Building a 2021 $14 NFBC Offense

Last year, I debuted a series of posts using NFBC average auction values (AAV). It was a jolly good time, so I’m going to do it again this season. Once again, I’ll start by building a $14 offense. That’s right, 14 hitters, all just a buck. Isn’t that exciting?! I can only imagine the thrills that will be had choosing between players most fantasy owners have no desire to roster. But think of how amazing you $246 pitching staff would be!

For whatever reason, auctions on the NFBC are not very popular. Over the entire month of February, we have AAV from just seven of them, versus a whopping 165 drafts. Sure, auctioning is way more enjoyable in person, but it’s still far superior to drafting, regardless of whether it’s in person or online, in my opinion. Anyhow, there are a total of 59 $1 hitters to assemble a legal starting roster from.

Introducing, the ultimate frugal Pod Squad:

The $14 Offense
Position Player HR* R* RBI* SB* Avg*
C Danny Jansen 15 46 48 1 0.235
C Elias Diaz 7 32 35 0 0.262
1B Rowdy Tellez 23 58 66 1 0.259
3B Eduardo Escobar 22 73 79 3 0.258
CI Bobby Dalbec 26 62 70 2 0.232
2B Ty France 15 53 56 1 0.258
SS Nick Ahmed 15 70 70 9 0.250
MI Cesar Hernandez 10 76 55 5 0.272
OF Aaron Hicks 20 76 65 8 0.237
OF Mark Canha 22 77 72 7 0.247
OF Oscar Mercado 10 50 41 15 0.244
OF Willie Calhoun 19 53 62 1 0.247
OF Myles Straw 3 54 37 26 0.252
Util Hunter Renfroe 26 59 67 5 0.229
Total 233 839 823 84 0.249
*ATC projections

Somehow, this offense’s projections obliterates last year’s $14 squad, with higher forecasts in each of the five categories, including greater than 100 RBI and runs scored more. Of course, that still doesn’t make this a good offense! It’s hard when you only have $14 to work with.

For this exercise, I generally preferred young hitters I thought were undervalued based on a reasonable projection (like my Pod Projections) and young hitters whose projections are worth no more than a buck (i.e., not undervalued), but are a dart throw for a big breakout. There’s little reason to buy an established veteran worth a buck or two for a buck, knowing there’s only a small chance to earn a lot more than that, as you could easily find that level of production on free agency throughout the season.

While some fantasy owners are willing to pay the boosted position-adjusted values for strong catchers, others hate spending on them and choose to pay a total of $2 for their pair. There’s no correct decision, but just understand that those $1 catchers are likely actually worth negative value, so you’re still overpaying for the contributions they provide. Choosing your $1 catcher often comes down to ignoring a killer batting average and buying power or rostering the guy who “won’t hurt you”, which essentially means he should bat like .260+, but not be a big help in the counting stats. Of course, “not being a big help in the counting stats” is hurting you as you fall behind your leaguemates who rostered more counting stats from their catchers.

I went with one from each bucket, opting for the upside of a young Danny Jansen who fantasy owners are rapidly giving up on, and a Coors Field boosting Elias Diaz. I still think Jansen owns some interesting skills and I would be more than happy to pick him up for a buck. Diaz isn’t likely to do a whole lot in the counting stats, but with Coors as his backdrop, anything could happen, and he’s unlikely to hurt your batting average as a result.

The theme for the corners was mostly ignoring batting average and just buying the power. Because the Blue Jays went out and added two quality bats without shedding any, Rowdy Tellez finds himself in a roster crunch. Obviously, if he hits, that crunch won’t affect him, but his leash is shorter now and there’s more pressure for him to perform. Although Eduardo Escobar and a bench player were my only two third base options for this exercise, I do like Escobar to rebound off last season’s disappointing year. I think he’s going to be a bargain in every league as there’s little downside at his price. I’m not the biggest fan of Bobby Dalbec, but I would much rather speculate on big power with my buck and hope the batting average improves than buy what I think is a .280 hitter with just 15 homers and risk a down BABIP year. Note that the ATC projections for both Tellez and Dalbec are assuming only partial seasons, so additional playing time would amp up these counting stat projections.

I like Ty France, though his playing time isn’t completely secure as the assumed starting DH. He’s going to have to hit, which I think he will, to keep getting those DH starts, as the Mariners could very easily start rotating others in if France hits a slump. This is especially true when they deem Jarred Kelenic ready. Both Nick Ahmed and Cesar Hernandez are pretty boring, but both contribute a bit in both power and speed, and the alternatives here weren’t any more exciting. News just came out that Ahmed said he was affected by a shoulder injury he suffered during summer camp, so it’s possible he beats his projections if health held down his performance and he has fully recovered.

My outfield is pretty interesting, mixing some veterans with some youngsters with huge variance. A healthy Aaron Hicks is a solid fantasy player, though his passiveness leads to more strikeouts, which leads to a weak batting average. Mark Canha could hit leadoff for the Athletics, which would boost all his counting stats. It doesn’t seem like the Indians have given up on Oscar Mercado, and I certainly haven’t either. While last year was brutal, it was just 93 plate appearances, and he still owns a blend of power and speed. Plus, the Indians have no standout alternatives to keep Mercado from winning a starting job.

Willie Calhoun’s 2020 should probably be completely thrown out as he was recovered from a fractured jaw after being hit by a pitch. Unfortunately, now he’ll have to battle Khris Davis, who himself has struggled mightily over the past two seasons, posting sub-.300 wOBAs. For a buck, I’ll take a chance on Calhoun as winning the job could yield a tidy profit. I still find it hard to believe that not only is Myles Straw the leading candidate to open the season as the Astros starting centerfielder, but he may hit leadoff! I figure the team could come up with someone better, but that hasn’t happened yet. Straw owns tons of speed and does get on base. Even though I don’t actually like his odds at remaining a regular all season, you have to pay the buck to find out. He could reward you with 30+ steals and a decent amount of runs scored.

Finally, I settled on Hunter Renfroe as my Util guy. One of Renfroe’s biggest issues throughout his career is posting a respectable BABIP. His career best is just .275 and his career mark sits at just .254. A move to Boston is the ideal opportunity to improve upon this weakness, so he would then become a nice power contributor, but not necessarily kill your batting average along with it.





Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Nasty Nate
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Nasty Nate

I’m curious what $246 pitching staff you would pick!