Undervalued Players to Target in CBS Drafts (Fantasy Baseball)
After examining players overrated by CBS’s default rankings, let’s take a positive spin and unearth potential value picks.
There’s plenty of profit to unearth in leagues that abide too closely to the host’s order. These discounts, however, aren’t as prevalent in the early rounds. The seventh and eighth are where shrewd drafters can start stealing some undervalued talent, at least compared to my rankings. Just beware that most well-read competitors will also value many of these guys more than the default listing, taken as of Tuesday afternoon.
Some of these values account more to my personal preferences. Kyle Seager (137) and Carlos Santana (164) have higher ADPs in 2018 NFBC drafts, and Kendrys Morales has gone around the same spot (304). There’s little upside, but I don’t mind signing up for a steady power contributor with a limited range of outcomes after the 11th round.
Other guys, meanwhile, are simply receiving less recognition from CBS. Ender Inciarte and Jeff Samardzija went at picks 83 and 98, respectively, in my Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational draft, so I have a hard time seeing either falling to their 160 and 172 CBS ranks. Inciarte joined Mike Trout, Lorenzo Cain, and Tommy Pham as the only players to hit .300 with 20 steals last year. His spot atop Atlanta’s batting order makes him a valuable three-category producer even if he reverts to single-digit homers. Samardzija’s 20.4 K-BB percentage ranked 13th among all qualified starters and nobody else who threw 200 or more innings accrued single-digit wins. Don’t be afraid to take either Inciarte or Samardzija a full two or three rounds above CBS’s suggestion.
On a lower level, Shin-Shoo Choo would make a great fourth or fifth outfielder near pick 300 coming off a 22-homer, 12-steal, 96-run campaign. Don’t count on either hitting 20 long balls or swiping double-digit bags, but Josh Reddick and David Peralta provide cheap batting-average stability in the utility slot.
Tons of Starting Pitching
All my 2018 drafts have placed an extra premium on starting pitching, forcing me to aggressively pursue hurlers despite few of my preferred targets falling. In a CBS draft, I’d try to revisit an old-school approach and wait as long as possible to fill a staff.
That doesn’t mean I’ll open with eight sluggers. Yet after paying fair market value for an anchor, wait until the eighth round to grab Aaron Nola, Jose Quintana, or Masahiro Tanaka. Heck, try to get two, or pair one with Luis Castillo a tad later. Nola and Quintana have respective NFBC ADPs of 66 and 70, so snagging either top-20 arm close to pick No. 100 would represent a major coup.
The values don’t stop there, as a handful of popular breakout picks are shoved down the rankings. Some drafters will ignore Luke Weaver’s limited track record and reach for the gaudy 21.8 K-BB percentage, but a 152 rank paints him more in the fourth starter tier. I’ll definitely bite at that cost. If someone beats me to the punch, I’ll simply pivot to Trevor Bauer, Garrett Richards, Kevin Gausman, Jameson Taillon, and/or Dinelson Lamet. Those are all top-50 caliber options with top-25 upside, and CBS has all of them besides Bauer ranked behind Cole Hamels. Some leagues are full of risk-adverse drafters overpaying for potential, but I’d want to leave any CBS draft with at least one of these potential aces.
I’m in no rush to lunge for Shohei Ohtani, but I’ll grab a share if he falls comfortably beyond the top 100. At that rate, investors shouldn’t mind receiving 150-160 high-quality innings with an elite strikeout rate. They may just luck out and receive a star for their troubles.
A Few Affordable Closers
I noted an inundation of expensive closers when examining the over-ranked players. As a result, I felt compelled to seek alternatives for level-headed drafters who stay the course.
Cody Allen reached 30 saves with an ERA below 3.00 for the third straight season, so any concerns of Andrew Miller absconding ninth-inning opportunities are unfounded. Job security and an 11.66 career K/9 make him an ideal low-cost first closer, but he’s ranked after Greg Holland and Brandon Morrow.
Although Archie Bradley may not get the job, last year’s 1.73 ERA, 9.74 K/9, and 47.8 ground-ball cement him as a worthy flier when positioned significantly behind Shane Greene and Fernando Rodney. Getting 2017’s results without any saves would hardly constitute a wasted pick near the 20th round. While Brad Brach‘s second-half decline (3.94 ERA, 15 walks in 29,2 innings) is worrisome, he wields a career 3.00 ERA and 9.66 K/9 with the inside track of starting the season as Baltimore’s closer. Zach Britton isn’t eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list until May 28, and he’s far from a lock to pitch well and reclaim his ninth-inning duties. At this price, deposit some early saves and worry about Brach’s long-term status later.
CBS spiked the prices on many closers, but not elite middle relievers. Chad Green, who won’t move to the rotation this season, can offer elite peripherals for those who keep scrolling to 515. Addison Reed is a Fernando Rodney injury or meltdown away from moving up Minnesota’s ladder from setup man to closer.
Every site has a few players tucked down the rankings. They won’t necessarily stay hidden all spring-especially in cases where their stock soared due to an injury or roster movement-but some dirt-cheap buying opportunities are currently on the table.
Mallex Smith should soon receive a sizable boost. The Rays’ best Marlins imitation has left the door wide open to earn a starting job, and the 24-year-old can easily swipe 30-40 bags if given adequate playing time over Denard Span. If the rest of your CBS league falls asleep at the wheel, that speed will only cost a last-round flier.
So, did anyone notice that Matt Chapman crushed 14 homers in 84 games? Sure, he may hit .225, but his glove and batting eye will keep the third baseman in the lineup, giving him every opportunity to touch them all 25-30 times in his first full season. He produced a 36.0 hard-hit percentage last year, so why not invest for virtually free in hopes of benefiting from a little BABIP luck?