Well, I knew the 2020 season would be weird, but I guess I really wasn’t expecting it to be quite so grueling.  Filling in for injured players, COVID list players, and players not playing due to other teams’ COVID outbreaks has been from exhausting to downright impossible in my deeper leagues.  Carry on we must, though, as MLB continues to seemingly defy the odds and keeps checking games off the calendar.  This week, we’ll look at some NL names who may be of interest to those of us in the deep-league world.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Well, the season’s been as weird, wild, and worrisome as expected so far.  We’ve seen some horrific starts from first round hitters, and, not as surprisingly perhaps, some ridiculously good starts from some of our under the radar deep league hitters.  Assuming that major league baseball games are still being played this week, let’s look at some of those good starts, with an eye to the future and who might be able to keep it up for 2020 and perhaps beyond.

Colin Moran.  I drafted the Pirates third baseman in a deep league or two because I thought he’d get more playing time than he deserved (he has), not because I thought he’d be leading the league in homers (5) as of Saturday (which he is… which I guess proves me wrong about that whole deserving playing time thing).  I’ll hold tight in the leagues I own him, and hope this is a sign to come for 2021 since one of those leagues is a keeper league, but I’m not going crazy over him in standard leagues.  I’ll be rooting for him, sure, but I can’t imagine he’ll have another week and a half of production this year that matches his huge start to the season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Happy Opening Week, folks — I’m exhausted as I’ve had more to do over the last week than I had in the previous four months combined, but I’m not complaining!  Let’s get right to what we’re here for… a look at some under-the-radar players (all of the following guys are 5% owned or less in CBS leagues, and let’s just say the pickings are slim when using that metric) who might be of interest to those of us in AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues as we navigate the weirdest baseball season ever.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Greetings, friends!  It’s with both excitement and a bit of trepidation that I welcome you to my final post before actual major league baseball games are scheduled to be played.  I don’t want to say I have an overly emotional relationship with fantasy baseball, but when I pulled up a player’s page this morning and saw his line of 2019 stats — that I’ve been staring at for what seems like decades — replaced with “2020” and a bunch of fresh, clean zeroes… well, I had a visceral reaction that is hard to explain but involved momentary shortness of breath and near-tears.  If we’ve gotten this close only for things to go awry now, it will be quite the crushing blow… but at least I’ll have had several weeks worth of entertainment in trying to prep for this crazy thing we’re calling the 2020 major league baseball season. As we finish drafting and dot those i’s and cross those t’s on teams we’ve already drafted, let’s take a look at some players who have had a potential bump in value of late:  deep-league, AL edition.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

As I prepare for my final drafts ahead of a potential 2020 season, I’m still trying to strike a balance between staying true to my longstanding general strategies for constructing a fantasy baseball team, and zigging and zagging much more than usual in light of the 60-game, pandemic-altered season.  One realization I’ve made, especially when it comes to my deeper leagues, is that I may need to concentrate on quantity over quality more often than I usually do.

In most standard leagues, the quantity vs. quality decision is one that rarely needs to be made:  if you do your research, there should theoretically be enough solid every day hitters, starting pitchers, and full-time closers that you can fill out a roster without needing to worry too much about your players having serious shortcomings.  But in deeper leagues, we’re used to accepting players with major warts in one way or another because often that’s all we have to choose from.  This year, I’ve realized that when it comes to hitters, a potential lack of playing time and at bats is one blemish I want to try to avoid as much as possible.

Choosing a relatively low upside player who will likely be in the lineup every day over a sexier/more talented choice who may or may not get a ton of at bats may be boring, but it feels appropriately safe in a year when we’ve all had to put safety ahead of fun more often than any of us would have ever guessed.  Everything feels unpredictable about this year, and there are no sure things in baseball or anywhere else (which anyone who drafted Aroldis Chapman last week after seeing how strong and healthy he looked upon arriving to summer camp can tell you).  But when it comes to deeper leagues, I’m going to try to find a little security in some veteran hitters, largely overlooked when it comes to fantasy baseball in 2020 (they all have an NFBC ADP between 300 and 400, and are listed in order of earliest to latest drafted), whom I think have as good a chance as anyone to be solid fixtures in their respective lineups.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Anyone who plans on engaging in a little fantasy baseball fun over the (hopefully) upcoming 60-game season has certainly been thinking about the overwhelming number of meaningful changes that have occurred over the last several months.  There are so many alterations and unusual circumstances, and so much incomplete information, that it’s been hard for me to begin even preparing for how to attack things in 2020.  How this all translates specifically to AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues is yet another wrinkle that it may be tricky to successfully iron out before it’s too late.

I have a few teams that have sat “frozen” since as early as November that will re-open for FAAB and waiver wire moves soon, plus at least three more deep-league drafts to do over the next few weeks.  As I begin formulating some strategies for addressing these teams, I’m going to start by checking in on some deeper-league injury situations.  Since I’m writing this several days before players are expected to show up at their new camps, there will likely be a flurry of news and updates soon, but for now let’s take a look at some of the health news that’s come in over the last week or so.  We’ll keep it deep league by checking in on some players outside the top 300 in NFBC ADP this year, listed in order of earliest drafted to latest drafted. These are guys that we might have forgotten about and who might get ignored in standard leagues regardless of whether or not they’re ready to take the field, but who, if healthy, might help those of us who are going to need to get a little more creative with our roster construction.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

When it comes to fantasy baseball, there may be no position where player values vary more from shallow league to deep league than that of middle reliever.  Even if your league doesn’t use holds, a middle reliever that wouldn’t be draftable in standard leagues — even if roster size doubled — can provide some nice value in deeper leagues.  Last year, I drafted Hector Neris and Nick Anderson at the end of all of my very deep and NL-only leagues — both were available for a buck or in the free round of even my deepest, 15-team NL-only auction league. Both pitchers ended up helping me immensely, Neris by pitching well (his season was underrated in my opinion:  2.93 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 89 Ks in 67 innings) and ultimately assuming the closer’s role and notching 28 saves.  Anderson, on the other hand, while pitching in many high-leverage situations, never got that closer gig in 2019 that I thought he might, either with the Marlins or after he was traded to the Rays.  He ended up with one measly save — but that didn’t stop him from being a useful part of my NL-only pitching staff; in fact, in at least one league he was one of the only players who was in my active lineup from day one through game 162 last year.  The solid ratios, five wins, and whopping 110 Ks in 65 innings were enough to make a difference of a few points for me across those categories, which ultimately helped lead my team to a money finish.  If I’d been messing around with junk starters in that spot, I may have gotten some wins and Ks, but that progress would have been offset by the damage to my ratios.

With the current corona timeline that baseball is (hopefully) on track for, I’m guessing that middle relievers who are trusted near the end of games may even have a small spike in value — at least if anything close to expanded-roster teams playing 8 games a week and lots of doubleheaders into November becomes a reality.  (Please let it become a reality!)  Here are some true deep leaguers to look at, all outside of the top 500 NFBC ADP (with the exception of my first entry, Hunter Harvey, whose ADP is 475 — and probably only that high because of how many times I’ve drafted him!)

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So, I’ve agreed to draft another fantasy baseball team this weekend.  I honestly can’t tell you how many that makes for me in 2020, and I don’t really care at this point.  At first I was worried about how I could possibly manage juggling so many rosters should baseball ever return (PLEASE, PLEASE return sometime this summer, baseball!) Now, though, I’ve decided that I’m just going to carry on, figuring that having a “problem” like having 20 or 30 lineups to set come July would be the greatest problem I can possibly imagine right now.

Since I’m still drafting and I know many of you are too — either joining public online leagues as a therapeutic way to pass the time, or participating in drafts for leagues you’ve been in for years and have had planned all off-season — I thought I’d look at the current state of players outside the top 250, and which names I have my eye on as being a potential value that late.  I’m basing these ADP numbers on MattTruss’s Monday post in which he included a beautiful spreadsheet unveiling weeks worth of RCL ADP, so theoretically this is data that many of you have actually contributed to.  Some of these players’ values got a slight VHB* bump, others I’m valuing exactly the way I would during a normal season.  This is an extra tough week for me, as I try to keep what would normally be the sunshine-y giddiness of Opening Day from being permanently replaced by an ugly cloud of darkness… but to that end, let’s try to be safe, stay positive, and think about how insanely exciting it will be to finally have baseball to watch, whenever that may be.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

The main difference between standard fantasy leagues and deep leagues is, of course, the depth of the player pool and the talent an owner has available to choose from when constructing a roster.  Trying to decide how to let player pool depth affect draft strategy is where things get challenging, and I find that especially true when it comes to starting pitching.  While I, like most of the Razzball community, prefer to eschew top-tier starters in mixed leagues, it can become both more tempting — and in some cases more necessary as far as I’m concerned — to roster a top-ranked starting pitcher in NL or AL-only leagues because that nice big pool of mid-range starters whom you can count on just doesn’t exist.  But whether you decide to splurge on a Cole or a deGrom in a deep league, or choose to try to build a stable of starters without one of the top studs, one thing remains the same:  at the end of any deep-league draft or auction, you’ll want a handful of SP names that you can take fliers on to fill out your rotation or plant on your bench.  Today we’ll take a look a some pitchers that I’d consider throwing a late dart at:  for now, these are all ‘bird in the hand’ guys that theoretically are expected to open the season in their respective MLB rotations, rather than players that might have more upside but may have to wait a bit longer for a full-fledged starting gig.  All of the following players have current NFBC ADPs outside the top 350 players drafted — so as long as you’re not counting on them to do any heavy lifting on your squad, they’re low ultra risk, and any reward you get is almost like free production.

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Last week, we talked about players that are on the old side and are generally boring fantasy picks, but who might still be able to provide some decent deep-league value.   This week, we’ll focus on guys that may be able to help with two components crucial to most any successful fantasy team, namely power and speed.  In deeper leagues, we’re hit with a kind of double whammy.  First, the potential for things to go wrong is more prevalent since we’re drafting deeper into the player pool and therefore rostering much riskier players — whether the risk is injury, demotion, or just poor performance.  Second, once this level of risk leads to the need to replace players and fix holes on a roster, that’s much harder to do with what it usually a dearth of options available via the free agent pool.  If you’ve ever played in a 12-team “only” league with a deep bench, you know what I mean:  I’ve actually had situations where I needed to replace a hole at, say, second base when my second baseman was sent to triple A, and ended up having to just keep the minor leaguer in my lineup because there was literally not a free agent major league player who qualified at second base available in my league’s player pool.

At any rate, as I’m filling out a deep-league team, I’d often rather have two players who can both help me in both homers and steals rather than one hitter who I hope to count on for power and one who is more of a straight speed threat — even if I have to give up a little bit of ADP value or pay a buck more for a guy than I’d like to in an auction.  It’s just a way to mitigate risk slightly, in hopes of preventing the loss of one player from hitting me too hard in a single category. Thus, on to some names.  All of the following players A) had at least 10 homers + at least 10 steals last year, B) are guys that I think, in my completely unscientific projections, could reach a number of both home runs and steals that’s at least in the teens this year, and C) have current NFBC ADPs outside the top 225.

Please, blog, may I have some more?