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Break the League: CBS Points League Ranker


Much like their milquetoast television lineup, CBS points leagues are like a warm bath of mediocrity. Are they great? No-oooo, but are they awful? Also, no. I mean, you're never really going to want to watch a Chuck Lorre sitcom or the latest chapter in naval policing, but they can still serve a purpose. Because sometimes you just want something droning on in the background while you answer emails and check Twitter.

Unfortunately, they aren't completely benign, as CBS offers users suspect player rankings and player projections that don't seem very likely of ever matching reality. But at least they don't seem to do it in ways that sometimes seem almost designed to frustrate points players to the point of quitting and forever blaspheming against the format. And that's something! The simplistic CBS roster settings might seem creaky - with the limited slots making it hard for users to properly value players - but at least they didn't do what Yahoo did! I don't have a whole side of beef for CBS but milquetoast is still terrible and I'm still hungry... let's go.

This article will cover the best fantasy baseball points league strategies for dominating CBS leagues after we recently introduced RotoBaller's CBS Points League Ranker Tool, which is designed to give players an even bigger leg up on their competition. To read a general overview of our Points League Ranker tool, and the methodology behind it, check out this intro article we recently published. You can read the rest of this Point League Ranker series as well covering Yahoo, Fantrax and ESPN platforms.

 

Strings That Control the System

The two components that ultimately control a player's value are which categories are scored and how rosters are required to be constructed. Both are supremely important and must be accounted for when judging a player's worth.

Default Roster Size: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF (3) - UT - SP (5) - RP (2)

While most will give consideration to how players can score points, not as many consider the roster restrictions of their platform. Head on over here for a more thorough explanation but roster size must be accounted for so replacement levels can be set.  Comparing 12-team leagues in ESPN to CBS, for example, the latter only uses three outfielders with no middle infield or corner infield slot. That translates to CBS players requiring 24 fewer starting outfielders, 12 fewer corner infielders, and 12 fewer middle infielders. That's 48 fewer starters total; 48 players who would be starters in ESPN but are on the waiver wire in CBS, with default roster construction.

Then there's the matter of the pitching, with CBS having specific slots for starters and relievers, as opposed to ESPN, Fantrax, and NFBC that all use nine generic pitcher slots. Not only do relievers gain more value by virtue of having their own designated slots but the value of starters is dramatically affected by only having five slots available. That means only 60 starting pitchers above replacement-level, which in turn makes the cream of the crop that much creamier.

 

Default Point Scoring

Batting Points Pitching Points
Single 1 Win 7
Double 2 Loss -5
Triple 3 Save 7
Home Run 4 Inning 3
RBI 1 Quality Start 3
Run 1 Strikeout 0.5
Base on Balls 1 Base on Balls -1
Stolen Base 2 Hits Allowed -1
Hit by Pitch 1 Earned Runs -1
Strikeout -0.5 Hits Batsman -1
Caught Stealing -1

Hitter Takeaways

There's nothing in the scoring for total bases, runs, and RBI that throws the system out of wack, relative to the other point platforms. CBS scoring is nearly identical to ESPN, with the main difference being that CBS takes a half-point per strikeout compared to the full point that ESPN charges batters for a whiff. This small difference, along with the much smaller rosters, dramatically alters value between the two platforms even as their settings seem so similar.

Pitcher Takeaways

Getting only a half-point for strikeouts and rewarding quality starts will affect pitcher values the most when compared to other platforms. The best fantasy pitchers usually separate themselves with elite K-rates but getting just the half-point serves to close the gap between the normally top-tier pitchers and ones whose mediocre K-rates would usually limit their ceiling on other platforms. And whether you like them or not, quality starts will earn pitchers three points on top of the seven points they can get for a win. This additional scoring category adds a lot of value to quality-start machines like Jose Berrios and Madison Bumgarner.

 

Simulated Nonsense

Points players (and especially new ones) are often much more reliant on the data and rankings provided to them by their chosen platform than roto players are. You can do research for your roto league by going to a dozen different places to see how many home runs, strikeouts, ERA, etc, that Player X is projected to have but you won't know how those stats translate to value in your chosen points league unless you do the work yourself (or find someone to do it for you). That makes it incumbent on platforms to put out projections, rankings, and ADP that properly reflect how scoring behaves in their system.

There are four direct resources that CBS makes available to points players for draft prep. The projected points based off of their site player projections (and the subsequent rankings), their format-specific ADP, Scott White's top-300 rankings, and Sportsline's top-300 rankings. However, two of these resources are acting like some sort of broke-down, discount Skynet.

There seems to be something absolutely insane kind of off with the rankings provided by CBS partner Sportsline. I'm clueless about their methodology, outside of knowing that they base projections around running numerous computer simulations, but some of the data seems so obviously wrong that it's hard to trust the rest. For example, #264 Bryce Harper.

There is also the projected points provided on-site, which have just as many giant question marks within the data. For example, #208 Bryce Harper. While it's unclear if these projections are also powered by Sportsline, it wouldn't be surprising given how much overlap there is in regards to which players hold the strangest valuations. Here's a selection of reasons you may want to take both the Sportsline top-300 rankings and CBS's projected points with a giant rock of salt:

NAME ADP ATC Points CBS Points Top 300
Max Scherzer 13 10 78 40
George Springer 19 27 11 7
Bryce Harper 34 18 208 264
Nelson Cruz 45 86 8 24
Jose Abreu 47 74 27 22
J.D. Martinez 47 21 57 118
Trea Turner 48 23 77 114
Mike Clevinger 49 92 273 208
Aaron Nola 53 50 248 182
Ozzie Albies 64 29 105 115
Gary Sanchez 69 220 347 142
Lance McCullers Jr. 71 260 72 36
Yordan Alvarez 74 36 NR NR
Sean Manaea 84 202 94 49
Paul Goldschmidt 88 43 316 NR
Eugenio Suarez 116 80 245 NR
Kevin Pillar 124 334 51 53
Mike Moustakas 134 56 86 212
Mike Tauchman 135 312 62 61
Mark Canha 151 194 75 78
Starlin Castro 159 167 107 117
Hunter Dozier 161 184 74 179
Josh Phegley 209 447 349 143
Brian Goodwin 237 416 139 173

These are not the projections you are looking for. Move along. However, while you shouldn't be using these resources to draft from, that doesn't mean your opponents won't be. And that makes the information useful. Regardless of skill level, many players will rely only on the projected points and ADP that their platform provides. I've been in many points drafts this offseason and most of them have been against other industry folks. I promise you that many of them didn't make their own spreadsheets and were drafting by making mental adjustments to the site's projected point totals. Seriously, everyone does it.

Looking at the ADP CBS provides - which is specific to the format - many of them only make sense if you presume that many players are using the site's projected points to make their draft decisions. Why does Lance McCullers have a 71 ADP? Because players trust when they see that CBS projects him to score the 72nd-most points and Sportsline has him as their #36 player. ATC projects J.D. Martinez to score the 21st-most points (24th in PAR) in 2020, yet his 47 ADP leads me to believe that people are drafting him more in line with the CBS projections that call for him to score the 57th-most points.

Call me crazy, but I'm trusting Ariel Cohen - 2019's most accurate ranker and creator of ATC - over the system that is projecting Bryce Harper to score a half-point more than Rio Ruiz. Never assume that your opponents are using anything more sophisticated than the projections provided by the platform. Take advantage of that misguided trust whenever possible.

 

Solving the CBS Points Puzzle

The general axiom of pitching being king in points leagues is true to a tee on CBS, even though it may not seem that way on the surface. Looking at just projected points doesn't give justice to how deep hitting is given how tight the rosters are. Having only three outfielders and no swing spots for infielders makes a large difference in values and should be leveraged in drafts by adjusting for the position. Projected points also don't show just how valuable elite pitching is once you take these replacement levels into account. Take a look at the top-30 projected scorers in 2020 according to ATC projections:

Rank NAME POS Points
1 Mike Trout OF 620
2 Gerrit Cole SP 620
3 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 598
4 Jacob deGrom SP 594
5 Mookie Betts OF 588
6 Alex Bregman 3B/SS 584
7 Christian Yelich OF 582
8 Juan Soto OF 579
9 Francisco Lindor SS 559
10 Max Scherzer SP 559
11 Ronald Acuna Jr. OF 557
12 Nolan Arenado 3B 555
13 Shohei Ohtani SP/DH 553
14 Jose Ramirez 3B 551
15 Freddie Freeman 1B 545
16 Walker Buehler SP 542
17 Shane Bieber SP 531
18 Bryce Harper OF 529
19 Rafael Devers 3B 526
20 Anthony Rendon 3B 524
21 J.D. Martinez OF 524
22 Jack Flaherty SP 510
23 Trea Turner SS 504
24 Stephen Strasburg SP 504
25 Trevor Story SS 503
26 Zack Greinke SP 502
27 George Springer OF 498
28 Anthony Rizzo 1B 498
29 Ozzie Albies 2B 496
30 Xander Bogaerts SS 494

There are eight pitchers in the top-30 projected scorers (not counting Ohtani) with just three projected in the top-10. While comparing pitchers and hitters isn't always a straightforward relationship, it's worth noting just how much pitcher values increase when using points-above-replacement (PAR) instead of just projected points, as the composition of the top-30 changes drastically. Not only does the number of pitchers in the top-30 rise from eight players to 14 but more pitchers are projected to return near a first-round value, with four pitchers projected in the top-seven and seven in the top-15:

Rank NAME POS PAR
1 Gerrit Cole SP 301
2 Jacob deGrom SP 274
3 Mike Trout OF 257
4 Max Scherzer SP 240
5 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 235
6 Mookie Betts OF 225
7 Walker Buehler SP 222
8 Christian Yelich OF 219
9 Juan Soto OF 216
10 Shane Bieber SP 211
11 Alex Bregman 3B/SS 204
12 Ronald Acuna Jr. OF 194
13 Jack Flaherty SP 191
14 Freddie Freeman 1B 187
15 Stephen Strasburg SP 185
16 Zack Greinke SP 183
17 Nolan Arenado 3B 181
18 Francisco Lindor SS 179
19 Jose Ramirez 3B 177
20 Shohei Ohtani SP/DH 173
21 Patrick Corbin SP 171
22 Bryce Harper OF 166
23 Luis Castillo SP 165
24 J.D. Martinez OF 161
25 Justin Verlander SP 159
26 Clayton Kershaw SP 153
27 Rafael Devers 3B 152
28 Anthony Rendon 3B 150
29 Jose Berrios SP 146
30 Aaron Nola SP 144

 

Draft Plan of Attack

1. Early Pitching Storm

With as large of a gap as there is between Cole/deGrom and the rest of the top pitchers, I'm taking them over anyone besides Trout and will aim for getting two of the top-five pitchers with my first picks. This is an easily achievable goal going by CBS ADP, which is more trustworthy given that it's available specific to the format. As mentioned previously, only getting one-half point per strikeout helps shrink the gaps between pitchers the lower you go down the lists. This helps make truly elite starters the game's scarcest resource and I would likely use at least two (and possibly all three) of my first three picks on these premier arms. Having a starting duo that is some combination of Cole/deGrom/Scherzer/Buehler will be a dominating advantage in this format and I know how easily I can make up offensive value later in the draft.

2. Avalanche of Bats 

After I hit pitchers early, I'm dropping the hammer on bats for multiple rounds. While I might take an opportunity to grab a pitcher like Aaron Nola (53 ADP, 30th in PAR) or Trevor Bauer (59 ADP, 31st in PAR) to further temper my elite staff, I likely wouldn't take more than one more pitcher until after pick #100. Using PAR as my guide, I'm looking to get a round or two of surplus value with every batter I draft during this period. I'm also usually going to watch my opponents continually take players that carry projected negative-value relative to their draft price, multiplying the advantage I'll have already gained by drafting properly valued players. Some examples:

3. Pivot Back to Pitching

There are numerous pitchers going after pick 100 who project to be top-75 and top-100 players, giving me a chance to solidly my already strong pitching staff with tremendous values. Here are some examples, sorted by ADP with player ranks by CBS projected points and ATC projected PAR:

PLAYER ADP CBS Rank PAR Rank
Madison Bumgarner 105 152 66
Sonny Gray 108 172 60
Kyle Hendricks 108 119 84
Max Fried 111 187 83
German Marquez 113 133 75
Hyun-Jin Ryu 117 162 88
Eduardo Rodriguez 122 207 50
Lance Lynn 138 307 53
Matthew Boyd 166 269 100

3. Don't Forget About Relievers

This is also a good time to remember that you will need relievers (or starters with RP-eligibility) and these middle rounds are a good time to address those needs. I'm not opposed to grabbing Josh Hader (53 ADP, 35th in PAR) or Aroldis Chapman (74 ADP, 64th in PAR) in order to lock up an elite option. But the price really needs to be right, though, as their likely draft price is right in the middle of the rounds where I'm going to be looking primarily for hitters. Besides, I'm confident that there will be numerous great options available later.

Relievers to Target:

PLAYER ADP PAR Rank
Roberto Osuna 90 59
Kirby Yates 103 76
Edwin Diaz 123 96
Brad Hand 141 118
Hector Neris 149 112
Kenta Maeda 162 119
Archie Bradley 169 138
Raisel Iglesias 176 132

 

Finishing Strong

Even though you have four bench spots available, I'm probably only drafting one extra hitter. Given the shallowness of offensive roster slots, the waiver wire should stay hopping with talent all season so I won't feel much pressure to load up on backups. I'm going to spend the last rounds rounding out my pitching staff but I'll also probably still be lacking an offensive starter or two, even as late as the 15th round in what's just a 20-round draft. That's because I know I can fill out my starting roster with hidden offensive gems that will give me above-replacement value for the relative cost of pennies.

Let's close up shop today by looking at a few players like this at each position, as well as a few that will look better on someone else's team.

Outfielder

NAME ADP PAR Rank Difference
Justin Upton 151 207 -56
Franmil Reyes 175 134 +41
Byron Buxton 187 275 -88
Bryan Reynolds 191 139 +52
Aristides Aquino 193 448 -255
Oscar Mercado 204 165 +39
A.J. Pollock 208 358 -150
Nick Senzel 226 320 -94
Adam Eaton 227 153 +74
Lorenzo Cain 244 169 +75

First Base

NAME ADP PAR Rank Difference
Edwin Encarnacion 161 133 +28
Joey Votto 178 148 +30
Luke Voit 192 218 -26
Eric Hosmer 201 154 +47
Daniel Murphy 209 247 -38
Christian Walker 217 240 -23

Second Base

The keystone is very unique because it is overvalued almost completely across the board. My advice would be to just draft Ozzie Albies and be done with it but here are the first 22 players being drafted so you can see what I mean:

NAME ADP PAR Rank Difference
Jose Altuve 22 48 -26
Ketel Marte 40 47 -7
DJ LeMahieu 43 93 -50
Ozzie Albies 64 40 +24
Max Muncy 66 94 -28
Whit Merrifield 67 109 -42
Keston Hiura 90 115 -25
Jeff McNeil 108 110 -2
Eduardo Escobar 117 101 +16
Mike Moustakas 134 74 +60
Cavan Biggio 138 152 -14
Tommy Edman 146 195 -49
Starlin Castro 159 214 -55
Luis Arraez 166 231 -65
Gavin Lux 185 248 -63
Brandon Lowe 187 246 -59
Rougned Odor 190 210 -20
Ryan McMahon 205 251 -46
Michael Chavis 205 399 -194
Kolten Wong 210 276 -66
Robinson Cano 223 310 -87
Cesar Hernandez 225 192 +33

Third Base

NAME ADP PAR Rank Difference
Miguel Sano 157 198 -41
Hunter Dozier 161 252 -91
Brian Anderson 193 181 +12
Kyle Seager 223 209 +14

Shortstop

NAME ADP PAR Rank Difference
Paul DeJong 198 142 +56
Andrelton Simmons 208 285 -77
Jose Peraza 220 472 -252
Elvis Andrus 227 149 +78
Nick Ahmed 259 226 +33

Catcher

NAME ADP PAR Rank Difference
Robinson Chirinos 200 267 -67
Tom Murphy 203 316 -113
Carson Kelly 209 156 +53
Christian Vazquez 216 170 +46

Starting Pitchers

NAME ADP PAR Rank Difference
Joe Musgrove 183 125 +58
Andrew Heaney 189 135 +54
Merrill Kelly 205 334 -129
Alex Wood 206 341 -135
Homer Bailey 214 366 -152
Marco Gonzales 226 128 +98
Cole Hamels 233 350 -117
Reynaldo Lopez 249 174 +75

 

The Points Pipeline Keeps Flowing

That wraps up this edition of Break the League but we've upped the ante on points coverage here at RotoBaller and now have dedicated tools and focused analysis to help you bring home the gold in 2020. Read about our platform-specific Points League Rankers here. If you're in a CBS Points league, these rankers, which sit behind our premium wall, are essential draft tools for you.

Our premium tools include customized rankings for each platform and utilize the exclusive projections of RotoBaller's Nick Mariano (2018's most accurate MLB ranker), to calculate projected points, points-above-replacement, and per-PA rates of scoring. In the coming weeks, we'll have more and more analysis articles with the specificity you need to identify the best and worst players on your particular platforms. Stay with us, ye long-neglected points players. We come bearing gifts.

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Below you will find RotoBaller's 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, tiers and auction dollar values for the 2020 MLB season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Mixed, Head-to-Head, Points, AL/NL Only, Two-Catcher Top 2020 prospects, Dynasty leagues, Keeper values Export the rankings easily... Read More


Cincinnati Reds: Top 10 Dynasty Prospects

The Cincinnati Reds will be our next stop on the farm to evaluate the best prospects on each MLB team. Once the 2020 MLB season begins, it may turn out that Minor League systems will be more important than usual. Franchises are losing money during the pandemic layoff, so many teams will be looking for... Read More


More Recent Articles

 

Veteran RBs Set to Lose Touches in 2020

Turnover exists in all work places and the NFL is no exception. As far as professional sports go, the NFL has more turnover than the rest. Between free agency, trades, and the draft, player situations undergo significant and sometimes unexpected changes. Each year, a new crop of rookies enters the league and aging or underperforming... Read More


The Perfect 10: Drafting a Dream Team in Round 10 and Later

Derrick Jones Jr. in the 2020 Dunk Contest (Sorry, Aaron Gordon). Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci during the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Miss Davis working at the Landing Strip in Varsity Blues. Our lives are defined by perfect 10s. Thankfully, we can take this same principle and apply it to our fantasy drafts. After you’ve taken the... Read More


What Will The Rams Offense Look Like in 2020?

Remember last offseason when any person who was ever in the vicinity of the Sean McVay was receiving head coaching gigs? Rumor has it that even his plumber was called in for an interview. I mean, McVay looked like an offensive genius who had his team in the Super Bowl on his second year on... Read More


Nick Mariano's Auction Draft Strategies and Tips (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Congratulations to you and your leaguemates for electing to play in the vastly superior format that is auction-based fantasy football, where luck of the draw doesn't determine draft position. I'm not here to drone about many basic how-to's, I want to get after winning... Read More


The King's One-Man Mock (Post NFL Draft)

This is my second one-man mock exercise of 2020 and the first after the NFL Draft. I put myself in the draft chairs and minds of every owner in an advance look at the next season. With the return of play in some other sports, we can look ahead with hope to the first few... Read More


Dynasty Tiered Rankings and Analysis (Wide Receiver)

It's never too early for some fantasy football rankings, right? We here at RotoBaller firmly believe that, which is why we've already done rankings for the 2020 season. Standard. PPR. Dynasty. (Click the word "dynasty" to go see our complete dynasty rankings.) But what are rankings without some kind of context by which to understand... Read More


Assessing Dynasty Value in FFPC Startups

This is the time for dynasty leagues to plan rookie drafts and make preparations for another competitive season. But what if you're new to the dynasty world or deciding whether to dip your toe in the pool? First, you should read about Joe Nicely's experience jumping head first into a dynasty league with the sharks... Read More


Updated Dynasty Rookie Rankings: Post-NFL Draft Risers and Fallers

As the calendar begins to lean towards the summer, that tells fantasy owners to ramp up their preparations for the upcoming season. But what is on tap first for many is the rookie draft. We've been through the scouting combine, the NFL Draft has come and gone, and we know where these rookies will be... Read More


2020 IDP Rankings - Top 120 Defensive Players for Fantasy Football

Welcome back RotoBallers! Below you will find our staff's updated 2020 fantasy football rankings (top 120) for IDP formats. For those of you who are not familiar with fantasy football IDP leagues, these are formats where individual defensive players (IDP) are drafted by fantasy managers and accrue points for defensive stats like tackles, sacks, interceptions, etc. Our... Read More


Josh Hayes' 2020 Best Ball Avoids (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. The fantasy football season upon us! For those fantasy players looking to get an edge on their 2020 leagues, best ball formats are an awesome way to get an early look at where players are being drafted in terms of ADP, and which players... Read More


Nick Mariano's 2020 Late-Round Fliers (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. We’re intentionally sidestepping the term “sleeper" because I don’t want to get wrapped up in debates over these guys not being “under the radar” enough. I may still throw it into the SEO field, though...no regrets. Instead, let’s discuss some late-round fliers at running... Read More


Justin Herbert - Fantasy Football Rookie Spotlight

As fantasy football players and NFL fans, every year we get excited about the NFL draft. It is a time of hope where a franchise's luck can change for the better or for the worst. This rings especially true for the teams that decide to select a quarterback. The starting quarterback of an NFL team... Read More