2016 Fantasy Football Previews
Robert Kohnfelder has been previewing the 2016 fantasy football season by taking a look at the top fantasy weapons in each of the NFL divisions over the the last several weeks, and here are links to the divisions he has previewed to date:
Robert recently published his early June position rankings as well:
Matias Wonder took a look at some under valued and over valued players according to current ADP rankings this week:
Robert Keeley ranked his early quarterback rankings for Dynasty leagues as well:
Francisco Lindor: #2 ranked fantasy shortstop
The top of the fantasy shortstop rankings are going to be a fun argument to have next offseason, as one could make the case for any of 4 or 5 guys at the top. You have Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, who I think is the #1 guy at the position right now. You also have Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who is having the best year of his career and is hitting .345 with 9 home runs and 10 stolen bases. One might make the case that Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is in the conversation for the top spot, and Astros shortstop Carlos Correa probably has the most potential of all of these guys to put up a 20 home run, 20 stolen base season on a consistent basis going forward, with a chance to hit 30 home runs every year as well. One shortstop who I dismissed at the beginning of the year is Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.
On Saturday, Lindor showed that he, too, has solid power to go along with his excellent hit tool. Lindor went 2-4 with 2 home runs and 2 RBI in the Indians 6-0 win over the Tigers. Linder is now hitting .306-.365-.471 with 10 home runs, 14 doubles, 47 runs scored, 39 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts. He has reduced his strikeout rate, increased his walk and hard hit rate, and is on pace to put up a 20+ home run, 20+ stolen base season at the moment. He is already regarded as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, and now he is making a name for himself at the plate as well.
One can make the case that he should be in the conversation for the top fantasy shortstop right now, as he ranks in the top 10 in all five fantasy categories among all qualified fantasy shortstops.
Who is your #1 fantasy shortstop?
The Mets had hinted about sending outfielder Michael Conforto back to Triple A in recent weeks and they finally did so on Saturday, calling up AAA outfielder Brandon Nimmo to replace him on the 25 man roster. Conforto was hitting .222-.296-.431 with 10 home runs, 29 runs scored and 30 RBI prior to this demotion. After hitting .365 with 4 home runs, 15 runs scored and 18 RBI in April, Conforto hit just .169 in May and .119 in June, mainly due to an increasing strikeout rate which rose from 17% in April to 33% in June. He will works things out in Triple A and should be back in the big leagues once he gets back on track.
Astros second baseman is having himself an MVP-like season in 2016, and on Saturday, he went 4-5 with a home runs, 2 doubles, 3 runs scored and 3 RBI in the Astros 13-5 win over the Royals. Altuve raised his slash line to .348-.427-.567 with 13 home runs, 54 runs scored, 44 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 20 attempts. He currently ranks second, among hitters, with a 4.1 fWAR, 0.1 WAR behind Angels outfielder Mike Trout. He is on pace to hit 28 home runs, score over 110 runs, drive in 90+ runs and steal 38 bases. ZiPS thinks he will reach the 20 home run club, but not come close to 30 as ESPN projects.
Could Altuve be in the conversation for being drafted ahead of Trout in 2017 drafts? Altuve is putting up better stats in three of the five fantasy categories than Trout, and is only two behind Trout in the home run category.
The Astros finally called up first base prospect A.J. Reed, and on Saturday, he made his major league debut, batting sixth in the Astros lineup. Reed went 0-2 with 2 walks and a run scored in the Astros 13-5 win. Reed was hitting .265-.345-.509 with 11 home runs, 31 runs scored and 36 RBI in Triple A prior to his call up. Not as dominant as he showed in 2015, but Triple A is usually a test for even the best prospects in the game.
Jason Hunt profiled Reed in his Moving On Up article on Saturday, and here is an excerpt on what to expect from Reed going forward:
Reed is worth a pickup in all formats on the potential to provide above-average production in three to four categories. He has also consistently posted walk rates above 10% in the minor leagues, and brings a solid approach that should help with batting average in spite of a 20-25% strikeout rate. He could also potentially hit 10-15 home runs over the rest of the season, and with the Astros’ lineup, could end up with 30-40 runs and RBI each.
Orioles starter Kevin Gausman is a good example of a top prospect who has persevered the ups and downs after making it to the big leagues. On Saturday, he showed us why he was considered one of the best pitching prospects in the game a few seasons ago, as he shut out the Rays on 4 hits, no walks and 7 strikeouts in 7.2 innings in the Orioles 5-0 win. The win was his first of the season, moving his record to 1-5 with a 3.93 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 1.27 WHIP and a solid 69-18 strikeout to walk rate in 75.2 innings. His underlying skill set, 8+ K/9, 2+ BB/9, 44% ground ball rate, indicate he has the skills to take the next step up and become a fantasy ace, but.....there is always a but, he falls victim to the long ball way too much. He has given up 12 long balls this season, but has given up more home runs on the road than he has at home, which seems contradictory since his home ballpark is hitter-friendly. If he can overcome the home run tendency, he can make the next step to becoming a top 40 starter in the big leagues.
I think it is time that we all bought into Jackie Bradley Jr. as a real fantasy asset and one of the better fantasy outfielders. Over the last calendar year, Bradley Jr. has hit .284-.370-.556 with 23 home runs, 83 runs scored, 92 RBI and 8 stolen bases in 525 plate appearances, good for a 5.8 fWAR. He ranks in the top 25 in four of the five fantasy categories among qualified outfielders over the last calendar year, and ranks 26th in stolen bases. Don’t sleep on Bradley Jr. in 2017 drafts.
I will have more to say in my Closer Report, but the Cardinals finally had enough with closer Trevor Rosenthal after his latest blown save and have removed him from his ninth inning duties for the time being. The writing was on the wall as Rosenthal was walking batters left and right all season. He will be replaced by a committee of Hwan-Seung Oh, Kevin Siegrist and Jonathan Broxton. I think Oh is the guy you want if he is available on your league waiver wire, as he has been the Cardinals most dominant reliever this season, but trying to predict what manager Mike Matheny will do in the ninth inning is like trying to predict Brexit on Thursday night. We have no idea.
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