The Fantasy Landscape: Outfield

USA TODAY Sports

Alex Kantecki kicks off outfield week with an overview of the position, including his thoughts on AL-/NL-only leagues and draft strategy.

You know the drill. Today we kick off outfield week at Fake Teams, where the staff brings you positional rankings, player profiles and much, much more. In addition to all of the great content you are about to see throughout the week, we are again very excited to bring you Daniel Schwartz's projections and auction values from Rotobanter.com, as well as Daniel Kelley's Equivalent Fantasy Average. Here is the schedule for the upcoming week:

Time Slot/Day

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

7am

State of the Position (Alex)

Prospect Profile: Gregory Polanco (Brian C.)

Top 75 Outfielders Rankings, Part 1 (Ray)

Outfielders to Target (Staff)

Top 75 Outfielders Rankings, Part 3 (Ray)

10am

Top 75 Outfielders Rankings, Part 1 (Ray)

Prospect Profile: Jackoe Bradley Jr. (Jason)

Prospect Profile: George Springer (Matt)

Prospect Profile: Byron Buxton (Matt)

Outfielders to Avoid (Staff)

12pm

Outfielder Profile: Leonys Martin (Jasper)

Outfielder Profile: Jason Heyward (Alex)

Prospect Profile: Oscar Taveras (Jason)

Outfielder Profile: Khris Davis (Joe)

AL-only sleepers (Ray)

2pm

Outfielder Profile: Junior Lake

Outfielder Profile: Kole Calhoun (Joe)

2014 Outfielder Draft Strategy (Zack)

Prospect Profile: Philip Ervin (Tom)

NL-only Sleepers (Jasper)

4pm

Outfielder Profile: Peter Bourjos

Prospect Profile: Stephen Piscotty (Tom)

Prospect Profile: Billy Hamilton (Jasper)

Outfielder ADP Trends (Ray)

EFA Analysis: Outfielder (Daniel K.)

Prospect Profile: Jake Marisnick (Brian C.)


The Lay of the Land

Mike Trout is the No. 1 outfielder in fantasy, and it's not particularly close. While his 2013 season wasn't as special as his 2012 campaign, Trout slashed .323/.432/.557 with 27 home runs, 109 runs, 97 RBI and 33 stolen bases. Technically he regressed, but if you own Trout in a keeper or dynasty leagues, the next 10 years are going to be a lot of fun.

Andrew McCutchen is the next best thing in the outfield, but it's a generous fall from first to second. While the upside of a couple of other outfielders might be greater, McCutchen has three consecutive 20/20 seasons, to go along with a .317-plus batting average in two straight years. Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Braun are examples of players with greater upside, in my opinion, but the former hasn't played in more than 140 games since 2010 and the latter is coming back from a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. McCutchen is the safest option out of the three.

Jacoby Ellsbury switched allegiances this offseason, going from Boston to New York, and the short porch in Yankee Stadium should help his power numbers. He has just 13 home runs since 2012, but the 30-year-old does have a 32-homer season on his resume (in 2011). Over the past two seasons, Adam Jones has averaged 32 home runs, 101 runs, 95 RBI and 15 steals. A strong supporting cast in Baltimore including Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and Nelson Cruz (pending a physical) should help propel Jones to another top-10 finish in the outfield. Carlos Gomez posted a 20/40 season in 2013 and owns one the league's most unique skillsets of power and speed.

A surprising mix of outfielders rounded out the top 10, including Alex Rios, Hunter Pence, Jayson Werth, Alfonso Soriano and Michael Cuddyer.

The Great Divide (AL/NL)

The Official Fake Teams Outfield Rankings will be coming out shortly (in three posts of 25, with the top 25 being released later today), and the National League claims 16 out of the top 25, including seven out of the top 10. Trout was the unanimous No. 1 outfielder, followed by McCutchen and CarGo (with all but one second-place vote going to McCutchen).

After Trout, the second tier of American League outfielders includes Jones, Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios. Wil Myers, Alex Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes may or may not be included in the same group depending on your level of confidence in the trio, but I'm particularly high on Myers after the rookie stepped in and batted .293 with 13 home runs in 88 games last year.

The NL has more elite options to choose from, in my opinion, starting with McCutchen, Gonzalez and Braun. The NL also boasts Gomez, Bruce, Justin Upton, Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig, Matt Holliday and Hunter Pence. The next tier includes Jason Heyward, Starling Marte, Matt Kemp, Jayson Werth and Allen Craig. I'm highest on Heyward among the group, but batting leadoff will take away RBI opportunities in Atlanta.

The Draft Strategy

Zack Smith will bring you an in-depth look at the outfield draft strategy on Wednesday, much like he did with third basemen last week. Some of the best power/speed threats in baseball can be found in the outfield, and it's very important to secure a solid No. 1 outfielder, especially in leagues with five OF spots. Personally, I always try to draft an outfielder in the first two or three rounds, and it usually never requires much reaching. The high talent does thin out rather quickly, however, so don't wait too long before selecting your first outfielder.

Depending on your league size, the top-10 outfielders will probably be gone by the end of the third round in 10-12 team leagues and by the end of the second round in 15-teamers. That's where the NFBC has the top-11 outfielders going. NFBC ranks them in the following order (with ADP in parantheses): Trout (1.19), McCutchen (4.43), CarGo (8.19), Jones (9.17), Braun (11.01), Ellsbury (11.55), Harper (12.74), Puig (22.09), Gomez (23.51), Stanton (27.32) and Bruce (30.41).

You can find all of NFBC's ADP data here, and Ray will take a closer look at ADP trends in the outfield on Wednesday.

The New Kids on the Block

The recent successes of Mike Trout and Harper have put unreasonable expectations on incoming youngsters, but the rookie with the most hype is Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton, who swiped 13 bases in 13 games after being called up for a cup of coffee in September. If everything falls right, which is far from a sure thing, Hamilton can run away in the stolen base category. If he can hit well enough to get on base (a big "if"), 70 steals are approachable. Jasper Scherer will profile the Reds' speedster on Wednesday.

While not technically rookies any longer, Khris Davis and Kole Calhoun are popular sleepers heading into 2014. Davis softened the blow of Braun's suspension in Milwaukee last season with 11 home runs and 10 doubles in 56 games, and Calhoun added eight homers and seven doubles in 58 contests. Joe Pytleski will profile both corner outfielders later this week.

In addition to Hamilton, the Fake Teams Prospect Staff -- Jason Hunt, Brian Creagh, Matt Mattingly and newcomer Tom Sheils -- will profile a total of nine prospects, including Gregory Polanco, Jackie Bradley Jr., Stephen Piscotty, George Springer, Oscar Taveras, Byron Buxton Philip Ervin and Jake Marisnick.

What's Next?

In three short hours, Part 1 of The Fake Teams Consensus Outfield Rankings will be released, along with projections and auction values from Rotobanter and Daniel Kelley's Equivalent Fantasy Average for every player ranked. Over the next five days, we'll bring you 15 player profiles, including eight prospect profiles. The staff will also highlight multiple outfielders to target and avoid, a comprehensive draft strategy and AL- and NL-only sleepers. Ray and the gang have worked long and hard to bring you the best pre-season coverage available, so we appreciate all of the feedback, whether it's good, bad or in-between. If there is anything you'd like to see in addition to the content being provided, please let us know about it in the comments below.

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