My NFBC Draft Champions Review

You have seen some Tout and LABR reviews for the past few weeks here on the site. We all can’t be so lucky to participate in such glorious leagues. On the other hand, we can all take part in NFBC leagues.

NFBC’s $150 NFBC Draft Champions leagues are a perfect format for me:

a) I have impending time constraints including my first child in June!

b) I didn’t have to ask my wife for permission to use our mutual bank account.

c) I was able to dwell on each pick if/when needed (8 hours to make a pick) and

d) There are no trades or free agent pick-ups once the draft is complete. This feature is my wife’s favorite, and I appreciate the preventative collusion measures. I am also much more interested in draft strategy and player projections/rankings/draft position than I am jumping on small sample sizes in-season.

The benefits of this format outweigh the costs for me – the main cost being missing out on certain players (Mookie Betts, Travis d’Arnaud, etc.) and not being able to over-trade for them.

For those unfamiliar with the format, you can review them here. In short, it’s a 15-team, standard 5×5, 50 round snake draft (23 active roster slots: 2C-1B-2B-3B-SS-5OF-CI-MI-U-9P) using Kentucky Derby Style (KDS) draft position preference. I believe I ranked my preference straight 1-8 (Mike Trout to Clayton Kershaw) and then mixed it up a bit. I was awarded the number one pick!

Here are my results up to round 47 of 50 for team Lanolin_LikeSheepsWool:

1 Trout, Mike OF
2 Marte, Starling OF
3 Springer, George OF
4 Kipnis, Jason 2B
5 Greinke, Zack P
6 Martinez, J.D. OF
7 Carrasco, Carlos P
8 Zimmerman, Ryan OF
9 Bryant, Kris 3B
10 Adams, Matt 1B
11 Harrison, Josh 3B
12 Davis, Khris OF
13 Zunino, Mike C
14 Odor, Rougned 2B
15 Mejia, Jenrry P
16 Bailey, Homer P
17 Hutchison, Drew P
18 Alvarez, Henderson P
19 Flores, Wilmer SS
20 Lamb, Jake 3B
21 O’Brien, Peter C
22 Lohse, Kyle P
23 Snider, Travis OF
24 Lindor, Francisco SS
25 Peralta, Joel P
26 Greene, Shane P
27 Ottavino, Adam P
28 Ramirez, Jose SS
29 Susac, Andrew C
30 Norris, Daniel P
31 Delgado, Randall P
32 Strop, Pedro P
33 Garcia, Jaime P
34 Montero, Rafael P
35 Burns, Billy DH
36 Smoak, Justin 1B
37 Kelley, Shawn P
38 Joseph, Caleb C
39 Gonzalez, Alexander P
40 Santana, Domingo OF
41 Hatcher, Chris P
42 Refsnyder, Rob 2B
43 Plawecki, Kevin C
44 Cahill, Trevor P
45 Aguilar, Jesus 1B
46 Barrett, Aaron P
47 Delabar, Steve P

As mentioned in my previous post, highlighting Two Last Draft Tools,  I appreciated the ability to slow draft so that I can evaluate Jeff’s Hitter Analytics (batted ball profiles) and our Arsenal Scores in addition to my rankings (RotoChamp Composites and Baseball HQ rates combined plus NFBC’s average draft position data, which obviously matched the format).

Overall, I am very happy with my active roster and impact from the bench.

Rounds 1-7 – Position Scarcity-schmarcity:

  • I went Mike Trout and decided against early position scarcity going with George Springer and Starling Marte back to back on my first turn. After my first three rounds, I was sitting with three outfielders that should net me robust counting stats – perhaps approaching 80 homers and 75 stolen bases.
  • The initial results lead me to more balance in the 15hr/25sb potential of Jason Kipnis. I honestly wanted Corey Dickerson here who was still available after 59 picks, but starting off with four outfielders would have been too interesting. I jumped on the opportunity to draft similar impact in J.D. Martinez 30 picks later. Martinez has had an excellent spring and wound up just under Dickerson in the Hitter Analytics matrix I prepared, which was ranked by the expected BABIP with homers and expected wOBAcontact scores that Jeff presented using Inside Edge data.
  • I didn’t want to draft my first starter until round eight going into the draft, but after reading as much as I could on NFBC draft strategy, I decided to land one ace depending on the relative value left. I had Zack Greinke as the best available pitcher and player in general when he made it back to me after 59 picks. The Carlos Carrasco pick is based on his glorious arsenal score and knowing that he wouldn’t make it back around to me. I was hesitant, but remember not loving any bats at that time.

Rounds 8-14 – Corner Infielders and Power:

  • I was very happy with my results here. Kris Bryant only had one spring homer at the time I believe, but I missed out on the rookie season from Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman and Evan Longoria, and I didn’t want that to happen again. There might be more swing-and-miss to Bryant’s game, but there is even more power.
  • I got to supplement Kris Bryant with Ryan Zimmerman at 3B, and I was also eyeing Josh Harrison who I thought could possibly make it back to me based on everyone being scared off by his inflated BABIP, but as you can see in the Hitter Analytics Matrix his xBABIP was right on (first column titled, BABIPdiff). I’m not banking on him offering the same value, but his projections still provided value where I dwelled on him. As you can see, he did make it back around to me so I went with his 10+/15+ potential even if it’s only in 500 PA.
  • Matt Adams was a no doubter for me at this point with power flying off the board. If it’s a lefty heavy week impending, I have flexibility once Bryant is up to put Ryan Zimmerman at 1B (or OF) or substituting in Justin Smoak if he finally takes off in Toronto.
  • Sticking with power getting plucked up, I went with 50 homers from my next two picks combined: Khris Davis and Mike Zunino. Khris Davis should go 75-25-75 in his age 27 season or somewhere between his 2014 and the wonderful-mystery-kind-age 27 season that Chris Davis had in 2013.

Rounds 15-19 – Sh*t-Show of a closing situation:

  • Most teams already had two closers when I went with my first, Jenrry Mejia in round 15.
  • I should have probably (definitely) went with Tyler Clippard or Brett Cecil on my round 16/17 turn, but I was too excited with Homer Bailey and Drew Hutchison as my number three and four starters. When I watch Drew Hutchinson pitch, I get that graceful, Corey Kluber feel prior to his release. He doesn’t have the same repertoire potential, but he should be a lock for 185+ K’s and a ERA closer to his 3.60 SIERA last year.
  • I would have pounced if either Clip or Cecil made it back to me at 18/19, but no luck. Instead, I went with Felix Hernandez’s Changeup (Henderson Alvarez) and late Nolan Arenado potential in Wilmer Flores. Would he have made it back to me in round 20/21? Perhaps, but I didn’t want to take the chance, and he was already having a great spring.

Rounds 20-21 – Diamondbacks:

  • Jake Lamb and Peter O’Brien were both fliers based the bullish reviews at the time. Peter O’Brien has Mike Zunino potential as soon as next year, but might not get the chance based on his defensive woes. The Jake Lamb pick is meh now that Nick Ahmed has been impressive.

Rounds 22-28 – Potential Saves, the Undervalued and Handcuffs:

  • Outside, my round 25 pick of Joel Peralta (possible early saves), I was very happy with cluster.
  • Kyle Lohse is great value this late outside of his strikeout floor.
  • I am sure you read everyone’s bold and ballsy predictions on Travis Snider already? He will continue making more appearances – especially in our Staff Writers’ choices impending.
  • Adam Ottavino will show up in the Staff Writers’ choices quite a bit as well. I didn’t want to punt saves. Ottavino stealing/auditioning for the closers role in Colorado sooner than later will help make my punt-or-not-to-punt decision much easier.
  • In this cluster, I wind up with my first handcuff. I am pretty happy with my MI situation in Kipnis, Odor and Flores, but there are definitely questions associated with each: back pain from Kipnis, defense from Flores, small sample sizes from Flores and Odor. The order may not be right, but I wound up with both Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. Jose Ramirez was already referenced in my Ballsy Predictions in addition to many others’. I consider myself lucky landing both considering their tricuff with Kipnis.

Rounds 31-34, Shane Greene (round 26) and Trevor Cahill (44) – Arsenal Scores:

Rounds 35-38 – Supplemental Speed and Power and Playing Time:  

  • Billy Burns good spring, blazing speed and Oakland outfield health concerns was too good for me to pass up. If I lose Kipnis or Jose Ramirez doesn’t translate, I have Burns for easy stolen bases if he plays for an extended period of time.
  • Maybe Justin Smoak will breakout in Toronto. 17+ Homers in 400 PA is still valuable at this draft position. I was actually surprised to see him still available. Ben Paulsen, Darin Ruf, Nick Swisher, Yonder Alonso, Logon Morrison, Mark Reynolds, Ike Davis, Jon Singleton and Garrett Jones went one to ten rounds (from Paulsen to Jones) before him.
  • Between Burns and Smoak, maybe I squeeze out enough homers and stolen bases to ensure top two placement within each category.
  • Playing time at this point was important for me in this cluster. I didn’t want to vulture saves or look at deep prospects until round 40-onward.
  • My pick in round 38 came out a good time. I like Susac quite a bit. Check out where he is in the Hitter Analytics Matrix, but between Buster Posey and Brandon Belt (or even Hector Sanchez and a slow start to spring at-bats), there is no guarantee that Susac lands plate appearances. I clearly needed another catcher and Wieters arm issue just resurfaced. Caleb Joseph was an easy decision at this point based on his new projected playing time, decent isolated slugging rates at AA and an excellent August that confirmed some power.

Rounds 39-onward:

  • I attempted to handcuff the pre-Kenley Jansen return closer situation in Los Angeles with Chris Hatcher. In a weekly league like this though, it might wind up being a lost cause.
  • Domingo Santana‘s and Jesus Aguilar’s power interests me. If something happens to Carlos Santana, I think Jesus Aguilar will provide a ton more value than Nick Swisher at this point.
  • Stephen Drew should be a lost cause, which is verified by his 2014 and 2015 spring. Robert Refsnyder should win the Yankees second base job sooner than later.
  • Aaron Barrett of the Nats (excellent Fastball-Slider combo with good groundball induction) is a deep sleeper closer threat if Storen misses time for any reason. Steven Delabar has horrible control, but he might be Brett Cecil’s backup, and I am facing the fact that my closer situation is my only real question mark.

Position/Bench Flexibility:

  • Jason Kipnis is my only real injury concern offensively at the moment. I can slot Odor at 2B and plug Jose Ramirez in at MI, which will supplement my stolen bases. Francisco Lindor’s arrival will give me another hopefully consistent MI option.
  • My corners give me nice flexibility. Harrison is 3B/OF eligible as is Ryan Zimmerman who will also be 1B eligible and can fill-in for Matt Adams in lefty-heavy weeks. This works nicely for whenever Kris Bryant arrives.
  • I am also happy with my bench options: Billy Burns at OF for speed; Justin Smoak at CI for power; Andrew Susac at C in case something happens to Posey or even Belt; Robert Refsnyder for when the Yankees realize he should start in place of Stephen Drew; Kevin Plawecki in case d’Arnaud misses time; and of course Travis Snider in case any of my big OF bats miss time.

Closer Situation/Punting Saves? 

  •  My question to you should be an obvious one: what do I do about my closing situation other than hope for an injury or Adam Ottavino to steal the Colorado closing job sooner than later? Do I punt the category? I can’t depend on win projections, but If Jamie Garcia wins the 5-spot in the Cardinals Rotation and Daniel Norris pitches well from the start, I might think about punting saves. I would then have nine very capable starters with some interesting arsenal scores to supplement them in Randall Delgado, Rafael Montero and Trevor Cahill.

What are your thoughts?

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Daniel Schwartz contributes for RotoGraphs when he's not selling industry leading thermal packaging. You can follow him on twitter @RotoBanter

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I *hate* filling up a position too early, because I feel like it restricts me for the rest of the draft. I like to leave at least one OF spot and the Util. spot open so I can take advantage of a perceived value. That said, this team looks really strong. Wonderful job sir!