I like to break a draft down into 3 phases. In the first phase, I don’t worry too much about position. I draft the best available player on my board. Starting in round 6 however, the focus starts to shift a little. Drafting for value is always important, but at this point I start thinking a little more about filling roster needs. I won’t simply draft a SS because I have a hole to fill if it doesn’t make sense in terms of value, but I will at least start thinking about plans to fill the position later on if I decide to pass on options available in this phase.
I always like to complete this phase with 3-4 SPs who I feel comfortable using in any match-up and a couple closers. I also try to draft a good mix of safe veterans and young talents with upside during the middle rounds. Too much investment in either group can hurt your team’s chances for success.
If owners are able to turn a strong profit on a couple picks in these rounds, they can either make up for an early round bust or they can help vault your team to the top of the standings. Players like Chris Davis and Carlos Gomez are examples of fantasy gold-mines that can be available to savvy investors. Some of the mid-round picks highlighted here could become next year’s fantasy gold.
Without further ado, let’s check out the picks.
Schwartz- 6.61- Ryan Zimmerman- 6-0
Finch- 6.62- Josh Donaldson- 5-1
Waterman- 6.63- Justin Verlander- 5-0
Landseadel- 6.64- Elvis Andrus- 3-0
Kelley- 6.65- Pedro Alvarez- 4-0
Kanteki- 6.66- Anthony Rizzo- 1-1
Jebens- 6.67- Carlos Beltran- 2-0
Hartman- 6.68- David Price- 7-0
Guilfoyle- 6.69- Zach Greinke- 1-1
Quinton- 6.70- Everth Cabrera- 2-1
Creagh- 6.71- Aaron Hill- 3-0
Asfar- 6.72- Cole Hamels- 4-0
Note: Just like the first installment, the numbers listed after the player’s name indicate the approval rating for the pick. The first number is a vote for a “good” pick, the second number is a vote for “bad”. No vote implies a neutral opinion.
General Analysis: There were some outstanding values available in this round. Most came from SPs capable of anchoring a fantasy staff. The mini 3B run also provided good value to the owners snagging them. Verlander in the 6th round seems a little silly considering where he was being drafted last year, but there are a lot of questions marks around him. Will he regain the lost fastball velocity and return to the elite ranks? Or will he take another step back? Verlander’s late season performance seems to be more indicative of the the former. Also, note that after Rizzo, 1B starts looking awfully thin. Someone will surely emerge, but I will certainly be targeting a big 1B in my 2014 drafts.
Best Values: David Price’s falling K rate caused his stock to fall this year, but he is still one of the best pitchers in baseball. Snagging him in the 6th round is great value, especially if he winds up in the NL West. The first of the 3Bs chosen (Ryan Zimmerman) also seems like an outstanding value. The difference between he and Longoria is a lot less than most people think.
Biggest Reaches: There really were not any reaches in this round. Everth Cabrera may have gone a little earlier than he would in some drafts, but Quinton made a great move in getting him where he did. I personally believe that Zach Greinke gets over-drafted every season, but I won’t argue with a 6th round price tag. He is now slightly more affordable than he has been the last couple seasons.
My Pick: I killed two birds with 1 stone here. My team had a glaring need for both a middle infielder and some speed. I have never been a huge Andrus fan, but I like his situation in Texas playing for an ultra-aggressive manager and he seems to fit well with what I already have on the roster.
Asfar- 7.73- Kyle Seager- 4-0
Creagh- 7.74- Yoenis Cespedes- 3-1
Quinton- 7.75- Domonic Brown- 2-1
Guilfoyle- 7.76- Alex Gordon- 4-0
Hartman- 7.77- Xander Boegarts- 0-7
Jebens- 7.78- Michael Cuddyer- 1-2
Kanteki- 7.79- Annibal Sanchez- 3-0
Kelley- 7.80- Matt Cain- 5-0
Landseadel- 7.81- Jayson Werth- 3-0
Waterman- 7.82- Ben Zobrist- 5-0
Finch- 7.83- Jordan Zimmermann- 5-0
Schwartz- 7.84- Jedd Gyorko- 4-1
General Analysis: There were some interesting things going on here. There was a pretty good mix of players taken, both in terms of positions and the disparity between vets and youth. There were plenty of picks receiving unanimous approval ratings in this round.
Best Values: My personal favorites here were Cain and Gordon. Everything about Cain’s 2013 numbers seemed odd. I would confidently draft him expecting numbers much closer to 2012 than 2013. Gordon is just a good baseball player. He doesn’t jump out at you in any particular category, but he chips in everywhere.
Biggest Reaches: I give Fantasy Assembly founder Paul Hartman a pardon on this one. If you look up “mancrush” in the dictionary, the example cited would be Hartman’s obsession for Boegarts. I also didn’t help matters by jokingly suggesting that Boegarts was next on my queue as my 6th round pick approached. Let’s be clear though, the 7th round is too early for Boegarts in a re-draft.
My Pick: Jayson Werth was one of baseball’s best hitters in the 2nd half. Werth produced top 30 overall value despite missing time early in the season. He can be maddeningly inconsistent, but he seems to finally be getting comfortable in the nation’s capital. This pick will deliver excellent value if Werth can stay healthy. He is capable of hitting near .300 with healthy totals in every category.
Schwartz- 8.85- Alfonso Soriano- 1-1
Finch- 8.86- Matt Adams- 2-1
Waterman- 8.87- Desmond Jennings- 2-0
Landseadel- 8.88- Carlos Santana- 4-0
Kelley- 8.89- Austin Jackson- 3-0
Kanteki- 8.90- Aroldis Chapman- 4-0
Jebens- 8.91- Shane Victorino- 1-1
Hartman- 8.92- Gerrit Cole- 5-0
Guilfoyle- 8.93- George Springer- 1-2
Quinton- 8.94- Homer Bailey- 0-2
Creagh- 8.95- Wilin Rosario- 3-1
Asfar- 8.96- J.J. Hardy- 5-1
General Analysis: In this round, we finally see the second and third catchers off the draft board. In most leagues of this size, there isn’t much value in reaching for an elite catcher. This is why they fell so far. Our second closer, Aroldis Chapman was selected along with a couple talented young arms. The most eclectic mix of selections certainly comes from the OF. There are a couple grizzled vets, some young talents yet to reach their peak, and even a minor leaguer.
Best Values: The way Gerrit Cole finished 2013, he certainly looks like he is ready to make the leap. He has the skill set of a fantasy ace and he plays for a contending NL team. Chapman and Hardy both look like nice grabs at their respective slots too.
Biggest Reaches: George Springer may come in right away and put up similar numbers that he did in AAA. He has upside to be the next Mike Trout type bust out, but this is pretty early to select a completely untested player. Similarly, Homer Bailey is a good pitcher, but does not have as much upside (or track record) as some selected after him.
My Pick: I recently wrote an article advising people not to reach for the elite catchers. So how do I end up with Carlos Santana, the number 2 C selected? When he falls to the 8th round, the value is awesome. Most readers will need to spend 4th or 5th round picks on the number 2 catcher. Remaining flexible and being able to pull the trigger on players who fall too far is an important draft skill for all fantasy owners to develop.
Asfar- 9.97- Brandon Phillips- 5-1
Creagh- 9.98- Mike Minor- 5-0
Quinton- 9.99- Hisashi Iwakuma- 3-0
Guilfoyle- 9.100- Matt Moore- 3-3
Hartman- 9.101- Jose Abreu- 0-2
Jebens- 9.102- James Shields- 5-0
Kanteki- 9.103- Jose Altuve- 3-0
Kelley- 9.104- Mike Napoli- 2-0
Landseadel- 9.105- Nelson Cruz- 2-0
Waterman- 9.106- Billy Hamilton- 2-3
Finch- 9.107- Kenley Jansen- 4-0
Schwartz- 9.108- Billy Butler- 3-0
General Analysis: This is the stage of the draft where owners start to gamble a little more with their picks. The mini SP run to kick off the round netted nice value for their investors. Voter approval seemed high overall. There are a couple interesting picks, including Billy Butler. Butler really struggled in 2013 and he will not be 1B eligible in most leagues, so his draft value takes a huge hit. This could be an appropriate place to draft him, but beware how this pick limits your roster flexibility.
Best Values: Pitchers Minor and Shields take the honor on this round. Both are about as safe as they come for an SP2. Kenley Jansen is also an outstanding value here. If his standard price tag is 4 rounds lower than Kimbrel’s, I might end up investing in him a few times in 2014. Somehow, I think he will be taken closer to round 6 or 7 in most drafts.
Biggest Reaches: Hartman again decided to go with an unproven commodity in Jose Abreu. This choice is risky, for sure, but like the Springer pick before it could pay off in spades. Scouts are not sure exactly what to make of Abreu’s big league future, but his stats from the past few seasons would make Miguel Cabrera blush. As for the Billy Hamilton pick, if we were doing this draft in March and Hamilton had an every day starting spot locked up, the approval rating for this pick would be through the roof. There isn’t another player in fantasy baseball who can single-handedly win you a category. Billy Hamilton can.
My Pick: Nelson Cruz was the best player on my draft board. OF wasn’t necessarily a position of need, but anytime you can get a 30 HR bat with potential for a few steals and a decent BA this late, you take it. I just hope he doesn’t get busted for PEDs again.
Schwartz- 10.109- Jonathan Lucroy- 3-0
Finch- 10.110- Greg Holland- 4-1
Waterman- 10.111- Trevor Rosenthal- 3-0
Landseadel- 10.112- Koji Uehara- 2-0
Kelley- 10.113- Alex Cobb- 4-0
Kanteki- 10.114- Yadier Molina- 6-0
Jebens- 10.115- Daniel Murphy- 1-1
Hartman- 10.116- Shelby Miller- 3-0
Guilfoyle- 10.117- Starlin Castro- 2-0
Quinton- 10.118- Brett Lawrie- 0-3
Creagh- 10.119- Francisco Liriano- 1-2
Asfar- 10.120- Josh Hamilton- 3-0
General Analysis: We had our first closer run as 4 RPs were selected in 6 picks, all at strong values. Most picks in this round were viewed positively. We see a couple underperforming stars like Hamilton and Castro along with head scratching breakouts like Daniel Murphy and Francisco Liriano. There is something for everybody here.
Best Values: Aside from the closers, Yadi Molina and Alex Cobb look like the best picks. Cobb looked like a future Cy Young winner down the stretch in 2013 and Molina is a sick value in round 10.
Biggest Reaches: I don’t think drafting Brett Lawrie here is necessarily a huge reach, but aside from a successful 2011 cameo, he has looked like a AAAA player. He has time to turn it around, but I see him as more of a late round flyer at this point. Some voters don’t have a lot of faith in Liriano either. I wouldn’t invest a premium pick in him due to his past inconsistency, but owners who overlook him all together could be missing out. The move to the Pirates could have been the catalyst he needed to get back on track.
My Pick: Koji Uehara’s splitter is nasty. I have nothing more to say.
Asfar- 11.121- Gio Gonzalez- 5-0
Creagh- 11.122- Andrelton Simmons- 3-1
Quinton- 11.123- Mat Latos- 5-0
Guilfoyle- 11.124- Hyun-Jin Ryu- 1-2
Hartman- 11.125- Michael Wacha- 3-2
Jebens- 11.126- David Robertson- 4-0
Kanteki- 11.127- Brandon Moss- 1-2
Kelley- 11.128- Brian McCann- 3-2
Landseadel- 11.129- Clay Buchholz- 0-1
Waterman- 11.130- Jim Johnson- 0-2
Finch- 11.131- Curtis Granderson- 2-0
Schwartz- 11.132- Brad Miller- 0-1
General Analysis: Most of the best values from this round are arms. Some of the notable picks here include playoff sensation Michael Wacha and likely to be Yankees closer David Robertson. Robertson has the skills and the K rate to be elite, but there is always a chance that the Yanks decide to spend money on a higher profile 9th inning guy. In this round, you also see some pretty mediocre MI options relative to some of the other names going off the board.
Best Values: Hands down, Latos and Gonzalez are the best values here. Some of the other pitchers like Wacha and Buchholz have the upside to outperform them, but the risk those picks carry is far greater.
Biggest Reaches: There were no reaches here. Moss probably would have been available a little later, but I think he can easily live up to this draft spot. Jim Johnson is a player who I will not be drafting in 2014. He had 50 saves, sure, but he owns a really low K/9 and he blew a bunch of saves during the second half. Johnson is one closer who may not make it through the season with his job. All that said, drafting him in the 11th round is no reach.
My Pick: I gambled with Buchholz. His upside was too tempting to pass on, but I probably would have been wiser to go after either Sonny Gray, Jered Weaver or Jim Lester who were all under consideration. I definitely wanted to go SP with this pick.
Schwartz- 12.133- Sonny Gray- 2-0
Finch- 12.134- Chase Utley- 2-0
Waterman- 12.135- Jered Weaver- 3-0
Landseadel- 12.136- Jed Lowrie- 3-1
Kelley- 12.137- Rafael Soriano- 2-0
Kanteki- 12.138- Kris Medlen- 2-0
Jebens- 12.139- Patrick Corbin- 3-0
Hartman- 12.140- Christian Yelich- 1-1
Guilfoyle- 12.141- A.J. Burnett- 1-0
Quinton- 12.142- Joe Nathan- 1-1
Creagh- 12.143- Norichika Aoki- 2-0
Asfar- 12.144- Jim Lester- 4-0
General Analysis: The tide is really turning at this point. Teams are scrambling to fill out their starting rotations and to find a usable closer. In this round, 8 pitchers, 2 OFs and 2 MIs were selected. The Burnett pick is notable because it is actually possible that he retires. If Burnett is unable to come to terms with the Pirates, he has stated retirement is his likely course of action. I think it is a safe bet that he returns on a 1 or 2 year deal, but stranger things have happened. Nathan is also an interesting gamble. He is a free agent and his value could dry up if he signs with a contender as an 8th inning guy.
Best Values: There were many good picks in this round, but perhaps veterans Lester and Weaver make the two best.
Biggest Reaches: None. There were certainly a couple risky picks highlighted above, but all were taken at appropriate values. The risky picks all have the ability to outperform their draft position and turn a profit for their owners.
My Pick: I am of the opinion that Jed Lowrie should get more love from the fantasy community. He has some injury risk for sure, but he also has the ability to hit .280 with 20+ HRs in the middle of a good line-up. Oh yeah, he is eligible at both 2B and SS too.
Asfar- 13.145- Addison Reed- 2-0
Creagh- 13.146- Pablo Sandoval- 2-2
Quinton- 13.147- Martin Prado- 3-0
Guilfoyle- 13.148- Glen Perkins- 5-0
Hartman- 13.149- Oscar Taveras- 2-1
Jebens- 13.150- Doug Fister- 2-0
Kanteki- 13.151- Andrew Cashner- 4-1
Kelley- 13.152- Michael Bourn- 1-1
Landseadel- 13.153- Julio Teheran- 4-0
Waterman- 13.154- Matt Wieters- 4-0
Finch- 13.155- B.J. Upton- 1-0
Schwartz- 13.156- Tony Cingrani- 4-0
General Analysis: Again, there were a lot of good value picks here. This time there was an even split between pitchers and hitters. There were a couple underperforming former stars (Upton and Bourn) taken along with a couple up and comers (Taveras, Teheran and Cingrani). Two relatively safe closers (Perkins and Reed) were also snatched up.
Best Values: Perkins is probably the best value here, but it is hard to argue with Teheran, Wieters or Cingrani. It takes some serious stones to do it, but if you have the courage to take Bossman Jr. (Upton), he could be a serious value pick. Just be ready to bail if he can’t get his average above .200 next April.
Biggest Reaches: None.
My Pick: I almost grabbed Teheran in the 12th and I was praying he would make it back to me. He produced top 100 value last season despite a rocky April. There is some risk here, but Teheran at pick 153 is a serious steal.
Schwartz- 14.157- Danny Salazar- 1-1
Finch- 14.158- Joe Mauer- 7-1
Waterman- 14.159- Mike Moustakas- 1-2
Landseadel- 14.160- Casey Janssen- 3-0
Kelley- 14.161- Jurickson Profar- 3-1
Kanteki- 14.162- Brett Gardner- 3-0
Jebens- 14.163- Kendrys Morales- 2-1
Hartman- 14.164- Zach Wheeler- 4-0
Guilfoyle- 14.165- Salvador Perez- 3-0
Quinton- 14.166- Sergio Romo- 1-0
Creagh- 14.167- Justin Masterson- 2-1
Asfar- 14.168- Wilson Ramos- 4-0
General Analysis: Once again, there were quite a few excellent values in this round. Sergio Romo is a good value at this spot, but be careful drafting him this year. He has high bust potential between injury risk and lost velocity. Profar is a risky selection who could either boom or bust from this spot. Ramos and Perez should be good values here, but when taken in the same round as Mauer, they don’t look quite as strong.
Best Values: There is only one answer here. Joe Mauer (possible C eligible 1st baseman) in the 14th is insane.
Biggest Reaches: Again, there were not really any reaches here. The Moustakas pick was the only one with a negative approval rating. He is another boom or bust selection capable of making this pick look really good. His 2013 production was disappointing, but he has the talent to post elite numbers.
My Pick: Janssen was the best RP on the board. I wanted to lock up one more safe closer option in anticipation of a run. The run never really materialized, but I am still happy with the value here.
Asfar- 15.169- Todd Frazier- 3-1
Creagh- 15.170- Anthony Rendon- 4-0
Quinton- 15.171- Brandon Belt- 4-1
Guilfoyle- 15.172- Chase Headley- 3-2
Hartman- 15.173- Jimmy Rollins- 3-1
Jebens- 15.174- Jonathan Papelbon- 3-0
Kanteki- 15.175- Asdrubal Cabrera- 3-1
Kelley- 15.176- Jason Grilli- 2-0
Landseadel- 15.177- Brian Dozier- 1-1
Waterman- 15.178- Derek Holland- 3-0
Finch- 15.179- Johnny Cueto- 6-0
Schwartz- 15.180- Steve Cishek- 3-0
General Analysis: There were some really solid picks this round. A total of 7 infielders were drafted along with 5 pitchers. Owners were trying to fill needs with all of these picks. Those CI and MI positions can be difficult if you don’t fill them early on.
Best Values: Cueto and Belt were my 2 favorite picks in this round. Cueto is an injury risk, but you aren’t really gambling at this price. He could make 12 starts all season and outperform this draft position. Belt is also going to be a player who I target often in 2014. His stats don’t look all that impressive, but he was beginning to put some things together over the summer. I don’t think he will ever be a fantasy superstar, but he is primed for a breakout next year (for real this time).
Biggest Reaches: None. Every player selected here has the ability to significantly outperform their draft position.
My Pick: MI was starting to get awfully thin. Dozier and Alexei Ramirez were the last two I felt okay about having occupy a starting spot. I am worried about the power decline for Alexei and I do not think he will steal 30 again. Therefore, I decided to roll with Dozier and hope for 15/15 with a little better average.
Check back for the late round analysis next week. The draft itself just concluded as I am typing this paragraph. You will have to tune in to see how everyone finished up. Special thanks to the guys from FakeTeams and Jeff from Rotowords for drafting with us.
As always, comments are appreciated. Feel free to disagree with any of the picks that were made. We can all learn from a little dialog.