It’s funny how quickly things can change, in life, and certainly in fantasy baseball. Just last week, Nick Kingham wasn’t on the radar of anyone but the deepest-league fantasy owner, and now suddenly he’s owned in over half of CBS leagues, after flirting with a perfect game in his major league debut over the weekend. Will Kingham continue to be a solid fantasy contributor? Will he even stay in the Pirates’ rotation? Only time will tell, but his overnight success reminds us that a fantasy baseball hero can come out of nowhere, even when moments before it looked like there was no one worth grabbing on the thinnest of waiver wires.

All this is just a reminder to keep focused and pay attention to your fantasy baseball surroundings. As frustrating as it is to have a team that’s gotten off to a horrible start due to injuries or anything else — especially in a deep league where you can’t always do much to improve it – don’t forget it’s still only the first week of May. A lot can and will happen over the next few months, so stay vigilant and be ready to grab whomever the next guy is that comes out of nowhere to provide you with some unexpected help.

I’m not saying any of the following guys are going to be heroes, but that bar can be quite a bit lower in the deepest of leagues, so who knows! As is the usual M.O. here, if nothing else, perhaps one of them can help you patch a hole in your deep-league roster.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Greetings, deep-league friends! Welcome to the small but comfy little corner of Razzball where we talk about baseball players who may be relevant to those playing in AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues. Last week we concentrated mostly on the 1-2% owned types that are likely only on the radar of those involved in the deepest NL or AL-only leagues. This week, we’ll open it up a bit and consider players as long as they fall under the 20% owned threshold, while still dipping all the way down to the 1% types. (All % owned stats are from CBS sports leagues.  This, in my opinion, tends to be the best happy medium of ownership thresholds, between the sometimes wacky shallowness of Yahoo/ESPN leagues, and the oft-crazy percentages you’ll see on a site like Fantrax with all of their daily-change leagues). Since we have more players to cover than usual, let’s get right to it:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Ah, the highs and lows we’ve already experienced in a mere few weeks of baseball action. So many players to be optimistic about, yet so many to be worried about. It’s still early, but I’m having trouble keeping myself from daydreaming about how a full season of numbers from my deep-league, off-to-a-great-start guys that I managed to draft late or on the cheap would look on my teams. For me, this group includes Nick Pivetta, Rick Porcello, Tim Anderson, and early-frontrunner-to-be-my-2018-imaginary-fantasy-baseball-boyfriend Josh Hader. On the flip side, I’ve got the guys that I invested early and/or often in, that I’m already feeling very, very queasy about. If these players don’t turn it around, they can sink a team’s season — at least in the deep-league world where they are all you’ve got to field your lineup with, and can’t just be easily replaced on the waiver wire. I’m talking to you Jose Quintana, Jon Gray, Orlando Arcia, and Evan Gattis (okay, I didn’t actually draft Gattis anywhere this year, and you probably didn’t either if you read Razzball regularly, but you get the idea).

Is there anyone you are already feeling that special bond with and feel may be a game-changer for your team(s) this season? And/or, who are you already worrying may have tanked your season before it’s really had a chance to get going? While you’re thinking about that, let’s discuss some guys who may be available and able to offer some assistance in the deepest leagues where you have a dead roster spot to fill.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There’s nothing more frustrating in fantasy baseball than injuries to your studs, and nowhere is that magnified to the extent that it is in the deep-league world. Sure, it may not be fun or exciting having to replace Christian Yelich with Nick Markakis for a couple weeks in a standard league, but just think about how us deep-leaguers feel. I’ve got a few NL-only leagues where I need to replace some combination of Yelich, Wil Myers, and Eugenio Suarez… where the top “hitters” on the waiver wire are Greg Garcia and Mike Tauchman. I know that situations like this are why many people don’t understand the appeal of deep leagues in the first place, and I get it: I have at least one league where, due mostly to injuries (and perhaps one or two bad decisions ;), I am pretty much dead in the water for the season in the second week of April. But I shall press on, despite the fact that the free agent pool in most leagues is about as drained and ugly as it will be all year. All of the early surprise performers have been scooped up, and there hasn’t been time yet for new faces of deep-league hope to emerge. The following list isn’t pretty or snazzy, but it’s what we’ve got: a handful of names to consider for the injury-riddled — or otherwise desperate — in AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that fantasy baseball has severely impacted my ability to enjoy watching my “real” baseball team. I became a fairly obsessive Dodger fan when I was a kid, and I can remember my daily mood being severely impacted by whether my team won or lost that day. Cut to a couple few years (okay, decades) later, and since I have so few of the (largely overpriced in my opinion) Dodgers on any of my fantasy teams, sometimes I barely know if they won or lost. Of course, I can tell you exactly how the Brewers fare each day, since most of my fantasy teams are chock full of them. I did finally get swept up in a bit of world series fever last year, and watching those games – truly caring about which team won and actually rooting for every Dodger player with no concern as to how it would affect me in fantasy… I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I had watched a major league baseball game that way.

Anyway, I bring this up because I’m feeling weirdly guilty lately over what’s becomes a pretty hot topic in baseball over the last few days, namely, the first-week struggles of one Kenley Jansen. It’s not like I enjoy watching the Dodgers fail, and I certainly wish no ill will towards Mr. Jansen. But I have to admit that’s it’s a bit hard not to revel in watching a fantasy owner feel like he’s made a giant mistake in spending a high draft pick on a closer, since I and most of the Razzball world have preached to folks that it’s, well, a giant mistake to spend a high draft pick on a closer. All this finally brings us to the more specific topic at hand: players that those of us who live in the weird but beautiful deep-league fantasy baseball world might want to take a look at this week. And with that…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The season hasn’t even started, and I’m so exhausted from trying to predict what’s going to happen this year that I thought I’d change it up a little for the last week of the pre-season. This time, I’m starting with what I think won’t happen and working backwards, and ending up with things that could happen but almost certainly won’t. Or something like that. Sometimes I think with my heart instead of worrying about numbers when I’m looking at fantasy baseball, but if there’s a time in fantasy baseball to let your emotions take over, it’s probably when you’re talking about deep-league dart throws.  All I know is that I’m sick of KNOWING that there will be a Tommy Pham out there every year, but not being able to figure out who the heck it is. Although, I believe I did tell you to pick up Tommy Pham in early May last year, so even you shallow-league types never know when you’ll pick up an interesting kernel of info from us deep-league freaks. Just sayin!

We’re gonna stay in the American League today, with some NL thoughts to come next week, perhaps. So here are some deep-league predictions for 2018, some much sillier than others, AL version:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Is it weird that there are only seven days of spring training games this year that will actually take place in the spring? Maybe. Do we care? Nope, because as much as I appreciate the vernal equinox, my mind is consumed more with the fact that we’re finally in the thick of fantasy baseball drafting season. It’s time to take another look at players who may not be on the radar of our “normal” fantasy brethren (and five or so sistren*), but could come into play for those of us happily skulking around in the world of NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues. (*thought I made this word up, but I guess not. Turns out it was used back in the 12th to 15th centuries, then disappeared, and then according to the Oxford Living Dictionary, “it has recently been revived, typically by feminist writers, with the new meaning ‘fellow women’.” I bet your wives, girlfriends, mothers, and sisters won’t believe you when you tell them your favorite fantasy baseball website is now shoving a feminist agenda at you while it tells you who you should be aware of in your 11-team NL-only league!)

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Finally – stuff is happening! Now that there have actually been some meaningful free agent signings, injury news (nooooo, Brent Honeywell!), and we’re getting reports out of camps, it’s time to take a fresh look at a handful of situations and players within the deep-league landscape. I’m writing this just before actual spring training games start, so this will be my last chance to evaluate situations before my head is pelted with box scores and video highlights, which will no doubt cloud my judgment a bit whether I want them to or not. And since we’re talking about AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues, we won’t be discussing how J.D. Martinez or Yu Darvish’s values have changed. Nope, we’re all about less mainstream, but just as super-sexy topics, like how the Eric Hosmer signing might affect deep-league relevant guys like Jose Pirela. C’mon… deep-league players can be super sexy, too!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Last time we chatted, I talked about some National League players who, even this early in the pre-season, had already gained or lost value for me in terms of how likely I was to draft them. This time, we’ll look at a handful of AL guys. Free agents are finally signing and we’ll soon be getting all kind of reports from spring training, so player values are likely to fluctuate greatly over the coming weeks. But for now, I’m just looking at a few players who my opinion has changed on since the end of last season. I am taking into consideration anything I’ve read, or stats I’ve looked at more closely, and am paying particular attention to early NFBC ADP to see how the rest of the fantasy world’s opinion is affecting how likely I am to draft certain players. Sometimes, by the way, “bad” news on a player might, weirdly enough, make me more likely to draft him. For instance, last time out I mentioned Archie Bradley as someone I wouldn’t reach for due to several factors, including the presence of Brad Boxberger. Since then, D-Backs GM Mike Hazen has said he expects a “competition” for the closer job this spring. So while there’s no way I’d touch him at his current NFBC ADP, if others heed this warning and start to steer clear of Bradley, I’ll happily take a flyer on him if his price falls low enough. In the meantime, here are some AL guys who I’m feeling a little differently about now that I did last November:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When you start drafting fantasy baseball teams on New Years Day, as I did this year, it feels like you’re in a vacuum. There aren’t a bunch of rankings out, ADP doesn’t exist yet, and there are usually several players (more so than ever this year, as it turned out) who are sitting around in real-life free agent limbo. It can be invigorating feeling like it’s just you and your draft cheat sheet against the world, but it’s also a little scary sometimes, especially wondering if you’re grabbing players several rounds earlier than you need to.  I always like to put together my own rankings in January, and keep that list to refer to as the pre-season progresses. Sure, my opinions will change, perhaps significantly in many cases, but I like to revisit my initial thoughts, seeing what my lists looked like before countless outside influences crept into my decision-making process. In a deep league, it’s particularly tricky to figure out which of these outside influences to buy into, since things like spring training battles for fifth starter gigs, meaningless in a standard league, take on actual importance in AL/NL-only or other deep formats.  Trying to separate helpful information from irrelevant pre-season chatter can be difficult, and I find it impossible to be completely immune from the impact of reports on who’s in the best shape of his life, who swears he’s going to run more this season, or remembering how cute Nick Williams looks in his uniform.

Back to the present —  with January in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for me to come up with version 2.0 of my 2018 fantasy baseball prep, even though we’re still a couple weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting.  I have a couple real, money-league drafts under my belt and we all finally have a few outside sources to consult to see what other drafters and experts have been thinking (including Grey’s 2018 rankings, which are coming at you fast, fun, and furious).   I’m going to concentrate on NL players for this list since I just finished an NL-only draft, but stay tuned for an AL version in the not-so-distant future. Based on my January drafts, early expert analysis, the limited amount of news we’ve actually been getting from major league baseball teams, a close look at early NFBC ADP, and plain old gut instinct, here are some players who I already think I’m more or less likely to draft than I would have been a month or two ago:

Please, blog, may I have some more?