NFBC Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings
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Even though the NFL season is entering its last week of the regular season, some Fantasy Baseball owners have turned their attention to their upcoming drafts. The National Fantasy Baseball Championships released the latest average draft positions for the 2016 season. Some rookies make a leap into the first-round for a 15-team league, and the hot corner accounts for four spots in the top ten.

Hot Corner

Josh Donaldson leads the charge at the fifth pick, but Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Kris Bryant all land in the top 10 on average, and none of the four were chosen beyond number 17. Even though Josh Donaldson may regress a few homers below last year's 41, Toronto's lineup and park will serve Donaldson well in 2016. He hit 22 homers in the second-half, even if some analysts note that some of the homers were aided by a 26% HR/Flyball rate. Donaldson is a safe play in H2H leagues for 30 HR and 100 RBI, which should lead to dominant weeks for 70% of the season.

While Donaldson will help owners in 2016, owners in keeper leagues have owned Kris Bryan for years, but one-year league owners may want to shy away from his high price tag. Bryant's raw power entices owners, even though his 64% contact and his .378 BABIP scream regression in 2016. Yes, he could hit 25-30 homers in 2016, but he only dominated 54% of the weeks for H2H owners in 2015. Bryant's star-status bodes well for the future, but owners should tread lightly in hoping for 40 homers in 2016.

Arenado and Machado offer more dominance in H2H leagues than Bryant. Arenado hit 42 homers in 2015, and he could easily hit another 35 in 2016. He dominated 70% of his weeks last year for H2H owners, and his .284 BABIP should not hurt him. If Arenado can improve his contact rate, which dropped 5% in 2015, then owners should see his Batting Average rise. Even though Machado brings injury risk into the picture, he rewarded H2H owners by dominating 67% of the weeks last season. He may not hit 35 homers in 2015, which his 18% HR/FB slightly aided, but his SB success rate, 87% in the first half of 2015, provides valuable steals at the hot corner.

Mining for Profit (Mid-Late Round Picks)

Pitching Anyone?

While certain owners like to draft big bats in the first two rounds, others opt for Aces. Yes, one can still draft Clayton Kershaw in the first round, even though the second round offers more value with Chris Sale and Jose Fernandez.

Sale's 2.73 FIP in 2015 and his 11.8 K/9 should lead to a lower ERA in 2016 and more wins with a stronger offense supporting him. (See Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie) Sale dominated 71% of his starts last year, and owners should expect the same number or more in 2016, especially if his .323 BABIP normalizes.

Jose Fernandez dominated 91% of his starts in 65 IP last year, and his 11 strikeouts per nine, versus only 1.9 BB/9, will lure owners in this year. Fernandez boasted a 2.24 FIP, and owners will reap the rewards if he can pitch 180 innings in 2016.

Some owners may choose to wait a few more rounds, and there are plenty of strong SP's between picks 50-80. Chris Archer's dominant 10.7 K/9 and 2.90 FIP will help owners in the fourth round, and Carlos Carrasco's 10.6 K/9 and 2.84 FIP place him in Archer's company. Both pitchers dominated 70% of their starts, and either one will provide an arm with upside at the top of the rotation. Even owners that select Danny Salazar in the sixth round will provide good value. Salazar's 3.45 ERA may remain the same in 2016, but his 9.5 K/9 and and rising GB rate (44% in 2015) hint to further upside.

Late Round Picks

While owners need one or two pitchers in the top 100, here are some valuable players between 100-200. Those owners that wait for power can call on Khris Davis at #118, and Davis' 27 HR's offer a cheaper source of power if owners can survive his .247 Batting Average. He dominated 64% of the weeks in H2H leagues, and he even steals 5-7 bases a year at a 75% success rate.

Those owners that choose to wait on saves can turn to A.J. Ramos at #128. Ramos saved 32 games in 2015 with a 11.1 K/9. While owners may have to take on a higher ERA in 2016, see Ramos' 3.01 FIP, Ramos could reward teams with another 30-save season.

Even though Jorge Soler struggled through 2015, his improved contact rate, 70% in the second half, and his raw power could help owners in 2016. Soler could earn his 163rd draft selection, especially if he eclipses 25 HR's in 2015.

While Soler offers a power bat to fantasy owners, Raisel Iglesias offers a power arm at #164. Iglesias' 8.8 K/9 and 3.55 FIP offer some value, even though the Reds' trades may hurt his win total. H2H owners should note that Iglesias dominated 75% of second-half starts.

Another OF with power is Michael Conforto. Conforto will help owners' HR totals at #180. He dominated 83% of the twelve weeks for H2H owners, and his 23% line-drive rate should help owners in 2016. He should hit 15-20 homers with a .270 BA in 2016.

Owners should continue to explore the NFBC rankings to notice the trends for the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Landscape, and we will look at deeper league players in the next post!.


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