Veteran or Youth? Position by Position

We here at Fantasy Assembly are in the process of compiling our top-200 for dynasty leagues (due out next week). That’s a daunting task, for sure. I’ve never been a fan of big lists like this, simply because after a few draft rounds, anything goes, and what player you may prefer is entirely dependent on your personal strategy plus who you have already taken. How much real difference in value is there between player #127 and player #140, anyway?

That being said, as I look at my dynasty lists for every position, I can’t help but notice which positions I prefer to get an established veteran presence, and which positions I lean toward young players with good upside but greater risk. The preference is not always clear-cut every season, but for 2016 (and likely beyond) I can give you my picks for which positions I want veteran leadership, and which positions I want to go with the youth movement.

Catcher: Veteran

This is pretty simple. First, there’s not much true youth here. Those who have had a shot in recent years have been mostly flops, such as Mike Zunino and Jason Castro. Travis d’Arnaud is the one youth name who may be a stud, but he also can’t stay healthy. In this case I will pay for older players like Posey and Perez. I like Vogt a lot as well, but he’s not exactly young, despite 445 AB from last year being a career high. In leagues with only one catcher, you want someone you can plug in for the most games.

First Base: Veteran

Here’s another position where the answer is easy. On top of some players moving to first base as they age, there are a lot of elite sluggers here. Miggy is always an option, but even relatively young guys like Goldschmidt and Rizzo are considered veterans now, and I’ll obviously take them and even names like Duda over newcomers Justin Bour, AJ Reed, and Greg Bird.

Second Base: Veteran

You may notice a trend with my picks so far. At least at second base, there are some intriguing newer names. Panik, Devon Travis, and Refsnyder are decent gambles, particularly at MI. But I’d rather take an aging veteran here — Cano, Kinsler, and Murphy come to mind — simply because I want relatively safe stats to make up for the fact that the other side of my infield is…

Third Base: Youth

Don’t get me wrong. I really, really like Donaldson. However, after him, the veterans are not so safe. Longoria and Wright won’t return to superstar status. Beltre is even older despite good production. I don’t trust Carpenter to repeat the power. At this point, I want to gamble on the upside of players who have less than 2-3 years of playing time. Arenado, Rendon, and Machado are in between veteran and youth, because they’re young but have played more than one season, but there’s clearly a youth movement here. Then you have Bryant and Sano, as well as Gallo — three guys who could hit 40 HR as early as 2016.

Shortstop: Youth

As I’ve written about before, shortstop was a complete crap-shoot in 2015, and even in recent years the type of elite production we’ve become accustomed to has faded. If you can’t rely on the veterans to stay healthy or perform like they used to, then you may as well take on a young guy with big upside and hope for the best. Correa or Seager would do nicely, but below them are plenty of great options in Russell, Lindor, Marte, Turner, Crawford…  When over half the top-15 is made up of players well under age 30 (heck, even 25), it’s time to go with upside.

Outfield: Youth

This position requires you to roster so many players that you’re bound to have a mix of veterans and youth. However, I’m leaning toward the young players whenever the veterans are comparable in rank. I put Conforto, Springer, and Betts in my top-10 for dynasty. Pederson and Buxton are in the top-25. I like Soler, Grichuk, and Piscotty. Eddie Rosario and Jackie Bradley aren’t too bad either. Again, I won’t pass up on a veteran in the top-15 to reach for a youngster barely in the top-25, but when it’s close, give me the thrill of players with an unknown cap on their stats. And I’ll take another second to really plug Conforto and Grichuk — potential breakout superstars for 2016, so get them now before you can’t afford them.

Starting Pitching: Veteran

I’m in love with my SP depth. Part of it is because more than half my leagues weight points in favor of starters, whether slightly or greatly. However, in a golden age of pitching, there’s no need to pick up an unproven starter who may get knocked around the second time through the league. Why gamble on Stroman being healthy (and maybe IP capped), or Rodon improving his walk rate enough to have a tolerable WHIP, or even Yordano keeping his cool and being mature enough to avoid demotion? Don’t bother with the youngsters when you can get some aces and numerous #2 guys who aren’t old themselves but have proven track records. Look, starters break down on you enough already. Take a reliable guy like Lester to give you 200 IP before you pick up Matz or Severino. Establish a reliable core, and then you can gamble on a few risky picks.

Relief Pitching: Veteran

Granted that most top closers have been doing this for a while, which is why they’re the top names. However, I liked Gregerson a lot because he has a strikeout record despite not closing full-time before 2016. He was older, but would have likely scored better than Roberto Osuna, AJ Ramos, and Carson Smith. Now of course, Houston has Giles to close, but the point remains the same: older RP who were setup men for years and now have a chance to close are still great values compared to young newcomers. Two more examples are Brett Cecil and Wade Davis. As for those flashy youngsters who should could be great closers, whatever happened to Addison Reed or Bruce Rondon…?


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Kevin Jebens

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Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.