Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Chris Davis as a Top 10 Roto League pick
may be biting off more that you can chew.
Personally, I never found a "Top 100 List" very useful in preparing for a draft. It's interesting to see where experts rank certain players and it can be a goal to end up with as many players from a list like that as possible. However, at the end of the draft day it's about building a team to fit for your specific league format. What are your rules on innings totals? Is OBP is a category? If so, then you must knock "all or nothing sluggers" down a peg. What I believe is useful is a strong look at ADP (Average Draft Position). What that allows you to do is get an idea what players are being selected at what time in most drafts. That can make an enormous difference in your approach. Just because you are high on a player does not always mean other owners are too. You should never "reach" for a guy that you may be able to wait a few more rounds on and still own. That sort of planned patience can allow you to continue to build your roster and actually get better value per pick. ADP can also show you which players are being overvalued. That information can help you write off certain players that you don't have faith in that are going way too soon.

Here is a look at some early trends in Roto league ADP that are worth noting that can influence your draft strategy a great deal. (ADP based on CBS Fantasy Sports)


(Picks 1-30)

The top 10 is filled with the usual suspects (Trout, Cabrera, Kershaw etc). Ryan Braun is cracking the top 10 at the #9 slot. I expect that his stock will rise as drafts continue and he shows any signs of life in spring training games. Chris Davis rounds out this group, and in my mind is a huge red flag. Yes, Davis is in his prime, had a huge season and is firmly entrenched in the middle of the Baltimore order. However, I am not ready to claim him as a franchise fantasy player after on huge year. The biggest issue I have here is if Davis slips to a 35HR/105RBI season; how is he all that different from Prince Fielder (#13 overall ADP). Joey Votto (#15) or Edwin Encarnacion (#20)? Davis historically has struggles versus lefties and last year was no different (.235 BA/.763 OPS vs LHP). 37 of his 53 homers came in the first half. If you marginalize that monstrous first half, a 30/100 player is more likely than the 50/130 player we saw last year. From an RPV (Relative Position Value) standpoint, Hanley Ramirez (#11) or Troy Tulowitzki (#16) are far better risks and have many more elite seasons of production if you are putting your fantasy season on the line.
Yasiel Puig at #14 is another player who I think is vastly being "over-drafted" when known entities like Adrian Beltre (#17), Evan Longoria (#18) and David Wright (#19) are all still on the board. Bryce Harper at #21 may or may not be a reach. However, if you want him then clearly you are going to have to make your move and pay top dollar. The same can be said for Giancarlo Stanton (#29) and Matt Kemp (#30), regardless of their respective down years and injuries. No discounts on these big bats nor on big arms like Adam Wainright (#22) or Yu Darvish (#25). I am pleased that Justin Verlander (#27) is a small step ahead of Max Scherzer (#28). Having been dominant for so many years should mean something, even after a down year.

(Picks 31-60)
Here is where the young pitching starts to fly: Jose Fernandez (#35), Stephen Strasburg (#37), Chris Sale (#53) and Madison Bumgarner (#58).
Chris Sale should not be undervalued
based on win potential.
I think Sale and Bumgarner are much closer to these other two and are being undervalued. Obviously people think Sale's win total will be limited. Yet, Fernandez pitching in Miami is certainly not a lock to win more games than Sale. Never chase wins and take your chances on Sale a round later. Bumgarner is durable, pitches in a favorable park and could easily outperform all of them. He is the best bang for your fantasy buck of the group.
Steals are also starting to go off the board Starling Marte (#38), Jose Reyes (#39), Jean Segura (#41), Elvis Andrus (#47), Billy Hamilton (#55) and Jose Altuve (#57). Considering the disappearance of Marte and Segura in the second half, it's a tad surprising to see them go top 50 overall regardless of their speed. Billy Hamilton is a boom or bust and his ADP is bound to rise over the next month as he is over-hyped by fantasy outlets on his 70-100 stolen base potential. As tempting as he is in this format, you have to be careful not to put yourself in a situation where your season hinges on his success. I'll take my chances with Reyes and his 40+ steals at shortstop.
Elite closers Craig Kimbrel (#36), Kenley Jansen (#54), and Aroldis Chapman (#56) are all gone by pick #60. Chapman in my opinion is closer to Kimbrel than Jansen, and is being undervalued. Just because Jansen is on a better team on paper does not necessarily translate to more saves. If Chapman is going this late, I am perfectly content to be the 3rd owner to take a closer.
Joe Mauer at #34 is surprising, but catcher eligible players who play everyday at another position are a big RPV advantage. Mauer at catcher is not a sleeper folks, sorry. Dustin Pedroia at #43 is a steal considering his RPV at a weak position and his dependability. Albert Pujols rounds out the group at 60. If he rebounds to 30/100 levels, yet another reason not to go out on a limb for Chris Davis.

(Picks 61-100)
This is where you can start to see opportunity knocking. Matt Carpenter at #65 is coming off a breakthrough year, but his minor league track record and major league sampling suggest he can be a close proximity. Teammate Trevor Rosenthal (#70) is no longer a sleeper, being drafted right after Greg Holland (#62). They are perfectly suitable consolation prizes should you miss out on Kimbrel or Chapman. Matt Adams (#74) is also getting a lot of attention for his power potential. Josh Hamilton comes in at #79 and frankly I don't see why. That's not to say he can't live up to this ADP, but Hamilton is aging and was never the same hitter outside of Arlington. There are better options out there.
Catchers Carlos Santana (#61), Wilin Rosario (#67), Jonatahn Lucroy (#69), Yadier Molina (#85), Brian McCann (#86), Matt Wieters (#94) and Salvador Perez (#100) are flying off the board. As much as I like Rosario and his potential to reach 30 homers, I can't see taking him two rounds before Molina or three rounds before Perez. If you miss out on this group and play two catchers in your roto league, you are in deep trouble. There is clearly the potential for a serious catcher "run" in this year's draft.
If you are looking for starting pitcher value, Anibal Sanchez (#91), Hisashi Iwakuma (#98) and Julio Teheran (#99) are terrific choices. Considering Sanchez's incredible strikeout rate and ERA in '13 (2.57 mark led the AL), he is by far the most underrated arm in the top 100 ADP.
Of this entire list, Evan Gattis at #83 I feel is the worst choice of the top 100 ADP for three reasons. First off, being full time catcher in Atlanta is going to take it's physical toll. Secondly, he lacks on base skills (.291OBP in '13). Lastly, he did not fare well when the league made adjustments to him. When you add in the fact he is losing at bats by catching everyday, his top 100 ADP is a farce. The best value in the top 100 ADP is David Ortiz at #73. All he does is hit despite advanced age and the fact he is limited to DH duties in most leagues. Power is scarce nowadays, so you should take it wherever you can get it. His high BA and penchant for driving runs makes him one of the safer draft day solutions to power categories. Ben Zobrist, at #113, based on his versatility and track record should be in the top 100 ADP and is the first glaring omission.


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