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BP Fantasy: target or avoid?

Every drafter needs a good set of rankings and that’s exactly what we’ve provided in our draft kit that was sent out earlier this week. We have given you the rankings from ESPN, Yahoo and our own personal BronxPintripes ranks. Using these rankings as a guideline while drafting, they will give you an idea when to select, or pass, on players. I would always recommend you to adjust rankings given the scoring rules in your leagues, but the rankings we provided are for a standard 10-team league.

To go along with these rankings, we went above and beyond to highlight some players to target, and others to avoid. As we go along these highlighted players, be aware that while it would be great to land all of the targets, it is unlikely as your league mates might be reading this too! Let’s dive into those players you should be targeting in your drafts.


Bryce Harper Was- OF: Duh, obviously the reigning NL MVP would be a target in all drafts (is what you are probably thinking, and you’d be right). However, Harper is someone that I have seriously been considering ranking first overall. After posting a jaw-dropping 2015, there is a chance his numbers are even better this season. The Nationals lineup should be more potent with their off-season additions, and there is no reason to believe Harper shouldn’t reap the benefit. Having protection in the lineup will force opposing pitchers to challenge him, and that’s not something many pitchers want to do throughout a game. The only reason I couldn’t move Harper into the top spot was his lack of steals. This is the one category that Mike Trout dominates over Harper. Aside from that, I expect another monster season from Harper.

Madison Bumgarner SF- SP: There was a report that Bumgarner may miss his first couple starts this Spring, which may strike some fear into some fantasy players, but this is great news. No, I’m not happy someone is dealing with injury. I am happy that other owners are shying away from owning one of the best pitchers in the game. Bumgarner showed the world his freakish talent in the World Series two seasons ago and that’s what I’m banking on. He is a big, athletic pitcher (checking in at 6’5’’ 250 lbs) who can also rake at the plate. It is too bad standard leagues don’t give pitchers hitting bonuses. On the mound he is a reliable option to start 30-plus games, a 300-strike out potential and as close as a lock as you can get to a 15-win season. What’s not to like?

Jones is an OF that can help you in many ways
Jones is an OF that can help you in many ways

Adam Jones Bal- OF: This hurts to write as a Yankees fan, writing on a Yankees site, but I am an Adam Jones fan. I think he has every skill that you would want from your centerfielder, both offensively and defensively. In the fantasy world, we are only concerned about his batting statistics. Last year was a down year for Jones, which is the reason I am high on him this season. He is being overlooked by many, and even ranked as such. When people dismiss players with good career numbers, you have the advantage. Jones is a guy who has been drafted in the first three rounds in the past, as he sees himself slipping into the fifth this year. If that’s the case in your league- jump on it quickly. If you follow the plan outlined in our pitching article, Jones could be a solid second outfielder on your squad.

Noah Syndergaard NYM- SP: The man they call ‘Thor’ is sometimes stuck as the third wheel in the stacked Mets rotation behind Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey. Now a small disclaimer, I love these three pitchers and will try to own one of them on every team I have. The one that I’ve found myself drafting the most is, Syndergaard. This is all because of value and ADP (average draft position). While deGrom and Harvey are hot picks early in the draft, I can wait a few more rounds building my offense then snag Noah in round eight or nine. The hard throwing right-hander gets the advantage on the field of facing other team’s third starters. The advantage comes when you consider the fact he could be the ace, or at least number two on most clubs in the league. I love taking a guy with that much potential and talent at that point in the draft.

Troy Tulowitzki Tor- SS: I swear I am a Yankees fan! Just hear me out here. Tulo is still one of the premier shortstops in the game and is an integral piece of the best offense in baseball. The Jays lineup top to bottom is downright scary. It is a lineup you definitely want a piece of on your fantasy team, and Tulo is the perfect piece. More than likely he will bat in the two-hole, which means a ton of runs scored and of course the power numbers will be there for the slugger. I also believe the familiarity of being in Toronto for a full season will be a blessing for Tulo as he had heard his name in trade talks for years in Colorado. Sometimes you need to throw your fandom to the side in fantasy and play the game to win.

Raisel Iglesias Cin- SP: This name may surprise some casual fans, but it’s one to remember when it’s time to draft your team. Iglesias’ win-loss record wasn’t impressive (3-7), neither was his ERA (4.15) nor was the fact he only pitched half of last season, dealing with shoulder problems. So why are we targeting him you ask? Because digging a bit deeper will show you the talent is ready to burst. He struck out 104 batters in just 94 innings. He walked only 28, gave up only 11 home runs and held batters to a .228 batting average. We are drafting him because his talent is better than the story the stats tell. We are drafting him because we are counting on strikeouts, a low WHIP and an improved ERA. We are NOT drafting him expecting a big win total because the Reds are not that good. Pick him up later in drafts and enjoy some very strong numbers.

Christian Yelich Mia- OF: Yelich is one of my favorite players in baseball. The guy is a gamer and flies under the radar down in Miami. Last season was a struggle as he battled injuries and was in and out of the lineup. In fact, the Marlins lineup never had their full arsenal as both he and Giancarlo Stanton were injured much of the year. I’m betting on Yelich to have health on his side, and Stanton behind him in the lineup most of the season. If that is that case, you can be sure of very nice numbers from a guy being drafted in the 12th round of your draft. He is someone that can contribute to all major offensive categories if he stays on the field all year. Make sure he is on your team and you will be getting trade offers for him before you know it.

Alex Wood LAD- SP: Here is a name that was getting a lot of praise in the fantasy world a year ago. However, he was a major disappointment last season with the Braves, he has moved onto the Dodgers and will look to bounce back. That is exactly what I expect him to do, as he will be surrounded with much better talent, both in the rotation and his lineup that will try to give him much more run support than Atlanta could. (His teams gave him the fifth lowest run support in baseball a year ago). Even with such poor support, Wood posted 12 wins, 139 punch-outs and a sub-4 ERA. I would expect those numbers to improve with the Dodgers, and in tow will yield great results as he is being selected in the last two rounds- if even being selected at all.

Castro has a chance to be a great late round steal
Castro has a chance to be a great late round steal

Starlin Castro NYY- 2B, SS: See, I told you I like the Yankees! This selection was something I immediately thought of when I heard the Yanks acquired the young infielder this winter. In the second half of the season, Castro was one of, if not, the hottest hitters in the league. After struggling in the first half as he tried to find himself at a new position, he came out of the All-Star break on fire and only picked up steam the last month of the season. He was a major part of the Cubs playoff push and should look to continue that success in the Bronx. He will be a bat at the bottom of the Yankees order to start the season, but there is value to be had. He has shown that he can post a strong batting average, and should be able to score runs and steal bases to help the New York offense strive.

Luis Severino NYY- SP: See? See! Another Yankee! In all seriousness, I think Severino is ready to take the next step into stardom. I believe he is a great last round pick for your team as he is on a good team that will give him run support and a couple wins he might not deserve. With that said, when Severino made his debut last season, he showed flashes of dominance that has all Yankees fans excited about a full season. The only major concern with selecting him is if the Yankees front office decides to put an inning limit on the young hurler. If this happens, it will obviously affect your staff late in the season, especially if Severino find success early. If he struggles, there is no risk as you are taking him in the last round that you can cut your losses and move on. But I wouldn’t worry about that- he will be a nice asset to your rotation.


Clayton Kershaw LAD- SP: Oh yea, we’re starting quick. This is nothing against Kershaw and the stats that he has continued to rack up year in and out. This has nothing to do with health factors. This has everything to do with value! It is something I have repeated and will continue to repeat throughout this article. Yes, Kershaw is the most dominant pitcher in the game. Yes, he has wins, strikeouts a good ERA and WHIP every year. No, I do not think he is worth a top-5 pick. As I have outlined in the post on pitching in this draft kit, I outlined a strategy for when to draft pitchers. The value of getting a top offensive player in the first round is more vital to your success than going with a pitcher first. When drafting I’d much rather start off with Josh Donaldson/Max Scherzer than Kershaw/Jose Abreu. This is the sole reason I’d pass on Kershaw in the first half of the first round.

Charlie Blackmon Col- OF: Blackmon is a guy who found a ton of success when inserted into the Rockies lineup after a number of injuries took out the projected starters. He took advantage of the opportunity and has thrived in the thin air of the Colorado backdrop. Over the two years he has been a full-time player he averages a .288 batting average with 18 homeruns, 87 runs and 64 RBI. Those are definitely solid numbers, but it’s not worth a pick in the early fourth round. With that pick, I need someone who is a core player on my roster, and I’m not sure someone with those stats give me that security. There are better options at that point in the draft, so I will be passing on Blackmon.

Price takes another crack at the AL East, this time with the Sox
Price takes another crack at the AL East, this time with the Sox

David Price Bos- SP: This is one of many players who have switched teams during this off-season that we find ourselves trying to figure out. Well, in this draft kit, I also took a look at some of those big names and their fantasy values. Price is one that I’m not as high on. He will stay in the AL East, signing with Boston this winter- his third of five AL East teams. Again he will face the challenges of pitching in hostile parks, against teams with good offenses. What’s different, is he now has to face his old Blue Jays teammates and loses the chance to pitch versus the Red Sox hitters. This is a drastic switch in terms of strength of opposition no matter how good the pitcher. I’ll happily let someone else rid out Price’s adjustment in Fenway.

Matt Carpenter STL- 2B, 3B: Now, I really like Carpenter as a baseball player. He is gritty, professional and reliable. But we’re talking about fantasy and a player being selected at the end of the third round. Very similarly to what we mentioned above with Blackmon, his stats are solid all around, but I can find much better value at that point in the draft. The one benefit of drafting Carpenter is that he has multi-positional eligibility being able to fit your lineup at both second, and third base. This gives your team some flexibility in setting lineups each day, which we discussed in another article in the kit. However, even with the ability to play a couple positions, his offensive output is not worth your third or fourth pick.

Masahiro Tanaka NYY- SP: If you remember what we said about Kershaw and how we’re not knocking him because of his health; well we’re knocking Tanaka because of his health. The worry here on Tanaka is one of, ‘when, not if” which is a very scary proposition for fantasy owners. One thing you never want to plan on dealing with is injury. Yes, injuries always happen and more than likely your team will be hit with the injury bug, but it is something we’d like to avoid. You can avoid it by staying away from players with injury history, or someone who has a tendon in his elbow ready to explode. I love getting ready for “Tanaka Tuesdays” and seeing him take the mound, but there is always the worry that his elbow will betray him. When it does, I don’t want my fantasy team to hurt along with my team in reality.

Pederson's strike out totals worry me
Pederson’s strike out totals worry me

Joc Pederson LAD- OF: Young Joc was a prospect the baseball world was drooling over just a couple seasons ago. With his first full season under his belt, the masses were, well… underwhelmed. He had a hot streak in the middle of summer smashing home runs almost every game, which earned him a spot in the Home Run Derby. Aside from that, his numbers were uninspiring. He hit just above the Mendoza Line at .210 and only knocked in 54 runs on 26 homers. His penchant for the strike out is scary as a fantasy owner, especially if your league deducts points for punch outs. I don’t expect his numbers to be much different from last season, so I’m leaving him off my draft boards. If things change during the season, he could be a nice waiver pick up.

Wei-Yin Chen Mia- SP: The whole off-season, I didn’t understand the attention Chen was demanding by teams. Fans were clamoring for their team to sign the lefty, but the draft pick attached to him slowed down his process and he ended up landing in Miami. This is a better situation for Chen as he had pitched most his games in the AL East parks, specifically home games at Camden Yards. The park in Miami is pitcher friendly and the NL East doesn’t present the challenging lineups the AL East had in his past. However, even with that said, I’m not looking to take Chen, despite his late-round availability. Outside of Jose Fernandez, not many pitchers are fantasy relevant in Miami, and I don’t see Chen breaking the mold. He may be a nice spot start off the free agent list if it’s the end of the week and you need a starter.

Pablo Sandoval Bos- 3B: I thought about just posting a picture of Panda in this space, but I didn’t think that would be fair to him. Instead, I’ll just tell you exactly why Sandoval shouldn’t be anywhere near your team this season. First of all, he completely let go of his conditioning and body when he arrived to Boston’s Spring Training a year ago. There has been nothing reported so far this spring to believe he has changed since. Secondly, he used to be a dangerous switch hitter in San Fran, but in Boston, he completely disregarded batting righty and strictly became a lefty. This took away so much from his game and what made him so effective late in games. Lastly, at least for this article, he was awful in the field last season. Yes, I know fielding doesn’t matter in fantasy, but he is losing his value on the field and they already have David Ortiz as a DH. Where Carpenter before had multiple positions, Sandoval has none.

Edinson Volquez KC- SP: A World Series winner Volquez became last year, but that doesn’t undo his mediocre regular season (and career in general). He has been a pitcher who benefited from one breakout season in 2008 and has managed to find a job no matter his performance the year prior. He has landed big contracts despite losing records and 4-plus ERAs. Somehow because of these contracts, he has remained a name in the fantasy circles and gets himself drafted year after year. This year, don’t let yourself get sucked into the same trap. He’ll only disappoint.

Brandon Phillips Cin- 2B: This selection is mostly due to progression in age, causing regression in performance. It seems as though just a few years ago, Phillips was the top second baseman in baseball. He was an all-around player who hit for average, power and would swipe bases. As comes with the territory, father time is undefeated and has started to claim his next victim. As one of the few pieces left standing in Cincy, Phillips has close to no help in that offense and coupled with his steady decline, his value for your team is next to nothing. Seeing a name that used to be such a force makes it tempting to pick Phillips in the last few rounds, but there are better, younger, options that will help your team.

These were just a short list of players I am both targeting and avoiding in my drafts. For any further questions be sure to check out the rankings including in this draft kit and reach out on Twitter (@Jtmac21). Let’s us know some of your favorite targets and untouchables are this season.

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