Here are Eric Karabell, Tristan H. Cockcroft, AJ Mass, Kyle Soppe, Todd Zola and Mike Sheets to discuss the the notable players they are passing on in fantasy drafts this season.
Eric: Well, it depends on format to some degree, but a few players make my fade list, and for different reasons. For Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and his 600-foot home runs, I love to watch him hit, but I do not love to watch him hit the injured list, and we have ample evidence there will be too much of a combination of both. Judge averaged 107 games played in 2018-19, then he missed more than half of 2020. We know what he is at this point. With Royals speedster Adalberto Mondesi, sure, he might be the fellow that was fantasy’s top option last September, with power, speed, batting average. He might also be the one that was just awful in August. He has no plate discipline. I see the appeal in roto formats for the steals, but it will not be me using a top-50 pick on him. I will also add “any catcher” and “any closer” to this section. Good luck there.
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Tristan: I always say this upfront: You need to be prepared to roster any player, so long as the price is right, so really the only players I’d literally avoid are the $3-5 high-end projection “only” league types, if I’m not a believer in them. Be flexible. But among the prominent names I cannot possibly see having on my roster this season, Adalberto Mondesi stands way out. It’s not just an I-rank-for-H2H-categories, strategic thing, either. Mondesi is super-quick and he’s got some pop, and with relative luck in the injury department he’d probably have an easy path to 15 homers and 40 stolen bases, but his injury history isn’t as clean as you might think, and his aggressive approach at the plate leads to some slumps at either extreme of the scale. I don’t think you can draft Mondesi assuming anything other than his being the game’s top source of steals, but that’s not the way I usually fill that category, and I it’s certainly not at the price of a top-25 overall pick, which is where he has been going on average in NFBC-style, 15-team drafts so far this winter and preseason.
Todd: This has been my answer for the past few seasons, I am off Alex Bregman. Now that his running is dwindling even more, his overall ranking has lowered, but I’m still passing. I get he is still playing in Minute Maid Park, so he should continue to benefit, but his batted ball skills aren’t as solid as other players in the top tier so he’s working on a smaller margin of error. Specifically, Bregman’s average exit velocity was 52nd percentile, his barrel rate (harbinger for homers) was 17 percentile. The Crawford Boxes are Bregman’s friend, but I want my early round batter to rely more on skills than venue.
AJ: Why exactly are we all buying in on Kyle Tucker? Look, I’m guilty as charged here, too, having ranked him in my top-10 outfielders and my overall top 25. But really, what has he actually done at the big-league level to deserve this? In his first 88 plate appearances last season, he hit .193 and in his last 81 PAs, he scraped out a .243 average. In between, he had a stellar 59 PAs where he hit .423 with five homers and 24 RBI (kick-started by a pair of games at Coors Field). Take that slice out of his 2020 and we’re looking at around a 40-game sample of a guy who hit .217 with four home runs and 18 RBI. This is top 50? I get it. Josh Reddick and George Springer are both gone and the right field job is his to start 2021. I’m just not personally willing to risk this high a draft pick on the chance that it still will be his come September.
Kyle: This is going to be a spicy take, but are we sure Yu Darvish is this good? And by “this good” I mean a pitcher knocking on the door of the elite and worthy of your second round pick? We preach about not overreacting to poor 2020 performances, so why are we reacting differently to a standout 2020? Listen, I’m not saying Darvish is a bad pitcher or even that he costs you your league, but understand that you’re paying for his ceiling, not for his expectation. In 2019, Darvish had his troubles with the middle of the order (3-5 hitters: .283 batting average) and last season, opponents who put one of the first two pitches in play hit .323 against Darvish. Small samples? Of course, but you’re the one drafting him as a cornerstone based largely on his success from last season and now he’s on a new team. An even better thought? Chris Paddack provides the most value in terms of ADP on this staff. Book it!
Mike: I’m having trouble getting on board with Jose Abreu given his ADP spike. After hitting .284-33-123 in 2019, he had an NFBC ADP of 74.2 last March. Following his 60-game MVP campaign last season, his recent NFBC ADP sits at 36.8. I’d argue that Abreu was a bit underrated heading into 2020, but are we sure that he’s now worth a top-40 pick based on a 60-game sample in which he put up career-best numbers? If this were a player in his mid-20s, I might be eager to buy in. However, Abreu is 34 years old. We know what he is by now. Maybe another MVP-type season is technically within his range of outcomes, but the more likely outcome is that he regresses to the player we saw in previous seasons. That’s still a really good player, but not necessarily one I feel the need to aggressively draft in the third or fourth round. While Abreu’s elite batted-ball data from 2020 doesn’t suggest a downturn is coming, it’s much more likely that we start to see his skills decline than improve. As a top-40 player, Abreu is a fade for me. I’m more comfortable grabbing Paul Goldschmidt or Anthony Rizzo 50-60 picks later.