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Go Bold or Go Home: My Guys

As you go through the fantasy preseason ranking and re-raking players, mock drafting, mock auctioning, reading analysis from this site or that one, scouring 7-11 for magazines, refreshing RotoAuthority over and over to see if the next article is up yet....

Well, at some point in this process, you start discovering that you value some players rather differently than the consensus. Sometimes a lot differently. Maybe you're right and you're wrong, but it's good to examine why. I'm gonna take a look at a few guys that seem to keep popping up on my draft boards, look into why I like them...and even why I might want to reexamine my choices.

I decided to make a whole team of the guys I seem to be finding value in, reaching for, and generally ending up with pretty often. Actually, it's not a whole team: one player per position, some starters and no relievers, where I'm not showing much a pattern.

The point is that when it comes down to it, you've got to trust your gut--because your fantasy intuition is the product of experience and research (and possibly nachos). That means throwing an extra dollar at the guy you want, going two rounds early instead of one and taking the jeers of your fellow drafters in stride. If you have spent the fantasy preseason getting prepared, there's a good chance it'll work out. If not...then you may want to play things by the book.

Here's the "team," including their MockDraftCentral ADP and round, Yahoo! ADP and round (where available) and Yahoo! average price (not projected value, but what mockers have been paying).

    MDC MDC Rd Y! Y! Rd Y! $
C Yan Gomes 270 23 233 19 1
1B Brandon Moss 62 5 179 15 3.3
2B Aaron Hill 132 11 127 11 7.4
SS Everth Cabrera 200 17 115 10 9.4
3B Aramis Ramirez 146 12 156 13 4.5
OF Matt Holliday 53 4 60 5 20.1
OF Leonys Martin 94 8 160 13 3.9
OF Colby Rasmus 202 17 after 212   under 2
SP Anibal Sanchez 116 10 61 5 20.2
SP Matt Cain 130 11 81 7 15.3
SP Francisco Liriano 188 16 146 12 4.5
SP Scott Kazmir 284 24 past 174 after 14 1
SP Josh Johnson 316 26 past 174 after 14 1

I'll breeze over Gomes and Cabrera, since I've written on the hero and the thief before, except to say that I've been very happy drafting Cabrera aggressively (as soon as I see Elvis Andrus go, usually) and waiting on catchers for Gomes (in single-catcher formats anyway).

I don't know what happened on MockDraftCentral.com to give Moss that ADP...no, I do not like him better than that. Instead, I'm talking in comparison to the Yahoo! numbers. Power is scarce, and he's got it, even if he does sit against lefties. He's an especially good option in leagues with multiple Util slots and therefore lowered position scarcity needs. He's sort of a cheat, I have to admit, because there's no way I'm relying on him as my starter at first...but that isn't a position I've targeted for value plays.

Hill has the potential to slug like an elite option at second. The reason for caution is health (and the fact that he's got some ugly years in his past. That said, I see red flags all over the second base market, and Hill's aren't much worse than most. I'd take him a couple rounds ahead of his 11th round draft average, and I'd bit well past the $7 he's costing in auctions.

Aramis Ramirez gets no love these days. He's old and a decline is coming. Or so we've been hearing. It looked like that was going to be the story of last year...and then he hit like he always does after returning from the DL. Yeah, maybe this is the year the wheels finally fall off the old wagon (what kind of mixed metaphor is that?). But maybe it's not, and he can be had for peanuts long after other owners have gambled on the likes of Pablo Sandoval and Brett Lawrie. When I don't manage an elite option, I sit back and wait for Ramirez, because the 3B middle class is shrinking faster than...I'll skip the socio-political comparison and just say it's shrinking fast.

Holliday in the 5th round isn't a huge value (and I'd say $20 is a pretty efficient price--I haven't actually gotten him in an auction yet), but when I've taken early risks I like his steadiness to balance me out. In those cases I'm not afraid to grab him in the third or fourth.

Martin is getting drafted when he's got by far the most speed left. I view him as the lite version of Starling Marte. Okay, very light, but those 36 steals were very nice last year and the Rangers like to run. And if he hits even a little, he could slide up near the top of the order instead of the bottom. There's plenty to like.

I haven't given Rasmus his own article, but I've mentioned him before. During the summer I thought his good year was fluky, but I looked at his overall career, and it looks perfectly plausible...and repeatable.

A lot of my teams have ended up having either Sanchez or Cain, and I feel good about both. With Sanchez, his 2013 improvement seems too good not to be true (don't take my word for it--look at his stats under the hood), while Cain seems likely to get his HR rate back under control and be his same old self.

Liriano is a risky bet, but with ace-level upside and he tends to look too good to pass up in the mid-to-late rounds. Kazmir is similar, but usually costs just a dollar. His underlying stats from last year suggest he's well worth spending a little extra on. And Johnson...well, that's a wild stab in the dark, but if he's going to turn things around, it'll be in San Diego.

A Little Self-Assessment

Obviously, an entire fantasy team composed of the players above would be pretty horrible. Even if I assume I have awesome relief. But that's not what I'm trying to put together--just a list of guys that seem like bargains to me. 

But why are they bargains?

1) Upside--what-if's are big in fantasy baseball and it's important to keep hope and prediction separate. That means I need to balance the guys I look for potential in with steady performers like Holliday.

2) Injury risk--apparently, I'm prepared to take a lot of it on, with the likes of Liriano, Hill, Rasmus, Johnson, and Ramirez all spending time on the DL last year.

So, some parting advice for myself (and you too): go after "your guys," and with gusto. Pay two extra dollars if you need to. Jump two rounds ahead of everyone else if you think you're still getting value. Be bold. But evaluate the players you target for potential concerns you haven't been thinking about, and--most importantly--balance your guys with safe picks and picks aligned with the consensus.



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