It’s still early in fantasy baseball drafting season, but I’m already noticing a trend in my initial drafts and auctions. Maybe this is more perception than reality, but it seems that I am at odds with ADP more often than I can remember being in the past.
Throughout my still-in-progress TGFBI draft, it feels like, more often than not, I am having to decide whether to hold back on drafting a player who I value much more than other drafters do. My rankings tell me it’s time to take the plunge, but NFBC ADP tells me to pump the brakes. In comparing my rankings to NFBC ADPs for each player I have drafted through the first 17 rounds, I realize it doesn’t just seem that I’m drafting a lot of players I am especially bullish on — I have already picked 11 players who I am ranking well above ADP.
With the frequency that this is occurring, I have had several opportunities to realize how conflicted I am in these situations and how I may not have a consistent approach when confronted with a sizable ranking-versus-ADP gap. The table below shows where I am currently ranking each of these 11 players and where each is typically getting drafted in NFBC leagues. I have also included the pick I used for each player and noted how many picks ahead of NFBC ADP I was when I selected each player. Please take notice of the incredible discipline I showed in waiting on Alex Colome, Adalberto Mondesi, Chris Archer, Jose Quintana and Matt Olson! When I took David Price in Round 6, I had another 21 picks to wait until I was up again, so even with him, I showed some restraint.
|Player||My Rank||NFBC ADP, last 7 days||Drafted him at pick:||Picks ahead of ADP|
But for the other five players in the table, I was far less patient. There is a pretty clear pattern in that I reached for each of these players after the 100th pick. While that’s hardly late in the draft, it makes some sense to take more risks at that stage than during the first six rounds or so. However, I was able to hold off on Archer, Quintana and Colome until several rounds past the 100th pick, so it’s not as if I threw all caution to the wind once I got to the seventh round.
So this begs the question of whether it is advisable to reach for players, even in the middle-to-late rounds. When I’m grappling with this question in real time, I usually take two factors into account. I am monitoring my rankings to see if there is a near-equivalent to the player in question (I tend to keep entire tiers in my queue to make it easier to track this). Also, I am looking back at my existing roster to see if there are more pressing positional or categorical needs I should prioritize before taking this player.
In looking back at the five picks I may have made prematurely, I can see there was a good rationale for being aggressive in at least two of those cases. When I took Peralta in Round 8, Giancarlo Stanton was my only outfielder, and the closest equivalents — Wil Myers and Andrew McCutchen — were not all that close. In drafting Alvarado, I was betting that Raisel Iglesias and Ken Giles would be gone when my next pick was up, and that’s precisely what happened. If I had taken that chance, I would have had to settle for David Robertson or Jordan Hicks as my top reliever, and I am not confident that either one will get a sufficiently large share of his team’s save opportunities.
The other three cases are a little more difficult to judge. I had Bauers just slightly ahead of Jackie Bradley Jr. in value, and with both players, I was looking for someone to add to home runs and steals. I took Bauers in Round 13, and Bradley was still available when I was up to pick in Round 14. Having Bauers in hand, I took Quintana. Had I waited on Bauers, my most likely result would have been a combination of Ketel Marte and Bradley, plus a starting pitcher taken in a later round, who would have been a sizable downgrade from Quintana. Since I was able to get Flores — a rough equivalent to Marte — in Round 15, the chain of events that resulted from taking Bauers likely produced the best result.
My selection of Sanchez passes the smell test as far as waiting for his tier to empty out. I didn’t draft him until Kyle Freeland, Collin McHugh, Nathan Eovaldi, Tyler Skaggs and Eduardo Rodriguez had all been taken. The only reasonably close equivalent left was Mike Minor, and with a 349 ADP, he would have been a much bigger reach than Sanchez. However, I still think it might have been a wasted pick, given that I already had five starting pitchers but had yet to draft a second reliever or a second catcher, and I had yet to adequately address my stolen base situation.
That leaves Flores, who has been my biggest reach of all so far. By the time I took him, I was at the end of my list of second base options that I was optimistic about, and as I mentioned above, he made the Bauers pick work out. (I will still need to draft a fill-in second baseman to use while Flores gains eligibility there.)
If I had any doubt about reaching for Flores as early as I did, I got a harsh reality check just moments ago. I had Greg Allen queued up to draft in Round 18, which was five rounds earlier than his ADP suggested he should go. He was the remaining player who had the best chance to steal at least 25 bases. Allen was taken two picks before my turn came up.
With so many discrepancies between my rankings and NFBC ADP, I am giving certain projections another look and have already made some changes. However, as long as your rankings and projections are sound, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern if you find yourself reaching repeatedly. It’s best, however, to do it later than earlier, and to ensure that you don’t have reasonable fallback options and don’t have pressing needs elsewhere to address.
Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.