March 2010

NFBC draft recap

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** Fantasy 411 lands on MLB Network for 2010**

Today was my fifth NFBC draft, and my second as a defending champ.


I had the second pick, which was my first choice in KDS, gambling that Albert Pujols would go first and I would get Hanley Ramirez next, which is who I wanted all along. After a nervous week due to Pujols’ back ache, he ended up going first overall and I got Hanley second. With trusty wingman Mike Siano at my side, here’s how the rest of the picks went…


Round 2.14 – I was hoping for Brandon Phillips but he went a few picks earlier so I took Dustin Pedroia instead, trading a few homers and steals for more runs and a better average.


Grady.jpgRound 3.2 – The original plan was for Jayson Werth, but he went at 2.10, almost a full round ahead of where I expected he would. As a result Grady Sizemore slipped to me, about a half-round after I thought he would, so I grabbed him. Similar to the Phillips/Pedroia tradeoff, I sacrificed a little power for more runs and a steals; he’s healthy again and should put up numbers worthy of a much earlier pick. Through three rounds I project 72 homers and 78 steals, with a nearly .300 average and well over 300 runs, although I’m a little short in RBI’s.


Round 4.14 – I was targeting Jonathan Broxton and strongly considering following him with Jonathan Papelbon for a monster 411-style bullpen tandem, but Broxton went at 4.7. Figuring Team 1 would only take one of the two remaining elite closers, I opted to make up for some additional power with Andre Ethier.


Round 5.2 – Team 1 didn’t take either closer so I opted for Papelbon’s youth over Mariano Rivera‘s experience. Rivera went three picks later.


Round 6.14 – My hope was that Cole Hamels or Ricky Nolasco would be available here, and I was able to get one of them in most of my mock drafts; had both been on the board I would’ve tried to take them in tandem. Unfortunately both went earlier in this round, so I went for my highest rated remaining starter, Chad Billingsley.


Round 7.2 – Cliff Lee was awfully tempting here but the abdominal injury is very worrisome, so I opted for List of 12 favorite Matt Garza.


Round 8.14 – My plan was to take another pitcher here, hopefully a closer like Jose Valverde, Heath Bell or Joakim Soria, but the run on closers was well along and all three were gone, along with my intended #3 starter, Scott Baker. However, Nate McLouth (right) was still on the board, more than two rounds after I thought he would be gone, so I called an audible and picked him. Spring stats don’t count; like teammate Brian McCann did last year McLouth is still adjusting to new contact lenses, and I fully expect him to put up another 20-20 season, an absolute steal this late in the draft.


(Note that my first all eight players are all between the ages of 25 and 28, based on their age at the midpoint of the season on July 5.)


Round 9.2 – I considered Billy Wagner here as my #2 closer but gambled he would slip to my next pair of picks, and stuck to the plan by taking Adam LaRoche. He probably would not have gone for another round or so, but I doubt he would’ve been around for my next pick at 10.14, and I didn’t want to get stuck with a Paul Konerko or James Loney at first.


Round 10.14 – Wagner went a few picks after me in the ninth round, but my “safety valve” #2 closer Chad Qualls was still on the board so I grabbed him here. His knee has been healthy this spring so I expect 35 saves and an excellent WHIP.


Round 11.2 – I took my perceived best available starter, Jered Weaver, rejoining him with Garza and LaRoche in a mini-reunion from last year’s team.


Round 12.14 – I was targeting Mike Napoli, Ryan Doumit or Russell Martin here, and would’ve taken back-to-back catchers had the right tandem been available. Napoli had gone earlier, in the 10th round, and both Doumit and Martin went just before my pick, so I took my perceived next-best option, Chris Iannetta, another returnee from last year’s team. Jim Tracy‘s comments about splitting playing time between Iannetta and Miguel Olivo are certainly worrisome, but ultimately Iannetta is the better hitter and should win out.


Gordon.jpgRound 13.2 – My original plan was to take either Ryan Ludwick or Tim Hudson here, but Team 3 surprised me by taking them in the ninth and 10th rounds, respectively. I considered Rich Harden but didn’t want to take a #4 starter so soon, so I reached a round earlier than planned and took Siano’s mancrush, Alex Gordon (right). I know this is a big gamble, with him having missed most of spring training after missing most of last season, but I still believe in his upside and didn’t like most of the remaining third base options. This is a high-risk, high-reward pick.


Round 14.14 – I was planning on taking Lastings Milledge here, having no reason to even consider he would go earlier, but Team 9 stunned me by taking him later in the 13th round. I viewed the next-best outfield option as Mike Cameron, but didn’t want to take that batting average risk on top of guys like McLouth, Iannetta and Gordon, so I took Martin Prado for his average, runs and position flexibility. I don’t expect him to match last year’s home run output, but he should hit .300 and score a ton of runs batting second for the Braves.


(Note #2… that’s four straight picks between the ages of 26 and 27; my oldest player so far is the 31-year-old Qualls.)


Round 15.2 – With Prado as a counter-balance, I took Cameron as planned… finally, an old guy! Sure he’s in decline, but he’s moving into a strong offensive environment, so I can live with the .250 average as long as I get the expected 20 homers and 10 steals.


Round 16.14 – I didn’t want to take Joe Blanton or Aaron Harang, so I gambled on youth and upside by taking Phil Hughes as my fourth starter. He probably won’t throw more than 150 innings or so, and tanked as a starter last year, but if the hype about his improved changeup is true he should be a reasonable pick here.


Round 17.2 – Some mancrushes never die. Edwin Encarnacion will be on my NFBC team once again and this is the year he breaks through: he’s 27, has averaged 26 homers per 162 games over his last two seasons, and should be healthy in time for the start of the season. I can always dream, can’t I?


Round 18-14 – In what has become my NFBC tradition, I once again took a third reliever in the 18th round, this time presumed Twins closer Jon Rauch. I would have preferred Chris Perez or Jason Frasor but both had gone in the 16th round, so I was pleased and surprised to find Rauch still available here, figuring he’ll at least split saves with Matt Guerrier if not win the job outright.


Round 19.2 – Randy Wells isn’t a special pitcher, and isn’t going to be one, but he should be a relatively safe option as my fifth starter.


Bedard.jpgRound 20.14 – Let no one say I don’t put my money where my mouth is, which I did here by taking Erik Bedard (right). I have no idea when he will pitch again for the Mariners, but I’m certain that when he does he’ll be very effective, with decent ERA and WHIP numbers plus a strikeout per inning. Remember, this is a 15-team league, making Bedard the equivalent of a reserve-round lottery pick in a vanilla 12-team league.


Round 21.2 – Not sure why Rafael Furcal and Orlando Cabrera were both still available here, but they were. I took Cabrera, even though he’s older, thanks to his better home ballpark and consistent, healthy track record.


Round 22.14 – David DeJesus is the prototypical fifth outfielder in a 15-team league: he’ll contribute a little in every category while being spectacular in none of them.


Round 23.2 – Even though the rules don’t require it, I prefer to complete a fully legal roster with my first 23 picks, so I took Nick Hundley as my second catcher. The batting average is worrisome, but he has pop and surprised with some speed last September.


Reserve 1.14 – The whole “DTM” thing is Siano’s attitude, not mine, so if you’ve got Bedard you might as well take Brett Myers also, the original owner of Club DTM. Even though he’s only 29 it’s possible arm is toast already, I’ll gamble on him as a reserve pick.


Reserve 2.2 – I just missed on Jason Motte as my closer of the future lottery ticket, so I took my second choice, Brandon League. I drafted Seattle’s closer, David Aardsma, in the reserve rounds last year also so let’s hope history repeats itself!


Reserve 3.14 – Matt Diaz looks like he’ll be the Braves everyday left fielder, with Melky Cabrera serving as the fourth outfielder, so I grabbed Diaz here. He’ll hit for average, chip in a handful homers, and even steal a few bases. If Gordon or Encarnacion starts the season on the DL, Diaz will make a useful replacement with Cabrera moving to the middle infield and Prado to the corner.


Reserve 4.2 – Another starting pitching gamble, Marlins righty Anibal Sanchez. He’s still only 26 so I’m hoping he follows the Josh Johnson path to success this year in his first full healthy season.


Reserve 5.14 – I generally grab at least one or two prospect bats in the reserve rounds, but the ones I liked were gone, so I went for another arm, Rays righty Jeremy Hellickson. After his meteoric rise through the minors, and his impressive spring cameo, he should be the first one to get the call if and when the Rays need another starter.


Reserve 6.2 – Dioner Navarro could replace Hundley if he returns to his 2008 form and Hundley’s average becomes too big a burden.


Reserve 7.14 – Couldn’t go without one prospect bat though, so I took Orioles third baseman Josh Bell. With fading veterans Miguel Tejada, Garrett Atkins and Ty Wigginton in front of him, he could see some action in the second half.


Based on my projections, my 23-man roster has me in a flat-footed tie with Team 15 for first place in this league, although several categories are very close. I have a few key injury risks, I could be shy in speed, and as usual my rotation is more about promise than results right now. But 22 of my 30 players are under the age of 30, and only two are older than 32, so there is plenty of upside in this group.


(Here’s the full pick-by-pick draft results, along with my player projections and projected standings:
2009 NFBC recap.xls)


Overall I was mostly able to execute my plan, and as we like to say, it’s better to have a bad plan and execute than no plan at all! Gotta get some sleep now… Tout Wars tomorrow!





My NL-Only Auction Draft

Hey everyone,

Just thought I’d share the results of my Bloggers League NL-only auction draft from earlier this week. This is the same league I participated in last year, hosted by, and most of the owners are the same. The one major difference is that this season we trimmed down from 12 to 10 teams…still very challenging but now a little more reasonable. Since we use the classic 23-man starter format, the player pool got so thin at the end of last season’s draft that some of the players taken in the reserve rounds were guys I never even heard of, let alone watched. Unfortunately, one of the draft participants (the expected replacement for Bob in Cleveland) didn’t show up, which created some havoc with respect to the prices as the computer-controlled team was left with over 50 bucks to spare. We all did the best we could to adjust to the computer’s strange bidding techniques and the integrity of the draft was, in my view, more or less preserved. To see the full team rosters along with dollar values Click Here

A few comments:

-I was determined to avoid making the same mistake as last year in being too conservative in the early going and it paid off. Besides spending a bit too much on Brandon Phillips (the attractive NL 2B choices are extremely limited so I had specifically targeted him), I thought I drafted all my core players (Upton, Rollins, Ludwick, LaRoche, Johan, Wandy) for fair and in some cases discounted prices.

-I had budgeted about 20 bucks for my ace and was pleasantly surprised to land Johan Santana for $22 as I was planning on settling for the Cain-Nolasco-Wandy tier. That said, if I had known that Dan Haren would go for only two more dollars, I definitely would’ve waited. Such is the nature of auction drafting! I think Johan will have a fine season but you can’t ignore the injury risk and the declining strikeout rate. Regardless, he’s still a #1 SP in mixed leagues and a high-end NL-only ace.

-While I’m very satisfied with my offense and the fact that I was able to grab two quality closers in Qualls and Cordero, the depth of my rotation is my biggest concern. I’ll need to make at least one strong starting pitcher pickup in-season and hope that Clayton Richard emerges as a dependable option. And that’s assuming my front three of Johan, Wandy and Zambrano, all injury risks to different degrees, stay healthy.

Let me know what you think…



C   Soto  $12
C   Zaun  $1
1B  LaRoche  $15
2B  Phillips  $33
SS  Rollins  $28
3B  Blake  $10
CI  Feliz  $6
MI  Castillo  $3
OF  J. Upton  $29
OF  Ludwick  $13
OF  Blanks  $9
OF  Gomez  $8
OF  Fukudome  $5
Util  Gomes  $3
BE  Spilborghs  $2
BE  Church  $1

SP  Santana  $22
SP  W. Rodriguez  $15
SP  Zambrano  $9
SP  Blanton  $4
SP  Richard  $2
SP  Parra (don’t like him at all!)  $1
RP  Qualls  $16
RP  Cordero  $14
RP  Masset  $1
BE  Gutierrez  $1
BE  Meek  $1

Fantasy 411 Network Preview Show Recap


** Fantasy 411 lands on MLB Network for 2010**

Hey everyone,

For those of you who were able to catch the Fantasy 411 Preview Show on the MLB Network last night, hope you all feel much better prepared for draft day. For those of you who missed it, below are links to on-demand clips of each individual segment. In addition, audio and video podcasts of the show can be found by going to this page

General Strategy Tips for 2010

Catcher and DH

First Base

Second Base


Third Base




Young Outfielders

Value Picks for 2010

Top Prospects to watch Fantasy 411 lands on MLB Network for 2010

MLB NETWORK & MLB.COM TO PARTNER ON FANTASY PROGRAMMING THROUGHOUT THE 2010 REGULAR SEASON Fantasy 411 Draft Preview to Air March 21 at 8:00 p.m. ET’s Fantasy 411 to Air Daily on MLB Network and Starting April 6



March 15, 2010, New York & Secaucus – With 2010 fantasy baseball drafts underway, MLB Network today announced it will air the Fantasy 411 Draft Preview on Sunday, March 21 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Hosted by MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger and Harold Reynolds along with’s Cory Schwartz and Mike Siano, the two-hour show will provide detailed analysis and insight on the topics fantasy baseball enthusiasts will be focusing on as fantasy draft days continue before Opening Day, including:

         Position-by-position analysis and player rankings

        Discussion of strategy for draft day and in-season transactions

        “Breakout, bargain and bust” picks for the 2010 season

    Top picks for prospects expected to be called up during the 2010 season

Continuing with the fantasy programming, throughout the 2010 regular season MLB Network will simulcast’s Fantasy 411, the site’s longest-running hosted program, on weekdays at 5:00 p.m. ET, beginning Tuesday, April 6. The program, hosted by’s Jeremy Brisiel, will provide key insights from analysts Schwartz and Siano to help further fans’ enjoyment and knowledge in their respective fantasy leagues.

Schwartz, the Director of Stats for and a regular contributor to’s fantasy baseball section, has been competing in fantasy baseball since 1989, including expert competitions such as the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) and Tout Wars. Siano, the Director of Multimedia Production for, has been competing in fantasy baseball for more than 10 years, including the highly-competitive Tout Wars league. The Fantasy 411 can be found on its blog at and on Twitter at


411 Question of the Week (Outfielders)



Wrapping up the ADP series, what would you change about this Mock Draft Central Top 25
ADP list for outfielders?


  1. Ryan Braun
  2. Matt Kemp
  3. Carl Crawford
  4. Jacoby Ellsbury
  5. Matt Holliday
  6. Justin Upton
  7. Jason Bay
  8. Grady Sizemore
  9. Jayson Werth
  10. Ichiro Suzuki
  11. Curtis Granderson
  12. Nick Markakis
  13. Adam Lind
  14. Josh Hamilton
  15. B.J. Upton
  16. Manny Ramirez
  17. Nelson Cruz
  18. Andre Ethier
  19. Shin-Soo Choo
  20. Adam Dunn
  21. Carlos Lee
  22. Shane Victorino
  23. Bobby Abreu
  24. Alfonso Soriano
  25. Hunter Pence


I think
this list is going to be more about fluctuation than where everyone is now. Can
Jason Bay have the same kind of year in Citi
Field? Is BJ Upton at #15 going to live up to his top 5 talent? Is Josh
Hamilton a better pick than Choo? There are some really good players in this
top 25 but just as many question marks. Braun, Crawford, both Uptons, Sizemore
and Granderson have been targets of mine in all leagues while guys like
Markakis and Werth are superb fall back options if not targets as well. I’ll be
passing on Hamilton,
Cruz, Manny and Ethier who I think are useful players but not my type for 2010.
Keep youngsters like McCutchen and Carlos Gonzalez on your radar and don’t
forget Span, Delmon Young, Damon and Ludwick.



That’s a
nice hedge by the birthday boy Siano, but the reality is that Jason Bay
doesn’t belong in the top 10 at this position. He’s becoming an increasingly
swing-for-the-fences player as he’s aged, which is nice for the power numbers
but poor for the average, which won’t get any better as he moves into pitcher-friendly
Citi Field, and the weaker Mets lineup will likely result in fewer runs and
RBI’s. The 10-12 steals per season help bolster his value, but with a history
of knee problems, that’s no guarantee, either.  Bay is a solid player, but
I see much more potential and upside in the two players right behind him,
Sizemore and Werth, as well as some others.



I’m making
it a point to avoid Josh Hamilton in all my drafts this year. Simply put, the
guy just can’t stay on the field. After being sidelined for roughly half of
2009 due to a variety of injuries, he’s already missed some time this spring
with a bruised shoulder. Then there’s the thin track record factor. Yes, Hamilton put together a
terrific season back in 2008 but it was only one season. Is he an absolute lock
to go 30-110 even if he does play a full year? Spending an early-round pick on
someone with this many question marks is asking for trouble. There are a bunch
of players ranked below Hamilton who I’d rather own, including B.J. Upton, Adam
Dunn, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence.



My First Real Draft of 2010

Zach here,   
On Wednesday night I took part in an NL-only expert league straight draft hosted by the guys at With an even more challenging NL-only auction less than two weeks away, I considered it a great opportunity to get used to the thin talent pool. Trust me, this was challenging enough! The active roster layout was slightly simplified: one catcher, four outfielders, no middle infield or corner infield slots and eight pitchers.     

Click Here for the full results. I’ve listed my team at the bottom of this post.

But first, a few notes:

-Adam Dunn and Carlos Lee were my two targets in the third round but when Dunn was taken three picks before my turn and Lee was snatched up with the pick right before me I scrambled for a Plan B, ultimately settling on Broxton, the clear-cut top NL closer. In retrospect, this might look like a questionable move as it was not until the fourth pick of the fifth round that the second closer (Heath Bell) was taken. Still, I just wasn’t enthused by the available OF options, particularly Ethier and Manny, and landed up spending my fourth round pick on Pence, who I actually have ranked higher than the Dodgers’ duo.

-I was very happy getting Orlando Cabrera in the 11th as my starting SS but made this pick at the expense of 3B, Mark DeRosa being the last quality option available. Then again, knowing that Mike from The Sports Banter was still without a shortstop, if I didn’t grab O-Cab there my starter would’ve likely been Brendan Ryan. Ugh.

-Overall, third base and the lack of a second closer are my two biggest weaknesses. It’s extremely hard to pick up a closer off the wire in a non-mixed so I may just have to live with one. The good news? Most of the other teams have the same problem. I like my rotation and my outfield and made sure to take Brandon Phillips in the second as the 2B depth in the NL is flat out awful.


C    Chris Iannetta
1B   Ryan Howard
2B   Brandon Phillips
SS  Orlando Cabrera
3B  Andy LaRoche
OF   Hunter Pence
OF  Ryan Ludwick
OF  Dexter Fowler
OF  Kosuke Fukudome
Util  Jeff Clement
BE  Brandon Allen
BE  Emilio Bonifacio

SP  Wandy Rodriguez
SP  Jonathan Sanchez
SP  Carlos Zambrano
SP  John Maine
SP  Anibal Sanchez
RP  Jonathan Broxton
RP  George Sherrill
RP  Juan Gutierrez
BE  Chris Volstad
BE  Mike Pelfrey
BE  Rich Hill (hoping for some Dave Duncan magic!)

Let me know what you think…

NFBC Style Mock Draft

Updated projections 3/7/2010


Hey folks here are the updated composite projections (2010.composite.projections.030710.xls), reflecting these changes since the last time:

* Updated the team assignments for several free agent signings, such as Johnny Damon;
* Adjusted playing time for literally hundreds of players to what I consider to be realistic expectations… for instance, this assumes that Ian Desmond will at least share a MI job with Cristian Guzman and Adam Kennedy;
* Tweaked runs scored and RBI’s to be in a more typical range (94-95%) on a per-team basis, and the win/save ratios as well;
* Added a league column to help out those in the unmixed world, and also games-by-position and position qualifications based on NFBC rules, which I consider to be fairly universal;
* Updated the POS column based on the actual games played and position eligibility rules.

(Also, I made sure this is saved in the previous version of Excel so everyone should be able to open this file without issue.)
I’ve been tinkering around with this as recently as this morning, so it includes adjustments to reflect the injury news on Russell
and Alex Gordon (right), among others. Sell, Mortimer, sell!

If you’re not sure of how these projections are built, or what they represent, please read previous threads as Q&A’s before posting questions here… all your questions have probably been answered already. The best place to start is this year’s first draft of the projections.

Next steps in my draft prep is a series of mock drafts based on these projections (and the resultant rankings), starting tonight. Enjoy, everyone!


P.S. – If you don’t already, follow Siano and me on Twitter at @fantasy411 and @schwartzstops, respectively. Good times.

All-Overrated Teams for 2010




C   Matt Wieters

1B  Nobody!!!

2B  Aaron Hill

SS  Jason Bartlett

3B  Mark Reynolds

OF  Matt Kemp

OF  Andre Ethier

OF  Nelson Cruz

SP  John Lackey

SP  Josh Beckett

RP  Andrew Bailey


C   Victor Martinez

1B  Justin Morneau

2B  Aaron Hill

SS  Jason Bartlett

3B  Casey McGehee

OF  Manny Ramirez

OF  Josh Hamilton

OF  Jason Bay

SP  Jake Peavy

SP  Josh Johnson

RP  Francisco

All-Underrated Teams for 2010


Hey everyone,

On today’s podcast, Mike and Cory unveiled their All-Underrated teams for the upcoming season. Below are the picks. Wednesday’s podcast will focus on the All-Overrated teams.



C   Jorge Posada
1B  Lance Berkman
2B  Kelly Johnson
SS  Alexei Ramirez
3B  Alex Gordon
OF  Carlos Gonzalez
OF  Denard Span
OF  Ryan Ludwick
SP  Jonathan Sanchez
SP  Max Scherzer
RP  Brad Lidge


C   Ryan Doumit
1B  Adam LaRoche
2B  Rickie Weeks
SS  Elvis Andrus
3B  Edwin Encarnacion
OF  Corey Hart
OF  Torii Hunter
OF  Jay Bruce
SP  Ricky Nolasco
SP  Scott Baker
RP  Chad Qualls