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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

An Eye Opener on Fantasy Baseball League



Brought to you by our friends at Fantasy Alarm:

Fantasy Baseball is a way in which one can manage his team, scout transfers in the market like any other scout, and compete in a league like in real life. Fantasy football is proof of the advancement of technology over time. An individual can share his knowledge with masses of his coaching capabilities. In Fantasy Baseball, the owner of the team must

Monday, July 17, 2017

Scott Fish Bowl Strategy #SFB7

I'm in the Rafiki division this year, and I'd love to paint for you a picture of how it went and what I was thinking every step of the way.  I seem to have employed a unique strategy, and I'll explain every bit of it.  I also tweeted "Assante Samuel, Squashed Emmanuel" after one of my picks.  Crickets.  It's an NFL-themed ode to Rafiki.  Right?  Anyone?

Okay, so if you are unfamiliar with Scott Fish Bowl or not up to date on what is going down this year, let me bring you up to speed.  It is one mega-league consisting of sixty 12-team leagues... so 720 total teams.  Most of them are owned by industry experts, pundits, and writers but there are is a healthy number of selected fans in there too.  You can win your league and you can also win the whole thing out of 720.  It's kind of crazy.

For scoring, the big change is points for first downs instead of PPR.  And bonus points to tight ends.  The biggest thing strategically is that it is best ball scoring so the computer will assign your best lineup after the games are played each week and you'll get your maximum score.

For rosters, there are 22 players but no trades and no waivers.  So with a fixed roster and best ball scoring, the (held in July) draft is everything. 

Each week your top 11 players will score for you.  No kickers or defenses.  Your top 11 must include one quarterback, one tight end, two running backs, and three wide receivers.  That's seven.  The last four are flexes.  One of those flex spots can be filled with any position, including quarterback ("superflex").  The other three can be any non-quarterback.

My pick in the Rafiki league ("The Brain... has returned."  Anyone?) was number eleven.  That meant no David Johnson, LeVeon Bell, or Ezekiel Elliot.  No Gronk (bonuses to TE's). No Aaron Rodgers since superflex makes quarterbacks so valuable... Pretty much every team will want to start two every week because QB's score the most points.  (Even a bad QB will outscore a great RB most of the time.)  Anyway, #11 also meant no Shady, Devonta, Melvin, Brady, or Antonio Brown.  I'll get back to what I decided, but first...

Let's talk strategy!

QB:  I want three of the top 18 quarterbacks.  I see Joe Flacco at 18 and he had a million pass attempts last year and they added Jeremy Maclin... after Flacco I just don't trust any of those dudes.  If I get three of the top 18 and they all have different bye weeks I'll always have two studs starting at QB and superflex.  Plus, you know, injury insurance.  This is a massive advantage which is why I listed it first.  Lots of guys took two QB's early and a couple of guys, mysteriously, only took two total.  Only one other drafter (in Rafiki) had the same strategy here - Derek Yoder from Fantasy Pros (shoutout... give him a follow @Derek_Yoder_FP).  In fact Derek was even more aggressive than I was, going QB in rounds 2, 4, and 5.  Might have been overkill, but the thinking is strong.

TE:  I'll talk about this second since the bonus points made this position buzzworthy.  I think it was a little too much hype, though.  I'm not sure bonus points on first downs will make those TE's in the #13-#24 range that much more valuable (if at all) than WR's in the #37-#48 range or RB's in the #25-#36 range.  Incidentally, if you're wondering about those number ranges I'm using them because those are the top 12 'flex-ranked' at each position... With one TE, two RB's, and three WR's as mandatory starts, your top flexes will be in this range.  It also shows you how scarce top options at RB and WR will be.  Those mandatory starters need attention, as does the one TE here.  My strategy is to get a dependable top 10 guy who looks like a reliable safety outlet for 1st downs for a young QB... and then wait until late to scoop some upside guys.  I've got a few late picks in mind who give reason for optimism.

WR:  I want two studs and then to fill in that third spot and probably one or two flexes with some high quality tertiary options.  I was surprised to see so many great WR's fell in the draft so regularly.  More on who I picked in a minute.  Even with two every week starters I felt like I still wanted to invest in three or four fill-in guys who provided really good upside.  Remember, one of these guys must start alongside my two every-weekers and I'm also counting on one or two as flexes.  I've got three regular flexes to fill.  With my RB strategy (more in a moment) I expect to get one to pop each week and then start two WR's... or maybe a backup TE has a nice week instead.  Options.

RB:  Okay, well, see... this is sorta where things get a little dicey.  With the top six RB's off of the board I felt like I'd be reaching a bit at #11 and #14 if I went with the venerable RB-RB strategy (still my preference in most redraft leagues).  I'd be taking Jay Ajayi and Todd Gurley.  Or maybe Isaiah Crowell.  Point is, I like those guys but I don't love them as my team's foundation.  Also, I started thinking... Running backs get injured a lot.  Backups are cheap.  Also, many teams have a 1st and 2nd down back getting a bulk of the carries and then a 3rd down back catching passes for 1st downs... which means bonus points in SFB7.  Also, a lot of those backup RB's are also the regular 3rd down option.  Hmm... Maybe I could grab a whole bunch of these guys and let best ball scoring take it from there.  I only need two to start each week.  Usually those mid-round WR's will outscore mid-round RB's anyway... and with the way WR's are devalued here I should be able to get some I can count on.

Kicker:  Haha... just kidding.  We don't need no stinkin' kickers.

Putting it all together:  Okay, #11 rolls around and I go Julio Jones.  Even without Kyle Shanahan calling the offense I still see a guy in his prime with a great quarterback.  And I'm not scared of Austin Hooper or Taylor Gabriel snagging too many of his first downs.  People seem to be scared of his most recent foot surgery... but it was to remove a bunion.  I don't worry about that.  Looking at ADP, this was a bit of a reach... so we'll see... but Odell Beckham, Jr. at #14 was a steal.  So, I get the #2 and #3 WR's in the whole league.  Since I decided to go away from stud RB's and instead take my two WR's (and top two QB's... stay tuned) this was as great outcome.  I did think about Drew Brees at #11 and I had hoped for Ajayi at #14... but I'm pretty happy with it.  Ya gotta start three WR's each week so this is an exceptional foundation.  I expect to go with four or five most of the time.

And yeah, I went QB-QB with the next two.  Kirk Cousins and Philip Rivers.  I am not a Cousins fan but his production has been really good two years in a row and I really like the additions of Perine and Pryor.  Rivers... well, who can argue?  His track record is exceptional and his weapons are incredible.  I also wonder what playing in a 30,000 seat soccer stadium will do for on-field communication, if anything.  Can't be a negative.  His draft value is suppressed for some reason, but I continue to like him.

I had to address RB at #5.11 and I went with Carlos Hyde.  Controversial pick, that.  I don't love it myself and hoped to grab Joe Williams later but missed out.  At #6.02 I got at TE that fit my strategy perfectly in Delanie Walker.  I don't love Walker at age 32, but he fits what I'm doing just right.  Good value on both of these guys, too. 

At this point I still feel naked at RB, I need my fill-in WR's to go with the big two, and I've got to invest in QB3 real soon.  And it's 20 picks until I go again.  Tick tock.

Guys I considered start flying off the board...  Christian McCaffrey, Paul Perkins, Eric Ebron (already?), Mark Ingram, Doug Martin, Dalvin Cook, Sammy Watkins, C.J. Anderson, Pryor, Spencer Ware... it's a bloodbath.

Pick #11 has one advantage though... you can watch #12's roster and pick your #11 pick accordingly and take an educated risk on who will still be there for the even round #2 pick.  So, I got my QB3 here in Flacco.  Some might say it's a reach but my strategy was to lock down a top 18 QB as my QB3 and I knew I had to invest.  On the comeback I get Ameer Abdullah at #8.02.  Ugh.  RB is a wasteland... maybe the other teams will stop drafting them?

Hey, maybe!  Only three RB's go off in the next 20 picks.  Including Derrick Henry and Bilal Powell... I might have drafted them.  We also lost out on David Njoku who I was hoping to get later.  So, at #9.11 I got Samaje Perine which I see as excellent value for an RB3. 

At this point I still need a whole bunch of RB's... but I feel great at QB and at TE plus I've got my ultra-stud WR1 and WR2.  Another RB is a good idea but I'm going to start 4-5 WR's most weeks... and they can't slip forever... and I really like Stefon Diggs... and he's great value... and the next best RB is Danny Woodhead or Matt Forte... so, okay... Diggs at #10.02.

Not a whole lot of damage in the next 20 picks...  We lose out on Garcon and Kareem Hunt, but overall it's not too bad.  With #11.11 and #12.02 I grab Duke Johnson and C.J. Prosise who fit my 3rd down running back + backup starter strategy pretty well.  Okay, well, Duke for sure.  People hate the Browns but that o-line is amazing.  And they'll be facing a ton of 3rd-and-7 type of situations.  With Prosise, he does have two guys in front of him but he did pretty well as a rookie and he'll be the 3rd down guy most of the time.  Good value here I think... especially at RB4 and RB5.  I'm starting to build a stable of guys who could pop any given Sunday.  I'm thinking I'll start three each week (well, between the minimum of two and probable max of four).  I'm thinking that the flexes will usually be one RB and two WR's with room for upside RB's and TE's.

Okay, 20 more picks... waiting... waiting... John Brown, Joe Williams, Quincy Enunwa... not too bad.  Though it does show how thin the talent pool is getting.  I seriously considered Brown over Prosise but figured there were a lot of WR's in this tier and Prosise has some upside any given week.

I looked at the #12 roster (Alec Snyder from Fantasy Jocks - @FantasyJocks) and saw that he didn't have any TE's yet.  I feel pretty solid with Walker, but I remember from my research in writing the Buffalo Bills preview for the RotoWire magazine that Charles Clay really turned it on late last year and the Bills are very thin at the 'pass-catcher' positions.  Look at his game logs... In weeks 15 and 16 combined he had 15 receptions for 157 yards and three scores.  Both of those weeks would have made it into my flex spot, so at #13.11 he provides good TE insurance and potential for flex-worthy weeks.  I may have sniped Alec here, too... since he went with back-to-back TE's with the next two picks.  At #14.02 I took Kenny Britt.  He's big, fast, is a #1 WR, and went over 1,000 yards last year in an arguably worse situation.  At #14.02?  Yes, please.  So, I've got my WR4 (finally) and one who sets a pretty solid floor as a probable starter.  In the 14th round.  Not bad!  People really hate the Browns, but do you remember how good Pryor was last year?

I just went two more rounds without adding to my group of RB's though.... which isn't great.  I thought the pick of Clay was justified and Britt as my WR4 in the 14th is fantastic.  If I'm going to count on my WR depth I can't wait forever... but what havoc will happen at RB over the next 20 picks?  Jonathan Williams, Thomas Rawls, Marlon Mack... some good ones went down.  I wanted Mack.

I settled for DeAndre Washington at #15.11.  He fits my strategy pretty well, especially if he can out-snap Jalen Richard this year.  Oakland has an amazing o-line so this is a nice get for RB6.  He could pop a flex-worthy week at any time.  At #16.02 I get Zay Jones.  Okay, so back to that thin Buffalo receiving corps... Jones is just a rookie but he led the NCAA in receptions last year and he's really just battling injury-prone Sammy Watkins for targets.  And, say what you want about Tyrod Taylor, but he's at least competent and he's behind a solid o-line.  I'm willing to bet he looks Jones' way quite often this year.  Not a bad WR5, especially in the 16th round.

My next two picks were risk/reward plays in Giovanni Bernard and Allen Hurns.  Gio has to get healthy but he has obvious upside.  Hurns needs to bounce back from a down year but he was really good in 2015.  Upside.  The big thing here is that I can see either one of them getting a flex start for me at some point.  I would actually prefer to see Gio start the season on the PUP, come back fully healthy, and perform like Gio in the second half.

At #19.11 and #20.02 I took TE3 and TE4, both with some upside.  Jermaine Gresham and Vance McDonald.  And, really, with all of the emphasis on TE's I'm pretty surprised to see them still around this late.  Both got sizable contracts in the off-season (especially Gresham) and both have undeniable talent.  Gresham, like Clay, was really good down the stretch last year and is still reasonably young.  The Cards don't like throwing to the TE, but they changed course a bit late last year, paid big to keep him around, and it is possible that Carson Palmer will regularly look to him at the 1st down marker.  It is rumored that McDonald might not make the final 53, but with his contract I don't buy it.  In real-life football, he's actually one of Brian Hoyer's best options.  Certainly he is a big target for first downs, even if they will be scarce for the Niners.

With my last two picks I wanted RB's that have some sort of story that could put them in a position to get touches.  Orleans Darkwa is behind Paul Perkins plus rookie Wayne Gallman, but he's been running with the 1's in OTA's.  The coach has had nice things to say.  So, I think he's worth a flier in round 21.  Andre Ellington in round 22 is interesting too...  He's largely failed as an RB so far in his career and they tried moving him to WR, but they ended that experiment and Ellington is still listed at #2 on the depth chart behind David Johnson.  Does he get the #1 job in the event of an injury?  Will he see action on 3rd downs?  It's a good gamble in the final round.  The bottom line with these late-late-round guys is that I can see a situation where they have a flex-worthy week for me.

Post-mortem:  Okay, the RB's are scary... but I did what I had to do.  I couldn't grab a super-stud so I took nine guys who all have a chance to pop at any time.  My favorites are Perine and Duke Johnson... though I did start with a couple of interesting picks in Hyde and Abdullah.  This is unquestionably my Achilles heel, but I did grab nine guys so maybe in a best ball format the bulk of options will make up for the lack of quality on top.  I only require two per week.  I'm set at quarterback, including bye weeks and the occasional down week by any of the three.  Cousins is a top fantasy QB, but if (when) he has one of those 227 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT types of games the computer will just best-ball-plug-in both Rivers and Flacco at QB and superflex.  This is a huge advantage.  At WR I'll start Julio and ODB every week and then one of Diggs, Britt, Jones, or Hurns.  Should be okay.  At TE I'm set with Walker but in case of a down week I get Clay or Gresham who both showed signs of studliness last season.  For my three non-super-flexes it's likely to be some combination of Britt, Jones, Perine, and Duke Johnson with the occasional pop from Prosise, Washington, Hurns, Clay, or Gresham.  I have a bulk of guys with defensible narratives that show a path to flex-worthiness.  I avoided handcuffs and guys with difficult paths to playing time, especially rookies or big injury risks (with the exception of a super late gamble on Gio).  I feel like this is a flexible lineup that can weather injury storms and has enough upside depth to keep me chugging along through 16 weeks.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Things I Think I Think (AL Edition)

Boston Red Sox:   I think it's strange that they are collecting amazing lefthanded SP's.  Shouldn't they be getting righties in Fenway?  Aren't you begging Matt Holliday to pepper the monster?  Mebbe not, cause those guys are awful good.  I just think sometimes.

New York Yankees:  I think Holliday is under-rated this year.  Bad BABIP luck last year.  He'll go for a .300 BA and 22-ish dingers.

Baltimore Orioles: I think Dylan Bundy was awesome for that first stretch last year and then sort of wore down.  I think he's going to be stronger this year and I think he's going to start throwing the cutter again.  Why does that matter?  It's only his best pitch, if you're into that sort of thing.

AL East:  I think the offenses for the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays are all over-rated.  Who do they have that really scares you?  Okay, Mookie Betts and Josh Donaldson are awesome.  Truth.  HanRam's pretty good too, but that lineup in Boston from top-to-bottom isn't really all that.  And the Yankees?  Is Didi Gregorius their best hitter?  (Okay, it's probably Gary Sanchez... but do we really know?)  And Toronto?  I think it looks really different without E5 and Bautista doing a bad impersonation of himself.  Seriously, look at these projected lineups.

Texas Rangers:  I think Yu Darvish will win the AL Cy Young Award.  He's going off the board at pick #40, so clearly he is still a highly valued SP but I don't think most people realize just how good he is.  Maybe his value is obscured a bit by missing a year and a half in 2015-16 or maybe it's his just pretty good 3.41 ERA and low quantitative stats in just 100.1 IP last year.  But listen, folks, Darvish is back.  In 2016 he posted an incredible 11.8 K/9, a 3.09 FIP, and a WHIP of 1.116... and I think he's even better and stronger this year.  What if he gets you 20 wins, a 3.00 ERA, a WHIP of 1.10, and 280 K's?  He's worth more than pick #40, that's what.

Seattle Mariners:  I think we'll get surprise production from their outfield.  Dyson as a full-timer?  60 SB's??

Tampa Bay Rays:  I think their staff is a little over-rated.  I got burned by Archer last year.  Odorizzi might be the value here with a strong WHIP.  Snell is like the anti-Odorizzi though... Can he limit the baserunners in his age 24 season?

Chicago White Sox:  I think we somehow get closer value from Nate Jones this year.  Maybe earlier than you think.  He's worth an endgame flyer on a deep squad.

Minnesota Twins:  I think Byron Buxton has shown us what he is.  He's the Matt Wieters of outfielders.  Move along, move along.

Cleveland Indians:  I think Michael Brantley is still only 30, has a career OPS+ of 113, led the league in doubles when he was last healthy, and is currently taking full-force BP.  Wait, I think those are all things that are actually facts.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Sleepers and Semi-Sleepers from Every Team

Arizona - Michael Floyd, WR. ADP=48.
Rough way to start a sleeper list with a late-4th, early-5th rounder.  It's alphabetical.  It will get better.  Floyd will outproduce this cost and the only other potential sleeper is Chris Johnson at #155.

Atlanta - Matt Ryan, QB.  ADP=135.

It will get better... keep reading.  I do like Ryan at #135 though.

Baltimore - Kamar Aiken, WR.  ADP=121.

I believe Aiken leads this WR group in 2016.  He's big, fast, experienced, and had a really nice year in 2015.  I also don't trust Steve Smith or Mike Wallace at this point.

Buffalo - Mike Gillislee, RB.  ADP=Undrafted

He'll be the backup to LeSean McCoy.  He averaged 5.7 ypc in limited work last year, despite a stinker in week 17.

Carolina - Jonathan Stewart, RB.  ADP=67.

Okay, there are a lot mitigating factors here... This is your classic boom or bust pick.  Stewart's actual value will probably put him before #48 or after #120.

Chicago - Jordan Howard, RB.  ADP=160.  

No one seems to believe in Jeremy Langford.  You?  No?  Howard is cheap.  If he gets the load he's a steal at this point on volume alone.

Cincinnati - Tyler Eifert, TE.  ADP=76.
Okay, so 76th is pretty high for a sleeper.  I couldn't go with Brandon LaFell and I think this is great value for Eifert if he gets healthy.  Andy Dalton has AJ Green to throw to but will really rely on Eifert this year.  Also good value in chili-spaghetti-city is the DST.

Cleveland - Josh Gordon, WR.  ADP=142.

He's getting reinstated. (In my opinion.) 
There was that one season he was the top WR in the league. (Not an opinion.) 
He is entering his physical prime at just 25 years old. (Not an opinion.)
He's really, really got something to prove.  (Opinion?)

Dallas - Terrance Williams, WR.  ADP=192.

Heaven help me, I still believe.  There's just no one there beyond Dez, and Romo is a really good QB.  I mean, yeah, I like Cole Beasley a little bit... but c'mon man... The opportunity is there for Williams and his ADP is 192.  192.

Denver - Devontae Booker, RB.  ADP=165.

That's a good price even as a handcuff.  If CJ Anderson goes down or flakes out for some reason, Booker's your guy.

Detroit - Marvin Jones, WR.  ADP=85.

I believe that Golden Tate is more of a second banana.  I know Marvin Jones is 26 years old, 6'2", and once caught 10 TD's in a season.  I believe Matthew Stafford has a better arm than Andy Dalton.  I know that the Lions need someone to fill the hole left by Mega's departure.  I also believe that the taking Tate in the 3rd round is crazy sauce.

Green Bay - Jared Cook, TE.  ADP=163.

Jared Cook is really talented.  Aaron Rodgers is really talented.  Let's not overthink this at #163.

Houston - Will Fuller, WR. ADP=Undrafted.

Okay, he's a rookie and he'll have Brock Osweiler throwing the ball to him.  Makes sense that he's undrafted, I guess... but he was a 1st round pick and he should be the #2 option in the passing attack.

Indapolis - Phillip Dorsett, WR.  ADP=161.  
Plenty of room for three WR's here.  They spent a 1st on Dorsett and want to see him fly.

Jacksonville - TJ Yeldon, RB.  ADP=97.

Lots of mouths to feed in Jacksonville... plus they brought in Chris Ivory.  Good.  Keeps Yeldon's cost down.

Kansas City - Charcandrick West, RB.  ADP=125.

Jamaal Charles is a generational talent.  He also gets injured often.
West is also really good.  He will get those touches when Charles goes down. He'll cost you an 11th rounder.

Los Angeles - Tavon Austin, WR.  ADP=118.
If Jared Goff knows what's good for him he'll find Austin in space.  I'm not sold on this one, but he intrigues me immensely.

Miami - Ryan Tannehill, QB. ADP=158.  
Everyone's darling last year.  He didn't produce at elite levels but also wasn't as bad as you think.  Still just 27 entering his fifth season.  Bring on the Adam Gase offense.

Minnisota - Jerrick McKinnon, RB.  ADP=152.  

People are down on AD because of his age and injury history.  Okay, fine... What are you gonna do about it?  Simply not draft him?  Why not take his talented backup in the 14th round and take a stand?

New England - Jimmy Garapolo, QB.  ADP=Undrafted.  

I mean, he's getting four starts right?  Three of them are pretty good matchups.  Let me put it this way, would you be surprised to look up after week four and see this guy in the top 10?  Me neither.  He costs nothing.  I also like the idea of knowing who I'm cutting in week five for the flavor of the day.

New Orleans - Michael Thomas, WR.  ADP=152.  

Love, love, love Brandin Cooks.  Willie Snead I'm not buying.  Coby Fleener might do something here... though it does seem that there is a lot of opportunity in a Brees offense for a bigger WR. Even an unproven one.

New York Giants - Paul Perkins, RB.  ADP=179.  

Color me crazy, but I don't think Rashad Jennings will hold up.

New York Jets - Bilal Powell, RB.  ADP=119.

47 receptions in 11 games last year plus 4.5 ypc on the ground.  He's behind Matt Forte, but they are already talking about a time share to keep Forte fresh.  You could do worse at #119.

Oakland - Latavius Murray, RB.  ADP=45.

Hmm, so maybe it's hard to say 'sleeper' at 45... Nevertheless this is too low for Murray.

Philadelphia - Wendell Smallwood, RB.  ADP=192.  

So, Ryan Mathews?  Then what?

Pittsburgh - Sammie Coates, WR.  ADP=140.
It's a shot in the dark since I doubt Markus Wheaton's hands.

San Diego - Travis Benjamin, WR.  ADP=115.
I really don't think Benjamin's year was a fluke in 2015.  This year he's got a much better QB sitch and Keenan Allen will get all of the double teams.  Benjamin on the 9-route for the score!!

San Francisco - Torrey Smith, WR.  ADP=111.

The QB in San Fran probably won't be good.  However, there is a lot of room in a Chip Kelly offense for a receiver as accomplished and explosive as Smith.

Seattle - Tyler Lockett, WR.  ADP=74.

Lockett will emerge as a star in 2016. 
Step 1 - Draft Lockett at #74.
Step 2 - Profit.

Tampa Bay - Vincent Jackson, WR.  ADP=130.

Baby, I can't quit you.  Jameis gets better this year and Evans can't get all the targets.

Tennessee - Rishard Matthews, WR.  ADP=173.
I just don't believe in Kendall Wright or a rookie named Tajae Sharp...  In just 11 games last year Matthews grabbed 43 balls at a career high of 15.3 yards per reception.  Maybe it's his time?

Washington - Josh Doctson, WR.  ADP=164.

Man, I loved Doctson in the draft this year.  There is a non-zero chance that he outperforms DeSean Jackson in 2016.  164 is a cheap way to find out.  The other thing about Doctson is that even though he's a rookie I believe you'll know really quickly if they are going to trust him this year.  If he isn't getting used you can cut him.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Good Value, Bad Value: Sleepers and Busts

By David Brandt

Sometimes sleepers are unheard of and busts are all of the big names... sometimes we're just talking about good value and bad value.  Check out this list to find some sleeper gems and some reasons to avoid a few other guys:


Sleepers:

 

Ben Zobrist - I will start off with an oldie but a goody.  Zobrist has always had appeal in fantasy leagues due to his position versatility.  His ability to play nearly every position assured him a spot nearly every day in Joe Maddon's lineup while in Tampa.  He averaged 153 games and 562 AB/season from 2009, when he burst on the scene, through 2014, his final season with the Rays.  Zobrist is now reunited with Joe Maddon and is expected to bat near the top of a powerhouse Cubs Lineup. Bottom line: Zobrist is an on-base machine projecting to bat in the top third of one of the most prolific lineups in baseball.  He also plays half his games in a hitters park.  He should exceed projected totals of R, HR, RBI, and even SB.  Draft confidently as your starting 2B.

Brandon Belt - Brandon Belt is coming off probably his most productive season in his career.  Limited to 137 games because of various injuries, Belt was still able to put a 73/18/68 slash while batting .280.  Belt is slated to bat 6th in a loaded giants lineup, so there should be no shortage of RBI opportunities.  Pair that with the fact that he is 28 years old and should be in his prime years-there is a very high ceiling here.  There is no reason he cannot produce similar numbers to Freddie Freeman or Prince Fielder, but he can be had nearly 50 picks later. The Giants missed the playoffs last year, and they spent a ton to make sure that didn't happen again.  Expect Belt to be a catalyst in this explosive offense.  No need to invest in aging first basemen who are potentially on the downturn of their careers, go for the upside!

Denard Span - Speaking of the Giants spending spree, Denard Span is an addition to this powerful lineup that is clearly flying under the radar.  I mentioned how powerful this offense can be, and of course it all starts at the top.  Span gets on base consistently (he has a career OBP of .352) and if his career stats hold true, it should turn into a beautifully productive season.  Span is just a season removed from 30 steals, so the man has some serious wheels.  He can put up more productive fantasy seasons than Ben Revere and Billy Hamilton and he can be yours 80 picks later.

Andrew Heaney - Heaney is a former top 10 pick who was the key piece of the trade that brought Dee Gordon to Miami.  He was then traded to the other side of town where he will try to make a name for himself.  Heaney finished the season very strong, allowing 2 ER or fewer in 9 of his last 10 starts.  This offseason, the Halos added Andrelton Simmons, which should only help Heaney improve on last year's impressive 3.49 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.  Heaney is going largely undrafted in leagues, so invest a late round pick in this pitcher who has the potential to provide a great ROI.  

Luke Gregerson - When you make your last couple of picks, you are usually trying to find diamonds in the rough.  These are guys that may not have an immediate role or may not have the clearest path to stardom, but if the stars align, big things can happen.  Gregerson is a great example of this.  He was a top 100 overall player last year with 31 saves as the Astros stopper.  Yes, the Astros traded for Ken Giles from Philly, but he's no sure thing to be their closer.  Giles has pitched terrible this Spring, which doesn't always hold much weight, but you would like to at least see some production outings out of him. He was closing for a team in the NL in weakest division in baseball.  He was a dominant setup man and may be best served in that role to help solidify the backend for a championship contending team.  I guess this could be as much a Gregerson sleeper pick as it is a Giles bust pick, but I will certainly be grabbing Gregerson as a late flier.

Busts:

 

Giancarlo Stanton - Giancarlo Stanton is a sexy name that is coveted early in drafts.  His tremendous power potential makes owners salivate.  To me, Stanton is merely a three category player with a history of injury problems.  In fact, he has averaged only 122 games per season since 2011.  I am not saying Stanton is bad by any means, but I would rather draft Machado, Rizzo, Correa, Bryant, or Altuve all day.  I can then scoop up Chris Davis a round or two later and get very similar numbers.  Stanton is a major injury risk for a team that doesn't expect to compete.  It is very likely he won't be around while you chase down a championship.  

Jose Fernandez - Not to pile on Miami or anything, but Jose Fernandez is in a very similar situation.  There is already speculation that he is going to be on an innings limit, and rightfully so.  This kid is a stud, undeniably.  The problem with Fernandez is that you are drafting him as one of the first pitchers off the board, but it is extremely likely that he won't be around for you during the fantasy playoffs.  Maybe he can pitch you into first place in the regular season, and that usually brings home a few shekels, but if you want to win a championship, you may want to look elsewhere.  There are plenty of stud arms in a similar tier to Fernandez that are far more likely to be around come playoff time.  

Jacob deGrom - Speaking of other arms in a similar tier, something about deGrom is rubbing me the wrong way. He just pitched 191 innings in the regular season with the playoffs on top of that, up from just 140 the year before.  Add to that the fact that he has "had trouble" finding his velocity this Spring.  I take minimal note of Spring Training statistics, but when someone comes off such a substantial workload and can't find that velocity that helped him dominate, it sends up a red flag.  Maybe deGrom is fine and he will pitch another dominating campaign this season.  That is not a risk I am willing to take on a guy I could be potentially drafting to be my ace.  Just like Fernandez, there are plenty of other good arms in that tier that don't carry cloudiness like deGrom.

Ryan Braun - Listing Braun as a bust has nothing to do with his off-field lifestyle choices.  This is a man on the wrong side of 30 who had off-season back surgery, and is already sitting out with back soreness.  This reminds me a little of a Derrick Rose-like situation.  It is a smart move to sit out as a precaution in the spring, when games don't count.  When you are coming off surgery and you are feeling sore with the season right around the corner, it tell me you may not be completely ready to come back.  If Braun tries to prove the naysayers wrong by coming back prematurely, he puts himself at a high risk of re-injuring his bad back which has caused him to miss significant time throughout the last two seasons.  Very much like D-Rose.  Couple that with the fact that his team looks awful and it has the potential to be a situation in which Braun misses more time this year.  His price tag is too high for someone battling a back injury.  For me, I'll pass.

Jordan Zimmerman - Zimmerman took a major step back in his last season for the Nats.  His ERA jumped an entire run and his WHIP was also up to a pedestrian 1.20.  He has never really been a strikeout guy, moreso a guy relying on his command, which was clearly off last year.   The Nats were a bit of a mess last year, and Zimmermann is now pitching for a team with a dominant lineup.  Unfortunately, he is pitching in arguably the most competitive division in baseball.  Plus, pitchers rarely transition well from the NL to the AL.  Unless Zimmerman regains that control, he really doesn't bring much to the table.  He will have a mediocre WHIP and ERA, without enough Ks to make an impact.  He is just a name from a couple years ago, and I feel his best years are behind him.  Let some other amateur in your league take the familiar name while you capitalize on some of the young, high upside guys in his tier like Matz, Odorizzi, Smyly, Rodon, and Corbin.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

FSIC AL-Only Draft

Last Saturday I took part in the venerable and long-standing FSIC Expert Draft.  I'm in the AL-Only league, which is a great honor.  I even took home the trophy (literally, this thing is like four feet tall) back in 2013.  2013 seems like a long time ago now, and I need to get another one.

It's a really tough group of competitors, but we did have a last minute dropout so that makes things a little more streamlined.  I'm not saying 'easier' because it ain't easy.  But a nine team "only" league is still fairly shallow and good players will still be hard to pick up.

In the draft my plan was to load up on hitters, particularly middle infield and outfield.  I was betting that I could find starting pitching later, though I did want to grab two strong closers to handle saves and bring down my ratios just a touch overall.  I thought that catcher went about eight deep in the AL and corner infielders could be had later.

The math is pretty easy in the outfield in particular.  There are roughly 45 AL outfielder starters.  15 teams times three starters plus a few DH's minus some platoons.  Since this league has nine teams and five starting OF slots every one of those outfielders will be required.  If I can get six good ones I'm ahead of the game.

Middles and corners?  There are about 30 each (a little more for corners playing DH) and our league starts about 27 each.  I do see supply a little heavier at the corner for DH's and outfielders who qualify there, but I also see a smoother quality curve for corners.

Pitchers?  Well, there are 75 or so starting pitchers in the AL and basically 15 closers.  Not all of either list is quality.  My plan was to wait on starters and get some upside guys in pitchers parks in the middle rounds.  For closers, every team with two is ahead of the game.  If you have two of the top six or seven you are way ahead.

So, on to the draft.  My strategy played out almost exactly as I detailed above.

In round one I was hoping for the 'go big' pick of Carlos Correa at #6.  He went #5... but that meant Jose Altuve fell to #6.  Fine by me.  Pairing him with an outfield-eligible Chris Davis at #13 gives me a lot of everything.

Adam Jones at 24 gives me another great outfielder as I build my stockpile.  Xander Bogaerts at 31 completes my double play combo and really anchors my batting average.

Hosmer is a good value at 42 though a little earlier than I wanted to go for a 1B.  He slipped for a reason.  At 49 I reached a bit on Cody Allen since he was the last of the stud closers.  Adrian Beltre fell to 60 and couldn't pass him up, even with the injury.  Adam Eaton should deliver value with the next pick.  Some might criticize Shawn Tolleson with pick #78, but I think he is a fantastic closer and paired with Allen should give me an unfair advantage.  Don't pay for saves?  It's a shallow league and I paid for saves.  Sixth and ninth round picks is a sizable investment, but I've got a full infield plus Davis and Jones in the outfield. 

I had hoped I'd have more outfielders by now, but starting pitching is empty!  The cupboard is bare.

Yordano Ventura, Collin McHugh, Carlos Rodon, and Kevin Gausman are four of my next five picks.  Boom.  You want upside in a rotation?  I challenge you to find a more boom or bust rotation in all of the fantasy world.  Later in the draft I added Chris Tillman, Chris Bassitt, Hector Santiago, and Henderson Alvarez.  I don't love the parks in Baltimore or Chicago for pitchers but I did grab a Royal and a couple A's.  Mission accomplished?  Meh.  I do have considerable upside though.  Add to that group the K's and ratios from Allen, Tolleson, and also Darren O'Day and maybe I'll do okay.

But the outfield tho.  I thought you were going to prioritize OF?  Well, Davis, Jones, and Eaton right?  Ahem.  Okay, three more spots to fill plus at least one bench spot.  Funny thing about that.  You see, Austin Jackson signed with the White Sox on Sunday and on Saturday I drafted Eaton, Melky Cabrera, and Avisail Garcia.  Garcia is the one in jeopardy here, but I do wonder how the DH situation works out if Adam LaRoche is done.  Besides, Jackson is really a platoon guy at this point.  Right?  I supplemented my Windy City outfield with Byron Buxton in the middle rounds.  Enormous upside if the light goes on.  I also grabbed Seth Smith very late.  He's the definition of replacement player, but he should get AB's in Seattle and be average across the board.  Pretty good for an OF7, actually.

I also took Trevor Plouffe as Beltre insurance plus Didi Gregorius.  I like to have a utility guy as well and Eduardo Escobar is another completely average guy, but he qualifies all over the place which is helpful in a shallow league.  It's more helpful in a daily league and this one is weekly, but it's still nice to have a Swiss Army knife in the drawer.

Oh yeah, did I mention Pablo Sandoval?  Yeah, him too.  I know, I know... Panda's fallen on hard times.  Nevertheless, he works into my 20/20 drafting strategy that I describe in my book.  I needed a high upside guy for cheap, and I took Pablo in the 18th round.

The only player I haven't mentioned is my catcher.  Robinson Chirinos in the 15th round.  I could have pushed it and gotten him later, but I did say catcher is about eight deep in the AL and Chirinos is #8.  Plus I like him.  He could do what Matt Wieters often does - .238 BA with 23 home runs.  That kind of power at catcher at this point is pretty good value, so I didn't wait any longer.

The auto-generated CBS draft scorecard had me third.  I never know if I want those computer rankings to rate me highly since the idea is to go against the site on which you are drafting to find value.  Maybe I played it safe enough to get #3 and my upside will carry me to another four-foot trophy.

Getting a Grip

Many years ago before I had a wife and kids I had a roommate to help pay the bills.  One day we went to a state park with some friends and we spied this ledge near a canyon.  Now, the ledge was about four feet up from the ground but if you looked at it from the right angle it looked for all the world as if it was the edge of the canyon and a 500 foot drop.

So, my buddy got down under the ledge, reached up and grasped the edge, looked at the camera in terror, and hilarity ensued.  We snapped the picture and put it on our refrigerator.  Priceless.

This year, like last, I'm having to work hard to get a grasp on the fantasy landscape.  I can't say I have a look of terror yet but sometimes I wonder about certain players, especially at the top end of the draft.

I wonder what $161 million does to Chris Davis.  I wonder what a $150 million demand from an aging Jose Bautista does to him.  Speaking of big deals, how much are Greinke and Price affected by their new ballparks?  Can Giancarlo Stanton play a full year?  Will McCutchen's speed return?  He's only 29 years old.

I suppose it's the same every year.  And truly, questions abound all the way down the list.  I mean, is Pablo Sandoval worth drafting?

It goes to show that homework is as important as it ever has been.  I suggest you either do all of the exhaustive work yourself and make up your own mind about each player from a vacuum... or you access multiple sources of information and generate a consensus.

One of the very best tools for this is FantasyPros.com.  This isn't a commercial for those guys, but I find the slicing and dicing of many expert opinions to be exceptionally helpful.  It's free and fast.  You can pick the experts you want to include and who you want to exclude.  There are even site rankings from some of the big guys on there.  You can also see how accurate each expert was last year.

If you do head over there and create a customized composite of the most accurate experts, I do recommend you include at least the top 19 in your list.  19?  Why such a specific number?  Well, I just think that #19 is particularly talented.

Good luck in your drafts, Brainiacs.