Over the past week at RotoBaller, we've introduced a brand new approach to preparing for Points Leagues. Typically, analysts give you general points league rankings. We have those as well at RotoBaller. However, this approach falls short. Analysis and ranks must be platform specific, because every platform (ESPN, Yahoo!, CBS, NFBC, Fantrax) has wildly different scoring settings which must be uniquely attacked.
This article focuses on players overvalued and undervalued in CBS points leagues. In the coming days, we'll also have a "Break the League" article for CBS Points Leagues, which will provide a great overview of CBS Points League scoring settings, recommendations on how to attack those scoring settings, and a few must-avoid players. You can check out the ESPN version of this article here.
We also recently launched Points League Ranker tools, which provide you with an awesome points league cheat sheet for each platform, and includes "Points Above Replacement" projections, to help you understand how to properly value different players and positions on each platform. If you want access to our CBS Points League Ranker Tool, you'll have to buy a preseason or full season premium pass!Editor's Note: Love the strategy of season-long fantasy sports? Live for the short term gratification of DFS? Try Weekly Fantasy Sports on OwnersBox - a new weekly DFS platform. Sign up today for a FREE $50 Deposit Match. Offer expires Thursday night! Sign Up Now!
A Quick Ode to Points Leagues
Points leagues are my favorite baseball leagues, and CBS Sports is my favorite platform to play them on. A big reason for this dates back over 10 years ago when I played in my first fantasy baseball league. Making the jump from fantasy football to baseball was a seamless transition since I joined a points league. It duplicated the intensity, the trash-talking, the one-on-one matchups that you get with fantasy football. Roto leagues may get the bulk of attention, but points leagues are quickly becoming more and more popular. Hopefully, you are now sold on points leagues, if you weren’t already. If you're not, read our longer ode to points leagues here. That is just the first step. The next is to help you become an even better drafter!
How ADP Skews Your Points League Drafts
ADP is important in every draft, and as much as fantasy players may say they do not abide by ADP, the truth is it greatly impacts most drafts. If a player is sitting at the top of the ADP list, every manager in the draft room is constantly seeing that player's name. Typically players at the top of the ADP list do not last on the board very long, unless they are falling due to injury, suspension, etc. Fantasy players often will see a player they like down the list and assume they can wait another round or two to draft that player.
But being a sheep to ADP is a mistake, especially in points leagues. Why is that? Because the majority of fantasy baseball leagues are roto leagues, meaning that ADP on sites are skewed by roto drafts. This is a term I have dubbed "Roto Bias", and it greatly impacts points leagues ADP.
So how can you take advantage of Roto Bias if you are playing in a points league? Well, that is where we got you covered! There are plenty of players that are being over-drafted in points leagues on CBS. On the flip side, there are also plenty of players that are a value at their current price.
In today's article, we're selecting some players who stand out in our CBS Points League Ranker (it's a premium tool, but you can read more about it here if you're considering subscribing). To build the CBS Points League Ranker, and find the players below who are attractive, or unattractive, in CBS Points Leagues, we first took ATC Projections (which were the #1 rated MLB projection system in 2019), and we turned them into dollar values specifically for CBS Points League scoring settings. Those dollar values were then ranked, and the rankings were compared to CBS's ADP. Below, I will dissect both groups of players to help you be fully prepared for your drafts!
Undervalued Players in CBS Points Drafts
Yu Darvish (SP, CHC)
CBS ADP: 87.2; ATC Rank: 62.2
Yu Darvish is my favorite pitcher target in drafts this year, so I was pumped to see he remains one of the most underrated pitchers in CBS points leagues. Currently, Darvish has an ADP of 87.2 on CBS, but according to ATC, he should be going 25 picks earlier, at 62 overall. However, if you ask me, he should be going even higher.
I have Darvish ranked as a top 10 starting pitcher, especially with all the health concerns we have seen around the league. Darvish returned to his elite self in the second half of the 2019 season after changing both his pitch arsenal and release point. I wrote in-depth about Darvish and you can read it here, but I wanted to give you a snippet just to showcase how dominant he was in the final stretch of the season:
“In the final two months, he had the best xFIP among pitchers (1.94), as well as the second-best strikeout rate (40 percent) and K-BB rate (37.7 percent). Still not sold? He had the third-best swinging-strike rate (16.1 percent), the second-best chase rate (38.5 percent) and the third-lowest contact rate (67.7 percent).”
Sonny Gray (SP, CIN)
CBS ADP: 110; ATC Rank: 55
Sonny Gray broke back out onto the scene last year after being an afterthought heading into the season. He pitched to a 2.87 ERA with a 3.65 xFIP, with a career-high 29 percent strikeout rate, in one of the worst pitchers parks in baseball. Gray had an average exit velocity of 87.1 mph, which wound up being his second-lowest in the last five seasons. The 30-year-old jumps off the BaseballSavant page, being in the 92nd percentile for fastball spin and 97th for curveball spin rate. Gray was also in the 80th percentile or higher in xBA, xSLG and xwOBA.
However, there is reluctancy by owners to buy into Gray's career season, especially when he never had a strikeout rate close to what he did last year. But Gray was a different pitcher last season, choosing to throw his four-seam fastball more in place of his two-seam (also dubbed a sinker). He also saw improved spin rate on all his pitches, expect the sinker. ATC projections have Gray worthy of taking as the 55th pick off the board, but his ADP on CBS is 110. That means you can wait and literally get him for half the price.
Marcus Stroman (SP, NYM)
ADP: 155.9; ATC Rank: 112
Marcus Stroman became a different pitcher when he went to the Mets at last season's trade deadline. His ERA jumped from 2.96 with Toronto, to 3.77 while a member of the Mets, but his xFIP actually improved from 4.06 to 3.84. His ground-ball rate was 56.3 percent with the Jays, but dropped to 48.3 percent with the Mets. However, Stroman also started to miss more bats than really ever before. With the Blue Jays, he had a 19.3 percent strikeout rate but with the Mets it climbed to 23 percent.
The change in results came in how he utilized his pitch repertoire, as he threw his cutter eight percent more, while his curveball usage was reduced by five percent. Stroman has also gone 184 innings or more in three of the last four seasons, which gives him a big boost in points leagues since a pitcher gets a point for every out recorded. Due to that, ATC projections have him worthy of being the 112th player off the board, but his ADP on CBS is 155.9.
Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, PHI)
CBS ADP: 117.8; ATC Rank: 65
Rhys Hoskins is a clear case of Roto Bias due to his low batting average in 2019. He hit a career-low .226 last year, with an xBA of just .221. Although in points leagues, you should be caring more about OBP, since you get points for walks as well, and Hoskins has consistently provided that. In his three MLB seasons, he has never posted an OBP below .350. In fact, his .364 OBP in the last three years ranks 36th, while his 15.2 percent walk rate in that span is the ninth-best in all of baseball. It also doesn’t hurt that he has hit at least 33 doubles in each of the last two seasons.
That may not matter to you in roto leagues, but in the CBS points format, a double (two points) is literally worth double the value of a single (one point). Hoskins is going significantly later in drafts now, compared to a year ago, but ATC thinks that is a mistake in CBS points leagues, where his ADP is 117.8, but the projections have him pegged as fair value as the 65th player off the board. That is a huge discount, making him a strong value in this format.
Tommy Pham (OF, SD)
CBS ADP: 145.4; ATC Rank: 92
Tommy Pham is a very useful roto player, but he is even more valuable in points due to his sheer ability to get on base. He has posted an OBP of .360 or better in three straight seasons including .411 in 2017. He will provide some power, speed, all while not hurting in the runs and RBI departments, which is all great in both points and roto.
But it is even better that Pham hit 33 doubles last season while cutting his strikeout rate to a career-low 18.8 percent, and having a walk rate over 10 percent for a fifth straight season. ATC projections have the 32-year-old as the 92nd player off the board in this format, but his ADP is currently 145.4. We would call that a buying opportunity!
Other Point League Values:
Brandon Woodruff (106.7 ADP, 52 ATC rank)
Max Fried (110.1 ADP, 71 ATC rank)
German Marquez (117.1 ADP, 65 ATC rank)
Edwin Diaz (125.9 ADP, 93 ATC rank)
Lance Lynn (132.7 ADP, 43 ATC rank)
Robbie Ray (136.4 ADP, 84 ATC rank)
Mike Moustakas (137.4 ADP, 88 ATC rank)
Andrew Heaney (193.7 ADP, 123 ATC rank)
Cesar Hernandez (245.5 ADP, 192 ATC rank)
Overvalued Players in CBS Points Drafts
Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL)
CBS ADP: 5.6; ATC Rank: 20
Ronald Acuna Jr. is overrated in points leagues. He is not even a top 5 outfielder for me on CBS. The entire reason he is in discussion for the first player off the board in roto is because of the stolen base upside he provides. But again, no category has a value fall off in the change of formats like stolen bases. In roto, they are literally 20 percent of the offensive categories, but in CBS points leagues they are merely worth just two points. Plus, a player loses a point every time they are caught stealing.
OBP remains the vital category in this format and while Acuna’s .365 OBP is nice, it ranked 33rd in baseball. However, you should consider that other first round bats like Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts and Juan Soto (the fifth OF I have over Acuna) all had an OBP over .390 last year. In fact, all but Betts were over .400. ATC projections value Acuna as the 20th best player in this format, although I would have him more towards the end of the first round. Still, his ADP on CBS is 5.6 and it would be no surprise that many players in this format will still consider taking him with a top-5 pick.
Trevor Story (SS, COL)
CBS ADP: 35.1; ATC Rank: 51
Trevor Story is a first round pick in roto drafts, but a big-value loser in the points format. First, a big reason he is a first round selection in roto is the stolen bases, and as discussed with Acuna, those are severely devalued in points leagues. Additionally, he strikes out a bunch, having a strikeout rate over 25 percent in every season. Why is that bad? Because in this format you lose a half a point for every strikeout.
Additionally, his walk rate does nothing to mitigate the loss of value the strikeouts create. His 8.8 percent walk rate in 2019 tied a career high, but that was still 17.7 percent lower than his strikeout rate. I was surprised to see Story’s 35.1 ADP on CBS, as I expected the roto leagues to pull it up much higher, but still, ATC projections has Story as the 51st player. This means that he is going about a round and a half too high in 12-team CBS points leagues.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, SD)
CBS ADP: 51.5; ATC Rank: 97
Fernando Tatis Jr. is another very popular pick in roto drafts, often getting pulled into the first round in 15-team leagues. Although like Acuna and Story, a big reason for that is the power-speed combo he provides. But, I hope you are seeing the trend here: stolen bases are super devalued in this format. Instead of stolen bases, you want hitters who can pile up doubles, walks, while limiting strikeouts. Last season, Tatis had a strikeout rate of 29.6 and a walk rate of just 8.1 percent. He is going to lose a ton of points due to strikeouts and his walk rate simply is not high enough to make up for it.
Surprisingly, Tatis also had just 13 doubles in 372 plate appearances. Due to all of this, ATC projections has him as the 97th player off the board, and his ADP is 51.5 on CBS. I expected the ADP to be even lower, but I would fully expect him to get pulled up the draft boards due to Roto Bias, as fantasy owners love upside (which he has tons of in roto). I will gladly draft him in roto formats, but he will be on none of my points league teams.
Yoan Moncada (3B, CHW)
CBS ADP: 71.8; ATC Rank: 141
Yoan Moncada is very similar to the hitters above. He is a nice roto player because he provides some power and speed, but even last year when he posted a career-low strikeout rate, it was still very high at 27.5 percent. This led to his walk rate falling to 7.2 percent. Combine the high strikeout rate and low walk percentage and his points-league value takes a hit.
ATC has him as the 141st most valuable player in points league, yet his ADP is 71.8. Even if you think the projection is too low, that is such a huge gap that it is best to not draft him in this format.
Jesus Luzardo (SP, OAK)
CBS ADP: 128.8; ATC Rank: 217
Jesus Luzardo has all the talent in the world, but in this format, pitchers gain a point per out and three points for every quality start. That means that pitchers who go deep into games are exceptionally valuable in points leagues and in today's game, fewer and fewer pitchers can actually offer that. In fact, last year just 25 starters averaged at least six innings per outing.
But, this is especially worrisome for Luzardo as he’s never gone more than three innings in a big-league game and he’s gone six innings exactly twice in his three minor league seasons. He is more useful in roto where he will provide strikeouts and good ratios, but in points, it is best to let someone else draft him. His ADP on CBS is 128.8, but ATC values him with a price of 217 overall. There are similar concerns for pitchers like Julio Urias (137.7 ADP, 260 ATC rank) and Lance McCullers Jr. (75.8 ADP, 231 ATC rank).
Other Overpriced Players in Points Leagues:
Anthony Rendon (14.3 ADP, 38 ATC rank)
Gleyber Torres (41.1 ADP, 94 ATC rank)
Javier Baez (46.3 ADP, 104 ATC rank)
Keston Hiura (82.7 ADP, 126 ATC rank)
Mitch Garver (108.6 ADP, 138 ATC rank)
Ryan Yarbrough (175.5 ADP, 269 ATC rank)
Mitch Keller (195.6 ADP, 287 ATC rank)
Jose Urquidy (125.8 ADP, 176 ATC rank)
Thanks for reading RotoBallers, and be sure to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.