Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Price Isn't Right

Every year, there are a handful of players who get advanced up the draft boards more than they probably should. Maybe it's a big name, or the chic sleeper pick of the year, or a guy who had a strong second half. The problem is, as buzz builds around these players, they get drafted earlier and earlier, thus eliminating any "value" from the pick.

Strictly using Yahoo's current O-Ranks, I will simulate 7 rounds of a fantasy draft for a 12-team league, naming one player in each "tier" I will not be taking in that round. Note that I am not saying in any cases that these guys aren't useful fantasy players; I am merely saying I don't think the price will be right relative to the value they will bring. So, without further ado, here are the list of players who probably won't make my teams this year because I don't agree with their current prices:


Round 1: Justin Verlander
Yahoo O-Rank: 11
No, this isn't just because I'm an Indians fan. Look, Verlander is awesome. Very good chance he'll be the best pitcher in fantasy, and any team would love to have him. This is just a philosophy thing: It's the first round of the draft, and you're picking the guy who is going to carry your team this season. Why pick a guy who is only going to play 30-some games? Take the best hitter available so your first-rounder is producing for you on a daily basis, not every fifth day. There are still plenty of aces with O-ranks in the 30s-60s who can anchor your fake teams.

Round 2: Buster Posey
Yahoo O-Rank: 20
Posey stands in a tier alone atop the catcher position, leading many GMs to think "aha, I'll target him at the top of my draft and dominate that category." I think you're getting too cute there. Position scarcity matters, but catcher isn't actually thin this year. I see it similar to Tight End in football last year: Posey (Gronk/Graham) is the top dog, but there are 10-12 guys who you can get later on that you're perfectly fine having at the position. Catchers also take a lot of wear and tear, so I'd be very nervous to take Posey this early. Take the best pure producer available in the second round, and get your catcher later on.

Round 3: Bryce Harper
Yahoo O-Rank: 36
Harper is crazy talented, but I think the hype surrounding him has made his draft stock too high this year. It's only his second season--there will be bumps along the road. Harper's ceiling is high, but remember you don't get rewarded for his production from 2014-on (unless you're in a keeper league); you only get his 2013 numbers. And for 2013, I can see guys who are currently ranked behind him, such as (Bruce, Holliday, Butler, Gonzalez, Zimmerman...the list goes on) who will put up similar value but not need to be taken as early as Bryce. Let your leaguemates overpay for Harper, then send me angry tweets when he wins the MVP this year.

Round 4: Jacoby Ellsbury
Yahoo O-Rank: 37
I actually wrote a very positive blurb about Ellsbury in our outfield rankings, but that was based on where we have him ranked (35th among outfielders), not where Yahoo has him ranked (37th overall). He's great as a flier, but not as a core piece of your team. I'd rather have those same guys I mentioned above in the Harper blurb than Ellsbury. And, if you look at our OF ranks, you'll see where we stand. Yahoo has bumped him up because of the tantalizing potential (and someone in your league probably will too), but I won't be absorbing that risk when there are so many productive hitters that are safer picks in the 4th round.

Round 5: Craig Kimbrel
Yahoo O-Rank: 59
Kimbrel is Yahoo's top-ranked closer this year, but I won't be taking him because of a similar argument to the one I made against Verlander. I just don't want to be the first guy in my league taking a closer. Not only do they only pitch in a handful of games, but saves is such a volatile, finicky stat that I don't plan to overpay in order to chase after it. Wait until you notice some closers coming off the draft board before jumping into the closer-buying game.



Round 6: Brett Lawrie
Yahoo O-Rank: 61
I like Lawrie a lot. The problem is, so do other people, and his O-rank has inflated to 61 as a result. He has high upside, and if you want to draft him and hope he reaches it, I won't really take issue with it. However, I probably won't be taking him here. That's because third basemen Chase Headley (64) and Pablo Sandoval (65) are ranked behind him. If you check out our third baseman rankings, you'll see we actually have Headley and Sandoval ranked ahead of Lawrie. Sort've like my Bryce Harper comments--young players with upside are fun, but if it means overpaying when there are more reliable guys in the same draft position, I probably will let my opponent make the reach.

Round 7: Aroldis Chapman
Yahoo O-Rank: 80
Chapman will be transitioning from closer to starter this year, and the simple fact is we don't know what to expect from him. Yes, he could post elite numbers, but without being sure of that, I'd rather go with guys ranked behind him like Moore, Medlen, Scherzer, etc. Also, keep in mind that even if Chapman turns out amazing, he will be on an innings limit this season, limiting his value. He's an exciting player, but just not worth taking over a more reliable, established starter.
 

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