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Draft these guys and you will lose.
Every year certain fantasy baseball players are drafted way higher than they should be. Whether its fears of position scarcity or misplaced expectations, you need to make sure you don't succumb to herd mentality and take these guys because everyone else is.
Joe Mauer, C, MIN
ESPN ADP: 27
Yahoo! ADP: 27
While he is far and away the best catcher, Joe Mauer is still a three-category player. Sure, his average is nice. And his runs and RBIs will help. But the third round is too early for a guy who won’t give you much power. If you're so worried about catcher, grab Posada (who should stay healthy as a DH this year) in round 20; he'll give you more than 75% of Mauer’s stats at 10% of the cost (those percentages aren't exact.)
Draft Instead: Dan Uggla. Yes, he had a career year in average in 2010, but his lifetime home/road splits tell the story of a guy who will really like hitting in his new Atlanta home. And he’s money in the bank for 30 bombs out of your two-hole.
Jason Heyward, OF, ATL
ESPN ADP: 43
Yahoo! ADP: 46
Let’s see, an injury-prone player in the minors who just found out he has less cartilage between the discs in his back than most other humans. Oh, and there’s the sophomore slump hanging out there. Heyward should play well when he’s playing, but the risk doesn’t justify a pick this high.
Draft Instead: Brandon Phillips. He’s falling in drafts because people think of him as a 30-30 guy who's now a letdown because he's barely scraping 20-20. But the last time I checked a 20-20 middle infielder who scores 100 runs is pretty good. In his defense, he played through an injury last September which cause his numbers to fall short. But a little secret about Phillips is that he’s a first half player. So trade him in July when he’s sporting 14 homers and 13 steals and you’ll come out on top.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS
ESPN ADP: 55
Yahoo! ADP: 87
No, I’m not concerned about Jacoby’s health. He looks great in spring training. The problem is there are about five guys going in rounds 15-20 who bring his basic skill set (light power, tons of speed, nice avg) to the table.
Draft Instead: Dan Haren (in the ninth round). He’s poised for a bounce back year (not that last year was terrible.) Then grab one of the following in the later rounds to fulfill your need for speed: Juan Pierre, Brett Gardner, Rajai Davis, Jose Tabata and Michael Bourn (in that order).
Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF, ATL
ESPN ADP: 73
Yahoo! ADP: 85
Why do people want to draft Prado so high? He gives you a solid average and…?
Draft Instead: Pablo Sandoval. Two years ago he was kind of a fat guy and he roped a .330 average and 24 homers. Last year he was a very fat guy and he was hitting more buffet tables than fastballs. This year he’s back to just being kind-of-fat. Expect something closer to the kind-of-fat numbers.
Mat Latos, SP, SD
ESPN ADP: 62
Yahoo! ADP: 77
Last season he threw more pitches than he has in his entire life. And his team lost arguably one of the better run producers in the game. To me that’s a recipe for higher ERA and WHIP and lower Wins. And I like my recipes to involve butter, sugar, and if possible, beer. I’m skipping Latos this year and so should you.
Draft Instead: BJ Upton. I have no logical reasoning behind drafting the Beej. I just feel like this is the year he finally puts it all together. Feel free to send me angry faxes when he hits he hits .220 and strikes out 200 times.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, CHC
ESPN ADP: 74
Yahoo! ADP: 78
Is he injured yet? How about now? Now? Check back with me in six weeks and see how you feel about blowing an eighth round pick on a guy who is going to be out of the lineup for an extended period of time, and is hitting in front of Carlos Pena and his .198 average when he is in the lineup.
Draft Instead: Drew Stubbs. He went 20-30 last year. Sure, his .250 average won’t be mistaken for Ichiro’s, but it also won’t torpedo that category like a Reynolds or the aforementioned Pena. And even if he drops some of that power, the speed will be there no matter what. Then take
Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX
ESPN ADP: 80
Yahoo! ADP: 98
Another player I don’t understand. Even people who think he’s going to have a breakout season are projecting him to go 100/5/45/.270/45. Is that eighth or ninth round-worthy? (Answer: No.)
Draft Instead: Colby Rasmus. His 23 homers in the outfield aren’t overwhelming, but the fact that he’ll chip in 10-15 steals makes him a great value in the 10th round. And he’s entering his power prime, so it’s not insane to say he could hit 30 this year. Then, go for Ryan Theriot as your shortstop in the second to last round. He’ll give you all of Andrus’ stats minus 20 steals. But steals are much easier to make up for this year than homers.
Nick Markakis, OF, BAL
ESPN ADP: 136
Yahoo! ADP: 112
In 2007, Nick Markakis had a very good fantasy season. He went 23/112/18/.300. That was four years ago. Since then his average has held, but his homers and steals have dropped off precipitously. If you like a guy who will give you a .300 average and a tiny handful of everything else, by all means, Nick is your man.
Draft Instead: Honestly, anyone else. In the 13th round you should grab a closer or a steals guy or your third or fourth pitcher.
Torii Hunter, OF, LAA
ESPN ADP: 116
Yahoo! ADP: 129
Torii Hunter is a fantasy hall of famer. So many solid 20-20 seasons, but now he’s the inverse of Colby Rasmus. While Rasmus is going up, Torii is going down. As with Colby, Torii’s value is in his speed, but last year’s measly nine was his worst tally since 2003. And he’s not getting any younger. (He’s actually getting older, like the rest of us.) So expect him to continue dropping off.
Draft Instead: Jason Bay. Sure, he’s going to lose some power at Citi Field, but he hit 31 homers in 2008 and 36 homers in 2009. If he’s fully recovered from last season's concussion he could hit 25-30 homers this season with an average in the .265-.280 range. A bargain in the 14th round.