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Fantasy Baseball Players to Avoid in ESPN League Drafts (2023)

by Blake Meyer
Mar 17, 2023
Players to Avoid in ESPN League Drafts (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Fantasy baseball draft season is upon us, and with it comes the ability to draft on what feels like countless formats. While some of you may be die-hard fans of one platform, others out there may be the wild type and play on multiple every year (guilty). Regardless, if you’re here reading this right now, I’m willing to guess you’re the ESPN type. And as an ESPN type, there’s one thing you should know…

Their ADP is absolutely ridiculous this year.

Buckle up, we’re going for a ride on this one.

Fantasy Baseball Values to Target in ESPN League Drafts >>

ESPN drafts, scoring systems, and ADPs seem to absolutely LOVE pitching. Love may not even be a strong enough word. Currently, there are 11 pitchers in the top 36… 11 pitchers with a third-round or better draft position is a bit overkill. Compare that to, say, Yahoo, and they have seven pitchers. NFBC drafts currently have eight. What’s even wonkier about the ESPN ADP is that there are seven pitchers in the top 17 overall. Yahoo and NFBC only have two and three.

I bring this up because I honestly feel that the majority of those pitchers, especially those in the top 17 not named Gerrit Cole or Corbin Burnes, are pretty overrated in terms of their ADP. So with that in mind, I’m going to do my best to make this a list built around those guys to try and be a bit more helpful.

Overrated Players To Avoid In ESPN Drafts

Alex Bregman (3B – HOU) (Current ADP: 37 / #5 3B)

Although my inner Mariners fan wants to make a joke about Bregman cheating his way up the ADP board, I will refrain. In all honesty, though, this is much too high for Bregman. Currently seventh on the FantasyPros ECR, Bregman as the fifth third baseman off the board and an end-of-the-third-rounder has overrated written all over it.

In 2022 Bregman put together a solid season hitting .259 with 23 home runs, 93 runs, 93 RBI, and a higher walk rate than K rate. Behind him, though, are guys like Bobby Witt Jr and Austin Riley at 41 & 42 on the ADP board. Witt Jr offers elite production in every category while hitting for about the same average. Austin Riley has a chance to hit .300 with 40 home runs and 100+ RBI and runs scored. It’s hard to imagine Bregman finishing anywhere near those guys at the end of the season.

Pass on Bregman that early and look for third-base production in the coming rounds.

Wander Franco (SS – TB) (Current ADP: 51 / #8 SS)

Like Bregman, much of the case against Franco has to do with the talent somehow behind him on the ADP board. It’s not that the talent isn’t there, because it is; it’s just that being able to justify the light hitting Franco as an end of the fourth, beginning of the fifth type pick isn’t going to work.

In what amounts to essentially a full season’s worth of games (153 to be exact), Franco has hit .282 with 13 home runs, 72 RBI, and 10 stolen bases. It’s his plate vision that makes him such an appealing player, though. His career 10.7% K rate is excellent and makes him an excellent points league target, but we’re focusing on overall ADP here.

Behind Franco in ADP are guys like Dansby Swanson (77), Gunnar Henderson (99), and Oneil Cruz (103), who all have the potential to outperform Franco this season. Franco is good, but taking him 51st is a bit of a reach. Especially with how deep the shortstop position is this year.

Will Smith (C – LAD) (Current ADP: 48 / #1 C)

Let’s be honest with ourselves here. Will Smith is not the number one overall catcher in fantasy. I know there are some out there who want to believe he is, and I love your enthusiasm, but he just isn’t. As it sits right now, he’s the third-ranked catcher on the ECR behind JT Realmuto and Daulton Varsho. Those two have current ADPs of 58 & 63.

Don’t get me wrong, Smith’s production is excellent. Last season he hit .260 with 24 home runs, 87 RBI, and a .808 OPS. This makes him a lock to be a top-three catcher again in 2023. He’s just worth nowhere near the 48th pick with those other catchers still on the board. Even in these weird ESPN drafts. While his NFBC ADP is 50th, he’s still the third catcher off the board. 26 picks after JT Realmuto is going as the first catcher.

When it comes to determining someone’s value, you have to see where they’re being drafted compared to where they’re ranked. There will always be guys who seem to get drafted too high or too low. While some are guys who are going maybe eight or nine picks later than you’d expect, these are guys who are going rounds earlier than they should. I’m not saying avoid them; just prepare to be disappointed by the return on investment if you take them around their current ADP.

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