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!)

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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!

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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?

It’s baseball season, long-lost Razzball friends! Okay, fantasy baseball season. Okay, fantasy baseball drafting season. Okay, fantasy baseball drafting season for fantasy baseball writers and mildly disturbed folk who couldn’t make it through the first day of 2018 without entering into a fantasy baseball draft (proud to count myself a member of both of those elite groups, thank you very much).

Drafting the first week of January feels downright crazy. Well, is downright crazy. Projecting stats takes on a new layer of complication right now with such a ridiculous number of draftable players unsigned, and it’s trickier than ever trying to guess how fellow owners might be valuing players. I recently completed my first official fantasy baseball draft of the year, and found my instinct taking over regularly, leading me to impulsively click on a name which was far below other, higher-ranked names on my tidy little spreadsheet, simply because I had a gut feeling. Sure, we could call it women’s intuition, if we wanted to sound like we were writing this article in 1978. (As it turns out, there are studies that support some version of women’s intuition being a biological reality, due to the fact that females are exposed to less testosterone in the womb, which leads to an extra “sense.” Google if bored).

“What’s the point, lady??!” you ask…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Here we are, everyone! And by everyone, of course I mean the few souls out there who still have something to play for in a deep league over the next week and a half. And by here, I mean my last NL/AL only column of the season.

It’s been quite a year. I have much more to say about it, and I probably will over the next few months.  While everyone is off playing fantasy football, enjoying the holiday season with family and friends, and generally braving the long winter months ahead, I’ll be hunkered down, obsessively thinking about and occasionally sharing my thoughts on the fantasy baseball season that is behind us, as well as the shiny new one that lies ahead of us in 2018.

But for now, I need to clear my head a bit. I’m still having trouble processing the fantasy seasons that Ryan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez have had, and am not sure when I will be able to move on from the burn I’m feeling, as I think this is literally the first year in the last five or six that I haven’t owned both of them in at least one NL-only league. Thinking about the way they treated me in the past, all while watching them wine and dine their current owners with more home runs and quality starts than they know what to do with – well, as with any nasty breakup, it has not been easy. But, it’s time to move on… and if nothing else, I can spend the winter daydreaming about who my 2018 imaginary fantasy baseball boyfriends will be (look out, Zack Godley, I may be coming after you!)

And, if you are one of the lucky ones soldiering on in a deep NL or AL-only league over the next ten days or so, here are some fellows that are owned in only a few percent of leagues… but who, if all the stars somehow align correctly, could end up giving you that magic stolen base or 3-RBI game that puts you over the top.

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Hello? Anyone out there? With just two and a half weeks left to the major league baseball/standard rotisserie season, it’s starting to feel like there are just a few of us left, stranded in a deep, dark cave. If you are still grinding out these final games and fighting for a money finish, good luck and congratulations. If you are completely out of it in your league but are still actively tinkering with and setting your lineup for the good of the fantasy game, you are a better man than many, and I hope the fantasy gods reward you with future spoils. And if you are just killing time at work or trying to distract yourself from a disastrous week one in fantasy football and reading this even though you don’t currently own a deep-league fantasy baseball team that you are actively managing, thank you and welcome!

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I shall open this column by quoting September 1st Grey: “I’m not enthused by the guys headed to the majors this September.” I agree completely – I thought there would be a lot more intriguing under-the-radar call-ups to discuss, both for NL or AL-only help over the next few weeks, or to grab with an eye on next year in keeper leagues. Instead, I’m reminded that keeping one’s head in the fantasy baseball game can be less fun and more chore-like with each passing day as we inch towards October.

In September, there’s a lot more inventory, but less of value. Veteran players on non-contenders are getting rested more often, as are young studs on playoff contenders. Starting pitchers are hitting innings limits. And since expanded rosters mean that there’s often no need to officially DL players, it can be hard to tell who is going to get at bats at all, and who is pretty much done for the year. If you’re still actively managing a fantasy team in a deep league at this time of year, there may be more names than ever to choose from on waivers… the tricky part is finding anyone who might actually help your team over the next three and a half weeks.

Now, just since I started writing this, news has arrived that J.P. Crawford and Luiz Gohara have reached the show, so things are getting at least a little more interesting. Meanwhile, here’s this weeks handful of guys who may still be floating around in the deepest of leagues:

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So, I thought the ridiculously garish nickname jerseys over “players’ weekend” were going to be the lamest thing ever (side note:  Huh? Don’t the players get 100% of the attention every weekend? Isn’t that kind of like when you asked your parents why there was Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, but no Children’s Day, and they told you EVERY day was Children’s Day?) Maybe the uniforms were kind of silly, but I’m going to have to admit that I actually enjoyed them.  Of course, we have to remember that the comedy bar in professional sports is, well, comically low… but still, the jerseys were pretty entertaining. My three personal favorites:

Take on Razzball writers and readers in the Fantasy Football Commenter Leagues for a chance at prizes! Free to join, leagues still open!

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