Tier Values – Getting the Best Value for Your Pick

Each time you start a draft, be sure to consider the value of the player you are drafting in relation to their ADP. The goal of any draft is to select players that will either meet or exceed their current valuation, ensuring that you are being rewarded with production commiserate to the pick you spent on said player. As we move closer to Opening Day, I wanted to dive into a couple ADP tiers in order to help you find that value when you are on the clock.

For each tier listed below, I have included four types of categories for players currently being selected in that range:

  1. Can’t Be Contained: These are players I feel will outperform their current ADP and provide a higher value than expected.
  2. Playing the Lotto: Players with higher levels of risk who could pay big dividends or bring a great deal of disappointment for those who draft them.
  3. Not Going Anywhere: Steady performers who should easily meet the production of their draft tier.
  4. Falling Down the Stairs: Players that will not provide value equal to their current draft position.

Hopefully this can be a great guide to help you find value in your drafts and lead you to a successful season this year in fantasy

ADP – 50-75

Can’t Be Contained:
Jose Quintana SP CHC, Current ADP: 66.99

Quintana struggled a bit in 2017 before being dealt to the Cubs later on in the year. Take a look at his first and second half stats:

1st Half 104.1 9.4 3.45 1.21 4.49 4.02 4.13
2nd Half 84.1 10.46 2.24 0.96 3.74 3.25 3.24

As you can see, Quintana struck out more batters and issued far fewer free passes while pitching for the Cubs. While his final K/9 rate of 9.9 was easily the highest of his career, 2017 was the 3rd straight year that Quintana had improved his strikeout rate, leading me to believe he may be able to perform close to that level in 2018.

If he does, a higher strikeout rate coupled with his usual above average control could push him close to ace level in fantasy, making him someone I expect to provide extra value at this draft position.

Playing the Lotto:
James Paxton SP SEA, Current ADP: 70.76

When Paxton is healthy, there aren’t many pitcher better than the Big Maple. Unfortunately, his proclivity to loiter on the DL has really impacted the value he can provide to you in fantasy. Take a look at this group of four starting pitchers from 2017:

Player K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP xFIP
A 10.71 2.37 0.98 2.98 3.07 3.04
B 10.68 2.64 1.25 3.53 3.5 3.23
C 10.47 2.41 0.67 2.52 2.72 3.27
D 10.32 2.45 0.6 2.98 2.61 3.25

Pretty great peripherals, right? The four starters above were the only ones in 2017 to post K/9’s at 10 or above along with a BB/9 rate below 3.00, typically great indicators for success both in fantasy and real life.

James Paxton is player D. The other three? Luis Severino (ADP: 31.20), Jacob deGrom (ADP: 34.82) and Stephen Strasburg (ADP: 23.52). The problem is that Paxton only posted 136.1 IP during the season, keeping him from creating the overall value these other pitchers gave to their fantasy owners. If Paxton can stay healthy this season and pitch at least 175 innings he will easily leapfrog his current ADP and provide you with elite level production at a bargain price.

Not Going Anywhere:
Nelson Cruz OF SEA, Current ADP: 58.58

2017 was the first season since 2013 in which Cruz did not hit 40 HR, and he only missed that mark by one four bagger. He has been a consistent source of power, RBI, R and OPS over the past several seasons, and I do not see any reason to doubt him moving forward.

His age (37) will make some pause, but until he shows actual signs of decline there is no reason to avoid his bat. His BB% (10.9% in 2017) has steadily increased every year since 2011, and he has seen his K% drop each of the last two seasons down to 21.7% in 2017. Cruz should provide commensurate value for his ADP this season, and is a great example of a low risk choice in this tier.

Falling Down the Stairs:
Billy Hamilton OF CIN, Current ADP: 57.08

There may not be a more overrated player in fantasy than this Cincinnati speedster. Every draft someone reaches for him in an attempt to lock down steals for the season, and while he does provide bunches of those (4 straight 50 steal seasons) he does not contribute in any other category, which hurts any value he provides on the base paths.

He just doesn’t walk enough (7.0% BB% in 2017) to take full advantage of his speed, and his below average batting average and power numbers make him a lock to cost you more than the value you expect from a top 60 player. Check out other options for adding speed to your team (Lorenzo Cain, ADP: 84.57; Brett Gardner, ADP: 178.27) that are available later in the draft and can will contribute in other categories.

ADP – 75-125

Can’t Be Contained:
Miguel Cabrera 1B/UT DET, Current ADP: 100.58

Last season was a lost one for Miggy. After years of easily being one of the best hitter in baseball, Cabrera struggled through the 2017 campaign, posting a .249 average and his lowest HR total (16) since his shortened rookie season in 2003. Injuries were a bit part of this performance drop, as Miggy battled a myriad of injuries including two herniated discs in his back.

At age 34, these injuries are more worrisome, and many owners will avoid Cabrera altogether as another victim of father time. While his age is concerning, I see 2017 as an aberration and expect better things in 2018. Cabrera’s batting profile didn’t change much this past season, and he posted advanced rates similar (27.3% LD%; 39.8% GB%; 32.9% FB%; 42.5% HARD%) to his previous levels, making me think the dip in production was all health related and not a sign of that plus diminishing skills.

Cabrera has arrived to camp healthy this year, and while spring training stats do not mean much, he is currently batting .333 with a .900 OPS in Grapefruit League action. Expect a return to strong production, and a better return than usual from this draft position.

Playing the Lotto:
Ozzie Albies 2B ATL, Current ADP: 122.58

Speed is alluring, and many owners chase players with this game changing ability every year only to be disappointed when their other tools do not materialize. Albies is definitely an exciting player, and has the potential to be a top tier fantasy talent if he can meet his offensive ceiling.

Only 20 in 2017, Albies held his own in 244 PA for the Braves, smashing 6 HR and stealing 8 bases while batting .286. He showed the ability to take a walk (8.6% BB%), and struck out only 14.8% of the time. His GB% (40.9%) and FB% (40.3%) were very similar to what he was posting in AAA, which bodes well for his future production.

If Albies can maintain solid power production, he has the chance to provide double-digit HR totals alongside elite base stealing totals for his owners moving forward. His youth could hurt him, and he may stumble in his second go-round with the league, but if can put it all together in 2018 he has the potential to offer incredible production for his current draft position.

Not Going Anywhere:
Travis Shaw 3B MIL, Current ADP: 94.51

Shaw was a big surprise in 2017, making the Red Sox pay for dealing him in the offseason for Tyler Thornburg. He gave his fantasy owners great production (31 HR, 101 RBI, and 84 R) from the hot corner, and raised his BB% (9.9%) and HARD% (37.1%) while lowering his K% (22.8%) and O-Swing% (29.3%).

Shaw plays in one of the best hitting parks in MLB, and will be batting in a lineup greatly improved this offseason with the additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. He should easily perform to his draft position, and is a safe bet here. I’ll leave this with you for reflection:

Travis Shaw 31 84 101 10 9.90% 22.80% 0.349 0.513
Anthony Rendon 25 81 100 7 13.90% 13.60% 0.403 0.533

Falling Down the Stairs:
Ian Desmond 1B COL, Current ADP: 114.45

I am confused as to why Desmond is still being drafted at this level. I understand that he has provided a good mix of power and speed in the past, but am struggling to see why you would select him over players like Matt Olson ADP: 120.20 or Manny Margot ADP: 132.88 if you are picking in this range.

Both play similar positions, come with some risk, but have higher potential for production than Desmond in my opinion. If he still had MI eligibility, I could understand it a bit more, but both of these positions offer better options later on. Either way, Desmond is entering the year healthy, which was not the case in his injury riddled 2017, so he is currently lined up for a better start to 2018.

At 32 you have to wonder about his speed moving forward, and if he sees a dip there he will definitely need to improve his power production (.100 ISO in 2017) in order to give you the value you expect at this draft position.


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Hunter Denson

Written by 

Fantasy baseball enthusiast, Boston Red Sox fan and general lover of baseball living in the Pacific Northwest. More likely to remember Mel Ott's career HR number than my pin number. Married to an amazing woman who supports and encourages my baseball mania.

2 thoughts on “Tier Values – Getting the Best Value for Your Pick”

  1. Great article

    Thoughts on my 12 team h2h keeper league team
    Keep 10 keepers
    Keep 7 minor leaguers
    R,sb, rbi, total bases, obp
    Era, whip, k, quality starts+wins, holds+saves

    C- Tyler Flowers
    C- D’Arnaud
    1b- Abreu
    2b- Altuve
    Ss- Andrus
    3b- Arenado
    Mi- Cozart
    CI- bour
    OF- Harper, Marte, mazara, Marcini, Fowler
    U- Morales
    Sp- Kluber, Stroman, Godly, Snell, Morton, Corbin
    Rp- Diaz, Melancon, Greene
    Bench- k.marte, choo, Blake Parker, mikolas, wacha

    Just had our minor league draft so have more than 7 MINORS
    Acuna, Robles, E. Jimenez, G.Torres, T. Trammil, Fioril(yankees), Luis Castillo, Mitch Keller, Alex Reyes, walker Buehler.

    Acuna, Torres, Robles, buehler, Castillo and Reyes will likely all contribute at some point this season. What are your thoughts? Thanks

    1. Thanks! Glad you found it helpful. Nice team. I’d probably go:

      MLB Keepers: Harper, Kluber, Altuve, Arenado, Abreu, Andrus, Snell, Corbin, Marte, Diaz

      MILB Keepers: Acuna, Reyes, Buehler, Jimenez, Torres, Castillo and Robles (Though I really like Trammell as well).

      Full Transparency: I am not a huge fan of Stroman, though he could be a good option in your league since it counts W and QS together. I see big things for Snell in 2018, and also think Corbin will end up with strong numbers as well. Both of them offer higher K upside than Stroman, so that is why I would go with them over Stroman despite the obvious chance that Snell does not win as many games. But, you could swap him in for one of those pitchers as well if you prefer him.

      I expect that many of your MILB keepers will see action in the big leagues this season, and am pretty impressed that you were able to collect that group! Well done. Lots of upside there, even this year.

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