Analyzing ESPN’s ADP for Undervalued Players (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
Continuing with our site-specific over-ranked/under-ranked series, today we’ll focus on players who are being drafted LATER than they should in ESPN leagues. We will compare the player’s ESPN ADP to our Expert Consensus Ranking (ECR) and our ADP (determined by averaging the six most popular fantasy baseball sites) and highlight those undervalued players.
The earlier rounds are what I tend to focus on for this topic because as it gets later in the draft, everyone has their own opinions. In rounds 2-12, however, if you can find a player twenty spots or more after their cumulative ADP, then you’ve started your draft off nicely with some excellent value.
Here are five players ranked inside of FantasyPros top 100 ADP, who are currently being drafted much later in ESPN roto leagues than they should be. For whatever reason, these players are falling specific to the ESPN website, and it’s something to be taken advantage of. Grab these players somewhere after our rankings (maximizing their value), but before (sometimes long before) ESPN’s ADP.
Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KC)
ESPN: ADP 54
FantasyPros: ADP 27, ECR 27
There’s no other player quite as polarizing or debated as Adalberto Mondesi. While many experts are high on the dynamic shortstop, others can quickly point to him as someone to avoid. Consider me in the former group. Not only will Mondesi rack up steals like no other player in the majors (24 last season), but he also has the ability to go on blazing hot streaks that can carry your team for weeks at a time.
Over the last month of last season (100 plate appearances), Mondesi produced six doubles, two triples, six home runs, and stole 16 bases. His OPS for the month was 1.075, and he drove in 20 while scoring 22 bases. He obviously won’t keep up that kind of pace over the full season, but just knowing what he is capable of, along with the guaranteed steals, makes him worthy of an early draft pick.
Something else to keep in mind is that it was usually due to injury or just after returning from a lengthy absence when he has slumped throughout his career. He has battled a slight foot injury to start spring training, but it hasn’t kept him out of the lineup, where he has four hits (two doubles) over nine at-bats. His style of play does lend to a few trips to the IL, but if he can avoid any problems that keep him out for a long period of time, he could easily break into the top 15 overall players in roto leagues.
Mondesi outside the top 50 is highway robbery, and you should in no way wait that long to get him. I may have to sign up for some ESPN leagues just because of this. Target him NO later than the third round.
Corbin Burnes (SP/RP – MIL)
ESPN: ADP 74
FantasyPros: ADP 59, ECR 74
While his ADP is right in line with our ECR, he’s still going 15 picks past the overall average. His 2020 breakout was, by all means, no accident, and for those who are willing to explore why exactly it happened, realize he is worth a much higher selection.
Armed with a high-velocity fastball and hard-breaking slider, Burnes always had great stuff coming up, but in 2019 hitters locked onto his straight fastball and crushed it for a ridiculous amount of home runs. After spending the off-season completely revamping his pitch repertoire, he returned for the shortened season and consistently made hitters look foolish. His numbers were so good that he was in the Cy Young conversation, and there’s no reason he can’t pick up right where he left off.
The injury he suffered at the end of the season was due to an oblique and not an arm problem, so there shouldn’t be any lingering effects. So far in spring, he’s thrown three innings, allowed one base runner, and struck out seven. I’m buying 2020 as no fluke and fully expect Burnes to be a top 10 fantasy ace once again. And one more point worth mentioning is the quality of the Brewers bullpen. With their ability to hold leads, he should have no problem racking up wins as long as the offense can score a few runs. Draft him in the fifth round.
Yordan Alvarez (LF/DH – HOU)
ESPN: ADP 95
FantasyPros: ADP 81, ECR 57
The Astros have played it safe throughout early spring training with Alvarez, who has yet to see any game action. However, he is scheduled to suit up this weekend, which should allow him plenty of time to be ready for opening day. The concern over his knees has caused him to fall daily in fantasy drafts, and for players in the know, it creates quite the bargain.
With a player such as Alvarez, owners must be willing to roll the dice to obtain his MVP caliber services. If he can DH 140 games, a .300, 40 home run, 110 RBI season is not out of the question. The only real worry is if his surgically repaired knees will hold up, and to me, the reward far outweighs the risk. A sixth-round pick won’t ruin your season if he doesn’t stay healthy, but if he does, he could win it all for you.
Keston Hiura (2B – MIL)
ESPN: ADP 96
FantasyPros: ADP 66, ECR 65
Hiura is a perfect example of a player whose ADP, for whatever reason, is much lower on a specific site. While averaging near the top 50 for all other sites combined, Hiura is barely cracking the top 100 in ESPN leagues. He did have a miserable season last year, but a selection anywhere after round seven is a steal with his skillset and tremendous upside.
After putting up an excellent rookie campaign where he produced a .938 OPS, stole 9 bases, and belted 19 home runs (over 84 games), Hiura returned for the shortened 2020 season, and like many of his Milwaukee teammates, he stunk. His hard-hit rate took a heavy downward turn, and his K rate shot up to worse than a strikeout per every three plate appearances. He still managed to drive in 32 runs and belt 13 homers, but his BABIP fell off a cliff resulting in a .212 batting average and a .297 on-base percentage.
The likelihood of that happening again is slim to none, as Hiura is just far too talented with the stick to hit near the Mendoza line again. Look for him to end up somewhere in the mean of the two seasons, as it does happen for many players coming off of a high and then a low year. With that in mind, Hiura is likely to generate somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 home runs, 15 steals, 90 RBI, and a .250 BA.
He’s projected to bat cleanup in the Brewers lineup following Christian Yelich and some combination of Lorenzo Cain and Kolten Wong. All these guys are highly capable of getting on base, leading to plenty of RBI opportunities for Hiura. If he’s able to cut down the K’s even a bit, you’re looking at an all-star caliber second baseman who you should be able to get easily in the 7th round of ESPN leagues.
Austin Meadows (LF/RF – TB)
ESPN: ADP 106
FantasyPros: ADP 92, ECR 76
Meadows is one of my favorite players at his draft position this year, and judging by his ECR, I’m not the only one who thinks so. After missing a heavy portion of the season on the COVID list last year, Meadows never fully returned to his former self. He looked overmatched at times, and his timing, more often than not, was off, leading to an 87 wRC+.
Fully rejuvenated for this season, I expect the 25-year-old to produce as he did in 2019 and help substantially in all five categories. He has an extremely high ceiling, and the Rays’ order around him is sneaky good. If he stays healthy, I expect him to finish somewhere in the top 35 overall. Don’t wait until the triple digits. Target him in the 8th round, and you’ll be thankful you did.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our Cheat Sheet Creator – which allows you to combine rankings from 100+ experts into one cheat sheet – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.
Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.