Over the past week at RotoBaller, we've introduced a brand new approach to preparing for Points Leagues. Typically, analysts give you general points league rankings. We have those as well at RotoBaller. However, this approach falls short. Analysis and ranks must be platform specific, because every platform (ESPN, Yahoo!, CBS, NFBC, Fantrax) has wildly different scoring settings which must be uniquely attacked.
This article focuses on players overvalued and undervalued in Yahoo! points leagues. Before you dig in here, it's recommended you read our Break the League: Yahoo! Points Ranker article, published on March 25th, which provides a great overview of Yahoo Points League scoring settings, recommendations on how to attack those scoring settings, and some players that gain / lose in the Yahoo format, compared to typical 5x5 leagues.
We recently launched our new Points League Ranker tools, which provide you with an awesome points league cheat sheet for each platform, and includes "Points Above Replacement" projections, to help you understand how to properly value different players and positions on each platform. If you want access to our Yahoo! Points League Ranker Tool, you'll have to buy a preseason or full season premium pass!
Yahoo! Points Leagues and ADP
ADP is a must-have piece of information when it comes to drafting. While every league is different and may have a particularly aggressive or conservative group of owners when it comes to certain players, it’s the best tool we have when analyzing players’ values. Today I'm going to talk about players who are being drafted higher or lower on Yahoo compared to ATC points projections (last year's most accurate fantasy projections) for H2H points leagues.
This will include looking at a player's ATC $-Rank, which represents the ranking of the player, based on league-specific scoring settings, using ATC projections converted into $ values, adjusted for position scarcity and replacement value. So, for Yahoo specifically, a key takeaway is that Yahoo has watered down the hitter scoring and has such a restrictive offensive roster (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, UT, UT), which means that tons of high-scoring batters are always available on the wire.
Assessing Value in Points Leagues
This is a little clearer by looking at replacement values by position.
So a player like Yu Darvish, who we'll discuss later, is only projected for 688 points, which is the same as Jose Martinez of Tampa Bay. However, since there are so many more hitters that score high point totals in Yahoo settings, getting a pitcher who can put up Darvish's point total is more valuable, even if the total points might be lower than the hitter you'd draft at the same spot. This is why "replacement value" is so important. Essentially, by drafting Darvish, you're gaining a bigger edge of your peers' pitchers than you would by drafting a higher scoring hitter.
Lastly, it's important to keep in mind that, when looking at ADP, if the price tag is higher, that doesn't make a player undraftable and being lower doesn't make them an automatic steal, but it helps to stay oriented with the bigger picture of ADP data. We're simply raising awareness of those whose draft stock is seemingly getting raised or dropped based on nothing other than the site's default rank.
If you draft with our staff ranks, you'll want to keep this in mind. ADP data current as of March 12.
Cheaper Early-Round Picks for Yahoo Points Leagues
Yahoo ADP: 63 (ATC $-rank: 45)
Now, many of you are going to look at that ATC rank and say, "I'm not drafting Darvish 45th." You might also think that 18 spots isn't that much of a bargain, and you wouldn't be wrong on either count. While I do believe Darvish is being under-drafted this season, he's also here as a perfect embodiment of two main points in this article.
For starters, while you may not take Darvish 45th, you should take note of the fact that ATC believes he's the 45th most valuable player in this format. Considering he is going 63rd on average in Yahoo, you could jump his Yahoo ADP by a round and still get value based on ATC projections. Secondly, this also emphasizes that the value of pitchers in this format since Darvish, who comes in ranked 45th, has a project for 688 points, while Matt Olson, who comes in ranked 46th, is projected for 1,259 points. You may look at that and think, "Why in the hell would I take Darvish?" and the simple answer is that there are many more hitters that will put up near 1,000 points than there are pitchers who will push for 700.
Darvish is an elite option as a SP2 if you go the "pocket aces" route, but can also be a viable SP1 if you wait on starting pitching (just make sure you have consistent accumulators to fill out the staff). Especially with the uncertainty around SP due to injuries to Chris Sale, Mike Clevinger, Justin Verlander, Blake Snell, and Max Scherzer, a pitcher of Darvish's talent gets bumped up the board. His second-half was masterful, finishing with a 2.76 ERA, .199 BAA, and 118 strikeouts to only seven walks in 81.2 IP. I believe in his pitch mix changes, featuring a cutter over a four-seam fastball, and think that version of Darvish can stick for a full season.
Yahoo ADP: 88 (ATC $-rank: 38)
Trevor Bauer is an interesting case. His 2018 was phenomenal, posting a 2.21 ERA, 22.9 K-BB%, and a 13.3 SwStr%. Many expected the breakout to continue in 2019, but Bauer got off to a slow start and then his season came unhinged once he was traded to Cincinnati. During his tenure pitching at Great American Ballpack, he posted a 6.39 ERA, 1.35 WHIP in 56.1 IP, with an unsustainable 1.92 HR/9 and 60.8 LOB%.
While it all seems to be doom and gloom, ATC is buying into some of the underlying skills. Despite the poor stats above, Bauer had a 7.7 BB%, and 27.5 K% and a 12.2 SwStr%, which portends to a strong strikeout upside. His rolling averages on Statcast also suggest a rough stretch in late August and early September, which the game logs seem to support (the third column from the right is ERA, second from the right is FIP, and then xFIP is all the way on the right).
Most of those blow-ups were also on the road, so we can't suggest Great American is to blame, which would also be a concern for 2020. With a solid offense that could provide a fair amount of wins and strong strikeout metrics, Bauer could be a real fantasy asset if he can keep his ERA below 4.00, which seems entirely plausible. I, personally, am reluctant to buy in since he's only had one good season, but ATC is certainly buying in and Ariel Cohen was the FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year, so it's likely I'm being an idiot.
Yahoo ADP: 93 (ATC $-rank: 31)
For a while, we thought of 1B as being an incredibly deep position in fantasy. Now it seems to have shifted to more of a "Stars and Scrubs" model with some top-heavy talent and intriguing late-round flyers but little reliable value in the middle. That makes Bell all the more attractive based on his Yahoo ADP.
Bell's barrel% jumped 5.7% in his age-27 season, along with a 3.8-degree increase in launch angle (to 13 degrees), a .136 increase in xSLG, a .077 increase in xwoBACON, and a 8.1% increase in Hard Hit %. His Statcast profile was elite almost all the way across the board, while he still managed to keep his K% under 20%, better than the MLB average.
While being on the Pirates may sap some of his RBI or Run totals, he still makes for a great value as you approach pick 100 and the 1B stability cliff. You can lock Bell in as your 1B with a pick in the 80s, secure good value, and not have to worry about the other question mark options at the position.
Cheaper Mid-to-Late Picks for Yahoo Points Leagues
Yahoo ADP: 143 (ATC $-rank: 75)
ATC gets it. Boyd’s success and failure last year was heavily tied to his fastball velocity, which jumped from 91.1 MPH on average in 2018 to 92.4 in 2019. This spring, he was sitting around 93 and routinely pumping 94 in games. If he can stay consistent in that range, it means big things for Boyd in 2020.
Even with his 2019 velocity bump, he saw a jump in SwStrk% from 10.2 to 14.0, which can partially be tied to his improvement in getting hitters to chase outside of the zone. He had a 4.6% jump in O-Swing%, and batters swung at Boyd’s 1550 pitches and missed on 484 of them (31.2%) which is above league average (24.9%). His slider has above-average movement, five inches towards a right-handed batter and dropping 46 inches, which helped it register a .189 xBA, 43.4 Whiff%, and 26 PutAway%.
If Boyd ups the usage on the changeup he's been throwing in spring training, which had a 37.2 Whiff% in 2019, he could take his performance to a whole other level.
Yahoo ADP: 357 (ATC $-rank: 154)
By now you should be noticing the trend: there is a lot of starting pitching value to be had when drafting on Yahoo. In fact, an under-priced rotation of Darvish, Bauer, Boyd, and Keller would be extremely exciting to me.
It's clear that the Yahoo platform is seeing Keller's atrocious debut numbers last year and running for the hills. You shouldn't follow. Many of Keller's underlying metrics suggest that he was actually pitching much closer to his 3.47 xFIP. His BABIP was .475 for starters, which is certainly not sustainable. He had a 21.6% K-BB% and an 11.8% SwStr% while flashing two plus secondary offerings: a slider that had a 47.8 Whiff% and a 29.5 PutAway%, and a curve that had a 34 Whiff% and a 25.5 PutAway%.
With the Pirates organization now changing pitching philosophies to allow for fastballs up in the zone and secondaries down, we could see a real breakout from Keller and many Yahoo drafters could be reaping the rewards at a massive value.
Yahoo ADP: 391 (ATC $-rank: 227)
When talking about Josh Bell, I mentioned that there were some late-round flyers at 1B that were super interesting. Here is one of them. Cron has battled through a few thumb injuries in recent seasons and has mostly be a platoon player on teams like Tampa Bay and Minnesota, so he flies under the radar for many owners. Now he's locked into full-time plate appearances but still on a team that not many fans truly think about often.
However, Cron is worth your brainpower. He's increased in his barrel rate for three-straight seasons and hit 25 home runs last year despite the thumb injuries. His hard-hit rate and xWOBACON are well above average. His chase rate has dropped for five-straight seasons, down to 32.4%, and his strikeout rate dropped from 25.9% to 21.6% in 2019. You're not going to find many players with 30+ home run upside and 500 plate appearances available after pick 300.
Other Cheaper Picks
C: Yasmani Grandal -- Yahoo ADP: 100, ATC $-Rank: 28
1B: Edwin Encarnacion -- Yahoo ADP: 183, ATC $-Rank: 133
2B: Cavan Biggio -- Yahoo ADP: 164, ATC $-Rank: 114
3B: Josh Donaldson -- Yahoo ADP: 89, ATC $-Rank: 41
SS: Paul DeJong -- Yahoo ADP: 194, ATC $-Rank: 99
CI: Matt Chapman -- Yahoo ADP: 98, ATC $-Rank: 37
OF: Kyle Schwarber -- Yahoo ADP: 148, ATC $-Rank: 93
OF2: Brian Anderson -- Yahoo ADP: 389, ATC $-Rank: 150
DH: Khris Davis -- Yahoo ADP: 192, ATC $-Rank: 110
SP1: Zack Wheeler -- Yahoo ADP: 113, ATC $-Rank: 85
Costly Early-Round Picks for Yahoo Points Leagues
Yahoo ADP: 25 (ATC $-rank: 59)
ATC thinks you're drafting Gleyber Torres too high, and I wish it hadn't told you because I'm happy to see it happen in each draft I'm in. Yes, Torres is a good player and a fine fantasy asset. I'm certainly not drafting him at the beginning of the third round in a 12-team league. He overperformed all of his x-stats last year and posted an absurd 21.5% HR/FB ratio. His GB% increased from 2018, his BB% dropped, and he still doesn't steal many bases.
With a .262 xBA in 2019, Torres is likely a .290 hitter who will finish around 30 HRs in a good lineup but will only chip in five stolen bases. I just described Nicholas Castellano and Marcell Ozuna, who are both going just before pick 100. So, it would follow that the only reason Torres is going higher than them is because he has 2B eligibility.
This isn't the difference between finding scarce pitching stats, so I'm not paying a 70 pick premium on offensive stats just to take a 2B. Especially when I can take Mike Moustakas at pick 97, who will likely hit more home runs than Torres with less average and two fewer stolen bases.
Yahoo ADP: 44 (ATC $-rank: 149)
ATC is piling onto the middle infielders here. The presence of Mondesi and Villar here says to me that ATC believes people are paying too much of a premium for stolen bases. Mondesi has 40 stolen bases upside, and it's tremendous, but remember, this isn't Roto or H2H categories, so you don't need to "win" stolen bases.
Mondesi's 40 SB will certainly get you points, but his average will likely stay around .250 because of his 29.8 K%, and if he's not hitting consistently it will sap his stolen base opportunities since his measly 4.3 BB% isn't helping him get on base.
The biggest concern for Mondesi going forward is his shoulder injuries. He hurt his shoulder early in 2019 and then re-aggravated the injury later in the season, which led to offseason surgery. Shoulder injuries are tricky ones because of the way it impacts the follow-through and extension on a swing as well as the aggressiveness of a base stealer when he's sliding head-first.
Mondesi already having two injuries to that shoulder in such a short time period is a major red flag. If it impacts him at all on the basepaths, it could really drive down his fantasy stock since the other thing he really has working for him according to his Statcast Player Page (right) is that speed.
Yahoo ADP: 60 (ATC $-rank: 123)
We've done this dance before with Villar. He, like Mondesi, has a particularly problematic Statcast page (left). While that isn't the be-all-end-all in fantasy prognostication, it accurately reflects Villar's mediocre hit tool.
He makes only 7% more hard contact than he does soft contact and he continues to chase pitches out of the zone at a 28.7% rate while having his O-Contact% drop. His 16.1% K%-BB% is not ideal for a lead-off hitter, and his 24 home runs last year were clearly influenced by his hitter-friendly home park and the juiced ball.
Moving to a more pitcher-friendly park, he'll likely be good for 15 home runs and 35 stolen bases, which is nothing to sneeze at, but in a points league, you really don't need to overpay for stolen bases if you can get the same amount of points, or more, through a more consistent player profile.
Costly Mid-Late Picks for Yahoo Points Leagues
Yahoo ADP: 94 (ATC $-rank: 250)
Since closers pitch far fewer innings than starters and thus accrue far fewer IP and strikeouts, their value in points leagues rests almost entirely on their ability to get saves. Add to that, as Alex Fast pointed out, that saves are being spread across more relief pitchers than ever before, and you have a recipe for closers being over-drafted in points leagues. According to ATC $-rank, Hand, along with Kenley Jansen, Roberto Osuna, Craig Kimbrel, and a few others are all being over-drafted by 150 slots.
While we can point out weaknesses in a few of these guys, I want to mention Hand since him losing his closer job was in one of my bold predictions. Brad Hand has gotten increasingly shaky over the last three years, seeing a consistent rise in ERA, Hard Hit%, and Pull% while also seeing a drop in velocity by over one mph on his fastball.
With the diminished velocity, batters are not only getting around on him better, but it's impacted the effectiveness of his slider, which has dropped in pVAL for three straight years. I expect the Indians to have a new closer by July (provided the season starts in April, which it won't, but that's a topic for another time).
Yahoo ADP: 134 (ATC $-rank: 236)
Look, I love Dahl's talent, but the man is made of glass. He has yet to play over 100 games, but the Rockies are, according to Roster Resource, going to lead him off and have him play CF; both of which will only increase his chances of injury. Since Dahl is more of an accumulator than a dynamic power or speed threat, his lack of games played will prevent him from adding to his counting stats.
ATC projects Dahl for 121 games, which means that a 25-10 season is likely the most that fantasy owners can hope for. His .302 average last year was propped up by a .386 BABIP, so you might be looking at .285 25-10 with decent run totals hitting at the top of a fine lineup. It's not a bad season, but, according to ATC, it's not worth drafting this high in a points league.
Other Costly Picks
2B: Tommy Edman -- Yahoo ADP: 140, ATC $-Rank: 234
3B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- Yahoo ADP: 47, ATC $-Rank: 89
SS: Tim Anderson -- Yahoo ADP: 90, $-ATC Rank: 132
OF1: Luis Robert -- Yahoo ADP: 97, $-ATC Rank: 182
OF2: Danny Santana -- Yahoo ADP: 142, $-ATC Rank: 225
OF3: Aaron Judge -- Yahoo ADP: 32, ATC $-Rank: 140
SP: Jesus Luzardo -- Yahoo ADP: 129, ATC $- Rank: 167
More Points Leagues Analysis