ADP Trends and the Importance of Rounds 3 - 6
So you’ve got your big three, huh? The backbone of your team; the foundation upon which you are building your fantasy championship. While it all sounds real nice, there’s so much more work to be done. Picking your first three players, while incredibly important, is the easy part. Now it’s time to take what you know and build around them. Their strengths and their weaknesses are going to guide you through the rest of your draft, whether it be a need for power, for speed, or even for pitching.
Your next three picks are absolutely crucial. They will complete your foundation. They will help balance your squad. They will help determine whether you will be scrambling around the middle rounds like some noob fantasy kid fresh out of fantasy baseball school or methodically plucking players from a full-blooming fantasy tree to the melodious sounds of your fellow owners saying “ooh, nice pick” and “damn, you stole my guy.”
Why are these picks so crucial? Because when you hear people talking about their biggest draft mistakes and players they reached too high for, it usually happens here. Sometimes it’s because they just didn’t get their favorites in the first three rounds and are afraid someone is going to steal some of their other beloved choices. Sometimes it comes in a state of panic because too many players at a thin position have come off the board and they’re afraid that if they don’t act immediately then they’ll get stuck with Nick Punto at third. And sometimes they just don’t know any better.
You don’t want to be any of those guys. You want to make smart choices. You want to take players who are going to produce for you, game in and game out. You want players with strong track records of quality production; guys who can help carry your team in case one of your top three choices either gets hurt or was an “oops” pick.
So today we’re going to look at the players who, according to NFBC ADP data, are the guys you want to look for in these all-too-important next three rounds. You want to see who is catching everyone’s eye and where some of the rest of the primo talent is going. Some I agree with, some I don’t, so I’ll be chiming in on a few of the potential reaches you may want to avoid as well as discussing the significant risers and fallers.
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As you can see, there are some significant differences in position distribution between these rounds and the first three. First base, second base, shortstop and relief pitchers all stay fairly close; a one or two player swing. But catchers and starting pitchers get much more attention here, while outfielders, who came off the board in droves during the first three rounds, are much less frequently targeted.
In a two-catcher league like the NFBC, people want to make sure they have at least one strongly productive catcher. While the position is actually deeper now than it has been over the last several years, it’s important to most that they grab someone from one of the upper tiers first. Some owners still prefer to wait as there are a fair number of productive backstops further down the rankings, but obviously there are quite a few that feel more comfortable locking someone down a little early. While rounds three through six seem a little high, you also have to keep in mind that the NFBC uses 15-team leagues. Make sure you’re adjusting for your own league specifications. In a 12-team league, a guy like Miguel Montero is actually an eighth round pick.
Fewer people are going for outfielders here as the first three or four tiers were already plundered in the first three rounds. Chances are, those grabbing outfielder s here dealt with position scarcity early on and didn’t walk away with more than one outfielder after the first three rounds, if any at all. Consider it an important fill though, as you’ll see that while there is decent depth at the position overall, the top 25 are now off the board just six rounds in.
Starting pitching grabs the bulk of the attention in these rounds as many owners want to ensure that they find themselves an ace to lead their staff. They’ve used, at least, their first three picks on hitters, possibly more, and feel the need to start building up their pitching to gain some balance for the team. Personally, I’m a waiter when it comes to starters. The number of teams in the league determines how long I wait though. In a 12-team league, I can wait as long as the eighth of ninth round to grab my first starter. In a 15-teamer, I’ll likely make a move a couple of rounds earlier for my top two guys and then wait on the rest. As you’ll see, there is so much great starting pitching out there that you can build a fantastic staff even without drafting a top 15 guy. You do have to roll with the punches though and if it’s a shallow league and the rest of the owners are going pitcher crazy early on, you may have to adjust your game plan. In the last 12-team mock I did, because so many starters came off the board early, I opted to grab my first starter in the seventh round and then landed Adam Wainwright and Chris Sale as my top two.
One thing that’s been bothering me in recent mock drafts that I meant to address when discussing first basemen last week is the ADP of Allen Craig and its continued increase. He’s turned into one of the trendiest picks in fantasy this year where in n a 15-team league, he’s coming off the board in the third round and in 12-teamers he’s coming off in the middle to the end of the fourth. Now I can appreciate the skill set and think that he has the potential to be a strong fantasy asset, but given the number of red flags we’ve seen, I believe that you can get a player of equal, if not better fantasy value with much less risk. First of all, he’s already 29 and has yet to earn himself a full-time gig with the Cardinals. Obviously there are several different circumstances as to why, but if he was that strong, surely the Cards would have locked him in somewhere other than a utility position on the team. He also has a history of injuries that have kept him off the field for extended periods of time. Sure, the kneecap injury may have been a fluke occurrence, but then what about the other three times he was on the DL for a significant amount of time in the last two years? Again, it’s not that I don’t think he’s a capable hitter; it’s that I don’t see the need to take a guy who plays at two of the deepest positions in the game that early with that kind of risk. This isn’t Troy Tulowitzki playing shortstop. This is an aging part-timer with very replaceable stats for the position he plays. But hey, maybe that’s just me…
OK, I’ll hop off my soapbox now. Let’s just get to the key risers and fallers…
Pablo Sandoval, 3B SF (+9.72%) – Despite a quick hospital stint, he was named the MVP of the Venezuelan Winter League after leading his team to their first title in a decade while hitting .300 with three home runs and nine RBI in the championship series. At 26-years old he’s just entering his prime and with nbo more hamate bones to break, he’s primed for a big season here. And given the lack of depth at the third base position, he could climb even higher with a strong spring.
Kris Medlen, SP ATL (+5.62%) – He’s another trendy pick who continues to be on the rise this year after posting some outstanding numbers as a starter in the second half last season. He’s shown nice growth and has the bonus of a pitcher’s park to call home. While his ERA won’t sit at 1.57 again this year, he should still post strong ratios with a solid strikeout total. If you want him though, you’re going to have to invest a fairly high pick.
Roy Halladay, SP PHI (+5.32%) – His throwing sessions have been going well and people are starting to believe in him again; that the shoulder issue from last year is completely behind him. He’s still going at a much lower spot than usual, but as he trends upwards, he’ll become less of a bargain and his return value will become less substantial.
Matt Moore, SP TB (+4.42%) – Tremendous hype and a decent debut season keeps him high on everyone’s radar. If he can cut the walks down even just a little bit, he’s going to prove to be a valuable commodity.
Brett Lawrie, 3B TOR (+4.20%) – Super-hyped last year, a thin position and plenty of hope are helping many people forget a less-than-spectacular rookie season. But there’s plenty of skill there and plenty of room for growth. He’s still young with massive potential so don’t dismiss him because of a poor power showing last year.
Corey Hart, 1B MIL (-7.31%) – Let’s face it, potentially out for the entire first half is not a high draft priority. And even if he comes back in early June, there are plenty of other first base options waiting.
Eric Hosmer, 1B KC (-3.67%) – If you believe that last year’s poor showing was just a matter of a low BABIP and too much pressing at the plate, then the problem is correctable. But he’ll need to prove himself before anyone is going to trust him as their first baseman. If the problem is deeper than that, then those expecting a rebound could be in for a long season.
R.A. Dickey, SP TOR (-3.48%) – The hitter-friendly dimensions in Toronto are making people nervous, not to mention just the usual decline you see in pitchers who go from the NL to the AL and the fact that the AL East has been groomed for the knuckleball thanks to years of Tim Wakefield.
Alex Gordon, OF KC (-2.70%) – People are skeptical because the power dropped off significantly last year, but let’s not forget that he changed his approach at the plate while batting leadoff and he still led the league in doubles. He’s going to hit third in a potentially strong lineup this year, so I’d expect to see an upswing in power.
Madison Bumgarner, SP SF (-2.51%) – Maybe a slight step down from his 2011 performance, but certainly comparable years. The drop isn’t significant enough that there are red flags present, so it might just be that more people continue to wait on pitching.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy and for more detailed questions, thoughts or comments, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.