Anyone else out there have a theme song when they draft their baseball teams?
I draft hard (he drafts hard) every day of my life
I draft ’til I ache in my bones
At the end (at the end of the day)
I take home my hard-earned team all on my own
I get down on my knees
And I start to pray
‘Til the tears run down from my eyes
Lord, somebody (somebody), ooh somebody
Can anybody find me… ADP to love?
Just me? Alright.
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Draft Hope Spring Eternal
Drafting fantasy baseball teams in mid- to late-February 2022 is an exercise in optimism and hope. We are optimistic that there will be a season in 2022 and that it will feature 162 games. We are optimistic that players like Jacob DeGrom or Cody Bellinger can pay off their draft capital this season. We are optimistic that Bobby Witt and Adley Rutschman can deliver as cream-of-the-crop prospects.
But perhaps more than anything, we are optimistic that the choices that we make are the right ones for our fantasy squads in 2022. Whether they are the home league playing for pride or the $1,000 Draft Champions league, we are optimistic that our selections are made at the right time with the right information.
That’s why our opinions and preferences change, often quickly. That’s why yesterday’s hot projected closer can become tomorrow’s waiver wire fodder. What has collectively changed in our drafting over the last few months? That’s where I want to dive into today.
I took the top 500 in ADP in NFC Drafts from October 4, 2021 to the present and analyzed the largest risers and fallers in two separate time periods. First, I looked at the ADP of the top 500 from October 4th to January 24th. Then, I compared it to ADP from January 24th to February 24th. All of those results can be found in this document.
From that group, there were a number of wild movers in both directions. Here are some highlights from the top 12 risers and fallers in preseason NFC Drafts.
Corey Knebel (ADP: 161.4, down from 214.5)
Knebel signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Phillies in early December and thoughts immediately went to him serving as closer. His only competition, it would seem, is left-hander Jose Alvarado. Unlike Alvarado, Knebel has the experience (one season with 39 saves, one with 16) and the command (Alvarado’s BB/9 last season of 7.6 was highest among all relievers) to take over the job. Drafters are currently locking in Knebel in the 10th-12th rounds for a source of cheap steals and strikeouts. If an official announcement is ever made, this price will continue to climb.
The clear-cut two most divisive players in fantasy baseball both got relatively good news in their legal issues recently. It looks as though both will have ample opportunity to play this season, which sent the former early-rounders’ prices soaring. Bauer now costs a pick around number 250 while Ozuna snuck into the top 200 this month. We are here merely to judge their contributions as fantasy baseball assets and any moral objections are purely up to you. The actionable information here is that the public is starting to move these prices up.
Rowdy Tellez (ADP: 305.1, down from 341.1)
Tellez may be Exhibit A this season that you really can wait to grab a power bat for your first base, CI, or UTIL spot. As things stand now, it looks like Keston Hiura and his .557 OPS from 2021 are the only things keeping Tellez from playing every single day. Big Dan Vogelbach is gone. Mike Brosseau and Jace Peterson suck. Tellez will have the handedness platoon on most days, the DH is arriving to give him the occasional day off from the field, and Hiura or Peterson just aren’t legitimate threats to play every day. All projection systems peg Tellez for roughly 115 games, 20-23 home runs, and 60-70 RBI. With enough plate appearances and enough men on base ahead of him in the fifth spot, those numbers could look low by the seasons’ end.
Kendall Graveman (ADP: 569, up from 492.4)
Signing a three-year contract with the White Sox in late November essentially sucked any life away from the theory that Graveman would get a closer gig in 2022. Now behind Liam Hendriks for the foreseeable future, Graveman’s value only remains in Saves+Holds leagues. Graveman made serious gains in his K/9 rate and HR/9 rate last season, so he has the stuff. He just has no opportunity barring a serious, long-term injury to both Hendriks and Craig Kimbrel. In fact, our Bullpen Chart doesn’t list Graveman as a top-three option for saves.
Aaron Hicks (ADP: 520.6, up from 450.4)
That injury bias is a serious one and will likely continue to depress Hicks’ value until we see him in game action. The reality is that in his eight full professional seasons, he only played over 97 games just twice and he was limited to 32 games last year. His batting average and slugging percentage have fallen each of the last five years as he has dealt with injuries to his oblique, intercostal, back, and wrist. Depending on what the Yankees do in free agency once the doors open back up again, Hicks might be pushed out of the lineup altogether. As it stands now, he is a 32-year old slow outfielder with 22 combined home runs the past three seasons.
Dylan Moore (ADP: 495.9, up from 439.8)
Moore’s counting stats in 2021 were certainly useful in fantasy. His 12 home runs and 21 steals in just 377 plate appearances were gold for those scrambling for a second baseman or middle infielder with some juice. The problem is those numbers were accompanied by a .181 batting average and .334 slugging percentage. Once Adam Frazier was acquired from the Padres in November to assume the keystone position, the fat lady started to sing for Moore. Moore is likely now relegated to a super-utility role off the bench in 2022 and will not be a major factor for fantasy managers.
Kris Bubic (ADP: 529,1, up from 471)
Bubic has been the very definition of Just A Guy in his two years in the big leagues so far. His ERA settles in around 4.40, his K/9 is relatively low at about 8.5, and he averages 4.0 BB/9. Projection systems all have him on the wrong side of 4.50 for the most part in 2022. Add a bad Kansas City offense and sprinkle in some home run issues (1.50/9 for his career), and Bubic is becoming a stay away for many. Contact on his pitches in the zone jumped from 81% in 2020 to 85% in 2021 while his swing percentage held steady at 44%. He wasn’t fooling anyone last year and he certainly isn’t fooling drafters either.