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3B Draft Strategy: Tiered Rankings & What to Look For

Drafting a Third Baseman in 2014

By Cbl62 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsEach position that you need to fill is very important to the overall outcome of your fantasy team, but when drafting your team, you must consider prioritizing which positions are deepest and most shallow talent wise. I’m not saying to draft Jason Kipnis in the second round over Carlos Gonzalez just because quality outfielders can always be found, but maybe you reach on a second or third baseman before selecting a non-elite first baseman or second or third outfielder. Have a game plan in place before you draft so you have a backup plan when your coveted player gets drafted before you are on the clock.

Third base is one of the positions that is not very deep this season. While there are three or four guys on their way to the big leagues-- guys like Javier Baez, Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant and Colin Moran-- the position is not what it was a few years ago. The aforementioned prospects are players you may want to target on the waiver wire, in deep leagues or those with minor league slots. Castellanos will start the season as the Tiger’s third baseman and Baez will make his debut at some point in 2014, potentially at second, third or shortstop.


Third Base (3B) Tiered Rankings

The Studs

When setting up your draft board for an everyday third baseman, I like to first look for players who are four- or five-category players. There are usually a handful of players that can be great in four out of the five main scoring categories.  This season those players are:

  1. Adrian Beltre- Texas Rangers- Provides excellent average, runs, home runs and RBI.
  2. David Wright- New York Mets- Provides very good average, excellent runs, RBI and stolen bases (relative to his position).


Tier 2

The next tier consists of players who can fill three categories very well:

  1. Evan Longoria- Tampa Bay Rays- Provides excellent runs, home runs and RBI.
  2. Ryan Zimmerman- Washington Nationals- Provides very good runs, home runs and RBI.
  3. Josh Donaldson- Oakland Athletics- Provides very good runs, home runs, and RBI.
  4. Matt Carpenter- St. Louis Cardinals- Provides excellent runs, great average and above-average RBI.


Tier 3

The next tier I rate is the break-out and sleeper group:

  1. By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsManny Machado- Baltimore Orioles- Machado has the potential to hit all categories like David Wright, but better. He is in a friendlier ballpark and has young A-Rod-esque talent. He is recovering from a lower-body injury, though which, cautions me a little (but only a little).
  2. Brett Lawrie- Toronto Blue Jays- Lawrie is another player that can contribute well to multiple categories, but he needs to stay on the field and off the DL.
  3. Chase Headley- San Diego Padres- Headley needs to go to a different ballpark and he could be traded this season, but in San Diego he can still be a three- or four-category player based on talent alone. The team is never great around him, but I think he thrives in 2014.


Tier 4

The last group of guys to consider for your everyday 3B slot is those who can contribute to at least two categories:

  1. Pedro Alvarez- Pittsburgh Pirates- Big-time home run and RBI production.
  2. Kyle Seager- Seattle Mariners- Does an average job in all categories and is in an improved lineup.
  3. Will Middlebrooks- Boston Red Sox- Assuming he starts, expect solid home runs and RBI.
  4. Pablo Sandoval- San Francisco Giants- Slimmed down, he may be a mid-to-late-round steal, since he does an above-average job in four categories. He has to prove it to me, though. I’d buy low.
  5. Martin Prado- Arizona Diamondbacks- He is like Seager number wise. I love his multi-position eligibility: 3B, 2B, and OF.


The remainder of the third basemen available are toss-ups, and you can decide based on what you most need late in the draft. These guys usually won't kill your team, nor will they will you a championship.

If you miss out on the top three or four players, there will not be much left in the batting average and stolen base categories, but don’t worry-- there is quality depth here for 20+ home run players, as well as strong run and RBI producers. Just remember to always have a “Plan B” ready to go so you don't get caught with your pants down.


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1B Draft Strategy: What To Look For At The First Base Position

Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy for First Base

Paul Goldschmidt Arizona DiamondbacksAs most Fantasy Baseball Owners are well aware, there is plenty of depth at the first base position. With Miguel Cabrera, arguably the best fantasy baseball player alive, moving over to first base after playing the hot corner for the past few seasons, the position has gotten even deeper. There is a new crop of elite fantasy first basemen dotting the landscape which include Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman and Chris Davis. Former superstars like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez are still viable options for you on draft day, they are no longer your best options.

Every seasoned fantasy baseball manager knows what Miguel Cabrera is capable of and unless you have the first or second position in your league’s draft, the only way to get Cabrera in your lineup is via a trade.  Other than Cabrera, when I think of the prototypical fantasy first baseman I think of Paul Goldschmidt. If you want to know what you should be looking for from your starting first baseman just look at his stats from last year. He hit for a .302 BA, smacked 36 HR, hit 36 doubles, drove in 125 RBI and scored 103 runs. He compiled a .551 SLG percentage and a .952 OPS. As an added bonus he did something that almost no other first baseman does and that is steal bases. That’s right, he stole 15 bases!


What to Look for When Drafting a First Baseman

What should you look for when you are drafting your first baseman? My rule of thumb is that he should have a lifetime batting average of at least .280. My ideal first baseman regularly hits between 20 and 30 HR per season. Unless I am playing in a 16 team league someone like a James Loney is not worthy of being my primary fantasy first baseman. I expect my starting first baseman to score at least 80 runs and drive in at least 90 runs. Remember, the first base position is one of the “meat and potato” portions of your fantasy lineup, and you need a power hitting slugger who can also hit for average. There are plenty of candidates from whom to choose, which just goes to show how much behind the 8-ball you'll be if you don't get at least one of the top 10 guys.

Typically you will see top tier first basemen like Goldschmidt, Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and even Freddie Freeman chosen within the first three rounds of your draft. Middle tier first basemen like Albert Pujols or Adrian Gonzalez will likely be drafted beginning in the fourth or fifth rounds and might be available through the 6th or 7th in shallow league. Keep in mind that draft strategies in rotisserie leagues tend to lean towards picking offensive players before pitchers. In head-to-head leagues pitchers are placed at a higher premium and drafted earlier than in roto leagues.

On draft day keep an eye out for Eric Hosmer. He had a great second half last season and has breakout potential. Like Goldschmidt, he will also steal a few bases which is unusual for a first baseman.  Players like Buster Posey, Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana are valuable and eligible at first base, but they're much better off being used at your catcher spot. Allen Craig and Mark Trumbo also have multi-position eligibility and can play both first base and in the outfield and either would be a fine starting 1B if you miss out on the aforementioned players.

Even if all these players escape you, you can still find some value in the later rounds of your draft, but some of your choices may put your team at risk. For instance, can Mark Teixeira, coming back from a wrist injury that limited him to just 53 at bats last season,  regain the form and consisentency that allowed him to regularly hit 30 homeruns and drive in over 100 runs on a regular basis. How about Jose Abreu? The White Sox signed him to a lucrative contract this past offseason. Can he be as successful in the major leagues as he was in the Cuban baseball league? What type of numbers will Matt Adams put up now that he will likely be the Cardinals regular first baseman this upcoming season? Can Anthony Rizzo, who is still only 24 years old, truly breakout after a disappointing 2013 campaign? Judging from his spring stats he just might! Do Justin Morneau and Ryan Howard having anything left in the tank?  Our money is on Rizzo, Adams and Abreu having nice years where they take a big step forward.  Howerver relying on Teixeira, Howard or Morneau as your starting 1B is playing with fire.


The Corner Infielder Spot

For those of you who play in a fantasy league that features a corner infielder (CI) spot, you may want to think about filling that spot by utilizing the abundance of talent within the first base pool of players since there is such a lack of depth at the third base position. On draft day it might be best for you to pick up a third baseman in the early rounds of your draft and then take advantage of the abundance of talent at first base to fill you CI spot later in the draft. Cabrera and Encarnacion are fantastic options because they can fill either 1B or 3B and give you some nice flexibility.


First Base Options & Tiers for 2014

With all that said, here’s a brief synopsis of your fantasy first base candidates:

  • Fantasy studsMiggy, Goldschmidt, Encarncion, Davis, Votto, Freeman, Fielder
  • Former fantasy studs who still have something to offer:  Pujols, AGonz
  • Just about there: Hosmer, Craig
  • Breakout candidates that everyone already knows about: Adams, Rizzo, Belt
  • The great unknown with massive upside: Jose Abreu
  • 1B potential comeback players: Teixeira, Howard
  • They won’t kill your team but you can do better: Moss, Trumbo, Swisher, Napoli
  • You really, really could do better: Mourneau, Carter, Lind
  • They qualify at 1B but there's no way you should start them there: Posey, Mauer, Santana
  • You’re kidding me right? James Loney, Adam LaRoche, Ike Davis,  Justin Smoak, Yonder Alonso, Mark Reynolds, Garret Jones, Gaby Sanchez



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Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Which Positions Are Shallowest


Shallowest Positions for 2014 & Draft Strategy

I'll be covering the topic of position scarcity today, but more importantly I'll discussing at some length how to handle position scarcity with your draft day strategy. The concept of depth is easy to deal with: if there are five good players, then you don't need to be in a rush to take the first one. It's intuitive that depth allows a fantasy GM the luxury of waiting on a position. Scarcity, on the other hand, is more difficult to deal with conceptually. We all know that the market for starting catchers in fantasy baseball is scarce, but the relevant question is whether that scarcity justifies where the top catchers are going in drafts? Should you take Buster Posey in the fourth round because the market drops off so precipitously after the second or third catcher leaves the board? Should you take Robinson Cano in the back end of the first because of the position he plays? Those are the questions that I'll be addressing in this article, but first let's identify which positions I'd define as particularly weak this season.



By User Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "AAAA8040") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I really doubt anyone's terribly surprised by this statement, but it has to be included: there's no position in Major League Baseball with fewer fantasy-relevant options than catcher. Part of this stems from the fact that catcher is one of the few positions in baseball where teams are willing to almost altogether punt offense in favor of defense. Some of the latest research on pitch framing and catcher defense suggests that two of the best defensive catchers in the game are Chris Stewart and Jose Molina. This partly explains how those two players got so many at bats last season, even in spite of their paltry offensive offerings. Since fantasy baseball doesn't reward defensive aptitude, these skills do owners little good.

By far the biggest factor that creates such a gulf between the two or three top catchers in the game and everyone else, though, is playing time. There's no defensive position in baseball more demanding on the body than catching, and so it's no surprise that major league catchers get more rest days than other position players. This has huge implications for standard leagues, in which four of the five relevant categories are counting stats. Buster Posey got almost 70 more at bats than Salvador Perez last season, and 129 more at-bats than Wilin Rosario. There's a lot of value in those plate appearances, and that value is what helps to widen the gulf between a healthy, reliable, everyday catcher like Posey and his contemporaries. For me, the top-tier of catchers is made up of Posey, Yadier Molina and Joe Mauer. After those three, there's a fairly significant drop-off to the next tier of players, which only widens as you get deeper in the draft and start giving a player like Matt Wieters or Jason Castro a serious look.


Second Base

By Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (Ian Kinsler) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Another historically weak position, fantasy owners are accustomed by now to thinking of the 2B market in terms of scarcity. After Robinson Cano, Jason Kipnis and Dustin Pedroia, I love the upside of Matt Carpenter, but things start to look pretty grim quickly after him. Ian Kinsler is in the midst of a three-year decline, Brandon Phillips is probably the biggest regression candidate of the season in my opinion, Ben Zobrist looks to be on the downward arc of his career, and injury issues plague Chase Utley and Aaron Hill every season. That's serious concerns surrounding half of the 2B market for standard leagues right there. There are some young guys on the way, and I'm expecting fairly big things from the careers of Jedd Gyorko, Jurickson Profar and Anthony Rendon, not to mention that Brian Dozier is a big sleeper among many analysts. But for the 2014 draft, these players are much better suited to a middle infield or utility role rather than the starting 2B  job on your fantasy team. There are good things coming, but this year the market is still weak.


Third Base

By Keith Allison (Flickr: Miguel Cabrera) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Historically a deep position in fantasy circles, the 3B market is no longer what it used to be. Past the big four of Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria (who himself is surrounded by serious health questions every season) and David Wright, the market starts to drop off in talent immediately. I love Pedro Alvarez (as anyone who reads my work knows), but it's hard to argue that there isn't an enormous difference in expected production between guys the first tier and guys like Alvarez,  Kyle Seager and Ryan Zimmerman. There's more upside in these guys than you'll find in the 2B market, but the floors are also lower, and you've got to account for that on draft day. I own Pedro Alvarez in a few different leagues, but if he decides to hit .215 the first two months of the season, that'll be a deep hole to dig out of.


The Big Question: How to Respond?

By Cathy T from Washington, DC area (2ND Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

How should position scarcity affect your approach on draft day? More specifically: should you go after players at scarce positions earlier in your draft? My answer is yes and no. I do let position scarcity affect the kind of players I target in each round, at least in the sense that I'm much more likely to take Jason Kipnis than Yu Darvish in the second, because I know the pitcher that I'll be able to take later in the draft will be much closer to Darvish than a late-round 2B will be to Kipnis. Position scarcity is not, however, a justification for a fantasy owner overdrafting a player. The way to draft well to maximize value. That should be your overriding approach at the draft board, more than any other factor: find value players. For example, the fact that I think pitching is deep would never deter me from taking Clayton Kershaw in the mid-second round if by some miracle he fell to me there. Likewise, I wouldn't touch David Wright in the second round, because I don't expect him to deliver second-round value this season.

This is a big reason why, even though the position is very weak, I never touch the top three catchers in drafts. Posey in the fourth round just isn't a value. Instead, he's a burden on your team. If you look at the expected production of the players going around him in the fourth, you could have had Giancarlo Stanton, Freddie Freeman or Ian Kinsler instead. It's easy to get bogged down so much in the weakness of a single position that you forget that what wins your fantasy league is the strength of your overall team, not just your relative strength at one position.

Thus, I highly suggest following this kind of approach on draft day. Factor position scarcity into your rankings, by all means (as I said earlier, Robinson Cano wouldn't be going in the back of the first round without it). Just make sure that when you draft a player in the fourth round, you expect him to deliver similarly or better than what else is available to you at that pick. If you keep this rule in mind, you'll do well on draft day more often than not. It's certainly served me well.


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Draft Strategy: Age 27 Hitters Primed for a Breakout Season


Age 27 Hitters Primed for a Breakout Season

Any seasoned fantasy baseball owner is familiar with the legend behind the 27-year-old baseball player. It seems that many major leaguers enter their prime once they turn 27 years old, and magically reach the potential that made baseball scouts swoon over them during their minor league careers. A prospect once considered elite (until he made his debut and put up some very pedestrian numbers), is a prime example of someone who has the potential to miraculously blossom during his 27th year.

Need a couple of examples to convince you of the importance of having at least one or two 27-year-olds on your fantasy team? Josh Hamilton had never hit more than 19 home runs in a season until he slugged 32 and drove in 130 runs during the 2008 season, during which he turned 27 years old. Allen Craig was 27 years old on Opening Day in 2012, and he posted career-bests with his 22 home runs, 35 doubles and 92 RBI that year. (He has since eclipsed his RBI total from that season.)

What follows is a list of players who will be 27 years old at some point this season and who have the potential for big production. In some cases, they’ve already enjoyed some success in the major leagues but have taken a step back and need to get their careers back on track. You may know some of their names, and for the ones you don’t recognize, keep them on your radar and familiarize yourself.  Let’s have some fun with this list and examine some 27-years-olds who might just help you win your league.


Pablo Sandoval     Third Baseman    San Francisco Giants    Bats: B   Throws: R  

Height: 5'11"            Weight: 240 lb?          Born: August 11, 1986  

By Chase N. on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

You might be asking yourself why I would put Pablo Sandoval, a career .298 hitter, on a list of candidates who will have a breakout year. (If you haven’t already, take a moment to ask yourself that question; I’ll wait.) I put him on this list because Sandoval’s batting average dropped from .315 in 2011, to .283 in 2012, to .278 in 2013. Physically, Sandoval had really let himself go. Over the past few seasons, he had missed a significant amount of time due to various injuries. Lets face it, when your nicknames are “Kung Fu Panda," “Fat Ichiro” and “Round Mound of Pound,” you know it's time for you to hit the gym. To his credit, it is obvious that Sandoval has done so this past offseason, as he reportedly has lost between 30 and 42 pounds, showing up to the Giants spring training facility in exceptional shape! Statistically, he is having a phenomenal spring, and San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy has already said that he will no longer need to remove Sandoval for a defensive replacement late in games.  Sandoval is in the best shape of his career, and he will be a free agent at the end of this season. These are both huge factors that should help him return to the form that saw him hit .330, bang out 25 home runs and drive in 90 runs in 2009. Since third base is a fairly deep position, he should be available in the middle rounds of your draft. And oh yeah, there is one other thing: he is going to need a new nickname.

Projection: 575 AB, .315 AVG, 57 R, 20 HR, 85 RBI, 2 SB, .355 OBP


Jason Kipnis     Second Baseman    Cleveland Indians    Bats: L   Throws: R  

Height: 5' 11"            Weight: 190 lb            Born: April 3, 1987   

Jason Kipnis’s offensive stats have improved year after year. In 2013, Kipnis reached career highs in home runs with 17, runs batted in with 84 and doubles with 36, all while hitting a career-best .284. Coming into 2014 at the age of  27, he should be able to convert some of those doubles into home runs. If Kipnis can cut down on his strikeouts, there is also no reason that he can’t push his batting average closer to the .300 mark or drive in closer to 100 runs and still steal 30+ bases. Kipnis could be poised to have the kind of year that will result in him being on the cover of several fantasy sports magazines next season. Look for him to be chosen within the first three rounds of your draft, and even there he has upside.

Projection: 565  AB, .292, AVG, 85 R, 20 HR, 92 RBI, 35 SB, .360 OBP


Matt Wieters             Catcher           Baltimore Orioles      Bats: B   Throws: R  

Height: 6' 5"              Weight: 240 lb            Born: May 21, 1986  

Once an elite prospect, Matt Wieters has consistently provided fantasy baseball owners with 20+ homers and 80+ runs batted in over the past few seasons; however, his batting average dropped to .235 in 2013 and has been spiraling downward since the 2011 season. The silver lining for the Orioles backstop who compiled a .343 lifetime minor league batting average was his very low .247 BABIP last season, which demonstrates that some bad luck could have contributed to his hitting woes. At 27 years of age, the time is now for Wieters to fulfill the expectations of fantasy baseball managers and the scouts who expected that he would be one of the elite catchers in the game by this stage of his career. I am optimistic that Wieters will increase his walk rate and ride the wave of the 27-year-old magical mystery tour.  Expect him to be available in the middle to later rounds of your draft.

Projection: 545 AB, .252 AVG, 63 R, 21 HR, 82 RBI, 2 SB, .310 OBP


Lorenzo Cain              Outfielder       Kansas City Royals     Bats: R      Throws: R  

Height: 6' 2"             Weight: 205 lb            Born: April 13, 1986  

Lorenzo Cain is a perfect example of a 27-year-old ballplayer who is poised to have a breakout year. Although he is a great defensive outfielder,  Cain has compiled a very ordinary lifetime .266 batting average. Injuries limited his at bats last season, but on a positive note, he did finish 2013 with career highs in stolen bases (14), doubles (21) and runs (54). There are two reasons to be hopeful about Cain’s upcoming season.  Reason number one is that he is 27 years old. Reason number two is that if you look at Cain’s minor league stats, you’ll see a lot of potential. He compiled a lifetime minor league batting average of .294 and also showed flashes of above-average power and speed. Keep an eye out for Cain. You don’t need to draft him, because no one in your league will likely touch him come draft day, but you should watch him closely. You may wish to add him off of your league’s waiver wire, because this could be the season that Cain will finally actualize his potential.

Projection:  450 AB, .276 AVG, 67 R, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 15 SB, .305 OBP


Trevor Plouffe            Third Baseman           Minnesota Twins     Bats: R      Throws: R  

Height: 6' 2"             Weight: 205 lb            Born: June 15, 1986  

If anyone needs to have a breakout season, it's Trevor Plouffe.  The Minnesota 3B batted .265 with 10 home runs and 34 runs batted in during the first half of the 2013 season. Unfortunately, his offensive numbers took a dive in the second half, as he batted just .243 with four home runs and 18 runs batted. The Twins were expecting home run production closer to the 24 dingers that he hit in 2012, and just in case they feel that he can’t replicate those numbers, they have prospect Miguel Sano waiting in the wings for a possible call-up at some point. Plouffe knows that he could be fighting for his third base job, and he needs to get off to a quick start. In preparation for the battle, he came into camp with an extra 10 to 12 pounds of muscle on his frame. Keep a watchful eye on Plouffe-- he may just surprise you. If he is drafted at all, it won’t be until the later rounds of your draft.

Projection:  545 AB, .257 AVG, 59 R, 18 HR, 67 RBI, 2 SB, .313 OBP

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Draft Strategy for Keeper Leagues - Custom Fantasy Baseball Advice

The following article was written by’s team of expert analysts, in response to a question asked by one of our RotoBaller readers.  You can click here for more info if you’re interested in having RotoBaller’s experts answer a custom fantasy baseball question.


Question Submitted to RotoBaller

  • Fantasy Baseball Question: I need to pick four keepers. I'm fairly certain of three (Goldschmidt, Puig and Marte), but wanted to know what your thoughts were before choosing the last one. I'll list all of the eligible players. Please list the keepers in order for me and tell me if there's a large gap between any of the rankings. As I mentioned, I'm most interested in spots 3, 4, and 5. Goldschmidt, Utley, Andrus, Cuddyer, Marte, Granderson, Puig, Liriano, Sale.  Thanks.
  • Player Pool: Mixed
  • # of Teams: 11-13
  • League Info and Categories: 12-13 team rotisserie league with the following hitting categories: Avg, OPS, HR, R, RBI, SB, K, BB and the following pitching categories: W, ERA, WHIP, K, QS, Sv, Hld, K/BB
  • Roster Positions: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OF (4) Util, SP (3), RP(3) P(3) DL(3) Bench (5)
  • League Host: ESPN
  • Any Other League Details: Because of a glitch in the rules last year, none of these will be eligible to be kept beyond this year. Generally, we're allowed 4 keepers who are drafted in the 6th round or after. Free agent pick ups can be kept. After this year, we're only allowed to keep 4 players. 60 transaction limit, but I generally do well streaming, especially to fill in for injuries. 1600 IP limit GP limit per position (that I never run into, so it's not really relevant). Oh, and if it matters, we are likely using ESPN again, but may be moving to Yahoo if that matters.

RotoBaller Detailed Analysis

Let’s get right to the nitty-gritty of your question and try to guide you through the process of choosing your keepers.
Based on the information that you provided to us, we are going to list, in order of value, the entire list of your keepers and give you our reasoning for the four we chose based on your league’s scoring criteria.
Keeper Rankings:
1) Paul Goldschmidt
2) Chris Sale
3) Yasiel Puig
4) Starling Marte
5) Elvis Andrus
6) Michael Cuddyer
7) Curtis Granderson
8) Chase Utley
Keeper Analysis:
#1 & #2 - We don’t have to overthink why we would designate Paul Goldschmidt as the number one keeper on your squad; after all, he is only the best first baseman in all of fantasy baseball heading into 2014. Even Chris Sale at #2 is not too big of a shocker, considering the guy has averaged a 3.058 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over his first two seasons as a big-league starter. Pick No. 3 is where your list starts to get interesting, and we will focus the most time on the players listed in those slots:
Yasiel Puig - With the most raw offensive upside out of almost any outfield keeper in fantasy baseball not named Trout or Harper, this young star is a must-keep in any format that rewards offense.  Simply put, the parts of his game that make him a liability to an MLB team (or manager) are not the parts that would affect his fantasy value negatively (unless somehow his on- or off-field antics finally catch up to him). Since we are not in the business of analyzing baseball players’ personal lives to determine their future success, we have to stick to the facts (and numbers that we know) and those certainly tell us that Mr. Puig is just a stud through and through.  With a full season of MLB action ahead of him, in addition to to a potentially full season of hitting in front of Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez, we think the possibilities are sky high for the former Cuban defector.
Starling Marte - Most people would see your list and surely assume we would pick Elvis Andrus as the fourth keeper for your squad, but we have several good reasons why we strongly feel Starling Marte is your guy here. To begin with, outfield depth is shallower than most drafters assume heading into 2014. Additionally, the difference between the upper tiers of outfielders, middle tiers, and lower tiers is quite large, and the level of high end production severely falls off after the players left available in round 6 or 7 in most drafts.  The largest percentage of all fantasy baseball offense is generated from the outfield slots, so we always recommend to generally stock up wisely whenever possible.  We also have to consider potential upside in this delicate decision.  In this case, even though Elvis Andrus is still relatively young (25), he is more veteran of a player having played for several full MLB seasons, so we more or less know who he is as a player (and a fantasy baseball player). Last year was somewhat of a statistical ceiling season for Andrus as he went on a second half tear with the bat, so those who think he is a lock to improve on his numbers are in for a rather big disappointment. Yes, his stats leave him in the upper crust of fantasy SS and MI, but with a bunch of young and emerging talent at the shortstop position heading into the 2014 season, you can keep the super valuable outfielder (Marte) and target an Andrelton Simmons type of shortstop several rounds later.
The Rest - We really like the season Cuddyer put up last season (and his position flexibility in some leagues), but he does not fit the criteria of what we consider a “safe” or high upside keeper.  Curtis Granderson is coming off of a disappointing and injury filled 2013 campaign and will surely be playing with a chip on his shoulder, but given his age and the weak Mets lineup around him, we would avoid that kind of batting average liability and potential for bust moving to the NL (and a less hitter friendly home field environment) for the first time in his accomplished career.  As for Chase Utley, we simply would never recommend keeping a player who has proven to be an injury risk as he’s aged.  Missing way too much time over the past two seasons with severe knee issues has relegated Chase Utley to a more of a draft day lottery ticket, than a player that you could not live without heading into the season.
We hope that this analysis gave you the reassurance and confidence to make the best possible decision for your fantasy baseball keeper league.  Please don’t hesitate to write us back with any feedback you may have, and also check out all of our MLB preseason and fantasy baseball draft prep articles at


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Draft Strategy: Mock Draft Analysis Rounds 11-15

On Sunday, we discussed Rounds 1-5, and on Tuesday we looked at Roounds 6-10. So for the final part of my three-part mock draft series, we will take a look at how Rounds 11-15 of my first mock draft of the fantasy baseball season went. If you haven't done so already, I recommend going back and reading the first two parts of the series to really get a full view of the draft, what I was thinking with each pick, and how I tried to build my team.


Round: 11

(121) Team Temple - Will Venable RF
(122) Team Zeka - Brandon Moss 1B
(123) Team Smith - Everth Cabrera SS
(124) Team Boudreau - Mike Napoli 1B
(125) Team Baker - Jose Abreu 1B
(126) Team Ford - Michael Wacha SP
(127) Team Del - Alex Cobb SP
(128) Team wertz - Joe Nathan RP
(129) Team Jenkins - Daniel Murphy 2B
(130) Team Falcone - Hyun-Jin Ryu SP
(131) Team Neitzel - Chase Headley 3B
(132) Team Ruffo - Pablo Sandoval 3B

My pick: Everth Cabrera, Padres. Cabrera was having a breakout 2013 season as a top-five fantasy SS before his PED suspension. He was hitting for a decent average (.283) and leading the league in SB when his campaign was terminated. Additionally, the Padres offense was not as bad as it was perceived to be, and Cabrera was scoring his fair share of runs, so I was happy to get this speedster and leadoff hitter in the 11th round. If I had waited until my 12th-round pick, he almost assuredly would have been gone. I think he’ll pick up where he left off in 2013, with maybe just a tad lower batting average.

Other observations: Speaking of Padres, if Venable played anywhere but San Diego, he’d probably be going in the eighth round or so. He’s a legit 20/20 candidate again, just like he was last season in case you didn't notice, and while he’ll never hit .300, he’s a great speed/power combo in the outfield. And with the recent news of Cameron Maybin being out at least a couple months, Venable is virtually guaranteed everyday at-bats, if he wasn't already.

I also really like the Ryu pick, as he is definitely overshadowed by Kershaw and Greinke out in LA. He had an excellent rookie year, and grabbing a pitcher of his caliber in the 11th round is outstanding. Now that he has a full season of pitching in the big leagues under his belt, he’ll be more likely to stay effective as the season goes on.


Round: 12

(133) Team Ruffo - Norichika Aoki RF
(134) Team Neitzel - Julio Teheran SP
(135) Team Falcone - Brandon Belt 1B
(136) Team Jenkins - Alexei Ramirez SS
(137) Team wertz - Nelson Cruz RF
(138) Team Del - R.A. Dickey SP
(139) Team Ford - Sergio Romo RP
(140) Team Baker - Andrew Cashner SP
(141) Team Boudreau - Jeff Samardzija SP
(142) Team Smith - Salvador Perez C
(143) Team Zeka - CC Sabathia SP
(144) Team Temple - Glen Perkins RP

My pick: Salvador Perez, Royals. As I've said time and time again, I want to be one of the last owners to pick a catcher. There is just not a lot of variance between the best and the 12th-best at the position, so to me it doesn't matter if I wait until Round 12 to grab one, which is exactly what I did. Perez is a very solid hitting catcher that will probably hit around .300 but not for a ton of power, which is perfectly fine with me. I’m not looking for my catcher position to be the backbone of my team; I simply don’t want him to kill me in any one category. Perez fits the bill nicely.

Other observations: I love the Cashner pick. I am very high on him coming into this season. I think he’ll build on his brilliant second half of 2013, during which he only gave up 12 ER in all of August and September; he should put together a very good 2014. I also like the Nelson Cruz pick in this round. He’ll be a very good power hitter in the middle of the Orioles lineup, and have to opportunity to drive in a lot of runs.

I hate the Sabathia pick. CC was great for a long time, but if his name was Joe Smith and not CC Sabathia, you would look at his decline last year, quickly realizing that there’s several thousand innings on that left arm, and you would probably pass. I would much rather use this pick on something like a closer or perhaps some position-player depth. You could grab an innings-eater on a winning team in some of the last rounds, or even from the waiver wire.


Round: 13

(145) Team Temple - David Robertson RP
(146) Team Zeka - Matt Wieters C
(147) Team Smith - Jonathan Papelbon RP
(148) Team Boudreau - Wilson Ramos C
(149) Team Baker - Jedd Gyorko 2B
(150) Team Ford - Billy Hamilton CF
(151) Team Del - C.J. Wilson SP
(152) Team wertz - Curtis Granderson CF
(153) Team Jenkins - Coco Crisp CF
(154) Team Falcone - Victor Martinez DH
(155) Team Neitzel - Alfonso Soriano LF
(156) Team Ruffo - Carl Crawford LF

My pick: Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies. At this point in my draft, aside from stockpiling starting pitchers, I only needed another OF and RP to fill out my starting lineup. When it was my turn, I saw that relievers were starting to go pretty quickly, and that there were still many OF that would be available in the following several rounds, so I decided to take Papelbon and ensure that I got another bonafide closer on my roster. Papelbon’s appearances number wasn't as high in 2013 as it had been in prior years, mainly because the Phillies weren't that good, but he’s still one of the more consistent closers in the game, and he should rack up around 30 saves, if not more.

Other observations: In roto leagues, Billy Hamilton has the potential to carry you to a win your league’s SB category. With that said, generally speaking, I think he’s being way over-drafted in most leagues. At pick 150, this is a tad lower than his ADP, but it's still not great. I’m never a big fan of drafting a player who is basically a one-trick pony. Now, maybe you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, didn't you take Pedro Alvarez at your 3B several rounds ago?” Yes, you are correct, but Pedro’s power affects not only his HR, but his RBI, R and SLG/OPS numbers, which more and more leagues are starting to incorporate into their scoring, so it’s somewhat of an apples and oranges comparison, in my mind.  Alvarez contributes in multiple categories, whereas when it's all said and done, Hamilton might just give you the stolen bases


Round: 14

(157) Team Ruffo - Mark Teixeira 1B
(158) Team Neitzel - Addison Reed RP
(159) Team Falcone - Will Middlebrooks 3B
(160) Team Jenkins - Leonys Martin CF
(161) Team wertz - Jed Lowrie SS
(162) Team Del - Miguel Montero C
(163) Team Ford - Jurickson Profar 2B
(164) Team Baker - Danny Salazar SP
(165) Team Boudreau - Jim Johnson RP
(166) Team Smith - Torii Hunter RF
(167) Team Zeka - Sonny Gray SP
(168) Team Temple - Jason Grilli RP

My pick: Torii Hunter, Tigers. I was still lacking a third OF, and the fact that Hunter was still there at the 166th pick was great news for me. Hunter keeps plugging away year-in and year-out, and when you look up at the end of the season, he has a productive, workmanlike stat line. You know he’s good for about 20  HR and 80 RBI while hitting around .280. And in that Tigers’ lineup, he’ll certainly score his fair share of runs.

Other observations: I wrote about Teixeira as potentially a sleeper 1B to keep an eye on, and so in Round 14, I think he’s an excellent pick. He’ll probably hit 30 HR and drive in a fair amount of runs for the Yankees. He’s a great name to keep in mind if you miss out on some of the bigger names at 1B earlier in your draft and you want to wait on the position.

I've heard a lot about Sonny Gray and Danny Salazar and how they’re ready to shine as everyday starters in 2014. This is exactly the type of spot in a draft where you want start looking at those kind of high-upside starting pitchers. The more of them you can grab in the later rounds of your draft, the more likely that one or two of them will pan out and you’ll strike gold.


Round: 15

(169) Team Temple - Hiroki Kuroda SP
(170) Team Zeka - Xander Bogaerts 3B
(171) Team Smith - Tony Cingrani SP
(172) Team Boudreau - Andrelton Simmons SS
(173) Team Baker - Ernesto Frieri RP
(174) Team Ford - Kendrys Morales 1B
(175) Team Del - Jason Castro C
(176) Team wertz - Zack Wheeler SP
(177) Team Jenkins - Matt Garza SP
(178) Team Falcone - Grant Balfour RP
(179) Team Neitzel - Dan Haren SP
(180) Team Ruffo - Adam Lind 1B

My pick: Tony Cingrani, Reds.  I was debating this pick between Cingrani and Matt Garza. It really came down to what I'd just stated in my last paragraph. With Garza, I know who he is. There’s nothing new there that I’m going to see where he could potentially be different. He’s a decent starter, if he can stay on the mound, which is probably his biggest question mark. Sure, the change of scenery to Milwaukee might help, but I've seen enough of him. So instead, I went with Cingrani, who came into the league flying last summer and has very good potential as a near-top-of-the-rotation kind of arm, depending on how the Reds use him. His arm is live, and he proved able to get hitters out at the major league level. He’s a great upside guy to grab in Round 15.

Other observations: News coming out of Boston is that Bogaerts is the most hyped prospect to hit Fenway since Nomar. He’s listed at 3B in some leagues, but if he doesn't already have it, he’ll get SS eligibility soon as well, since that’s where he’ll be playing. Again, 3B is pretty scarce after the first few names, so if you miss out and prefer to wait at the position, Bogaerts is a great name to plant in the back of your brain. I think he’ll have a very good first full season for the Red Sox.


Rounds 1-15

After the first 15 rounds of my first mock draft of the season, here’s how my team looks:

1(3). Paul Goldschmidt- 1B

2(22). Joey Votto- UTL

3(27). Jason Kipnis- 2B

4(46). Madison Bumgarner- SP

5(51). Jose Fernandez- SP

6(70). Jason Heyward- OF

7(75). Matt Kemp- OF

8(94). Shelby Miller- SP

9(99). Pedro Alvarez- 3B

10(118). Koji Uehara- RP

11(123).  Everth Cabrera- SS

12(142). Salvador Perez- C

13(147). Jonathan Papelbon- RP

14(166). Torii Hunter- OF

15(171). Tony Cingrani- SP

In Rounds 16 and on, I wanted to grab one more OF to protect me against the Kemp injury situation, get one more RP/closer, and use the rest of my picks on high-upside starting pitchers. Assuming you are in a fairly standard OF, OF, OF, UTIL league format, there’s no need to draft a bunch of extra position players whom you can get off waivers. You’re much better off selecting as many SP as you can. If you play with MI and CI, or two UTL spots, obviously the above commentary isn't as relevant.

That’s it for my three-part mock draft series! I hope you enjoyed following along. You can find me on Twitter @rsmith9.

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Draft Strategy: Mock Draft Analysis Rounds 6-10


Mock Draft Analysis Rounds 6-10

On Sunday, I wrote about how rounds 1-5 of my mock draft went. Today, we’ll take a look at rounds 6-10 as my three-part mock draft series rolls on. If you haven't done so already, I recommend going back and reading the first part of the series to truly get a full view of the draft, what I was thinking with each pick, and how I tried to build my team.

The middle rounds of a draft are just as important as the first few picks because this is where you are able to grab the guys who could be near top-tier talents but have fallen in drafts due to injury history or perceived inadequacies.  Let’s take a look!


Round: 6

(61) Team Ruffo - Homer Bailey SP
(62) Team Neitzel - Kenley Jansen RP
(63) Team Falcone - Matt Holliday LF
(64) Team Jenkins - Brandon Phillips 2B
(65) Team wertz - Allen Craig 1B
(66) Team Del - Mark Trumbo 1B
(67) Team Ford - Joe Mauer C
(68) Team Baker - Jean Segura SS
(69) Team Boudreau - Starling Marte LF
(70) Team Smith - Jason Heyward RF
(71) Team Zeka - Zack Greinke SP
(72) Team Temple - Anibal Sanchez SP

My pick: Jason Heyward, Braves. I was really excited when Heyward was still available at the end of the sixth round for me.  After a couple of fluky injuries, an emergency appendectomy and HBP breaking his jaw derailed his 2013 season, I think he is primed for a great year in 2014. The Braves will probably hit him leadoff, where he’ll be getting on base, stealing bases and scoring a million runs. OK maybe not a million, but there’s plenty of fire power in the Braves’ lineup to drive Heyward in, probably over 100 times. He’s also got some good pop, and should be in the 20 HR range. I personally think I got a steal with Heyward at the 70th overall pick, as I believe he’ll perform more like a fourth or fifth rounder. He’s definitely falling further than he should in drafts, so he’s an outstanding sleeper candidate.

Other observations: Phillips has been very good for a long time now, but I think he’s due for a bit of tailing off. He was an RBI machine last season, in part to Shin-Soo-Choo getting on base so much in front of him. Choo is no longer in Cinci, and so I think Phillips’s RBI total could come down significantly (he had never eclipsed the 100 RBI mark prior to last season). He also stole far fewer bases in 2013 (just five), as his days of stealing 20+ bases per year appear to be long gone. All of these factors affect his overall value. Jedd Gyorko (another sleeper candidate), for example, is going three or four rounds later, and will probably finish with similar numbers as Phillips this year, if not better.


Round: 7

(73) Team Temple - Greg Holland RP
(74) Team Zeka - Wil Myers RF
(75) Team Smith - Matt Kemp CF
(76) Team Boudreau - Kyle Seager 3B
(77) Team Baker - Carlos Santana C
(78) Team Ford - Starlin Castro SS
(79) Team Del - Mike Minor SP
(80) Team wertz - Carlos Beltran RF
(81) Team Jenkins - Cole Hamels SP
(82) Team Falcone - Jose Altuve 2B
(83) Team Neitzel - Matt Cain SP
(84) Team Ruffo - Wilin Rosario C

My pick: Matt Kemp, Dodgers. Yes I agree…this is a risky pick. But it’s a pick with potentially big upside. There’s a fair chance that Kemp won’t be ready for opening day. But even so, Kemp is a great the right time in a draft. When healthy, we all know how good he is. I wouldn’t touch him before the sixth round, but at this point in the draft, I think he’s the kind of selection that could win you your league if it pans out, and if it doesn't it won’t kill you because of where you picked him. You would be smart to grab a decent fourth OF just in case though.

It’s a good guess that Kemp won’t be stealing as much this year, given his history of hamstring injuries, but I think he’s still a decent bet for 20 SB. If the Dodgers are smart, they won’t rush him back just so he can play on opening day. Even if he misses the first couple weeks of the season, he can still be a huge difference maker for fantasy teams during the year, if he stays on the field.

Other observations: I think Cain is great value at the end of the seventh round, and he should have a nice bounce back season, as last year will prove to be an anomaly.  I also think Beltran will find a good deal of success in pinstripes and will have another very solid year. It feels like the Seager pick is a couple rounds too early. There's still plenty of good starting pitching available at that spot where that pick could have been used. And unless you had some obsession with Seager in particular, at this point in the draft you could wait a couple rounds and get an equally capable 3B (maybe even Seager).


Round: 8

(85) Team Ruffo - Gio Gonzalez SP
(86) Team Neitzel - Aramis Ramirez 3B
(87) Team Falcone - Masahiro Tanaka SP
(88) Team Jenkins - James Shields SP
(89) Team wertz - Mat Latos SP
(90) Team Del - Asdrubal Cabrera SS
(91) Team Ford - Jayson Werth RF
(92) Team Baker - Aaron Hill 2B
(93) Team Boudreau - Alex Gordon LF
(94) Team Smith - Shelby Miller SP
(95) Team Zeka - J.J. Hardy SS
(96) Team Temple - Jonathan Lucroy C

My pick: Shelby Miller, Cardinals. It always happens in a draft. At least once…possibly more. One pick away from your turn and the player you want keeps falling closer to you…and then bam. Just like that he’s gone. And all of a sudden, you need to regroup in 45 seconds and go with your back up plan.

I was so close to getting Alex Gordon, my guy, until Team Boudreau ripped him from my clutches. Gordon had such an underrated, all-around season last year and I think he’ll have even a better year this year, including hitting for a higher average. I admit, I did not do a good job of having a backup plan. I got a tad flustered and ended up with Miller, who is, to be fair, a good pitcher coming off an outstanding rookie season. But I think Miller falls into a large group of “good, solid pitchers” and I could have easily waited another round or two and grabbed someone just like Miller. In hindsight, I probably would have gone with Domonic Brown with this pick, who went at the beginning of round nine (remember, I just took Kemp, so I was looking for another capable OF as insurance). But that’s what mock drafts are for - practicing under pressure!

Other observations: We should probably touch on the Tanaka pick. I think the selection at the beginning of the eighth round is pretty good value. There’s really nothing to compare him to, aside from what other Japanese pitchers have done when they've come over in the past. I’m not as high on him as others are, but I think he’ll be very good and going 87th overall seems to be a good value.

I don’t trust Aramis Ramirez at all. Productive when healthy, but he’s never healthy and aging fast. And he is apparently still having some knee troubles into spring training. I would stay away altogether and let him be someone else's headache.


Round: 9

(97) Team Temple - Jordan Zimmermann SP
(98) Team Zeka - Domonic Brown LF
(99) Team Smith - Pedro Alvarez 3B
(100) Team Boudreau - Jered Weaver SP
(101) Team Baker - Trevor Rosenthal RP
(102) Team Ford - Hisashi Iwakuma SP
(103) Team Del - Josh Hamilton RF
(104) Team wertz - Gerrit Cole SP
(105) Team Jenkins - Desmond Jennings CF
(106) Team Falcone - Doug Fister SP
(107) Team Neitzel - Kris Medlen SP
(108) Team Ruffo - Jon Lester SP

My pick: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates. You know what you’re getting with Pedro. He’ll hit a ton of bombs, but not a very high batting average. As I've alluded to in the past, 3B gets shallow very quickly after Cabrera, Beltre, Longoria, and Wright. It may have been a bit of a reach for Alvarez in round nine, but I wasn't going to be picking for another 20 picks or so, and wanted to make sure I ended up with someone decent (this turned out to be good foresight because Manny Machado, Martin Prado, and Brett Lawrie all were gone by the time my next pick came around. As the rounds go on in a draft, it becomes more acceptable to reach for certain players that fill needs, simply because of the reason I just mentioned). I’ll gladly take Pedro’s 35-40 HR and decent RBI output and deal with a BA around .250, especially in roto leagues.

Other observations: It looks as though Iwakuma won’t be available until at least mid-April. If this timetable holds true, I think this is still a good spot to grab him. The season is so long, and he’d only miss a few starts, so he would be helping your team for most of the season. And fewer innings in April could mean a fresher arm later in the year. As previously mentioned, I like the Domonic Brown pick, as I believe he’ll continue to rake in the middle of the Phillies’ order.


Round: 10

(109) Team Ruffo - Anthony Rizzo 1B
(110) Team Neitzel - Chase Utley 2B
(111) Team Falcone - Brian McCann C
(112) Team Jenkins - Michael Cuddyer RF
(113) Team wertz - Manny Machado 3B
(114) Team Del - Martin Prado 3B
(115) Team Ford - Matt Moore SP
(116) Team Baker - Billy Butler DH
(117) Team Boudreau - Brett Lawrie 3B
(118) Team Smith - Koji Uehara RP
(119) Team Zeka - Matt Adams 1B
(120) Team Temple - Shane Victorino RF

My pick: Koji Uehara, Red Sox. With a good portion of my starting position players set (I was still missing C, SS, and an OF spot) and a nice starting pitching trio, I wanted to assure myself at least one solid RP. Koji seemed like as good of a choice as any other closer that was available, so I went with him. The Red Sox should be one of the top teams in the AL again, so he’ll have a plethora of save opportunities.

Other observations: I liked a lot of the picks in this round. People have been really down on Matt Moore for some reason. I’m not one of them, as I think he has as much upside as some of the very good starters going several rounds ahead of him. He’s exceptional value in the 10th round in my opinion (115 overall). I also like the upside selection of Manny Machado in this round, even though he’s coming off a fairly significant injury. Matt Adams, who I wrote about a couple weeks ago, is an underrated 1B, and should mash in the middle of the Cardinals lineup. The 10th round for him is also a good pick up.

The Victorino pick doesn't do much for me, although he’s not a terrible choice to round out your three OF spots. But again, you could probably wait another couple rounds to get an equally sufficient OF, and use this pick to fill another need or grab an upside arm.


So to recap my total picks so far:

1(3). Paul Goldschmidt- 1B

2(22). Joey Votto- UTL

3(27). Jason Kipnis- 2B

4(46). Madison Bumgarner- SP

5(51). Jose Fernandez- SP

6(70). Jason Heyward- OF

7(75). Matt Kemp- OF

8(94). Shelby Miller- SP

9(99). Pedro Alvarez- 3B

10(118). Koji Uehara- RP

How am I doing so far? Any comments or criticisms? Check back on Thursday for the final part of my mock draft, where we will review rounds 11-15.

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Draft Strategy: Mock Draft Analysis Rounds 1-5


Mock Draft Analysis Rounds 1-5

I recently completed my first mock draft of the season. I definitely recommend that everyone who plays fantasy baseball participate in at least one mock draft prior to their real draft, and if you can do a mock draft where you’re able to draft in the same slot as you will be drafting for real (for example, by setting the options in the Draft Wizard), that’s even better.

This is Part One of my three-part series, during which I will be breaking down the draft through the first 15 rounds. Today, I’ll be examining the first five rounds, Tuesday rounds 6-10, and rounds 11-15 on Thursday. In this 12 team, 5x5 category snake draft, I was randomly slotted into the third overall pick. Let’s get into it!


Round 1

(1) Team Temple - Miguel Cabrera 3B
(2) Team Zeka - Mike Trout CF
(3) Team Smith - Paul Goldschmidt 1B
(4) Team Boudreau - Andrew McCutchen CF
(5) Team Baker - Carlos Gonzalez LF
(6) Team Ford - Hanley Ramirez SS
(7) Team Del - Chris Davis 1B
(8) Team wertz - Prince Fielder 1B
(9) Team Jenkins - Jacoby Ellsbury CF
(10) Team Falcone - Clayton Kershaw SP
(11) Team Neitzel - Edwin Encarnacion 1B
(12) Team Ruffo - Ryan Braun LF

My pick: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks. I was generally happy with my position in the third spot, because once you get past the top three picks this year, I believe that the next handful of players are all pretty much the same value. So if I don’t have a top three pick where I know I can get Trout, Cabrera or Goldschmidt, I’d much rather have a pick that’s later in the first round. Goldschmidt is the best overall first baseman, and I think there are far more productive outfielders than first basemen, which is why I went Goldy over McCutchen. He’s a great player to build my fantasy team around.

Other observations: Nothing too outlandish here. I’m fine with Cabrera over Trout first overall, especially given that the 3B position gets scarce very quickly, although I personally would go with Trout. It was interesting to see Prince Fielder go at number eight. This might be a pick or two too high for him, as I’ve seen drafts in which he has dropped all the way to the middle of the second round. But he’s in for a monster season with the move to Texas, and with both Goldschmidt and Davis off the board already, I think the pick is OK if you want to go for a 1B at #8. I also like the Braun pick at 12. It feels like people have taken the steroid stuff too far. This guy is still an elite hitter (he was a top three pick just last year), and he should produce this season.


Round 2

(13) Team Ruffo - Adam Jones CF
(14) Team Neitzel - Robinson Cano 2B
(15) Team Falcone - Adrian Beltre 3B
(16) Team Jenkins - Troy Tulowitzki SS
(17) Team wertz - Yu Darvish SP
(18) Team Del - Evan Longoria 3B
(19) Team Ford - David Wright 3B
(20) Team Baker - Bryce Harper LF
(21) Team Boudreau - Carlos Gomez CF
(22) Team Smith - Joey Votto 1B
(23) Team Zeka - Dustin Pedroia 2B
(24) Team Temple - Adam Wainwright SP

My pick: Joey Votto, Reds. In the first two rounds, I am a big proponent of taking the best position player available, regardless of his position or filling needs. That was the case with my second pick. At the end of the second round, I was quite pleased to see Votto still on the board, and I gladly took him, despite my first-round pick having been a 1B. Most leagues play with a UTIL or a CI position, and so I could plug Goldschmidt and Votto into the lineup with no issue (obviously, if your league does not play with those other positions, you probably shouldn't take a second 1B if you were in my situation). Votto’s power numbers may never consistently get to the 30+ HR level that we thought they might have a couple years ago, but he hits for a superb average, gets on base and scores a ton of runs. Additionally, having two of the top five first basemen could definitely be used to my advantage in the league.

Other observations: Again, nothing too crazy going on in this round. I’ve seen Adrian Beltre go in the first round in many expert drafts, so to get him in the second round I think is a great pick. He is as consistent as they come at the 3B position, and with Fielder now hitting behind him in the Rangers’ lineup, he should continue to mash. Cano is a clear cut 1st rounder in many drafts, so he's nice value as well. I do think #23 is a bit too early for Pedroia. He’s a great player, but a better real-life player than fantasy player. He does a lot of things well, but no one thing spectacularly. Also, given Team Zeka’s draft position, he could have waited another four picks and likely still been able to pick up Pedroia with his third round pick.


Round 3

(25) Team Temple - Cliff Lee SP
(26) Team Zeka - Freddie Freeman 1B
(27) Team Smith - Jason Kipnis 2B
(28) Team Boudreau - Ian Desmond SS
(29) Team Baker - Stephen Strasburg SP
(30) Team Ford - Shin-Soo Choo CF
(31) Team Del - Jay Bruce RF
(32) Team wertz - Yasiel Puig RF
(33) Team Jenkins - Felix Hernandez SP
(34) Team Falcone - Giancarlo Stanton RF
(35) Team Neitzel - Alex Rios RF
(36) Team Ruffo - Jose Reyes SS

My pick: Jason Kipnis, Indians. At this point in drafts, after you’ve got your two cornerstone players, it’s OK to start thinking about position scarcity and filling needs. I was contemplating either Kipnis or Desmond with this pick, but I ultimately went with Kipnis. In hindsight, I may have gone with Desmond because he is a 20/20 machine-- the SS position gets scary after the top few are gone and 2B isn’t nearly as shallow as it’s perceived to be. Either one would have been fine, so I was still happy with Kipnis. I would have taken Kipnis over Pedroia at the 2B position anyway, so needless to say, I was glad that Kipnis was still there with my pick in the third round. Despite Kipnis’s awful April in 2013, he still finished with really good numbers, and should have another great year in Cleveland.

Other observations: I’m not sure what to make of the Puig pick. I know 30 is around his ADP, but I keep going back and forth about what my expectations are. I think he’ll be good, but top-10 OF good? I’m not sure. If you take away his first 100 at-bats last year, when he hit .436, 7 HR, 16 RBI, and 19 R, his numbers were fairly pedestrian. Buyer beware…  If Stanton stays healthy, which is a huge “if”, he’ll be really good value at the end of the third round. Reyes is also a tricky proposition, as I think his body is not built for playing on the tough artificial turf. But he should be a top SS if he can play a full season.


Round 4

(37) Team Ruffo - Ian Kinsler 2B
(38) Team Neitzel - Max Scherzer SP
(39) Team Falcone - Elvis Andrus SS
(40) Team Jenkins - David Price SP
(41) Team wertz - Buster Posey C
(42) Team Del - Jose Bautista RF
(43) Team Ford - Adrian Gonzalez 1B
(44) Team Baker - Craig Kimbrel RP
(45) Team Boudreau - Hunter Pence RF
(46) Team Smith - Madison Bumgarner SP
(47) Team Zeka - Chris Sale SP
(48) Team Temple - Justin Upton LF

My pick: Madison Bumgarner, Giants. With my first three position players locked in, I began to consider pitching, especially since at the end of the fourth round, I didn’t see any huge difference makers left at the position spots. I'd been eyeing Bautista, and if he was still available at my pick, I would have taken him in a heartbeat, but unfortunately he went a few spots ahead of me. So I grabbed Bumgarner, who is a stud on the mound and a superb option to man the front end of my fantasy rotation. He’s thrown 200+ innings in each of his first three full seasons in the league, and I think he’ll be in the NL Cy Young discussion this year. I was also considering Chris Sale, who went right after my pick, as I didn’t see much difference between the two lefties. But when talking about starting pitching, I always use NL over AL as the tiebreaker, so I went with Bumgarner.

I was contemplating Upton at this spot, but he’s a very streaky hitter, and I wouldn’t want to deal with that on a weekly basis. He’s more valuable in roto leagues than head-to-head formats, since you know his numbers will be there at the end of the year.

Other observations: A daily double of my two biggest fantasy baseball pet peeves! First, the fourth round is way too early for a RP. I don’t care that it’s Kimbrel, who is hands-down the best closer in the game. The position is too volatile, and you can get 90% of Kimbrel’s value significantly later on in the draft. Unless you are in a 20-team league or have to start five RP or something crazy like that, do yourself a favor and hold off on a RP until after you’ve set up the majority of your team.

Secondly, similarly, the fourth round is way too early to select a catcher. I wrote about this, among other things, in my article about draft strategies, but it’s worth repeating: catchers equal fantasy football tight ends, in that they are all the same, except Buster Posey is nowhere near the difference maker that Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski is. Like Kimbrel, you can get 80-90% of Posey’s value much later in the draft-- to say nothing of the fact that catchers rarely play close to 162 games, and most will likely take one of every five or six games off, at least. I want to be one of the last teams in my league to draft a catcher.

Selections in the fourth round are vital to building the core of your team. Do not waste those crucial picks on players where the value many rounds later will be almost as good.


Round 5

(49) Team Temple - Eric Hosmer 1B
(50) Team Zeka - Ryan Zimmerman 3B
(51) Team Smith - Jose Fernandez SP
(52) Team Boudreau - David Ortiz DH
(53) Team Baker - Yoenis Cespedes LF
(54) Team Ford - Albert Pujols 1B
(55) Team Del - Matt Carpenter 2B
(56) Team wertz - Aroldis Chapman RP
(57) Team Jenkins - Yadier Molina C
(58) Team Falcone - Ben Zobrist 2B
(59) Team Neitzel - Josh Donaldson 3B
(60) Team Ruffo - Justin Verlander SP

My pick: Jose Fernandez, Marlins. My line of thinking going into the fifth round was similar to what it was at the end of the fourth, which makes sense because my picks were close together. I didn’t see any position player at this spot who I wouldn’t be able to get comparable value on if I waited another round or two. So I decided to go SP again. Fernandez’s rookie year was spectacular, and he should only get better moving forward as he polishes up a bit. Sure, the wins may not be there all the time given how putrid the Marlins are, but wins are somewhat hit-or-miss anyway, so I don’t think it’s a big deal (see Stephen Strasburg’s and David Price’s low 2013 win totals of eight and ten, respectively). Having Bumgarner and Fernandez at the top of my rotation is as good of a one-two punch as you can get.

Other observations: Pujols going in the middle of the fifth feels right to me. I could see someone taking a flier on him in the fourth round, but coming off such a hobbling injury and being a year older, I think he needs to prove that he's still an elite hitter before his ADP of around 50 moves back up the board. Justin Verlander with the last selection of this round (60th overall) is a fantastic pick, in my opinion. I think he will have a mini-bounceback year (his 2013 really wasn’t that bad, relatively speaking), and again put up ace-like numbers.

So to recap, here’s my team after five rounds:

1(3).  Paul Goldschmidt- 1B

2(22).  Joey Votto- UTL

3(27). Jason Kipnis- 2B

4(46). Madison Bumgarner- SP

5(51). Jose Fernandez- SP


I think this puts me in a really good position to move into the middle rounds of the draft. Check back on Tuesday to see how rounds 6-10 turned out!

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RotoBaller Draft Analysis: Best and Worst Picks of a 6x6 Keeper League Draft


RotoBaller 6x6 League Draft Analysis

After 11 days and 300 drafted players, the first season for one of the RotoBaller fantasy baseball leagues is ready to begin!  In our first season we decided on a “slow” email based draft with each player getting a maximum of two hours to pick.  The league is a 6x6 rotisserie league with OBP and holds added to the traditional five hitting and pitching statistics.  The rosters were setup with the following positions: C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, 5 OF, and a U spot for hitters with two starting pitchers, two relief pitchers and 4 utility pitcher spots.  Keeping in mind each team will keep five or six players, we will take a look at each of the first few rounds in depth along with a few late round steals and surprises. You can see the full draft results with this link.


Round 1

Best pick: Andrew McCutchenMike Trout, Miguel Cabrera

Biggest reach: Bryce Harper

My pick: Andrew McCutchen

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Andrew McCutchen") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsIt is hard to argue that Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera aren't the best pick but they are such clear cut choices for #1 and #2 overall that we will take them out of the argument.  I am going to be a bit biased on the first pick as I think getting McCutcheon with the 6th pick was an absolute steal.  Last season’s NL MVP is the consensus number three fantasy player after a 2013 season that saw him put up a .317 batting average, 97 runs, 21 home runs, 84 RBI and 27 steals.  Along with his age I think the 6th pick was a great cornerstone for my team.  As far as Harper goes, it is hard to hate a player who is just 21 years old and full of talent, however he has the worst stats of anyone else in the first round.  Last season he had just at .274 average, 11 steals and 58 RBI’s which are tough to take from your top pick.  Now that he is healthy, Harper should have a better season but I still felt it was too early to pick the budding star.


Round 2

Best pick: Ryan Braun

Biggest reach: Joe Mauer

My pick: Troy Tulowitzki

Although I didn’t like the Harper pick in round 1, the team of Gammons is God followed it up with a spectacular pick of Braun in round two.  A long suspension seems to have made many people forget that prior to last season Braun was a consensus top three fantasy player who had the ability to hit for power and average along with solid speed.  If Carlos Gomez can have another good year to protect him, Braun could again approach a season of 40 HR and 120 RBI.  The biggest stretch of the second round I thought was Mauer.  The pro-Mauer group will point out his .324 average and .404 OBP from last year which combined with his multi-position eligibility make him a solid pick.  However, as a second round pick Mauer is a huge injury concern, never having played over 146 games in a season and provides next to nothing in terms of HR and SB.  Mauer is certainly consistent but there is value further down the draft board at catcher or first base.\


Round 3

Best pick: Freddie Freeman

Biggest reach: Jason Heyward

My pick: Yu Darvish

A pair of Braves make the list in round three with Freeman being a value while Heyward was a reach.  Outside of steals, which you never get from your first basemen, Freeman is an absolute fantasy beast.  He had a sparkling .319 average along with a .396 OBP to go along with 23 homeruns and 109 RBI’s last season.  Those numbers should only go up this year if players such as Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Heyward pick up their play from last year.  Speaking of Heyward, the onetime top prospect in MLB struggled last year to a lowly .254 average and just 2 stolen bases.  Heyward did miss a chunk of time with a broken jaw last year so his numbers figure to go up slightly, but he is still prone to far too many strikeouts.  The still very young Brave could have a bust out season and be a solid keeper but the third round seemed too high.


Round 4

Best pick: Jose Fernandez

Biggest reach: Cliff Lee

My pick: Starling Marte

The picks in this round signify a passing of the guard as the young Marlin Fernandez seems to be the future, while Lee is a player soon to be on the decline.  In his rookie season last year, Fernandez was one of the lone bright spots for the Marlins where he put up a Cy Young-esque 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 187 strikeouts.  The only downside to his stellar numbers is a low wins total of 12 which has far more to do with his team then his pitching. Even if his ERA and WHIP go up a tick this year, it is almost a lock that he tops 200 strikeouts which put him in the top five of all fantasy pitchers.  Lee on the other hand is now 35 years old and is coming off of five straight years over 200 innings pitched.  His low WHIP and very good strikeout numbers have been constant, but on a poor Phillies team his win total is likely to go down and the wear on his arm may soon drive his value down the fantasy charts.


Rounds 5-10

Best pick: Matt Cain, round 8

Biggest reach: Billy Hamilton, round 6

In the next few rounds there were several solid picks but I felt getting Matt Cain this late in the draft was a huge bargain.  He is coming off of a rough season in 2013 as he had a 4.00 ERA and just 158 strikeouts which scared some owners away.  It is worth noting that prior to last season Cain has posted ERA’s of 2.89, 3.14, 2.88 and 2.79 in the four prior years while also striking out 175 or more in all of those years.  He should bounce back to similar numbers in 2014 for a good Giants club especially after putting up a great 2nd half in 2013.  On the opposite side of that, Hamilton and his ridiculous speed pushed his value way up the draft board.  Everyone knows about the Reds speed man and his potential to lead baseball in stolen bases, but has yet to be determined if he can get on base to get those steals.  For a player who likely will provide nothing in terms of HR or RBI, it is a big risk to take Hamilton this early, even in a keeper league.


Rounds 11-15

Best pick: Billy Butler, round 12

Biggest reach: Chris Carter, round 14

I felt very fortunate to get Butler in round 12 as I had not taken a first basemen prior to this round.  Butler will not wow you in any category but in 2013 he had a .289 average, 15 homeruns, 82 RBI and respectable .374 OBP.  In some formats he is only DH eligible so the fact that he is open for 1B in our league makes him a better option as well.  In complete opposition to Butler, Carter was taken two rounds later and provides huge boom or bust statistics. He has a ton of power, shown by the 29 HR last season, but in a league that has both batting average and OBP, he is a negative contributor in half of the roto categories.  If he can find a way to increase his .223 average and .320 OBP from last year he could be a good value but for a player who is likely to strike out over 200 times that is not likely going to be the case.


Rounds 16-20

Best pick: Joel Peralta, round 17

Biggest reach: Ervin Santana, round 20

With holds being one of our pitching categories, Peter Puck’s team was able to pick up the MLB holds leader for the past two seasons.  He seems entrenched in Joe Maddon’s bullpen as he put up a staggering 41 holds in 2013.  He also contributes a solid number of strikeouts for a relief pitcher and a respectable WHIP and ERA.  Santana was a bit of a gamble even at this point in the draft as he has yet to sign with a team.  What that likely means is that he will not have a full season which hurts his overall value.  Also it is generally not a good idea to pay for a career year which Santana had in 2013 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 161 strikeouts.  If Santana lands on the right team he could be a nice value, but you will need to likely wait a little whiel for his production.


Rounds 21-25

Best pick: Chris Johnson, round 23

Biggest reach: Byron Buxton. round 22

Johnson's 2013 batting average of .321 is not likely to stick, but if he can stay around .300 he should have plenty of opportunities with a ton of talent in the Atlanta lineup.  Buxton, the top prospect in baseball, is without a doubt a monster talent, however Minnesota likes to take their time with prospects meaning Buxton is unlikely to see many at bats this year.  Also since we are only keeping a limited amount of players, Buxton will likely use a roster spot for much of the season and go into next year with just as many questions about his true big league potential as he has this season.

To view the entire draft follow this link.

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Fantasy Baseball Bargain Bin: 2014 NL-Only League Value Picks

By I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following license: (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsAs drafting season is upon us, we all reach that point in the draft where we take a chance on value players. Those are the players who you can have in the later rounds but put up numbers comparable to guys taken in rounds 1-5. Think about it, last year Carlos Gomez was going in rounds 10-13 and if you pulled the trigger you would have gotten stats comparable to guys going in the second or third round. I tend to lean towards the younger guys with at least a full season in the majors under their belt because I enjoy chasing the breakout season at a low price. In the earlier rounds, I'll draft the big names who I know are more reliable and can carry my team. While there are seemingly infinite buy low options in the outfield, that isn't the case everywhere. Here is a value sleeper at each position for you to take a flier on.


Catcher: Devin Mesoraco - Cincinnati Reds

Mesoraco was a well known prospect in 2011 and has increased his power over the past couple of years. Now that Ryan Hannigan has departed Mesoraco is the unquestioned starter. He has good gap power and projected to be similar to Billy Butler when he first came up. In a good lineup like the Reds have he has potential for a breakout season in 2014.

Projections: Avg: .260, R: 60, HR: 15, RBI: 65, SB: 3


First Base: Ike Davis - New York Mets

Davis is facing a make or break season and while he has good power and potential for a good average, he must overcome the notorious slow start. Davis is in an improved lineup this season so I think that will help him a bit. Then couple that with the fact that he isn't battling an injured oblique like last season, he can be a low cost source of power.

Projections: Avg: .245, R: 76, HR: 24, RBI: 65, SB: 5


Second Base: Anthony Rendon - Washington Nationals

Rendon should win the second base job in spring training, unless he plays awful or Danny Espinosa shines. That uncertainty diminishes his value somewhat, but that's why he is in the value bin. He has very quick hands which let him use the entire field and if all things break right he can have a Matt Carpenter like breakout. Don't expect too many homeruns but average should be solid.

Projections: Avg: .285, R: 55, HR: 14, RBI: 60, SB: 10


Third Base: Nolan Arenado - Colorado Rockies

After a disappointing rookie season Arenado has a lot to live up to, but I have a lot of confidence in him to have a breakout season. Arenado has good gap power and has a habit of driving in runs through his minor league career. His glove is good enough to stay at third base so the value here could be monstrous.

Projections: Avg: .280, R: 75, HR: 20, RBI: 75, SB: 5


Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins - Philadelphia Phillies

Rollins is a player who is in slow decline, but still has value to help in multiple categories. Also, last season's statistics have gotten into enough people's head so he will fall far in the draft. I think he was a big victim of being the only bat in the lineup. When healthy, the Phillies lineup has the potential rack up runs. A big if, but if Utley, Howard, Ruiz, and Brown are healthy he should find his way closer to 2012 Rollins than 2013 Rollins.

Projections: Avg: .255, R: 65, HR: 14, RBI: 62, SB: 22


Outfield: Chris Young - New York Mets

Young will probably be available when your last roster spot needs to be filled and he may be exactly what you need. He will not hit 30 homeruns in Citi Field, but 20 homeruns and 20 stolen bases is totally realistic. He will hurt you when it comes to batting average, but he should be great value very late in the draft being that he can help in homeruns, rbis, and stolen bases.

Projections: Avg: .225, R: 60, HR: 22, RBI: 70, SB: 20


Starting Pitcher: Josh Johnson - San Diego Padres

There were not many pitchers who had a worse season than Josh Johnson's 2013 season, but I think he makes an incredible comeback with his move to the National League West. He could get you great numbers for a very late pick relatively. His strikeouts stayed on par to his career numbers so at least his ability to miss bats is still there.

Projections: W: 12, SV: 0, K: 155, ERA: 3.35, WHIP: 1.25


Relief Pitcher: Rex Brothers - Colorado Rockies

Brothers is a very dynamic relief pitcher who is the next in to close in Colorado after LaTroy Hawkins falters. He has impeccable stuff with a great strikeout ration of over 1 per inning. He could have a entrance similar to Greg Holland, but is more likely to be a cut below. Projections: W: 4, SV: 18, K: 85, ERA: 2.12, WHIP: 1.10

Good luck matching your bargain basement needs this season and here is a helpful hint before you go; keep a close eye on set up men with low WHIPs and high strikeouts, they will eventually be raking up saves on someone's team.


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Five Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategies for Non-5x5 Leagues


Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy for Non-5x5 Leagues

The time of the year has come for fantasy baseball owners to get ready for the 2014 season. That means preparing for the many different kinds of drafts that are out there and that includes head-to-head or roto leagues that include more than just the standard 5x5 batting and pitching categories. Some leagues, including a few that I play,are 7x7, 8x8 and even 10x10, with many statistics like OBP, holds and slugging percentage. With all these possible new categories to deal with, there needs to be a different draft plan put into effect.  RotoBaller has you covered with some key draft strategies for non-5x5 leagues.

1. Know the Extra Categories Coming In

There are many rookie owners who don’t take the time to look over their league's rules and stat categories before the draft. This is something that must be addressed before even beginning to rank your players for the draft. Some players get a boost because of the extra categories and others will get downgraded.  It is vital to have a clear understanding of which stat categories your league is using before you get down to business.  Baseball Monster let's you customize player rankings based on league specific categories.

2. Middle Relievers are More Important

A normal 5x5 league will see only closers get taken, with maybe a few dominant setup men as handcuffs. In a league where it is 7x7 or 8x8, holds will likely be a category in addition to saves.  That means those pitchers who come into the game in the seventh and eighth inning are just as important as those finishing the game in the ninth inning. Fantasy managers have to value relievers like Jonny Venters and Luke Gregerson, who may rack up 20 or 25 holds with dominant ratios, equal to many top tier closers.

3. Value Players Who Walk a Lot

If OBP is an extra category in your league, then finding the players who walk a lot, along with getting plenty of hits and RBI will be very important. A player like Joey Votto gets a boost because of his 135 walks last season. Shin-Soo Choo is someone to value more highly in OBP leagues, especially in his new surroundings. Take the time to look at 2013 stats and see which players might be worth drafting a round or two earlier than what would happen in a normal draft.

4. Don’t Get Crazy With Hitters

Fantasy baseball, especially 5x5 leagues, is skewed towards hitting as opposed to pitching.  In leagues with extra categories, you may run more of a risk ignoring the guys on the mound. While drafting six straight batters to begin the draft may seem like a good idea, getting a pitcher and especially a solid closer is important with the extra categories - there are more categories to address overall, so you need to make sure you're covering all your bases otherwise you'll have too much catch-up later in the draft. The plan should be to have a team that can win any category during any given week for a H2H league, or over the course of the year for roto. That means being diverse in the draft with your picks and mixing batters and pitchers more equally than you might in a 5x5 league.

5. Avoid the Category Killers

These are the players who hit. 195 and have 180 strikeouts. In a league with OBP, and K, these guys will absolutely kill you.  While players like Adam Dunn and Chris Carter are going to bring home run power to the table, and maybe even walk a lot, the fact that he helps in power categories isn’t enough to offset his batting average and strikeout numbers. There are certain players you want to avoid like the plague. It is better to find someone who can hit .245 with 10-15 steals while walking 50-60 times before taking a player like Dunn or Carter.

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Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Head-to-Head Leagues

The time to prepare for the 2014 fantasy baseball season is here, and that means getting ready for the draft. There are many different forms of drafts, from the traditional roto to points leagues and the increasingly popular head-to-head format. This article addresses getting ready for head-to-head leagues, which requires daily rosters transactions to ensure that every player on your team has is actually playing. There will always be fantasy rookies who leave a player active on a routine and scheduled night off.

Different people have different ideas on how to prepare for a draft, but there are three main strategies that should be used when participating in a head-to-head draft.  Some may seem like common sense, but in the heat of the moment, all the best laid plans go up in smoke. Here are the three things all owners should do during a head-to-head draft.


Draft Strategy: Head-to-Head Leagues


Get a Stud Pitcher in the 1st Four Rounds, but not...

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsMany people believe that loading up on offense is the way to go, but there is no reason to forget about starting pitching, especially early on. If there is a starter that you want in the first two or three rounds, go for it. The likes of Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander are nice, but they're not players that should be taken in the first round. Get a great hitter in the first and then maybe go after Kershaw, Verlander, Felix Hernandez or Yu Darvish in the second round at the earliest. Starters only help once every five days; a batter helps your roster every day.


Wait on Closers

The natural thought of grabbing Craig Kimbrel in the fifth round sounds good in theory, but there are only a select number of closers who are going to keep their jobs through the entire season. Unless there is suddenly a run on closers where every owner in front of your pick is taking one, wait until the mid to late rounds to get those pitchers. The difference between Kimbrel and Greg Holland or Jose Veras isn’t going to be great enough in the end to justify a jump of five rounds to get the elite closer. Be patient and stock up on solid starters if pitching is the name of your game.


Don’t Wait for a Run to Happen

There is going to be a point where every owner wants a certain position. It could be in the first couple of rounds or later in the draft. That’s why a savvy fantasy baseball owner will be proactive instead of reactive. If there is a player you like and your next pick isn’t coming for another 20 selections, make the move and grab that player before he is gone. It may start a run on that position, but instead of waiting for the run to happen, you started it. It makes every other owner nervous, not knowing in which direction you are going to go next.


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Draft Day Tips For The Perfect Fantasy Baseball Team


Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy for Roto Leagues

It’s officially Fantasy baseball season! While everyone shakes the snow off and begins to rejoin their leagues from last year, the countdown until draft day begins. For most teams their entire season rides on having a good draft, as picking the wrong players can ruin the year before it even starts. I have been mock drafting daily since registration opened, and have compiled a list of tips to share that will help managers properly prepare for draft day and ensure success for the 2014 fantasy season.


Mock Draft From Different Draft Slots

Billy Beane

It is pretty hard to prepare for a draft when you do not know what spot you will be drafting from. Some leagues publish the draft order beforehand, but most leave it up to a random draw on draft day. With that in mind, the best way to overcome this, especially for those in multiple leagues, is to mock draft from different spots. The benefit of this is that you can get a good idea of who will be available in what rounds (and who won’t be) as well as where you might need to sacrifice an earlier pick to guarantee that guy you really want.


Use Your Queue Properly

For most people, myself included, the Queue has always been useless. While I’m drafting, I don’t need to list the players available when they are right in front of me. However, I figured out a tip that gives a whole new way to use this tool. When looking at your board, figure out how many picks you are away from your next turn. Then, add all the players on the current board you want into the queue until you reach the number of picks it is before you. Note that they don’t have to be all above the grey line signaling your draft number. What this avoids is freezing during your turn which often leads to momentary stress and more than likely, a bad pick. It provides you a fallback option at the very least.


Add The Right Players To The UTIL Spot/Bench Spots

The last spots to fill on any starting roster are the Utility and bench spots. These are fun, and sometimes hard spots do decide who you want to roster as any hitter can be placed there. The way I usually fill them is the same way I use my bench spots for hitters, and that is with players with more than one available position. Look at players like Nick Swisher, Xander Bogaerts and Kyle Seager for what I mean. Swisher is classified as both a 1B and OF, Bogaerts SS & 3B, and Seager 2B & 3B. An additional reason why these solid players will be even more valuable is their ability to take over in case of an injury or if you make a trade. They are also flexible on those days where every player in your lineup is playing, and can be moved around to make room for somebody else.


Avoid Closers

Simply put, they are the most overrated position in fantasy baseball. Most leagues, they are only useful for one stat, saves, with exception of very few closers. Other than that, they do not make much of an impact in the ERA/WHIP categories, and only occasionally grab a win either by luck or blowing a save. I have yet to find a viable reason to draft a closer as early as Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel are projected. There is plenty of value lower down the list with Addison Reed, Rafael Soriano and Fernando Rodney. I usually break from the draft with 2/3 closers, then grab the nice waiver guys once injuries/blown saves affect the studs (see: Koji Uehara.)



Simply put, if you’re worried that your sleepers might get taken early, they probably aren’t big sleepers. They are just guys you overvalue. For example, I loved Alex Gordon going into last year, so much so that I drafted him over Jason Heyward. Not a good decision. It’s great that you do research before the draft and maybe see somebody ranked lower than they should be, but odds are your love for that player is a personal reason like you’ve seen them play and were impressed, or he is just a name player that used to be great. Nonetheless, sleepers are a great thing to have in the back of your head and target in drafts, but don’t go drafting them a whole 5 rounds early just because you can't live without them. If you draft them too early, it defeats the point of them being a sleeper!


That’s the end of my tips; I pray nobody reading this is in my own leagues. For everybody else, I hope you use this advice well and come out of your draft feeling that you made the right moves.


Follow Justin on Twitter @JustBerglund as well as @Rotoballer for all your fantasy baseball updates.

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Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy for Roto Leagues

For more fantasy baseball strategy, check out RotoBaller's Draft Day Strategy and How to Use ADP articles.


Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy for Roto Leagues

The 2014 fantasy baseball season is just around the corner and that means owners all over are preparing for their drafts. There are many different kinds of formats for fantasy baseball with points leagues and leagues that are head-to-head. The most popular and longest running would be the original rotisserie, or roto for short. Roto is the classic style where each teams stats are aggregated throughout the year and the winner of the most statistical categories takes home the bacon. Offensive positions gets just 162 games of eligibility and pitchers are only allowed to throw a certain number of combined innings.  In Roto Leagues, there are many types of strategies to employ, but for now we'll cover three of my favorites.


1. Stock Up on Stud Hitters

By Scott Slingsby from Rochester, NH (Theo Epstein, Boston Red Sox) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsThere is no doubt that when the number of games played is topped off, you need to have players who are going to play almost every day to get the best results. Also, by and large stud hitters are more predictable  and reliable than stud pitchers year in and year out. Your first four or five picks should be used on batters who are going to play between 150-160 games and accrue stats in as many categories as possible. Search for players who will produce big stats and will play all the time. Prince Fielder is a prime example of this. He has played in all but one game over the last five seasons. No need to take him out of the lineup ever, you can set it and forget it.


2. Draft Solid and High Upside Pitchers in Middle Rounds

If an owner does decide to take hitters with the first few picks, the big name pitchers are likely going to be off the board. That means finding a number of low-end No. 1 and great No. 2 starters to fill those innings up. There are only a certain number of innings to go around so picking up two or three starters in the middle rounds along with a reliever or two is the way to go. You'll want to do a good job of mixing steady pitchers with high-upside riskier picks.  Some owners will want to go all in with their offense but forget about the pitching, and others think it's ok to draft two aces in the first three rounds. Titles aren’t won with all offense and no pitching or vice versa, however, so make sure to get a nice mix of pitchers in the round 6-10 range of your draft.


3. Take Risks Sleepers with Your Final Few Picks

With the caps on games played and innings pitched in most roto leagues, having a super deep bench isn’t terribly helpful, so drafting that minor league star that could come up at midseason to make an impact is a worthwhile decision. They weren’t going to play anyway in the major leagues to begin the year so they can sit on your bench waiting for the right opportunity. It is wise to take a chance on one of them to see if they can help out a late season playoff run. There are many prospect candidates this year to warm your bench the first month or two of the season, including Javier Baez, George Springer and Archie Bradley.  Alternatively, there might be some players who missed significant time in 2013 available at the end of your draft who have a lot of upside, or other players who started to breakout last year but didn't fully catch on with most fantasy managers. The last few rounds of your draft are when you can take risks on high upside players, whether they're prospects, previously injured players, or possible breakouts.  Be sure to check out RotoBaller's ADP Comparison tool to help you find late round sleepers for your 2014 drafts.

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Top 5 Rules For Auction Leagues: Draft Strategy

Many fantasy baseball players are hesitant to use the auction format during draft season because it is an admittedly more complicated and strategically focused format than your standard snake draft. By removing the natural randomness inherent in a snake draft, having a proper fantasy draft strategy is more important than ever. This level of control over your fantasy team can be intimidating, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Keeping a few key things in mind during 2014's draft season will hopefully help you walk away from your fantasy draft pleased and excited for the coming baseball season.


Top 5 Rules For Auction League Drafts


1) Do Your Homework

A sure-fire way to have your draft end in disappointment is to walk into it not knowing what each player is worth. When the bidding on Miguel Cabrera hits $40 you need to know whether you're in or out, and in order to do that you first need to know how much Miguel Cabrera is worth in the first place.

If you're a first time auction player, I recommend using one of the auction value lists put out on the expert sites like ESPN. Constructing your own customized values can be a lot of fun, but it's also a complicated process that can take a lot of time and isn't something I'd recommend for an inexperienced player. No matter how you do it though, when you walk into your draft, you should know the players, the expectations, and most importantly the dollar values (and don't forget to bring a cheat sheet along with you with all this important information on it).


2) Avoid Tunnel Vision

One of the worst mistakes fantasy players make in auction formats is letting themselves get fixated on a particular player to the point where they'll bid anything to get him. Let's say you think Stephen Strasburg is going to have a huge 2014 and you have him valued at $25 to reflect that. You'd obviously like him on your team, but if the bidding on Strasburg hits $32 because you play in a league with a ton of National fans, you need to be okay with walking away. The worst mistake you can make is blowing too much of your budget on a certain player just because you decided that you have to have him, only to see David Price go 3 turns later for $22. At a certain price even Miguel Cabrera isn't worth owning and that's just a fact of the game.


3) If You Have to (Over) Spend, Spend On Stars

A good auction draft is a balance of looking for cheap (hopefully high-upside) value players to fill out your team and then spending big on top talent to anchor it. It never pays to be so bargain happy that you're willing to pass on top talent just because it's going at market price. Market price isn't a bad thing if the player is worth it. You'll have to spend your money on someone after all, so it might as well be for Robinson Cano, even if that means you might have to overpay by a dollar or two to get him. You don't want to be in the ugly position after all of being in a bidding war for the 8th-best second baseman in the draft because everyone better is already gone.

Note: This doesn't mean you get to ignore your auction values whenever a top 30 player gets nominated however. Putting out $33-$35 on a $30 player might be justifiable, but $40 almost certainly isn't. Like with most things you have to strike a balance, because as I said before, at a certain price even Mike Trout isn't worth owning.


4) Use Your Money

Every year I always see some guy walk away at the end of a draft with $15-$20 still unspent. While this might not seem like a big deal, not spending your total budget is just as bad as overspending on a player, if not worse. Think about what that extra $15 could have bought you at the draft. An extra $10 on your highest bid towards Mike Trout would have almost certainly won you his bidding. An extra $5 thrown at Jason Kipnis might have won you the rights to his season as well. That's a first overall pick and a top 3 second baseman you left on the table. You have money so use it. Use it wisely of course, but use it.


5) Stick To Your Plan

My last bit of advice is just to trust your plan and yourself. It's easy to panic on draft day after losing out on a couple players you might have wanted and talking yourself into abandoning your pre-draft strategies just so you can get a player, any player. Don't let that be you.


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Draft Strategy for Dynasty & Keeper Leagues: Fantasy Baseball

Today, I'll be tackling the most difficult decision a fantasy owner will have to make in the preseason: whom to keep in a competitive keeper league. Having a sound keeper strategy is just as important to contending in your league as a first-round pick will ever be, and making a mistake at this part of the game can set your team back more than one season. Just to keep things simple, I'll be assuming a standard 10-team league for this discussion, in which the cost of a keeper is forfeiting your pick in the round he was originally selected (for example, keeping Miguel Cabrera would cost a fantasy owner his first-round pick in the upcoming draft). The principles I discuss, though, are applicable to any keeper format, not just the type discussed in this article.


Draft Strategy for Dynasty & Keeper Leagues


The biggest mistake a fantasy owner will often make when selecting his or her keepers is to go for a name-brand player just because the name recognition comes with a sense of safety. Don't get me wrong-- a guy like Mike Trout who is definitely a name brand should without question be kept in every league where keeping him is an option. You always keep top-first-round talents, guys who if you chose to throw them back would probably end up on a different team next year (or who would cost you that same first-round pick to reacquire). Those are the guys you build a team around, and keeping them is virtual no-brainer.

For everyone else, fantasy owners would do well to add an extra stat in along with their projections on the player's batting average, RBI, ERA, WHIP and so on. That stat is the 'value' of the keeper. Look at the round in which you originally drafted the player (or for auction leagues, the sum you originally spent on the player), and then look at what it will cost you to hold the player, and calculate the difference. The difference between that number and the expected cost of redrafting the player if you were to throw him back is the value of your keeper. Maximizing this number allows you to effectively maximize the total talent on your team and in doing so maximize your chances of winning your league.

For example, if you had to ask me which player would have a better 2014 for fantasy purposes between Dustin Pedroia and Matt Carpenter, I'd answer Pedroia with little hesitation. He has a far more proven skill-set, better projections and the kind of track record on which you can depend. Carpenter has all the ceiling in the world, but the list of players who've come out of nowhere to have amazing fantasy seasons only to slip back into mediocrity the following year is mile long, which should put into perspective the risk that goes along with owning him next year. That said, there's no chance I would ever consider keeping Pedroia over Carpenter. The reason comes down to the relative value of the two players. Pedroia was drafted at the end of the third round in 2013, and he will go at the end of the third round this year. Carpenter, on the other hand, went largely undrafted last year (if he was drafted, he almost certainly went in the last few rounds). That means that Carpenter will cost you roughly a 25th-round pick, which is a tremendous value considering that he's likely to go around the seventh-round this year. Had you picked Pedroia, you would arguably have the better 2B, but you would have also lost the rights to your third-round pick. The player who selects Carpenter maintains that third-round pick, allowing him or her to select additional top-tier talent to pair with Matt Carpenter. Is there anyone out there who wouldn't take a pairing of Matt Carpenter and Jose Bautista over Dustin Pedroia and Corey Hart? That's what I thought.

This same principle applies to players who play different positions, or even between pitchers and position players. In every decision, it's not a matter of necessarily picking the best player, but of picking the best player after you account for the additional value that player brings to your team as a keeper. Said another way, opportunity cost is the key for selecting keepers. The cost of keeping Dustin Pedroia isn't just the third-round pick you're giving up to keep him. It includes the player whom you might have otherwise acquired in the third round had you not tossed Pedroia back into the player pool. A draft is all about maximizing your team's talent, and making sure you pick the highest valued keepers is key to this, because it lets you use those early-round picks on something else. Sometimes, it's that 'something else' that helps win you your league.

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How to Find Sleepers Deep in the Numbers: Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy

How to Find Sleepers: Fantasy Draft Strategy

Whether you play in a standard 12-team league or a super-deep-40-man-roster dynasty league, one thing remains constant. This one ever-so-important facet of fantasy sports is contrast. There are distinct personalities within your league, personal draft preparation techniques and disparities between every fantasy owner-- each owner has his or her own distinct drafting and management strategy.

The question is: what makes some fantasy owners more successful than others year-in and year-out? If your league has a trophy or plaque which gets engraved every season, wouldn’t it be nice to see your name on that glorious celebratory prize numerous times? We (the royal we) should be in chorus with a resounding, “HELL YEAH IT WOULD!” Sure, winning money is great, but the greatest part of coming together for a draft as a group every season is the camaraderie, bragging rights and overall tomfoolery that is fantasy draft day. It’s like Christmas, for adults, without all the fakeness and useless money spent.

And of course the answer to the aforementioned question of how to create a Yankee-esque dynasty of fantasy dominance is value. Finding value where other owners’ contrasting views on draft prep and management cause oversights or miscalculation can give you a solid edge. Part of it is luck-- with any fantasy sport, luck can be the corner on which you stub your proverbial toe, crumbling even the strongest team. You cannot draft for luck, just as you cannot draft for wins in H2H formats. Your instincts and your information sources are the key.  So how do we find value? First, you have to establish an average on which to base value, and from there, you establish who are the under- and over-valued players. One of my favorite metrics to look at when assessing value is wRC+ or “weighted runs created plus.” 


Using wRC+ to find Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

By SD Dirk on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Brandon Belt") [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons"Similar to OPS+, Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) measures how a player’s wRC compares with league average.  League average is 100, and every point above 100 is a percentage point above league average. For example, a 125 wRC+ means a player created 25% more runs than league average. Similarly, every point below 100 is a percentage point below league average, so a 80 wRC+ means a player created 20% fewer runs than league average. wRC+ is also park- and league-adjusted, allowing one to to compare players who played in different years, parks and leagues.  Want to know how Ted Williams compares with Albert Pujols in terms of offensive abilities?  This is your statistic." Source:

Take into consideration that walk rate plays a part in wRC+, which mean that finding under-valued players by this method will be the most beneficial in OBP leagues. However, it could be stated that players with higher walk rates and OBP typically play in the top half of the lineup, get more PA and are mostly everyday players who produce the most. Thus, one could conclude that wRC+ has merit as a predictive stat for all league formats.

We know that the MLB average wRC+ for hitters is 100. If looking for value in a list of the 2013 Overall Top 250 hitters, we want to look for a player who was drafted with a late-round ADP or low auction value whose offensive value is equal to or greater than players with much earlier ADP or higher auction amounts.

Example: This list of outfielders from 2013 ADP rankings shows great value from the 9th and 10th Rounds. Beltran, Pence and Gomez were absolute steals at this point of the draft.

2013 OF RANK PLAYER 2013 ADP 2013 wRC+
30 Josh Willingham: 109 102
31 Martin Prado 110 103
32 Shane Victorino 113 119
33 Carlos Beltran
115 132
34 Hunter Pence
121 133
35 Carlos Gomez
126 130
36 Carl Crawford 138 108
37 Angel Pagan 140 114
38 Alejandro De Aza 145 97
39 Ben Revere 149 92
40 Nick Swisher 150 116


The history of wRC+ shows that 100* is about league average overall for hitters. Hunter Pence’s 2013 ADP** had him drafted  at 125th overall, which in 12-team leagues put him in the late 10th round, right around the likes of Rickie Weeks, Salvador Perez and Miguel Montero, and behind Ike Davis, Chase Headley, Josh Willingham and Melky Cabrera, to name a few on most draft boards. These are all players that Pence handily outperformed. Pence had a wRC+ of 133* in 2013, and he carries a career average wRC+ of 117* over seven MLB seasons. What this illustrates is that he’s been above the league-average wRC for his whole career, yet the goofy outfielder is annually drafted lower than his net worth.

Conclusion: Weighing a player’s wRC+ versus his positional peers and measuring their ADP differential can be a vital tool in establishing value. T0 prove this, let's pinpoint some under-valued players coming into 2014 by looking at current 2014 ADPs** versus career-average wRC+.

Players who I think may be in the same under-valued boat as Hunter Pence for 2014:

Player 2013 NFBC ADP 2014 NFBC ADP 2013 wRC+ Positional 2013 wRC+ Rank Career wRC+ Proj wRC+(Steamer)
Jayson Werth 178.55 95.38 160 2 112.2 (10 yrs) 127
Chris Carter 321.84 223.32 113 37 125 (2) 119
Yan Gomes 650.76 215.16 131 5 131 (1) 108
Colby Rasmus 274.58 250.38 130 19 104.4 (5) 110
Brandon Belt 221.71 141 139 6 125.5 (2) 135


  • Jayson Werth when healthy (as he is now), can definitely produce a higher value than players with similar ADP. His projected 127 wRC+ would give him essentially third-round ADP production at a seventh-round price tag, and a cool hashtag #ValueOF.
  • Chris Carter is an all-or-nothing slugger, most useful in H2H formats by owners who punt batting average. Does he hold Roto value? Sure, but it is diminished by his wiffle-ball approach. Even so, if you can get an 18th round, 119 wRC+ player, you're getting ninth-round value.
  • Yan Gomes may not be an open-and-shut case due to limited service time. However, with the fifth-ranked wRC+ for all catchers from 2013, Gomes could come cheaper than he should due to skepticism. With Carlos Santana likely headed to third base, the catching duties are Gomes's in 2013, which means more PA. Currently a late-17th-round average, you could surely make hay if he copies his 130 wRC+ from 2013. I think Steamer's 108 projection is a bit conservative. I don't suggest paying higher than a 15th-round price for Gomes, however, due to the likelihood of his BABIP regression from a lofty .342 in 2013.
  • Colby Rasmus is a curious case. Over his five-year career, he has had two seasons with a 130 wRC+, one with St. Louis in 2010 and another with Toronto in 2013. Between those two 130 years are two sub-100 campaigns. This is where your gut and instincts come in to play. Your inner scout either gives Rasmus a pass on the eyeball test or it doesn't. I hope I can sway you to take a shot on him by stating that his 250.38 ADP screams value.
  • Brandon Belt may be the least appreciated asset the Giants have. This could either be due to their horrible 2013 season, because they're a small-market team, or even because of Belt's platoon role over the past few seasons. Whatever the reason, Belt had a quiet offensive breakout in 2013, producing his wRC+ mark of 139.  At 35% better than the league average, there is PLENTY of room for a two-round jump in value here. I would feel 100% confident taking him in the seventh.

I will be working on similar projects involving pitchers and may even collaborate with fellow Rotoballer Josh Bixler to assess closers and handcuffs with similar metrics.


The league average wRC+ for Outfielders only was 102*.

*Player stats, averages and numbers as well as the definition of wRC+ were sourced from

**ADP source:

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Five Draft Strategies for Fantasy Baseball Points Leagues


Five Draft Strategies for Fantasy Points Leagues

We are still several weeks away from spring training being in full swing, but don't let that make you put off your fantasy baseball draft strategy. It's never to early to start thinking about your fantasy baseball drafts.

rotoballer fantasy baseball advice larussa

While your approach shouldn't be drastically different if you’re playing in a H2H, points league or a roto league, there are definitely certain players who are more or less valuable, depending on which type of league you are in.  As spring training gets underway and opening day nears, there will be plenty of time to break down where specific players should and will go in both types of leagues. But for now, here are five general "points league" themes that you should plant in the back of your mind, so that come draft day, you will be as prepared as possible.


1.  Draft the best available hitters in early rounds

At least the first 4-5 rounds of your draft should be for the best position players left on the board at the time of your pick, regardless of their position.  Last year, I had a draft where my first EIGHT picks were position players and I selected my first pitcher, James Shields, in round 9.  I won the league. Granted, the rest of my draft went very well, as I'll touch on more in a bit, but my first several picks put me in a great spot.

There are always going to be quality starting pitchers available in the middle and later rounds of a draft, but setting your team up with a handful of bonafide stud bats will put you in a great position for the rest of your draft.

There is one exception to this rule, in my mind. If it’s your pick in the 3rd round and Kershaw is somehow still available, I would have no issue taking him at that point.  Otherwise, go with hitters early and often.


2.  Don’t over-think it with position scarcity

Sure, if Cano is available at the 6th pick, you’re probably taking him, regardless of the fact that he’s a 2B. But as we found out last year, the 2B position was not as shallow as everyone thought it was going to be, with the emergence of players like Matt Carpenter, Jedd Gyorko, and others who had unexpected, solid seasons.  The point is to take the best players available, especially early in the draft, and don’t be overly concerned with the position of a player. Now with that said, don't go and draft four first basemen with your first seven picks, or something crazy like that.


3.  Catchers = Tight Ends: They’re all the same

Please don’t draft a catcher early. It's a wasted pick.  Fantasy baseball catchers are exactly like fantasy football tight ends, except that Buster Posey is nowhere near the difference maker that Jimmy Graham or a healthy Gronk is. The difference between the best fantasy catcher and the 10th or 12th best fantasy catcher is simply not that much this year.  Let other owners reach for catchers. I want to be one of the last teams in my league to draft a catcher and I'll still end up with a Ramos type player.


4.  Wait on relief pitchers and closers

The most volatile position in fantasy baseball doesn’t warrant a pick until the later rounds. You know what I say to an owner who goes and grabs Craig Kimbrel in the 6th round and Aroldis Chapman in the 7th round?  “Thank you.” I’ll gladly take an above average position player or fill another need in those spots instead.

In one league last year, I spent the majority of the season with Edward Mujica (undrafted) and Grant Balfour (Round 16) as my closers, and grabbed Danny Farquhar off waivers for the stretch run. Don’t waste your valuable early and early-middle round picks on relievers that have a decent chance of getting hurt and/or being replaced at some point during the season. You can get similar RP production much later in the draft or off waivers.


5.  The last rounds matter, so do your research

In the same league that I referenced earlier where I went hitter heavy early, my last five picks were pitcher heavy and went as follows:

Round 19: A.J. Burnett

Round 20: Shelby Miller

Round 21: Hisashi Iwakuma

Round 22: Andrew Cashner

Round 23: Dexter Fowler

Look at the value I was able to get with those final five picks. Miller and Iwakuma were top 7 pitchers for most of the season in their respective leagues and Burnett was a durable, number 3 or 4 starter for most fantasy teams.  Cashner started slow, but I hung onto him and he was an All-Star the 2nd half of the season.  Fowler was on his way to a 20 HR, 20 SB season until he got hurt midway through the year.

Don’t just throw away or auto-draft your final few picks. Do research on sleepers and break-out candidates, and see if you can catch lightning in a bottle in the late rounds.  They can truly be difference makers.

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Having the No. 2 Pick: 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy

Last week we looked at who to draft in the #1 spot of your 2014 fantasy baseball draft. This week we look at the #2 spot.

Warmer weather will be here soon, and that means getting ready for the 2014 fantasy baseball season. Every owner needs to have a plan going into the season to be ready for every possible eventuality that could occur during the draft. This means doing several mock drafts at each spot in the order to see which players are most likely to be there when your pick arrives. I decided to do several mock drafts to try to help you along the way, and over the next few articles I will guide you through a ten-team draft and the possibilities in the first three rounds at each draft position. This article breaks down what to do if you end up with the No. 2 pick.


Round 1: Take What’s Left From Trout/Cabrera

By Keith Allison (Flickr: Miguel Cabrera) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

It is apparent that the top two picks in this draft are Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. The person who has the No. 1 pick is going to pick one of them which leaves you with the other one. It’s not a bad place to be, because you are going to get one of the top best players in the draft no matter what. The two players are basically 1A and 1B in my mind, so you can’t lose for getting either one of them. I would be picking Trout with the No. 1 pick so the second pick is likely going to be Cabrera; he will still put up big numbers even without Prince Fielder protecting him in the lineup.


Round 2: Looking For Fantasy Offense

There is a fairly long wait between that second pick and No. 19 overall, but when that pick comes, I would be looking for another power hitter or even a pitcher. Offense would outweigh the pitcher decision here, though. Some options are Adam Jones, Giancarlo Stanton, Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria. If Cabrera ends up being the No. 2 pick, third base is covered to start with. That doesn’t mean you shouldn't consider Longoria, though. I would select Jones over Stanton with this pick, because the odds are that Jones will have a bigger season than Stanton due to the strength of the offense around him.


Round 3: Time For A Fantasy Pitcher

You've got two offensive players to begin the draft, and now it’s time to get a starting pitcher with the No. 22 overall pick. Clayton Kershaw will be gone, and some other top-tier starters will likely be gone as well. This is where looking at someone like Felix Hernandez or Stephen Strasburg comes into play. Hernandez has a better offense around him this season, and Strasburg isn’t going to go 8-9 again. My decision here would go to Strasburg. I believe he will end up being better than Hernandez this season, so take him at #22. Whatever your choice, though, make sure you don’t want until the fourth round and another 16 picks to get a starter.


Next week we'll look at who to pick in the first few rounds of your 2014 fantasy baseball draft with #3 and #4 spots.

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Who To Draft 1st Overall: 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy


The start of the 2014 fantasy baseball season is getting closer and closer which means figuring out plans for your draft. Each individual plan is different, and perhaps the most important factor in developing a clear strategy is what draft pick an owner has. That’s why it is best to plan for every possible situation and work on doing mock drafts in which you start from every possible draft position. This series of articles will assist you in planning out what to do in the first three rounds of a ten-team draft from each spot in the draft order. I went and did several mock drafts to see what would happen when I was drafting all the way from first to tenth overall. I begin with the obvious (having the No. 1 pick overall), and my picks in each round.


2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep - Top 3 Rounds


Round 1: Trout or Cabrera?

By Keith Allison (Flickr: Miguel Cabrera) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

This is going to be the decision of every fantasy owner who gets lucky enough to have the first pick. It boils down to a couple of questions. Do you want a player who has all five tools and gives you stolen bases, or a player who has four tools and no stolen bases but is going to produce better numbers with the tools that he has? I would be picking Trout first overall before Cabrera because of the loss of Prince Fielder in the Detroit lineup. There will be no arguments from anyone if Cabrera is the No. 1 pick, though. It is basically 1A and 1B, but I would give Trout the slight advantage.


Round 2: More Offense or Pitching?

After that first pick, it is a long wait until the 20th overall selection. Odds are that Clayton Kershaw is off the board, as well as Justin Verlander. This means an interesting decision: if Verlander is available, then that’s the pick to make. He isn’t going to have another terrible season. If pitching isn’t your plan for the second round, a solid pick would be Bryce Harper or Fielder. Both of those players are likely going to be there, and while a Harper pick gives you two outfielders right away, you know you have two of the best to start 162 games and not have to worry about switching them out. That said, I would take Fielder.


Round 3: What You Didn’t Pick in Round 2

If you went with offense with the second round, then get a starter in the third round especially since it is 18 selections before your next pick. There is no way that many of the studs are going to be still remaining at pick 40. Go after someone like Verlander or Felix Hernandez or even Yu Darvish. If pitching was the plan with pick 20, then pick 21 can be used on someone like Fielder or Matt Kemp or even Troy Tulowitzki. There are positions where you want to reach a round or two early to get someone like shortstop. I would be selecting Darvish with this pick.

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Fantasy Baseball Advice - An Early Look at 2014 Drafts

It's the last week of baseball's regular season, and fantasy baseball is winding down, as well.  But here at RotoBaller, it’s never too early to start looking toward next season, so let's start to think about 2014's draft. Pick numbers one and two overall should come as no surprise, but who else among baseball’s elite fills out the rest of Rounds One and Two?  Who misses the cut? Let’s take a look at how these early rounds might play out next year:


Round 1

  1. Miguel Cabrera (2011)Miguel Cabrera - 3B, DET
  2. Mike Trout - OF, LAA
  3. Andrew McCutchen - OF, PIT
  4. Robinson Cano - 2B, NYY
  5. Paul Goldschmidt - 1B, ARI
  6. Edwin Encarnacion - 1B, TOR
  7. Chris Davis - 1B, BAL
  8. Hanley Ramirez - SS, LAD
  9. Clayton Kershaw - SP, LAD
  10. Carlos Gonzalez - OF, COL
  11. Troy Tulowitzki - SS, COL
  12. Joey Votto - 1B, CIN


Round 1 Analysis:  Coming off historic seasons in 2012, you had to figure that Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout would regress at least a little bit in 2013, right?  Nope.  “Miggy” may not win the Triple Crown this season-- he has Chris Davis's mopnster power production to thank for that-- but he’s actually on pace to surpass his home run and RBI totals from 2012 and finish with a batting average that is 18 points higher.  Incredibly, he would be doing so while playing in eleven fewer games.  Frankly, I’m surprised Marvel hasn't named a super-hero after him yet.  A quick look at Mike Trout’s numbers shows that he did regress a smidge in a few categories (runs, stolen bases), but please don’t misinterpret that as Trout regressing overall.  In fact, he got better in 2013 by raising his batting average, on-base percentage (by drawing more bases on balls) and slugging percentage.  Furthermore, he drove in a lot more runs when Albert Pujols was out of the lineup.  So who is number one overall pick?  Going into 2014, we will have the very same ‘Miggy vs. Trout’ debate that we had prior to our 2013 drafts.  And while debating is fun, you really can’t go wrong with either player-- both are the clear-cut top choices for picks one and two overall.

After Cabrera and Trout, I could see a half-dozen players draw consideration for pick three in the draft.  Personally, I’d go with Andrew McCutchen in that spot, who has proven himself to be “Mike Trout Lite” with comparable five-category stats.  No doubt, we will see Chris Davis go third overall in some 2014 drafts, and  Robinson Cano, Clayton Kershaw and even Hanley Ramirez will likely have their supporters.  Fun fact about Hanley: his current stats projected over a 162 game season would put him in line to finish with a .350 BA, 40 HR, 114 RBI, 20 SB and 124 R.  That’s just insane.  Of course, the concern with Hanley is and always will be his durability-- project all you like, but you can't expect that he will ever play in 150+ games.

Others who have similar durability concerns are the two guys I have going with picks #10 and #11 in Round One.  Injuries have hampered Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki in recent years, but I can’t ignore the fact each will deliver first-round production if healthy.


Round 2

  1. Red Sox 094 Jacoby EllsburyJacoby Ellsbury - OF, BOS
  2. Yu Darvish - SP, TEX
  3. Prince Fielder - 1B, DET
  4. Bryce Harper - OF, WAS
  5. Adam Jones - OF, BAL
  6. Ryan Braun - OF, MIL
  7. David Wright - 3B, NYM
  8. Jason Kipnis - 2B, CLE
  9. Jose Reyes - SS, TOR
  10. Jose Bautista - OF, TOR
  11. Adrian Beltre - 3B, TEX
  12. Carlos Gomez - OF, MIL


Round 2 Analysis: Jacoby Ellsbury kicks off Round Two, but he could well be a first-rounder if you’re willing to look past the fractured foot he suffered in early September.  Yu Darvish might surprise you as the second starting pitcher off the board over Max Scherzer, but Darvish is likely to finish the 2013 season with the second-highest strikeout total in MLB since Randy Johnson recorded 290 punch-outs as a member of the Diamondbacks in 2004.  Always give me the high strikeout guys, especially in Rotisserie leagues.  Bryce Harper might be ranked a little high for some at #16, but a healthy season in 2014 should make him a first-round lock in 2015 drafts.  He will be a perennial 40-HR guy very soon.

After Harper, Adam Jones and the ever-controversial Ryan Braun go off the board.  I’ll probably avoid Braun in 2014 drafts, but I do realize that he could provide immense value if he’s there in Round Two or later.  Perhaps I’ll change my stance on him as 2014 draws closer.

David Wright, Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista all carry some risk, but they are elite options when healthy and shouldn’t fall any further than Round Two.  Carlos Gomez might be ranked a little high for some, but you just can’t ignore the fact that he’s nearly had 20-40 seasons two years in a row.  Plus, he raised his batting average 20 points in 2013 and driven in a lot more runs with Ryan Braun out of the lineup.

Just Missed the Cut:  Max Scherzer, Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Matt Carpenter, Buster Posey, Albert Pujols

Ryan Rufe booked his first fantasy sports win at eleven years old.  He’s a RotoBaller through and through and also contributes as an MLB Beat Writer for For more from him, follow him on Twitter @RyanRufe.

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Stash Me if You Can: 2014 Keeper Options at every Position

In this piece, RotoBaller Tyler Petagine examines 2014 keeper candidates at every position, for both deep and shallow leagues.  It's an indispensable resource for keeper-league owners faced with end-of season decisions!


2014 Keeper Options

10-team Leagues or Deeper / 14-team Leagues or Deeper



2ND Wilson Ramos10T: Wilson Ramos (WAS- C) -  Ramos was hampered by injury to kick off the season, but has returned with a bang.  His solid play has earned him a full-time role for 2014, with most of his damage coming late in the season.  It's perfect timing for a player trying to redirect his career.

14T: Evan Gattis (ATL- C, OF) - "El Oso Blanco" can produce magic with the bat-- his main problem this year was opportunity.  He started off the season hot, but once starting catcher McCann came of the DL, Gattis struggled to find consistent at-bats.  Unfortunately, this is a problem that could well persist going forward, or else he would easily be ranked as a top-10 option.


First Basemen

10T: Brandon Belt (SF- 1B) - The "Baby Giraffe" has produced solid all-around numbers, but his fantasy potential has been neutralized by a weak Giants' offense.  Other than Buster Posey, there is very little lineup protection to speak of.   However, don't let this prevent you from buying into the hype.

14T: Justin Smoak (SEA- 1B) - As a former 11th overall pick, frustration has overpowered fantasy owners' patience.  It is easy to give up hope, but the fire has not been put out yet.  The "Smoak" is in the air!  17 home runs while playing half the season in a pitchers' park-- that is not too shabby.  No, really, you have to give him another chance: age-27 season is approaching.


Second Basemen

Jedd Gyorko (8742587444)10T: Jedd Gyorko (SD- 2B, 3B) - He's not a jerk, people, but that's how his name is pronounced.  Well, it's actually Jerk-O-- just like the Jello trademark, except "O" stands for offense.  Remember that.  The West Virginia product was born to rake, and I'm not talking about leaves, but baseballs.  He possesses a Dan Uggla-type profile, while offering good batting average potential.

14T: Jurickson Profar (TEX- 2B, 3B, SS) - The former number one prospect took a major hit in value: he went from being a hype-machine to the Rangers' utility man.  You could cut him some slack, as roadblocks have prevented him from becoming a starter.  But still, why would a prospect of his caliber not be starting in front of anybody?  It just doesn't make any sense, you see.  He will not be riding the pine again in 2014, you can bank on that.


Third Basemen

Will Middlebrooks (7260091178)10T: Will Middlebrooks (BOS- 3B) - The Red Sox's next big thing is Xander Bogaerts.  That is certainly true, except that there is more to the story.  Middlebrooks is also a future stud who happened to bump into the traditional sophomore slump.  Owners had lost hope early on, but Middlebrooks had a resurgent two-to-three weeks following his second promotion.  Just like Boston says "We Believe"-- you have to  believe in the young kid. Will Power!

14T: Mike Moustakas (KC- 3B) - The "Moose" has nice upside in the power department--  if you invested a top-13 round pick on him, I can feel your pain.  11 home runs does not exactly cut the cheese, nor does it make you look intelligent.  Moustakas should be able to bounce back in 2014, but if not, at least he will have Billy Butler's barbecue sauce to blame.



10T: Billy Hamilton (CIN- SS) - Hamilton is bound to lose his shortstop eligibility, but infielder or not, he is an annual steals machine. There is expectation to become the Reds' everyday center fielder and leadoff man-- and when that day finally comes, he will be valued as a top-50 player overall.

14T: Brad Miller (SEA- 2B, SS)- It is easy to associate his name with an NBA center, but  the problem is that he's only 6'2" and not 7'2".  Anyway, Miller is an underrated, steady player who does nothing particularly fancy, and lacks the sexy skillset.  He does, however, have complete middle-infield eligibility while offering a respectable batting average and productive counting stats.



10T: Starling Marte (PIT- OF) - The Pirates' center fielder of the future has all the goods-- speed, great defense, and a little pop.  For fantasy purposes, the large chunk of his value comes from his SB-production.  After suffering a wrist injury in mid-August, Marte has been unable to get back to full strength.  Nevertheless, in just under 500 at-bats, he delivered his owners gaudy SB numbers (36).

14T: Adam Eaton (ARI- OF) - Eaton was once a scorching hot preseason commodity-- there weren't too many sleeper lists on which you wouldn't find his name.  Well, despite over half his season being cut short, his abilities should never be put in doubt-- once he gets settled in over a full season, you are looking at a .280 plus hitter with 90+ R and 25+ SB upside. He's a rich man's Brett Gardner, and is only going to improve.


Starting Pitchers

Tony Cingrani 2013062510T: Tony Cingrani (CIN- SP) - There are question marks regarding his future as a starting pitcher, but his rookie numbers have been nothing short of spectacular. In 18 games started (97.1 IP), Cingrani has recorded 109 strikeouts.  If he can see a major increase in workload, 150 strikeouts shouldn't be out of reach.  This could be 2014's version of Matt Harveyand if not, you still have yourself a number three starter.

14T: Chris Archer (TB- SP) - The rookie starter was a fantasy ace for over a month's time, until the rest of the league started to cue in on his tendencies.  His late-season struggles are nothing to be concerned about; it's a natural occurrence in a young pitcher's development.  This is one of the Rays' aces of the future-- only Matt Moore could be considered a superior option, assuming Price isn't on the roster for long.


Relief Pitchers

10T: Koji Uehara (BOS- RP) - The Japanese import has been a sensation in the Boston bullpen.  He is aging at 38 years old, but playing for a full season makes him an elite option.  Since taking over the closer role in late June, Uehara has only allowed 10 hits in 38.2 IP!  That's simply unhittable, and it translates into a very useful 2014 closer.

14T: Rex Brothers (COL- RP) - Not many people realize his true upside--he might not remain the closer for the long term, but he will produce filthy numbers while he has the r0le.  You should not count on 40 plus saves nor an elite WHIP-- but as a tradeoff, Brothers offers a solid ERA and K-Rate.


Bonus- Prospect to Stash 

Oscar Taveras (STL- OF) - There is no better stash in keeper leagues.  If this stud is sitting on your waiver wire, make no hesitation.  He might not take the league away by storm next year, but you could be looking at a top-20 draft pick come 2016.  Expect Taveras to receive the same treatment Wil Myers did in 2013-- and his call-up will be equally worth the wait.



To get this article and others like it delivered to your email inbox, sign up for our newsletter.  Read the prospect reports for some guys to watch out for, and be sure to check out our daily-updated waiver wire pickup list for some free-agent gems.

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A Dynasty League Trade-off: Prospecting for Success

For seasonal league owners and in some cases for keeper league owners, the goal is always to win now. Well in dynasty leagues, however, the key to success is to take a much more patient approach.  You have to at least let your players develop; that mean it's okay if your players struggle mightily in their first few seasons. Now, that doesn't mean you can't drop scrubs or that your roster should only consist of 23-year olds. It simply means you can't expect greatness from day one.


Dynasty leagues aren't meant to be won overnight- you should understand this concept by now.  But, the beauty of playing in dynasty formats versus other kinds, is that there are more similarities to owning a baseball team in real life.  As a general manager, you can't win the World Series every year by winning free agency wars- that is unless you have a high-market team.  Just think though, most teams cannot create a winning tradition without having a quality minor-league system. It all starts with the farm, people!  Oonk oonk.


Think of your inaugural drafts- from a real life perspective, this is a free agency signing period.  They  test your perception of  long-term value, and your budgeting skills, if it's auction drafts.  Of course, in most dynasty drafts, high-end prospects get spent on, but they are rarely paid for as fair value.  This is how you can steal future superstars on the cheap.  Along with the virtue of patience, there comes a great deal of knowledge.  If fantasy players learn and study the farms, then they'll be sure to gain a significant edge over their rival owners.


There is a massive amount of prospects who need to be tracked- however, some of them are years away from becoming fantasy relevant, and some are only months away.  Yasiel Puig and Wil Myers are names which may go down in history books for years to come. They are an in-season duo with the most hype and national attention since Trout and Harper.  Why did I choose to bring them up? Well, these players are rare exceptions to the rule. First of all, not many prospects  have nearly the same talent level; plus it's extremely rare to have this type of immediate impact.  Not all MVP players or even Hall-of-Famers for that matter, became studs in their first season in the league.


When examining prospects, there are 5 key factors to take note of.

*(The last 2 factors are strongly based on speculation rather than solid evidential reasoning.)


1)-One is when their ESTIMATED TIME OF ARRIVAL is. This is key because it will allow you to pre-plan decisions for your current roster in the meantime. You will still need enough reliable options to help you in the short-term.

2)-The next factor to be aware of is ULTIMATE UPSIDE- which means, in the long-term, what kind of caliber player can prospect become?

3)-The third factor is understanding their STATISTICAL MAKEUP: so for example, what categories will a player contribute in most? This will allow you to balance your team's statistical needs, which is an even more vital proposition in roto formats.

4)- You need to anticipate a player's LEVELS OF IMPACT.  As explained earlier, players like Puig and Myers have become studs in their debut seasons.   These players are having high impacts right off the bat (pun intended), but that also doesn't mean their potential is limited. This factor overlaps the Ultimate Upside Factor to a certain degree, but you are examining a player's current impact versus when he is expected to reach his prime years (ultimate upside).

5- Lastly, owners need to have a sixth sense for predicting the future of prospects. That sense is known as DURABILITY. This is not the most valuable of the factors, since not all players are guaranteed to play over 10 seasons. But, it's at least nice to be aware of how long studs will remain productive.  Players with injury-risks or ones with physically-demanding biomechanics are more likely to have shortened careers.  These are major warning signs which need to be spotted ahead of time.

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So You're Playing for Next Year: Keeper League Values Around the Diamond

We've come to the point in the fantasy baseball season when, especially in roto leagues, it's all but clear which teams are contending for the money spots.  In keeper and dynasty formats, it's important for those teams that are out of contention to make some transactions with an eye toward next year.  This means evaluating your roster from the perspective of draft day 2014, deciding who you're going to be investing in going forward and who is not worth the trouble.  These calculations are of course entirely dependent on your league rules-- a 10-team AL-only league where you keep five players will require a different set of keepers from a 14-team mixed league with 10 keepers.  This piece will try to sort some of those 2014 values for you so you can make some of those decisions now and possibly work a deal or two to better position your roster for next year.

Today's focus will be on those players whose values have changed dramatically from the beginning of the 2013 season.  Each season, it's a fun exercise to look back at how player values have dramatically changed in the few months since April.  Each one of the players examined in this piece has seen a huge change in value, and so we've got to figure out where each will be valued on draft day.  After all, who knew that Josh Donaldson would produce Evan Longoria-esque numbers  in the first half?  Who knew that Yaisel Puig would become this year's version of Mike Trout?  Who knew that Matt Harvey would turn into a fantasy ace in his sophomore season?  These are just a few examples of the many breakout stories that will impact keeper considerations for 2014.  Just keep in mind that for shallow re-draft leagues, where owners are restricted to a low number of returnees, not all of these players will be worthy choices.

A lot of these players are sure to see a major rise in value, but the biggest question remains: which players' stat-lines have the most sustainability?  All one can do is speculate, but I now give you my biggest risers and fallers of the fantasy stock market.

Note:  2014 Draft Values are designed for 12-team leagues.



Rising Catcher: Jason Castro (HOU)

The Astros' catcher has performed as a top-10 option this year, but has somehow continued to fly under the radar. Yes, he's still the second-fiddle to Jose Altuve, but it's hard to argue with with the production Castro has provided. His BA is respectable, sitting in the .260-.270 range, but it's the HR output (13) that's been the biggest surprise. The counting stats (R, RBI) have held him back, but he is no worse than a second-tier option.  Castro still has a great amount of potential-- just don't let the "he's on a bad team" excuse get in the way of owning him.

2014 Draft Value: Top-125 player; worthy of a 10th-11th round pick.

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)


Falling Catcher: Miguel Montero (ARI)

What is wrong with the Arizona catcher? Montero was once a very reliable option, but has fallen off the fantasy landscape, and in dramatic fashion. He used to be a good source of RBI while proving a healthy BA. The D-back does have nagging injuries to blame and maybe that is the ultimate cause of his poor performance. Hopefully he can get back to the Montero of old, but we've yet to see any signs of a turnaround, and now back injuries are going to cut into his playing time for the remainder of the season.

2014 Draft Value: Top-200 player; worthy of a 16th-17th round pick.

Honorable Mention: Matt Wieters



Rising 1B: Chris Davis (BAL)

This selection should come as no surprise. The former Ranger has transformed into the one on TV shows-- he's a Power Ranger! This guy should legally change his name to "Crush." Boy, can anyone explain where the power came from? Some say it's just his first chance at a regular gig.  Davis hit an astounding 37 bombs in the first half, which was seven more than Triple-Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera.

2014 Draft Value: Top-15 player; worthy of a first-round pick to early-second-round pick.

Honorable Mention: Freddie Freeman (ATL)


Falling 1B: Albert Pujols (LAA)

The three-time MVP and former Cardinal slugger has been an extreme disappointment.  To make matters even worse, he has landed on the DL, in what could be a season-ending injury (plantar fasciitis).  For the second consecutive season, Pujols got off to a historically slow start.  But unlike last season, he was never fully able to make a solid rebound.  With the danger of a long-term injury in the works, Pujols might never again be deemed as an elite fantasy option.

2014 Draft Value: Top-100 player; worthy of an 8th- to 9th -round pick.

Honorable Mention: Billy Butler (KC)



Rising 2B: Matt Carpenter (STL)

For all you Carp owners out there, I now hand you the trophy for the "steal-of-the-draft award". Carpenter was rated lower than 300th on the preseason Yahoo player rater, but he has led all second basemen in runs scored and is ranked second in BA among qualifiers. Robinson Cano and Jason Kipnis are the only two players he has failed to outperform.  In leagues whose rules will permit Carpenter to retain his great multi-position eligibility, he has even more extended value.

2014 Draft Value: Top-40 player; worthy of a late third-round pick to fourth-round pick.

Honorable Mention: Daniel Murphy (NYM)


Falling 2B: Rickie Weeks (MIL)

Weeks has surely lived up to his name, except he forgot the 'A': "Weaks!"  Not that many owners were expecting elite production, but he has not been worth rostering in most formats.  This is a guy who is known to kill your BA, but he's supposed to make up for it with his power/speed skillset.  For whatever reason, be it motivational factors or a decline in ability, Weeks has been nothing other than a wasted fantasy product.

2014 Draft Value: Top-200 player; worthy of a 16th- to 17th-round pick.

Honorable Mention: Martin Prado (ARI)



Rising 3B: Pedro Alvarez (PIT)

I'm sure what you're probably thinking: why isn't Machado number one on the list? Well, though the Oriole phenom is deserving of attention, it is Alvarez who has come closer to a "true" breakout campaign. I believe he has fulfilled more of his potential, and for that reason, his stock has had the biggest rise.  Serving the hot corner for one of the best teams in baseball, Alvarez has emerged as one of the premier power hitters in the game. Chris Davis Lite? On the flip side, however, he is sporting a porous sub-.240 BA, which ultimately prevents him from reaching elite status.

2014 Draft Value: Top-60 Player; worthy of a late-fifth-round pick to sixth-round pick.

Honorable Mention: Manny Machado (BAL)


Falling 3B: Pablo Sandoval (SF)

Following a breakout campaign in his sophomore season, Big Panda has yet to produce more than 80+ RBI.  The once-feared power-hitter has also failed to record over 500 AB in any season.  The only good that has come from his production in recent years is his solid BA while offering a modest counting-stats combo (R, RBI).  His pedigree indicates he should be playing much better than he is.  It's time for the sandman to heat up: enter!

2014 Draft Value: Top-100 Player; worthy of an eighth-to-ninth-round pick.

Honorable Mention: Chase Headley (SD)



Rising SS:  Jean Segura (MIL)

The rookie speedster was a highly tabbed preseason prospect, for sure. But how many owners honestly believed this he would turn into anything more than a second-string option? Not many. If you happened to draft him with lofty expectations, I give you a ton of credit for a job well done. Segura has lived up to the hype by putting his high-end speed on full display. He has led all shortstops in stolen bases, with the exception of suspended Everth Cabrera.  However, the most impressive aspect of Segura's stat line is the power numbers, as he ranks fourth among qualifiers in HR and seventh in RBI.  Considering all of the many underachieving shortstops, Segura makes a strong case for an early-round selection.

2014 Draft Value: Top-40 Player; worthy of an early-third-round pick to fourth-round pick.

Honorable Mention: Everth Cabrera (SD)


Falling SS: Jimmy Rollins (PHI)

Rollins, a.k.a. J-Roll, has long been considered a 10-30 threat, but that seems to have changed.  One thing to take note: he clearly does not have the same lineup protection he's had in year's past.  Core Phillies Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have not been at full-strength. And in that environment, Rollins's statistical upside is extremely limited. Unless he can find a change of scenery, it will be difficult for him to regain his relevancy.  Also remember that age might finally be taking it's toll. Rollins will turn 35 in November.

2014 Draft Value: Top-175 player; worthy of a 13th- to 14th-round pick.

Honorable Mention: Alcides Escobar (KC)



Rising OF: Carlos Gomez (MIL)

Also known by fantasy gurus as "Cargo-Lite", this version of Cargo has surprisingly been performing as a top-five outfielder. Throughout his career, Gomez has often flashed 20-20 potential, but he has consistently failed to reach the 20-HR plateau.  There were a fair share of Gomez doubters, as most of them were reluctant to believe in last year's power surge. In 2012, Gomez hit a career-high 19 home runs after posting a career average of 5.75 in his four seasons prior. As a well-polished HR/SB producer, Gomez has turned into the fantasy stud he was always capable of becoming.

2014 Draft Value: Top-30 player; worthy of an early second-round pick to third-round pick.

Honorable Mention: Starling Marte (PIT)


Falling OF: Josh Hamilton (LAA)

The former Ranger and reigning MVP-candidate has taken a much lighter approach at the plate.  When a career .294 hitter is batting under .230, it makes you wonder whether something is seriously wrong. The most concerning stat is Hamilton's strikeout rate of 27.8%, which is by far the highest of his career.  While he is still capable of performing well over the final two months of the season, it is hard to trust Hamilton for the long term. His injury risk still plays a huge factor into his value. Playing in his age-32 season, Hamilton has only recorded three 500-AB seasons in his six-year career.  As for this year, he needs at least another 100 AB to reach the 500 mark.

2014 Draft Value: Top-60 Player; worthy of a late-fifth-round pick to sixth-round pick

Honorable Mention: Matt Kemp (LAD)



Rising SP: Max Scherzer (DET)

As Fox Sports' broadcaster, Tim McCarver predicted, Max Scherzer is well on his way to claiming the A.L. Cy Young Award.  He would become the second Detroit Tiger in the last three years to accomplish the feat.  Scherzer has long been considered an elite strikeout artist, but he has finally become an all-around pitcher.  It was the 2012 season that was his true breakout year. The right-hander struck out 231 batters in 187.2 IP, building on his career high of 184 (2010).  This season is simply an extension of his breakout performance and confirmation that he is among the elite class of starters.  Scherzer's success this season can mostly be attributed to his improved control.  He currently holds a walk-rate of 2.0 per 9 IP, which is by far the lowest of his career.

2014 Draft Value: Top-15 Player; worthy of a first-round to early-second-round pick

Honorable Mention: Patrick Corbin (ARI)


Falling SP: C.C. Sabathia (NYY)

The Yankees' ace was expected to continue his reign as an elite starter. Unfortunately, he has struggled to find much success.  Many believe that Sabathia's offseason weight-loss is the biggest underlying factor. This reasoning may seem a bit  illogical, but his reduced body mass could have a direct correlation with his pitch velocity.  His fastball sits in the 90-91 mph range, rather than the 93-95 mph range that we've been accustomed to.  His strikeout rate has surprisingly been compatible with career norms, but his H/9 is at a career high (9.9).  Sabathia should not be written off as a third or fourth SP, but it's hard to rely on him being a fantasy ace.

2014 Draft Value: Top-75 Player; worthy of a 6th-round pick to 7th-round pick

Honorable Mention: R.A. Dickey (TOR)



Rising RP: Greg Holland (KC)

With all closers, much of their value is derived from opportunity rather than performance. In Holland's case, however, he has both factors strongly on his side. While playing for a team winning a lot of close games, he has also managed to produce elite peripherals.  Out of the top-10 saves leaders, Holland ranks fourth in ERA (1.67) and is tied for 5th in WHIP (0.93).  The Royals' closer also possesses elite strikeout numbers, as he is striking out 1.58 batters per inning.  For owners who miss out on the  Kimbrels and Chapmans of the world, Holland makes for the perfect consolation prize-- he will provide similar strikeout rates and his draft value will come at a much cheaper price.

2014 Draft Value: Top-75 Player; worthy of a sixth-round to seventh-round pick

Honorable Mention: Kenley Jansen (LAD)


Falling Relief Pitcher:  Huston Street (SD)

The veteran closer provides reliable peripherals, but his ownership comes with extreme injury risk.  Street can usually be counted on as a mainstream closer option, but when can anyone ever count on his health? Even at the age of 29, he appears to be turning into fragile glass.  Since 2009, he has not recorded a season with more than 60 IP, with 24 being his average saves count.  His productivity has remained steady this season, but his career-low strikeout rate of 6.9 is a major cause for concern.  The Padres only have Street under contract for another season, so his continuation as a closer has to be questioned.   Owners would be wise to not highly invest in an injury-riddled player with a very uncertain future.

2014 Draft Value: Top-200 Player; worthy of a 16th-round to 17th-round pick

Honorable Mention: Tom Wilhelmsen (SEA)


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Fantasy Baseball Strategy: Make Smarter Moves and Maximize your Value

As the calendar gets ready to turn to August, the stretch run is coming into sight.  Rotisserie fantasy owners must look at where they'll be able to pick up ground in their leagues and where they have room to give. The concept is simple but very often overlooked. Not all fantasy stats (HR, R, K, etc.) are created equal, and being able to understand your standings can be the difference between taking home your league’s title and ending up as the beer boy for the following year’s draft (see: A hard analysis can sometimes lead to the realization that you don't need to get even value in a trade-- accepting a lesser player who can gain you more points mught be the better option.

As an example, take a look at the following league's standings. We'll keep it simple and pretend this league only uses hitting stats, but you can and should expand this analysis for all categories. Remember, first place in runs is just as valuable as first place in saves so you want to get the whole picture.































R HR RBI SB Avg Total




































At first glance you might say it will just be some luck to see who has a hot finish to the year in to determine who will win this league, but I'd have to disagree. There are probably just four teams in the hunt (B would need some real magic), but I would prefer to be Team C currently in fourth place if I had my choice, because they could easily jump to 21 or 22 points while the other teams would all struggle to get above 20. Teams A, D and E are all tied at 16 points with C just behind at 15, but fantasy baseball stats aren't quite as linear as the real life version. Put another way, while it's true each HR your fantasy team hits will tally equally a HR, R, RBI and improve your average, what really matters is how each of those stats accumulate and compare to the other teams in your league.

Without looking at the entire roster, it's clear that Team C is short in the power department, but how bad are they really? It's unrealistic to imagine that they'll catch Team A, but a small power surge could move them from fifth to second fairly quickly and net the team three fantasy points. The same logic applies in the RBI department, too, where Team C could easily pick up three points. In the other categories, Team C has a huge lead in runs and they are grouped at the very top of stolen bases.  With the big lead in the runs department, it's very unlikely Team C is going to give up any ground there, and while they could gain a fantasy point in SB, it's unlikely they would give up any points and finish worse than second.  And finally, Team C is basically by itself in batting average where it would take something significant for them to move up or down there.Just to reiterate: Team C currently sits at 15, but could easily gain six (three in HR, three in RBI) or seven (if gain one more in SBs) fantasy points.

Again, without looking at the rosters, there's a pretty good chance Team C has a few guys like Matt Carpenter, Jacoby Ellsbury, Starling Marte and Everth Cabrera, which has helped build their lead in runs and SB, but it's come at the expense of power production. They could stay the course and hope to find some power on the waiver wire, but at their current pace, they're going to end the season with a GIANT lead in runs. To put it nicely, that's just plain dumb, because the goal should be to finish first in every category by 1 run, 1 SB, 1 HR, 1 point of batting average, etc., since the incremental value of each run or RBI you finish above the team behind you is precisely zero.

Let's fast-forward to the end of the season.  Team C finishes with 850 runs (first in the category), and the next closest team has 700. In HR, Team C finished last with 100, but the team that got second in HR had 110. Objectively, Team C "wasted" 149 runs, because they could have used the players that generated these runs to trade for players that generated power which would have gained them three actual fantasy points.  With the goal being to maximize fantasy points, Team C could have realized its excess of runs and identified a power bat to trade for. Even if this meant accepting a trade that resulted in 100 fewer runs but 11 additional HR (this would seem like an awful idea in most circumstances) and "losing the trade" in a vacuum, it would actually net the team three fantasy points by moving up in HR from fifth to second (and could potentially have a similar impact on RBI) without costing any points at all in the runs category.  To provide context, rarely would I trade Jacoby Ellsbury for Adam Dunn, but it could actually make sense under the right circumstances at this point in the season.

You can take this logic to the next level by looking at what other teams need to gain points, too. In doing so, there may be times when there's some logic to "keeping" stats on your team to prevent another team from having them and gaining ground on you (think of this as a defensive strategy). Conversely, there may be times when you see the person you're competing with for first place has a very slim lead in a category, and you can trade a player to a team who's out of the running but that can steal a point from the team you really care about by allowing them to overtake your direct adversary in a specific category (think of this as a sabotage strategy).

Remember, this logic should be applied across your entire standings, because though you might have an excess of saves, picking up extra steals could put your team over the top. Even if it costs you a point in one category, you should be willing to sacrifice that to pick up three or four elsewhere.  You’re always better off working smarter rather than harder.


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Fantasy Baseball Musings: Against Streaming, or In Defense of Averages

I don’t know if a tool to thwart this madness exists, but for the sake of parity I would love to see one implemented. If you know of one, especially on Yahoo!, please yell at me, pronto.

Otherwise, stand up and scream if you are in a points league and you detest pitcher “streaming.”

There’sClayton Kershaw 2010 (1) nothing worse than having a solid team that scores 400+ points in a  week and follows it up with 285 the next due to pitching rotations that are out of your control. Worse still is to lead the league in points scored, but find yourself two games behind the win/loss leader.

Fantasy geeks unite! We need to take a stand!  And that stand is manifest in the elegantly simple yet highly effective mathematical tool known as the Average. We play our game in a world that averages everything, so I can think of no reason why we can’t do this...

My proposition is simple: In points leagues, where some pitchers throw twice in one week, the average points earned for those pitcher should be the weekly harvest for his owner. Example: If Matt Harvey pitches on Monday and scores 24 points and then adds 26 on Saturday, under my suggestion his composite score for the week is 25 points. The team that owns Harvey doesn’t get to coast that week simply because he’s pitching twice while Clayton Kershaw and other ace-level guys only go once.

Two-start pitchers sift the fun and strategy out of points leagues. If I have a one-start Bud Norris on my roster and a two-start nobody who happens to be facing the Astros and Marlins is available, I’m likely to dump my pitcher-of-choice because the other dealer has a better shot at racking up points. In this scenario, which is where many of us currently live, strategy and planning fly out the window.  The new strategy becomes a very pedestrian “Who’s pitching twice next week?” decision. Any idiot can make that call. And, at times, you just have to accept that you are going to lose for the week due to the bevy of two-start pitchers your opponent has throwing. However, in a world where all pitchers are given points based on a single-game composite score (either on his sole start or on an average of both starts for the week), this gross disparity would cease to exist.

Suddenly, aces would be more in demand, as they are in real baseball and in the rotisserie game.  Pitcher values would improve dramatically in drafts, and in free agency, and the chess-like wisdom necessary to play our fake game would increase.

We’ve all been in leagues where the top overall scorer finished fourth in the standings, only to lose a playoff game to an inferior team that happened to have four more pitching starts that week.

None of us can alter MLB pitching rotations. And it takes a true geek with absolutely no life to look ahead two or three weeks to know when his pitchers are going twice. But that geek's hard work is thwarted in points leagues because other owners can simply plant a waiver-wire stiff on the mound who happens to have two starts….as long as they claim him first.

Does anybody else have a problem with this, or is it just me? Comments are open below; feel free to chime in if you have an opinion here.

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Fantasy Baseball Strategy: How to Manage your Team in Month One

This is the second article in a series of RotoBaller Strategy pieces.  Last week we laid out for all you RotoBallers Why We Love Fantasy Baseball.  This week, we're getting into actual strategy.  In the future we'll explore topics like "How to Trade," "How to Play the Waiver Wire" and more, but for now we wanted to hit on a topic that a lot of readers are asking about: how to manage your team during the first month of the season.  This piece will give you some general guidelines that we hope will help to calm your nerves a bit as you settle in for the long, long season ahead.

You spent weeks, even months preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts.  Everything was looking good: you identified sleepers, breakouts, busts, overvalued players, undervalued players, targets, avoids, etc. You created tiers at each position and made meticulous projections. You did mock draft after mock draft. You talked keepers with your fellow fantasy GMs. Perhaps you just did some of these things and not others; maybe you did everything listed here and more; but either way, we all went into our fantasy baseball drafts feeling confident that we would draft the best team out there, filled with solid vets and youngsters with breakout potential.

Jered Weaver on June 27, 2012And then, the draft.  It was supposed to be so smooth and amazing.  After a few rounds of picking the best players on the board, all borderline superstars, you get into the real meat of the draft.  One of the players you're targeting in the 9th goes a couple of rounds early, then another and another, and by the time your pick comes, you’re in a bit of a frenzy:  do you reach for player X who you thought would be around two rounds later? Or do you stick with the solid bankable player you were targeting originally? We all have these dilemmas, and we all deal with them differently, and every choice works out somewhat differently from what you had originally thought.  In one highly competitive big money league, for example, I ultimately settled for a sixth-round pick of Jered Weaver, and after seeing Austin Jackson and Shin-Soo Choo fly off the board, I made a panic-driven seventh-round selection of Jimmy Rollins (when I already owned Starlin Castro).  Chris Sale was still on the board after that Rollins pick, which means I could have had Choo and Sale in place of Weaver and Rollins.  Disastrous.

No matter how your draft worked out, the first few weeks seem to pose the toughest dilemma that any manager could face: how is my team and what do I need to do to improve it?  Make add / drops immediately to balance it out? Make trades? Or sit tight and hope for the best?  There is no clear-cut answer, and someone who drafted Weaver, Freeman and Aramis is going to be forced to make big early-season moves.  Those are rare instances, however, and RotoBaller feels that the more patient you can be with your team over the first month, the better it will serve you down the road.  Here are a few maxims and guiding principles that should aid you in managing your team over the first 4-6 weeks of the season:

  • Be Patient: Three weeks are in the book, and three weeks is not nearly enough to evaluate most players, with many off to either super-hot or super-cold starts. The hot players won’t keep it up, and the cold players won’t keep it down.  If you drafted Giancarlo Stanton or Buster Posey in the second round, you can’t all of a sudden treat them like fourth- or fifth-round players and sell low, based on a few weeks.  The same goes for guys like Cole Hamels and David Price who are also off to cold starts.  Patience with players like these will reward you with high-end stats down the road.  On the flip-side, just because you have a hot breakout player who’s going bananas (hello Chris Davis!), you don’t necessarily need to try and sell high on him.  You drafted him for a reason, so be patient, and he will likely reward you with another torrid stretch of play, and probably achieve the 30-35 HR projection that led you draft him in the first place.

  • Giancarlo Stanton 2011Just Say NO (to selling low): You wouldn’t believe how many questions we get in our chat room about players like Posey, Stanton, Price and Hamels. People want to know if they should sell Stanton at a 50% discount from his draft price.  News flash: Stanton had 5 RBI and 0 HR through April 29th of last year.  And we all know how that ended up. The takeaway here is that the season is very long, and we are not even through the first 10% of it. Give your players time to get into the swing of things.

  • Understand your Players: Look, we’re not telling you to never trade a really cold player, but you have to first do some due diligence and deep evaluation. With Stanton, you've got to recognize that there is nothing wrong with him, he’s just in an atrocious lineup and he’s hearing trade rumors every day, and he’s yet to find his groove.  There is nothing in that evaluation that you didn't know on draft day, but you still drafted him, and you did so for a reason:  he's an absolute beast.  You don’t want to trade him for Chris Davis and then watch Stanton hit 40 HR from May through September.  On the other hand, you have a first-round pick like Matt Kemp who’s also struggling terribly. Kemp is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, which we’d like to be patient with but truthfully no one knows when he’ll be back to normal. He’s also striking out at a ridiculous rate of 30% which is way too high for him, and it’s driving his contact rate down down down.  Kemp is a guy to be legitimately worried about, and if you can recoup 90% of the value for him you should explore options.  The point is, it’s about understanding your players and evaluating each situation on it’s own.

  • Edwin EncarnacionA Small Sample does not a Season Make: This is similar to Be Patient, and maybe we’re just reinforcing this point. You made valuations prior to your draft, and just because things haven’t panned out exactly as you’d hoped, it doesn’t mean you should throw your judgment out the window.  If you thought Edwin Encarnacion was going to hit 30+ HR, the fact that he hasn’t gotten off to a strong start shouldn’t change that (unless, as we saw with Kemp, there is some injury concern lurking beneath the surface) As long as the player isn’t inured and has no major red flags, don’t let yourself be sucked in by the black hole of small negative sample sizes.

  • Track other players, teams, and the waiver wire: Whether your team is off to a hot start or cold start, you want to make sure you know what’s going on around the league. Is there a hot player on the waiver wire just sitting there waiting to be picked up when Ryan Zimmerman goes down with an injury? Are there players on other owners’ teams who are frustrating them to hell, players that you can try to buy up on the cheap? Take advantage of other owners who are unwilling or unable to exercise the excruciating patience that is required of a fantasy baseball champion.  You want to be collecting as much information as possible, so that when the time comes to make moves, you’ll be prepared.  Our Ultimate Waiver Wire Watch list and weekly Buy Low / Sell High articles are great resources to start with, but you also need to know your league and other managers’ teams and personalities.

  • Most Importantly, Don't Blow Up Your Team: No matter how badly your team starts out, resist the urge to blow it all up with poor trades and waiver wire pick-ups that force you to drop solid players who should be universally owned.   I can't tell you how many times I've seen this, even in leagues with big buy-ins.  Last season, a manager in my hyper-competitive league managed to use 40 of his 70 allotted adds for the year by the end of April. It didn't get any better-- he self-destructed and traded away many of his best players, and traded high future-year draft picks for lower caliber players. It was one of the most inept examples of fantasy management I have ever witnessed.  You don't want to be an owner like that, so, if your team stinks right now, try to just take a step back and chill.  It's a very long year and you will need more than three weeks to determine whether this season is lost.

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DFS Strategy Analysis: How to Approach Salary Cap Leagues, Part 2

The Three Main Strategies

When playing salary cap leagues, it is important to have a strategy in mind. Depending on the day, it will be better to have a balanced approach rather than a lineup full of studs and scrubs.

On other days, there will be a slew of slumping sluggers available for cheap because of their recent struggles. The question is, should you pick them and hope they bust out of the slump or run for the hills from their cold bat?

Here are the three main strategies the pro daily fantasy players consider when filling out their teams.


1. Studs and Scrubs - A popular approach by many fantasy experts in daily salary cap leagues is called the Studs and Scrubs approach. Basically, you spend the majority of your salary cap on a couple pricey, but reliable, “studs”. The rest is evenly distributed on “scrubs” whose production will just be a bonus. This can be incredibly effective if you know which scrubs to take, but most people don’t. If you decide to play in non double-up leagues, you will want to use this approach because it is your best chance to have a fantasy explosion. Example: All your stars play incredibly well and your scrubs each collect a couple hits. Playing this way at first is reckless and winning is unlikely, so stick with the double-up leagues until you are feeling more comfortable to try the riskier leagues. Read our daily columns to find out who the best valued scrubs are for each day.

2. Balanced Approach - The safest bet for production is using a balanced approach. Whenever I use this approach I finish in the 35-60 range. So while it won’t always help you double-up, you usually will win with the right lineup. You may add one “star” but for the most part you’ll fill out your lineup with the likes of Alex Rios instead of Carlos Gonzales or AJ Pierzynski instead of Buster Posey. But the nice part is that you have players that will pick up the slack for the others. In a stars and scrubs lineup, you need the stars to perform well. If two of your stars struggle, you’ll likely lose. The balanced approach is best for beginners. So start slow and use a balanced approach. We will give you some players that qualify for this approach every day in our articles.

3. Stock Market Approach - My most commonly used strategy I’ve decided to name the "stock market" approach. What do I mean by this? Four words: but low, sell high.  It doesn't make sense to trade for a player when his value is peaking. But it DOES make sense to trade for a slumping star with potential to bust out. Fanduel’s algorithm (what controls player values) is based on recent performances. Player A might have a rough homestand (1-12, 0 HRs, 1 BB, 0 RBI) and watch his stock fall dramatically before the next home game. Player B may have an awesome homestand (6-14, 2 HRs, 7 RBI). Player A is Albert Pujols, Player B is Ike Davis. And because of their recent performances, Davis now costs more than Pujols. But I would much rather have Pujols than Davis, regardless of recent performance. This strategy has worked out incredibly well for me in the past and our daily fantasy articles will include these players who have seen their stock fall.

Last few bonus tips:

  • Pick the players you want before even looking at the salary cap. Once you have filled out your roster, look to see if you are over or under the limit. If over, keep the players you really want and adjust those you aren’t confident playing.
  • Don’t worry about spending the whole salary cap. Just because you can spend so much on players doesn’t mean you have to. I had a buddy who thought he would win because he filled out a “perfect” roster that used every penny of the salary cap. He lost big because his “perfect” lineup had multiple players with awful matchups. Don’t be a salary slave, avoid the obsession with the salary cap. It’s a limit, not a requirement.
  • Make sure you’re lineup doesn’t have injured players. Google search MLB injury report to make sure you don’t lose because you have a virtual empty roster spot.
  • Sometimes players get days off for rest. Usually we will know about it the day before or on the morning of gameday. It’s just another reason to check with us before setting your lineup.

Feel free to send me your daily lineup questions on twitter at @RotoCole.

If you missed Part 1 of's Daily League Analysis: How to Approach Salary Cap Leagues, it's right here.

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Tips and Strategies for Salary Cap Leagues

If snake and pick’em leagues aren’t your thing, has got you covered with some tips and strategies for Salary Cap leagues.

This is Part 1 of our "How to Approach Salary Cap Leagues", and Part 2 will be published tomorrow. We play at where you are allotted a fixed salary cap to disperse to a free agent pool of players.

It is a format that rewards those who put in the time to figure out which low priced players will be gems on that day, but it still rewards you if you can find the day's best performers.


When you first start playing keep these tips in mind

1. Start Small - When brand new to salary cap leagues, start with free or low buy-in leagues. I always recommend playing in “Double-Up” leagues which pay you your entry
fee times two if you finish in the top half of the league. For example, I play a $5 double-up league every day. There are 110 people in these types of leagues, called GPP's (Guaranteed Prize Pools). GPPs pay $10 to the top 50 finishers even if only 85 people entered the league. When a league doesn’t fill up completely, but the prize pool is still completely paid out it is called overlay. If overlay is available you should always play! Your chances of winning are higher than they’ll be at any other time. We recommend playing Double-Up leagues as long as you play Daily Fantasy because with our advice you will have a nice win % in those leagues.

2. Start Slow - It can be tempting to throw all your chips in hoping to win a bunch of cash on your first day but it’s important you avoid that temptation. It doesn’t matter
if you are on a 3 day losing streak or 6 day winning streak, stay consistent. Never let your emotions dictate whether you spend more money either playing in more leagues or higher-entry fee leagues. If you decide to play in an extra league, have it be a Friday thing. I know of a guy who plays in an extra league on Friday nights because he is home to watch his players. That is fun and it's what fantasy sports are all about. So make sure you start slow because nothing kills your fantasy spirit more than losing big right away. Spend some time with us and you’ll be winning in no time.

3. Be Committed - Who usually wins your season-long fantasy leagues? Is it the guy who is more active than everyone else or the guy who forgot he even had a fantasy
team? Of course, it is always the player who puts forth more effort. Fanduel is full of both of these types. If you are reading these articles you are likely the latter, which means lots of winning in your future. Daily fantasy gaming is a ton of fun when winning, so keep checking back at because we'll be publishing a daily league advice column. Ask us your lineup questions in the comment section of our daily fantasy analysis articles or tweet our writers your questions. While you are busy at work we will find the best answer possible to help get you that winning lineup.

Feel free to send me your daily lineup questions on twitter at @RotoCole.

Part 2 of this series can be found here.

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The information in this Daily League Strategy piece is limited to those sites which permit daily snake drafts such as the ones described. Stay tuned to for more articles covering all of your favorite Daily League formats in the coming days and weeks!

Daily Snake Drafts: Part II

In Daily Snake Drafts: Part 1, we discussed things you should do to improve your chances of winning your daily snakes on DraftStreet. Here is what you shouldn't do when playing daily snakes.

Don't Hold Grudges: Say last night you drafted Joe Mauer who uncharacteristically went on to go 0-4 with 2 strikeouts. You tell yourself you are cursed but tonight is the night where Joe busts out so you take him again. Mauer has another 0-4 night and you decide Joe Mauer is now your least favorite player of all time. You will never ever pick him because he screwed you over those two times when you first started playing. Don't be this guy! Get over it and take the smart approach because the next day Joe Mauer will go 4-4 against a rookie right handed starter but you avoided him because you were bitter. Again, don't be this guy.

Billy Beane 2006
Don’t draft players just because they play on your favorite team: I should call this the New York Knicks rule. When I play in Daily NBA leagues, I find people with usernames like “Knicksfan6” or “KnicksJohn” or “RickfromNY”. Five rounds into the snake here are their teams: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and Amare Stoudemire. This is important guys...If you want to win real money, you need to disassociate yourself from your real love for your favorite team. If you are a Rockies fan and you are choosing between Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Gonzales, go ahead and take your guy so you can watch the game and have fun with it. The difference between those two is minimal so even though we would take McCutchen any given night, we understand you taking Gonzales especially against certain pitchers. But when you are a Rockies fan and you decide to take Wilson Rosario over Yadier Molina, you will not have an easy time winning. You should be applying to be the Rockies' GM instead of playing in daily fantasy leagues. Remove your bias and you'll win a lot more money.

Don’t be an inconsistent gamer – It can be tempting to start playing in 4-5 leagues a day but that can be a major time commitment. Also, if you have won your snake three days in a row the WORST thing you can do is say “I'm a lock, I should play more snakes.” This is the gamblers mentality we want our fans to avoid. We aren't gambling. This is a game of skill and dedication. You get hot? Then continue to do what you did to get hot in the first place. We are putting in the work, making highly analytical picks, and sharing that knowledge with you to give you the best possibility of winning. If you win, we win! A few extra tips for Snake Drafts: Don’t join a snake draft if you can’t pay full attention to it. Any distractions will limit your ability to make the best possible selection when it is your turn to pick.


Join a free snake draft before doing any for money if you want to practice. It is a nice way to see where the top 10-15 picks will likely be selected.  The more snakes you play in the more you will be during the draft. Make your selection and don’t look back!

Have questions? Tweet us at @RotoBaller or Cole personally at @RotoCole