasy owners were well aware that Ortiz, who hit 38 home runs last season, had said farewell to his playing career. Still fantasy drafts were brimming with Red Sox this spring, and for good reason. Let’s hope we don’t start seeing members of this still-elite offense showing up on ESPN’s most-dropped list soon. Six Red Sox were among the top-70 hitters in ESPN average live drafts, led by Mookie Betts at No. 4 and including Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi. Ortiz makes a big difference, but -- brace yourselves -- he’s not coming back. So, should fantasy owners worry?