Join SI.com's James Quintong in a discussion of some of the latest news in football, baseball and other sports and how it relates to fantasy teams and leagues.
3/22/2007 04:14:00 PM
Shuffling the draft board
Look for Jonathan Papelbon's draft value to increase dramatically now that he's back in the fold as the Red Sox closer.
If you're doing a fantasy draft anytime soon, there's no way you're going to get a bargain on Jonathan Papelbon as he's been declared the Red Sox closer after flirting with a spot in the starting rotation throughout the offseason and spring training. Papelbon was one of the top closers last season before being shut down with arm problems in September. Back as the main source of saves in Boston, Papelbon now ranks in that top tier of closers with Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, B.J. Ryan, Mariano Rivera and Billy Wagner, and should be drafted accordingly.
Many people were still drafting Papelbon reasonably high (often in the 11th-12th rounds or in the $15-20 range), although his fantasy value as a starter is nowhere near what it is as a closer. But there isn't any more speculative drafting of Papelbon hoping he'll close -- he's got that job back. Meanwhile, the motley crew of relievers supposedly vying for the Boston job -- Joel Pineiro, Mike Timlin, Craig Hansen, Brendan Donnelly, etc. -- now become middle and setup men with much less value.
At least there's one little nugget of good news coming out of spring training. A couple of top players have gone down with injuries in just the past couple of days with Rafael Furcal spraining his ankle going after a popup and Joe Mauer shut down for a few days with a stress reaction in his left leg. Plus, there's Ken Griffey Jr., who's now officially being moved to right field (with Ryan Freel in center) but hasn't played yet in spring training after breaking his hand in the offseason. Hopefully the Mauer and Furcal injuries aren’t serious, but as for Griffey, for now it might be worth pushing him even further down the draft board.
Switching over to football briefly, Matt Schaub now has a chance to start at quarterback after the Falcons traded him to the Texans for draft picks. But before you put him way up high on your draft boards, just remember that the Houston offensive line has made David Carr's life a nightmare for most of his career, and that while Schaub now has a superstar wideout in Andre Johnson, that's all he's got. Still, a starting job makes him more valuable.
The Falcons don't have the same safety net now for Michael Vick with Schaub gone. Former Georgia star and seventh-round pick D.J. Shockley would be the backup for now, although the Falcons likely will shop around for a veteran backup. And because of Vick’s style of game, you’ll have to pay attention to who's backing him up.
Not surprisingly, Alex Rodriguez was one of the highest-priced players in an AL-only auction.
While I've shown a number of standard snake drafts I've done throughout the preseason, it's now time to take a peek at an auction draft I did a couple of weeks ago.
This time it's an AL-only experts league draft done with the folks at FantasyAuctioneer.com, and because of a last-minute change, it was expanded to 13 teams instead of the usual 12. That did change auction values a bit because of the extra players up for bid and the additional money to be spent.
I didn't intentionally go for a stars-and-scrubs approach, but that's how it turned out after landing A-Rod for $43, Vladimir Guerrero for $40 and Miguel Tejada for $32 almost right away. However, the early spending of $29 for Mariano Rivera looked to be OK with closers slightly below his level going for about the same price as owners scrambled for saves later.
I also don't like spending a lot on starting pitching, so Erik Bedard at $20 is a stretch for me, but not necessarily compared to the rest of the draft. I can only hope to get decent value from Chien-Ming Wang and Jose Contreras at $10 each.
The Nick Swisher pick (at $20) did let me be a bit more flexible in my roster, but somehow that ended up with my first and corner man being endgame pickups Chris Shelton and Doug Mientkiewicz. Sometimes if you spend a lot to secure a top player at one position, you suffer later on. Of course, if and when there are outfielders to land on the waiver wire, I can always move Swisher to first and jettison either Shelton or Mientkiewicz.
Finally, I'm not totally sure how I ended up with so many Yankees, especially scrubs as my $1 picks at the end of the draft. But many times, that's where the fun of a single-league draft comes from -- filling out the back end of the roster with the lowest men on the totem pole.
So what do you think of this draft? Auctions do have a different twist to them based on how much you still have and who's still on the board.
It's very possible to load up your first base and corner positions with Derrek Lee and Albert Pujols to start your draft. What you do after that is a different question.
Jonathan Daniel, Doug Benc/Getty Images
In fantasy football many owners will draft running backs with their first two picks, then worry about filling the rest of the positions after that. Of course, there are only a handful of positions to fill, so you're definitely not reaching with two or even three running backs right away. Everybody wants at least two good backs, so you want to get them early and often.
But in fantasy baseball, is it a good idea to lock up a thin but often top-heavy position like shortstop or third base in the first couple of rounds? With position scarcity the way it is (Todd Zola has a good analysis at the quantity and quality of each position), can you afford to double up at one spot at the top of the draft? (This obviously counts more for leagues where you start an extra corner infielder and middle infielder in addition to the four main spots.)
Among the double studs in relatively thin positions I've seen taken in some drafts involve some combination of Albert Pujols, Derrek Lee, Mark Teixeira and Justin Morneau at first base; a combination of Jose Reyes, Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins, Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Tejada at short; a David Wright-Miguel Cabrera combo at third, or possibly A-Rod and Aramis Ramirez.
You can also pull this off with outfielders and starting pitchers, although the roster impact of taking a Vladimir Guerrero and Grady Sizemore, for example, or even Johan Santana and Carlos Zambrano in the first few rounds doesn't look as daunting as someone who has already filled up with two first basemen, two shortstops or two third basemen.
And if you're wondering, you really can't or shouldn't pull this at second base or catcher. There isn't any super-stud at second after Chase Utley that you'd want to get immediately, and while opinions on where to draft Joe Mauer are all over the board, is there a pressing need to double on catcher in the first few rounds with Mauer and Victor Martinez or Brian McCann?
In mixed leagues this doubling up can be useful, especially since you can load up on deeper positions later on in the draft. However, it loses a bit of effectiveness since an opponent who may need to dig for a shortstop or third baseman later in the draft can still find somewhat useful later on, although most people would rather have Rollins than a Khalil Greene at shortstop.
In AL- or NL-only leagues, doubling up at short might can be very useful as you'll leave owners having to scramble for a much lower-rated starter or even a bench player in a key spot. If you end up stocking your first and corner spots with Teixeira and Morneau, you may force someone to take Doug Mientkiewicz to start at first if he or she isn't careful. It might keep you away from the inevitable position run later on, although you'll likely see that at catcher or closer, places where you doubling up isn't really an option.
Of course, while you're leaving the cupboard bare at one position, someone else could be doing the same to you elsewhere if you don't act accordingly. Remember, while there are plenty of outfielders to go around, the number of ones you might actually want is smaller than you might think. And in non-mixed leagues you've got to be even more aware of closers going off the board -- unless you decide to punt on saves at the draft and roll the dice later with guys who assume the job in midseason.
So the main questions would be: Do you keep a close eye on what positions you're filling early on in the draft? Do you look for variety - an outfielder here, a shortstop here, a first baseman there - or are you just going by "best available player" regardless of position?