When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and on Wednesday, Zack Smith offered some ideas on how to approach the outfield position on draft day. We have also provided you with our Top 75 outfielder rankings for 2014:
Included in the rankings above, we provided 2014 projections for almost every outfielder ranked, courtesy of Daniel Schwartz from Fake Teams and Rotobanter.
In addition, Daniel Kelley provided you his outfielders breakdown using his new fantasy stat called Equivalent Fantasy Average, or EFA.
Now that we have provided you all these tools you need to prepare for your drafts, your fantasy draft preparation would be incomplete without some outfielders to avoid, which we provide you today, and some outfielders to target, which published yesterday.
We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the outfielder they would avoid in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below:
Outfielders to Avoid in 2014
So far, I have seen websites and magazines giving the prospect very different rankings. But if you are using one of those sources that projects Hamilton to lead the league in SB's by a healthy margin, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. Drafting the speedy outfielder as such would be paying for the breakout that is no sure thing. The key to success in fantasy baseball is finding those players that outperform their draft position. Hamilton's ADP is currently at #70 overall in NFBC drafts, so owners drafting him there need him to finish even higher to return value. Billy Hamilton might be the fastest player in the majors, but his case is too similar to that of Dee Gordon a few years ago, being a speedy outfielder with a questionable hit-tool. You can't steal first base, and the hit-tool just doesn't support the case for Hamilton getting enough SB opportunities. There is an outside chance he could hit well enough to lead the league in steals in 2014, but the risk of not hitting and returning to the minors is too great to invest so heavily here.
On paper, Upton had a productive season in 2013, compiling 27 home runs, 70 RBI and an .818 OPS. That's all well and good for those who owned him last season, but there are several red flags for this upcoming season. Primarily, Upton fell off massively after his freakishly hot start. After blasting 12 homers in April, he managed just 15 more in the remaining five months, failed to bat above .300 in any given month, and hit .211 and .226 in May and June, respectively. Also concerning is Upton's propensity to strike out; he did so 161 times in 2013. That all-or-nothing approach proved costly at times, and doesn't lend much confidence going forward. Finally, Upton projects to bat second in the Braves lineup this season, meaning those hitting in front of him when the lineup swings back around are Dan Uggla (.309 OBP in 2013), brother B.J (.268 OBP), the pitcher's spot and Jason Heyward (respectable .349 OBP despite a .254 AVG). In other words, Upton won't have a ton of RBI opportunities.
I was going to tell you to avoid Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton, but Matt beat me to it, so it's Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Even though I like the fact that the Yankees went back to their spending ways and filled some holes this offseason (not a Yankee fan), I think Ellsbury is being drafted waaaaayyyyy to early for my liking. His current ADP according to the 15 team, NFBC ADP rankings is 11.52. That means he's a first round pick, and there is no way I would draft him that early. He comes with some injury risk, and there are several outfielders being drafted behind him that I prefer over him, including Bryce Harper, Yasiel Puig, Jay Bruce, Carlos Gomez, Giancarlo Stanton and Alex Rios, to name a few. Matt Holliday and Hunter Pence are two of the most consistent fantasy hitters in the draft, and they are being drafted three rounds later. Don't risk your first round pick on Ellsbury.
We always say that the arrival of a player at a new level or in a new league is a bigger benefit for hitters than pitchers, because there's no real book on the hitter yet. That can't possibly be truer for any level-move than it is from Cuban baseball to American, because we barely get to see anything about the Cuban ballplayers. So the athletic Cespedes comes over in 2012, and pitchers don't know how to handle him, and he hits the cover off the ball. People loved it. But then 2013 came, and the pitchers had a book on him, and his on-base percentage fell below .300. I mean, he'll put up a decent power line, but overall it's really hard to trust him. He's outside of my top 30.
Yelich is going to be a top-25 outfielder one year, but it's not going happen in 2014. The 22-year-old zipped through the Marlins' minor-league system in 2013, graduating to Double-A before his major-league jump to Miami. The outfielder batted .288/.370/.396 in 273 plate appearances with four home runs and 10 steals, but he was overmatched at times with a 24.2 percent strikeout rate, a problem that has plagued Yelich against lesser pitching in the minors. His power disappeared once he reached Miami (.108 ISO), and I don't see his minor-league power numbers translating well in a park that absolutely kills left-handed power. Yelich's contact rates were below league average, which could result in his batting average dipping to the .260-.270 range. If that's the case, he'll only be useful for his speed (think 15-20 steals), which can be found cheaply -- and more abundantly -- at the tail end of drafts.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees - Joe Pytleski (follow @agape4argentina)
Um, how is a 15-homer, 30-SB ceiling still getting top 10 love? I know he hit 30 home runs a long time ago but that's NOT happening again. Give me Marte at 20 and I'll show you the same guy a round or two later.
Just a hunch, but the injuries have reached a point to where I want no part of him anymore. The problem is that someone in your league still believes, so you can bet he won't be on any of my rosters this year.
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