2024 NFBC High Stakes Draft Review

by Mike Schneider
2024 NFBC High Stakes Draft Review

Below I'm going to be giving a draft review of a 2024 NFBC High Stakes League that I joined. I will be going through my draft picks and strategy along with discussing some of the other trends and picks that caught my attention. These are important things to note to improve your chances of drafting your own winning NFBC High Stakes team.

On a Thursday a few weeks ago, I saw a post on X, formerly Twitter, from Ryan Bloomfield, of Baseball HQ, saying he just signed up for a NFBC Draft Champions League on NFBC and was looking for others to join the league. At that point, he was the only person in the league.

I was planning to do a draft in a few days and it typically takes several days for a league to fill. I went ahead and signed up. Within a couple of hours, the league was filled with many well-known fantasy baseball players. In addition to Ryan Bloomfield, other players in the leagues included Brian (Bubba) Entrekin, Justin Mason, Frank Ammirante, Mike Kurland, John Fish, Matt Williams, Joe Orrico, and Zach Waxman.

2024 NFBC High Stakes Draft Review

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Draft Champions League

The draft begins shortly after the league is filled. It is a slow draft with a two-hour time limit. I had a couple of hours of work to prepare my spreadsheet for the draft. Since the draft began a few days earlier than I expected, I was scrambling that evening.

Draft Champions is a 15-team draft, 50-round draft, and hold format. There are no trades, free-agent pickups or drops. It is a standard five-by-five league with two catchers, a corner infielder, a middle infielder, five outfielders, a utility only, and nine pitchers. The players that you draft, are your team for the whole year. If you have a hole on your roster at a position you are stuck with that hole.

Below are the results for the first ten rounds

Click to Enlarge

Early Rounds (one to four)

My favorite spot to pick this year has been towards the back. Typically someone I like drops to me in the first round and I get someone in the second round who I consider first-round quality.  I'm not too fond of many options that are normally available later in the second round. I got my first choice in the draft order which was pick 13.

My first choice came down to two Phillies, Trea Turner and Bryce Harper.  I went with Turner due to his speed. I thought there was a slight change that Harper may be available at pick 18 but he went at 15. It took Turner some time to get settled in Philadelphia in his first year in 2023. I expect a big second year with the Phillies.

In a previous draft I had done at pick 13, I started with Turner and Jose Ramirez but this time Ramirez went right before me at pick 17.  Again I considered two teammates with my second pick choosing Austin Riley over Ozzie Albies. Riley is a safe pick who should hit 35 homers. Runs are a category that is often overlooked.  Riley had 117 runs in 2023 and in that Braves lineup will likely be among the league leaders again.

I was targeting Yoshinobu Yamamoto in round three but he was selected at pick 3.9. At that point, I thought Gunnar Henderson was the best player available and had decided to go in that direction despite already having a shortstop and third basemen. However, Henderson went with the pick before me.

Aaron Nola is not normally a target of mine but I thought there was big significant drop-off in starting pitching after him so I went with  Nola. Given how pitchers started going off the board, I am glad I picked Nola.

Edwin Dian was the first closer off the board going right before my pick in the fourth round. I decided to go with Josh Hader who was my number one ranked closer. This was shortly before he signed with the Astros but I am confident that Hader will get most of the save chances. Eight closers would go before I would pick again.

The Pitcher Run

This draft featured an incredible pitcher run. Between the third and fifth rounds, 29 of the 45 players selected were pitchers. This included 15 out of 16 picks being pitchers at the end of the fourth round and the beginning of the fifth round.

When it was my turn to pick in the fifth round, I thought Bobby Miller was significantly better than any of the remaining pitchers so I selected my third pitcher in a row.
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While I went along with the majority and went with pitchers during this part of the draft, one team zigged while most of us were zagging.

The team drafting out of the 15 spot began the draft with four position players. By the time that team picked again, 22 of the 28 picks were pitchers decimating the pitcher pool. Team 15 chose to go with Manny Machado and Paul Goldschmidt in the fifth and sixth rounds turn which were nice values. I thought considering how it started, Team 15 put together a decent pitching staff but it was likely at the expense of positional depth.

My Team

Catcher

PlayerTeamRound
Gabriel MorenoARI11
Mitch GarverSEA13
Rene PintoTB27
Kyle TeelBOS47

I recently wrote up the catcher preview where I discussed these players.

I was pleased with the value the value I got here. Moreno and Garver should be productive players who start as long as they are healthy. Pinto is going to get plenty of playing time and I think there is a chance Teel will get regular playing time in the second half.

Corner Infield

PlayerPositionTeamRound
Austin Riley3BATL2
Christian Encarnacion-Strand1BCIN12
Jeimer Candelario1B/3BCIN16
Jake Cronenworth1B/2BSD23
Alex Kirilloff1B/OFMIN25
Chris Taylor3B/SS/OFLAD29
Jose Miranda3BMIN32
Justyn-Henry Malloy 3BDET37
Luken Baker1BSTL46

I went with a couple of groupings here. If there is a player you believe in enough, sometimes you have to get him and believe that he is good enough that the playing time will work itself out.  The Reds infield is crowded but Encarnacion-Strand was too good at the end of the year not to play regularly.  I did pair him with Candelario who should be productive at Great American Ballpark and the Reds are paying `him too much to sit. I am anticipating that CES and Candelario play regularly at the expense of Noelvi Marte.

Later in the draft, I selected both Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda both of the Twins. I anticipate that one of the two will emerge as the Twins' regular first basemen.

Middle Infield

PlayerPositionTeamRound
Trea TurnerSSPHI1
Brendan Donovan2B/OFSTL18
Zach NetoSSLAA20
Jake Cronenworth1B/2BSD23
Chris Taylor3B/SS/OFLAD29
Colson MontgomerySSCHW38
Justin Foscue2B TEX42
Lenyn Sosa2BCHW49

I waited until round 18 to take a second basemen. I think Donovan was coming into his own in 2023 before he got hurt. Assuming he is fully recovered I think he is a nice value. Cronenworth is not exciting but should have a regular role.

I was excited to get Neto and Montgomery where I got them. Neto should improve on his rookie year and I expect Montgomery to be the White Sox' regular shortstop in the second half.

Taylor is eligible at several positions and even if he is not a regular starter, I expect him to get at least 400 plate appearances with some power and speed.

Outfield

PlayerPositionTeamRound
Jazz ChisholmOFMIA6
Jordan WalkerOFSTL8
Teoscar HernandezOFLAD9
Brendan Donovan2B/OFSTL18
Giancarlo StantonOFNYY21
Alex Kirilloff1B/OFMIN25
Chris Taylor3B/SS/OFLAD29
Drew WatersOFKC31
Colton CowserOFBAL33
Dylan CrewsOFWAS36
Akil BaddooOFDET40
Estevan FlorialOFCLE43
Aaron HicksOFLAA48

Outfield depth is a concern on this team.  Byron Buxton should get outfield eligibility early in the year. However, having three outfielders (Chisholm, Buxton, and Stanton) who have a difficult time staying healthy is not ideal.

I am counting on a lot of things to go right to have a strong outfield. One is that Walker can take a leap forward. I think Teoscar will benefit from being in the Dodgers lineup. Also, I am hoping the offseason work that Stanton is doing will yield better results than the last few years.

Cowser and Crews are two prospects whose value went down due to struggling in a small sample. They are both talented and I am betting on them rebounding in 2024.

I think I got nice value at the end of the draft with Baddoo, Florial and Hicks. Florial never got a chance with the Yankees and is now on the Guardians. Strikeouts are an issue but he had plenty of power and speed.  Hicks signed with the Angels after the draft.  He is a switch hitter who can play all three outfield positions.  Hicks is the type of player who could get more plate appearances than projected.

Utility Only

PlayerTeamRound
Byron BuxtonMIN17
Mark VientosNYM35

As mentioned above Buxton should get outfield eligibility early in the year.

Vientos is not as likely to add position eligibility but I should have room to play him at utility if he gets playing time. I like Vientos as a hitter. He has hit in the minors but has not been given much of an opportunity in the majors.

Pitchers

PitchersTeamRound
Aaron NolaPHI3
Josh HaderHOU4
Bobby MillerLAD5
Andres MunozSEA7
Gavin WilliamsCLE10
Eduardo RodriguezARI14
Lucac GiolitoBOS15
Marcus StromanNYY19
Edward CabreraMIA22
Tyler WellsBAL24
Josiah GrayWAS26
Cade HortonCHC28
Tanner HouckBOS30
Nick AndersonKC34
Anthony DeSciafaniMIN39
Cade CavalliWAS41
Seranthony DominguezPHI44
Chayce McDermottBAL45
Alex WoodOAK50

I like my starting pitchers. I am counting on Miller and Williams to take a leap forward but they are talented young pitchers in organizations with a nice record of developing pitchers.

Rodríguez, Giolito, and  Stroman are veteran workhorses who are joining new teams in 2024. Cabrera, Horton, Gray, and Cavalli are young pitchers with upside. Wells, DeSciafani and Wood are later picks who I think could have some value over the course of the season.

I was surprised that Rodríguez was available in round seven. Between Rodríguez and Hader I should get a decent number of strikeouts. I regret not selecting Robert Stephenson over Edward Cabrera in round 22. This was before Stephenson signed with the Angels. I wish I selected a third reliever earlier in the draft. Anderson and Dominguez could get save chances, but they will not likely be in a closer role.

Overall Thoughts

This was a challenging league with a lot of very good Fantasy Baseball players.

I like a lot of the players that I drafted and think there is a decent balance and depth. There are several teams earlier in the off-season that I like better than this team.

This team can be competitive but it will require some young players to be productive in the majors for the first time and veterans to stay healthy.

From a category standpoint, my top two concerns are stolen bases and saves. Outside of Trea Turner and Jazz Chisholm, there are not of players on my team who have much stolen base upside. For saves if Hader or Muñoz are not closing for whatever reason I am going to light in the saves category.


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