It's very easy to write who the players you're going to target will be going into draft season. I should know, I've been doing it for five months across both Fake Teams and Roto Hardball (which now resides in the internet abyss). But, over this past weekend, the last three of my drafts took place. This means my opening day rosters are now set in the nine leagues that I play in. Obviously, they range in league dynamics -- three are dynasty format, three are keeper format and three are redraft format. They also range in league size -- two are 10-team, three are 12-team, one is 14-team, two are 16-team and one is 18-team.
With those disclaimers out of the way, I set out to find how my overall rosters aligned with my rankings and philosophy going into March. For the purposes of this exercise, I excluded the Fake Teams dynasty league because I did not draft the team, I inherited it. However, I did include the pickups I've made since the draft, as that's all me. What I found was that outside of a few guys that I knew I would specifically target later on in drafts, my list is pretty well spread out. Only three players ended up being drafted by me on more than 4 of the 9 teams (I don't think those names will surprise you much, but we'll get there).
The other surprise has to be that I ended up with some of the players that I've talked about most this off-season on very few teams. Sadly, I own Jaime Garcia on only one team. Same with other personal favorites like Hanley Ramirez, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Matt Moore, Ben Zobrist and Chris Sale. So how does this happen? I have Hanley Ramirez currently ranked as my #7 player overall in fantasy and I have him on the same number of teams as both Dee Gordon and Brett Lawrie, two guys who I thought were pretty overvalued going into drafts? (Sorry Ray!) When you're in the draft room, rankings are helpful but you're trying to piece together a winning team, not a parade of your favorite players. I love Jaime Garcia, but if I've grabbed a top-20 pitcher and then am waiting, he's going to get taken before my strategy allows.
So let's take a walk through the players who I own in at least three leagues:Owned in 6 leagues: Addison Reed
Reed is in a class by himself with me. Once Matt Thornton was officially named the closer and Reed's ADP started slipping, he fell right into my wheelhouse both from a skill perspective and a strategy perspective. In my leagues which have benches, I love stocking my roster with at least three high-K relievers who may stumble into saves and Reed is my favorite. Even if Thornton is good, I think the White Sox will likely try to get a prospect for him and Reed will be there to grab at least 10-12 saves. It's tough to project 100 K's from any reliever, but I think Reed gets there.
Owned in 5 leagues: Jeff Niemann, Matt Harrison
Niemann and Harrison can't really come as a surprise to anyone as I've been both talking them up for a while and taking them towards the end of pretty much every draft I've done. They both come with risks, but they also pitch for teams projected to win upwards of 90 games and play very solid defense. Niemann needs to stay relatively healthy and build on the improvements he made in the second half of last season. Harrison needs to bump up his strikeout rate a little, but he's got the raw stuff to do it. I think the upside of both guys have been undervalued by the market.
Owned in 4 leagues: Dustin Pedroia, Starlin Castro, Hector Noesi
I actually have the Pedroia/Castro double play combination in three of these leagues, which really helps mitigate some of the batting average risk I was able to take later on. Pedroia is one of the safest five category players you will find and I would not be surprised to see him steal 30 bases with Bobby Valentine in town. Castro may not reach his peak in 2012, but at a minimum he should be able to hit double-digit HR and steal 25 bases with a .300+ average. Noesi isn't a household name, but he pitches in Seattle and could strikeout 130-135 batters with solid ratios.
Hitters owned in 3 leagues: Miguel Cabrera, Justin Morneau, Lance Berkman, Adrian Beltre, Adam Jones, Eric Hosmer, Kelly Johnson, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Jayson Werth
Some quick hit comments here. Miggy is the #1 player in fantasy and a target of mine in all auctions -- that eligibility will be a huge advantage. I believe in the Royals offense. Eric Hosmer could be a monster this year and Alex Gordon will continue his breakout that he started in 2011 (albeit with more of a .275-.280 batting average). Adrian Beltre and Lance Berkman aren't sexy names, but they are consistent and proved to be good values on draft day. Jayson Werth is not a guy I specifically targeted in drafts, but he was going way too late to pass up. Kelly Johnson, Lorenzo Cain and Justin Morneau were three of my favorite later round targets.
Pitchers owned in 3 leagues: David Price, Yu Darvish, Johnny Cueto, Trevor Bauer, Brett Anderson, Jordan Walden, Jason Motte
When Keith Law named his top-10 players in 2017, there was only one pitcher in it and it was David Price. Not only will he have a great career, but he's a top-10 pitcher right now. I'm a big Darvish guy, but you knew that already -- he could strike out 220 batters this season. Cueto was another guy I wasn't particularly high on, but in a few of my drafts people were avoiding him like the plague. Trevor Bauer and Brett Anderson are two of my favorite end-gamers as Bauer's my favorite minor league stash and Anderson's my favorite DL stash. Both of these guys could win leagues for people in the second half. It seemed as though Jordan Walden and Jason Motte were the two closers I had ranked a little higher than most, although if you had asked me before draft season, I would have probably guessed Sergio Santos would be the closer I ended up with most (but he was close with two).
So with this review in hand, that means it's time for the season to start. Opening Day is tomorrow -- and I've been waiting to type that for months now. Good luck to all of the readers out there in your leagues, even the ones who I'm competing against. As a reminder to all, I will answer any of your 140 character questions on Twitter at @tfw_bret -- so bring on the questions. My Double Play Depth column will start running in this spot starting next week. Let the games begin!