2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Breaking Down My NFBC Draft, 2017 Edition


This is my third year doing at least one NFBC league and, I must say, I have grown immensely as a fantasy baseball player for it. The season-long 5×5 rotisserie format with no trades really forces a fantasy owner to draft well and be diligent on FAAB bidding. This can make the NFBC draft quite stressful.

Two years ago, I finished 7th place and out of the money after drafting on a value-based system. I learned very quickly that you can’t just scoop up the players that fall in high stakes leagues such as these. It is imperative that you have ‘ride or die’ players that you feel can win you a championship.

Last season, in an attempt to redeem myself, I partook in another NFBC draft. This time, I learned from my mistakes and drafted much differently. A fantastic offense with ‘ride or dies’ like Mark Trumbo and Wil Myers broke perfectly for me en route to a 2nd place finish.

This year, I plan on having a similar draft style in order to achieve success. There’s a few things I do before and during a draft to prepare extra for these formats:

  1. Create target goals for each category based on 2014-2016 trends. This year, I’ve set the numbers at 300 HR, 1100 R, 1100 RBI, 170 SB, and a 0.275 AVG for offense. On the pitching side, the goals are 3.20 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 100 W, 1400 K, and 90 SV.
  2. As I draft players, I jot down their Steamer projections and add them up to see if I’m on pace for each category as my roster fills. This dictates what direction I should go for my bench players.
  3. Tier-based rankings coupled with NFBC average draft position (ADP) are essential in these drafts. This gives you an idea of how long you can wait on certain positions.
  4. Lastly, with the NFBC providing a two-catcher format, I pass on the further-inflated price of catchers. I am hoping to get one catcher in the 10-15 ranking range. However, I won’t overpay for any catcher and that could mean just waiting until all my other offensive spots are filled to address the position.

In the Kentucky Derby Style draft slot preferences, I ranked the 4th through 6th spots highest. However, I end up with the 8th pick, which is one of my least favorites in a 12-team league. However, I am nothing if not flexible, and I won’t let this bring me down! My pre-draft mindset is that Manny Machado will be the guy I am looking at with the 8th pick. Then, just take best available offense the next two or three rounds and work from there.

Let’s see how this thing shakes out! (And if exclamation points are common throughout the article or nah…)

Breaking Down My NFBC Draft

Draft Setting

It’s important for me to be at my most comfortable level whilst drafting in any fantasy sport. Look good, feel good, draft good. Here’s how I achieved maximum ‘fantasy baseball zen’:

  • Location: Living room of my humble abode.
  • Drink of Choice: Moscow Mule, followed by a glass of Goose Island’s 312
  • Music of Choice: Indie/Alternative/Classic Rock including artists like Tame Impala, My Morning Jacket, and Pink Floyd
  • Attire: Jose Altuve shirt-jersey (as the kids call it, a “shirsey”) complete with my new AAA New Orleans Baby Cakes hat
  • Company: Go away, trying to draft here

Draft Selections

Round 1, Pick 8 – Kris Bryant, 3B

I was shocked to see Bryant fall to me as the 8th pick of the draft. My target Paul Goldschmidt went the pick before me so I had to pick between Bryant and Machado. Good decision to have, but went with Bryant.

Round 2, Pick 17 – Carlos Correa, SS

I very seriously thought about taking a first baseman between Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto, and Freddie Freeman. I ended up selecting Correa just because I am expecting a huge year out of him in Houston. In hindsight, I wish I had selected one of those first basemen here – you’ll see what I mean later on.

Rounds 3, Pick 32 – A.J. Pollock, OF1

Round 4, Pick 41 – Ryan Braun, OF2

Round 5, Pick 56 – J.D. Martinez, OF3

Round 6, Pick 65 – Carlos Gonzalez, OF4

Yes, I really did snag four straight outfielders. Why did I group them together? Because I had them all tiered together and was expecting them all to go within the third and fourth round. Watching J.D. and CarGo fall to the 5th and 6th round was just too good of value to pass up.

Starters and relievers were flying off the board – Carlos Martinez was selected in the fifth round. I decided to zig where others zagged, so what? Time to address some pitching…

Round 7, Pick 80 – D.J. LeMahieu, 2B

But first, I wanted to increase my shares in the Colorado offense. His batting average was a good fit for the rest of my team as I hadn’t drafted anyone over a Steamer-projected 0.285 average to that point in the draft. He can chip in steals as well, which I enjoy.

Round 8, Pick 89 – David Price, SP1

Round 9, Pick 104 – Kenta Maeda, SP2

Round 10, Pick 113 – Aaron Sanchez, SP3

This staff would’ve looked pretty awesome before some troubling news regarding Price’s elbow. The news has since improved, but it obviously scared off drafters.

The way I see it – this Price pick could win or lose this league. If he is healthy and back to pre-2016 performance, he should be winning me a ton of games with Boston. If he re-injures the elbow, I could be in serious trouble.

Maeda and Sanchez were appropriately priced in the 9th and 10th rounds so I was happy to draft them there as my SP2 and SP3, respectively. For as long as I waited on starting pitching, I was very pleased with how the first third of my staff turned out.

Round 11, Pick 128 – Salvador Perez, C1

As I said in the intro, I almost never pay up for catchers. However, as reliever after reliever flew off the board, folks were letting the second best catching tier slip under the radar. For a two-catcher league, I felt like Perez was a steal in the 11th round. He offers volume that you just don’t see out of catchers in today’s game. That plays very well in NFBC formats.

Round 12, Pick 137 – Michael Fulmer, SP4

Round 13, Pick 152 – Aaron Nola, SP5

Two more solid pitchers added to my surprisingly competitive starting staff.

Fulmer just came off a stellar rookie campaign and still has room for growth in the strikeout department. I probably reached on Nola, but everyone knows I have a love affair with the guy in 2017 drafts. He’s one of my ‘ride or die’ players for 2017.

I am hoping these two can provide SP3 production, but the floor is great for both as well.

Round 14, Pick 161 – Ben Zobrist, MI

This was a luxury pick for me. Zobrist is one of those guys you can set and forget – not worrying about bust potential. I drafted him as a model of consistency with high run total and decent supporting stats. He has outfield eligibility as well, so it gives me options when looking to the waiver wire mid-season.

I foresee him being a nice plug in to start the year, then a ‘fantasy utility’ as the season progresses. Not sexy by any means, but I’m good with it.

Round 15, Pick 176 – Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

This. This is what happens if you wait on first basemen this season. I was continually getting sniped on 1B during the draft, thus creating stubborn Tyler. Stubborn Tyler is not a good drafter – goes back to getting in your comfort zone. A couple of my targets, Hanley Ramirez (7th) and Carlos Santana (12th), were taken just a pick or two before me.

I finally settled on Adrian Gonzalez, whose power decline was really steep in 2016. His GB/FB increased from 1.02 in 2014-2015 to 1.68 (!!!) in 2016. Such a stark change in batted ball profile for a veteran. If he can get back to 25 homers and keep up last year’s average, he could provide some value here.

I knew I had to back him up with some corner infielders though just in case the power declines even further.

Round 16, Pick 185 – Ryon Healy, CI

Well, that was quick on the corner infield front! I’m high on Healy this season and if given the opportunity in Oakland, he could pick up 1B eligibility as well. Just 20+ homers and a 0.270+ average is what I expect and he has power potential around 30 homers. Loved getting him here as my CI.

Round 17, Pick 200 – Cam Bedrosian, RP1

Okay, so I admit that I screwed up relievers as well. Here’s where tiering by position is important – when relievers become way overvalued in drafts. They were so overvalued that the lower tier of relievers also jumped up. Simply put, every closer with a sure job was bumped up about two rounds earlier than normal. That’s something that you have to adjust your brain for in-draft. Again, don’t be like stubborn Tyler.

That said, I was able to grab Bedrosian as the 25th reliever off the board. Just to give you an idea, Jim Johnson went 10 picks earlier. Yuck! Anywell, Bedrosian has the job for now as Huston Street deals with old man injuries. I will need to be creative in trying to build saves from this point out, but Bedrosian was certainly a sigh of relief for me.

Round 18, Pick 209 – Matt Shoemaker, SP6

As mentioned in my starting pitcher preview for 2017, it’s important to find your personal ‘honey hole’ in drafts for starters where you want to grab two or three pitchers. My honey hole was unfortunately filled with busy bees as I was frantically selecting Bedrosian for saves. Sean Manaea and Robbie Ray specifically were drafted in this range before my pick.

However, I was happy to take Shoemaker as my SP6. He has increased his starts in each of the last three seasons and is still growing as a pitcher. Even if he goes back to his injury-prone ways, he can give me a month or two of quality outings while I search waivers. The pick here was well worth it.

Round 19, Pick 224 – Rajai Davis, OF5

Hey, are stolen bases a hot topic in fantasy this preseason? I can’t remember…

This was one of the easiest selections of the draft for me, which means I have jinxed it and it inevitably will fail. However, I am very confident that Davis, if given the volume, can achieve a minimum of 40 stolen bases. Added to that is his potential to lead off in Oakland, which means he’s not just a one category guy. He can provide 10 dingers with nice run totals and a good-enough average.

When adding up the Steamer projections to this point, I realized that I was solid in the stolen base category. My future picks on offense should reflect this realization.

Round 20, Pick 233 – Drew Pomeranz, SP7

You didn’t think I would just leave David Price uninsured, did you?

I figured it would be a good idea to back up Price with his potential replacement should he miss any time to start the year. I mean, DrewPom should even get a spot in the rotation on his own merit anyway. I don’t think his first half last year was too fluky – he just wore down. The Red Sox wouldn’t just spoon-feed the Padres a potentially awesome pitching prospect for a guy they didn’t believe in.

Besides, can you really say no to this knuckle-curve?

Round 21, Pick 248 – Francisco Cervelli, C2

Long story short, catcher really falls off after the Cervelli tier. It’s crapshoot at the position anyway, so why not take a chance on a guy who can give me good average and decent run production. Injuries have been nagging him lately, but I mean Travis d’Arnaud, King of Injuries, went before him in this draft. Enough said.

Round 22, Pick 257 – Nate Jones, RP2

Desperate times call for desperate measures and I was desperate for saves. We all know David Robertson is on the trade block in Chicago. We are still a month away from the start of the season – plenty of time for a trade. That would propel Nate Jones as a top 20 closer at least with his skill set. It’s worth the gamble and I will be playing the waiver wire hard in the early going as reliever battles progress in the preseason.

Rounds 23-30, Remaining Selections

I drafted four guys to battle for my utility spot. Domingo Santana (272) and Shin-Soo Choo (281) provide similar counting stats – I just need one of them to be healthy. Justin Bour (296) was another 1B backup to the A-Gon tragedy and was on-pace for a breakout season in 2016 until an ankle injury. Finally, Ryan Schimpf (320) was a nice late round flier with huge power upside. Now, if he could only raise that batting average…

To round out my pitching staff, I selected two starters and two relievers. Collin McHugh (305) and Tyler Anderson (329) will be nice streaming options when they aren’t in their home parks. Arodys Vizcaino (344) and Blake Treinen (353) were drafted to up my odds of hitting on a closer on the cheap. My chances to hit on a closer to start 2017 between these two and Jones is solid, not great.

CSalvador Perez
CFrancisco Cervelli
1BAdrian GonzalezJustin Bour
2BD.J. LeMahieu
3BKris Bryant (OF)
SSCarlos Correa
CIRyon Healy (3B)
MIBen Zobrist (2B,OF)
OFA.J. PollockDomingo Santana
OFRyan BraunShin-Soo Choo
OFJ.D. Martinez
OFCarlos Gonzalez
OFRajai Davis
UTRyan Schimpf (2B,3B)
SPDavid PriceTyler Anderson
SPKenta MaedaCollin McHugh
SPAaron Sanchez
SPMichael Fulmer
SPAaron Nola
SPMatt Shoemaker
SPDrew Pomeranz
RPCam BedrosianArodys Vizcaino
RPNate JonesBlake Treinen

Draft Conclusions

Let me tell ya, this was not the team I expected going into the draft. However, that’s mostly a good thing as I never thought I would have J.D. Martinez and Carlos Gonzalez as third and fourth outfielders, respectively.

My in-depth draft analysis:

  • Strengths: Offense. Everything on offense.
  • Weaknesses: Pitching. Everything in pitching.
breaking down my nfbc draft

Credit: FantasyPros

FantasyPros agrees, as they have me finishing first in offense by a considerable margin while finishing eighth in pitching. That’s good for a projected finish of third overall and a 93 grade! There’s a ton of good streaming options in the free agent pool as well. Because of that, I feel that I can compete with some of these teams that went heavy pitching if I hit on a couple of additions.

Still though, there were some lessons to be learned here. The main lesson to learn here would be to stick to your tiers and don’t get tied down to ADP. If you tier a group of players and all but one remain by your next pick, sweep him up. Otherwise, you will end up with Adrian Gonzalez as your starting 1B and Cam Bedrosian as your No. 1 reliever.

I hope you gathered as much info for drafts moving forward this preseason as I did. How did you think I did? Bad? Awful? HORRENDOUS?! Get at me on Twitter.

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

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