When Do the Yu Darvish and J.D. Martinez Dominoes fall?
There has to be a sense of frustration for those Fantasy Baseball owners participating in early drafts. With an unusual number of quality free agents on the market as Spring Training looms, finding a proper draft position for the likes of Yu Darvish, Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez and Mike Moustakas along with lower-tier talents like Todd Frazier, Carlos Gonzalez, and Neil Walker place owners into the vortex of the Cone of Uncertainty.
Besides basking in the glory of winning the Houston Chronicle Fantasy League (I should be a lock for winning saves), I haven’t hit the 2018 Fantasy Baseball scene with the impact my fellow comrades at RotoExperts.com have this offseason, yet I started to focus my mind that direction while waiting for a late business meeting at the fine Westchase Hilton in Houston (shameless plug, but it’s a great hotel) on Thursday. Between being wooed by another company and wondering how much of the Thunder-Nuggets game I’d miss, my thoughts on handling the abundance of free agents bounced like a hot check.
For starters, I don’t like drafting until at least late February. I understand the excitement of filling a few hours of your time on a dreary January night pondering whether to take Trea Turner or Bryce Harper with the fifth overall pick, but the looming prospects of Collusion 2.0 abundance of available free agents is my Exhibit A for waiting a tad longer, or at least until our Fantasy Baseball draft kit comes out.
MLB Hot Stove Ready to Get Cookin'
The spotlight shines brightest on Martinez, who appears to have one foot pointed toward the Red Sox with the other aimed toward some locale that has room (and around $120-$140 million) for his 1.066 OPS and four straight years of .535 plus slugging percentage. According to couchmanagers.com, Martinez’s current average draft position (ADP for you newbies) is 24.3, making him the seventh-best outfielder available. If he signs with Boston, his value would push his ADP in the 17-21 range.
Martinez is a career .444/.483/.519 slash line hitter at Fenway Park, and while his 29 plate appearances is a small sample size, I simmed his 2018 numbers via the Out of the Park Baseball computer game and got .284/.384/.576 in 144 games to go along with 37 homers, 111 RBIs and 102 runs scored. Those are numbers that would be enough to hurdle him over Aaron Judge, whose ADP sits at 15.8.
Darvish is a more neck-straining case. I’d love him more if he re-upped with the Dodgers rather than having him with the Angels or Yankees. Common sense rules here, as the prospects of Darvish pitching in a division with three pitcher-friendly parks (Dodger Stadium, AT&T Park and Petco Park) makes him a top 80-100 selection. If you’ve drafted Darvish sight unseen, the value he offers could go straight to hell if he lands in New York and has to pitch the majority of his games in an AL East division loaded with lumber.
Hosmer is the type of hitter that should adapt to his ballpark, whether it is Petco in San Diego or if he is either the Red Sox’s Plan B or the other half of a tag team with Martinez. He’s a solid mid-round selection regardless of where he lands. As for Moustakas, I think there’s potential for a letdown, as his .314 OBP last season (coupled with a .471 slugging percentage after the All-Star Break) is an alarm for a bust.
I suspect we will see signings on a blistering pace beginning next week. While I do feel the status of some of the key free agents will carry into March, we’re at a point at which the dominoes will begin to fall once Darvish and/or Martinez signs. It will also provide more clarity as the Island of Misfit Toys thins out.
J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Greg Holland & Lance Lynn remain among the dozens of unsigned players with the Feb. 14 start of spring training less than two weeks away. The mandatory reporting date is Feb. 24.https://t.co/65YUHACc0h #Royals
— CJOnline Sports (@CJOnlinesports) February 2, 2018
Fantasy Football owners should keep James Wilder in mind this offseason. Wilder (the son of former Buccaneers All-Pro running back by the same name) rushed for 872 yards and five touchdowns while helping the Toronto Argonauts capture the Grey Cup. Wilder averaged a staggering 7.1 yards per carry and 10.5 yards per catch (51 receptions) in his rookie season, but recently put out a statement declaring he would sit out the upcoming season due to his $56,000 salary ($45,000 in American green).
While the Argos have barred him from negotiating with the handful of NFL teams that have expressed interest, this is an issue that will be resolved at some point this spring. Wilder is a 6’3", 232-pounder with 4.5 speed and above average pass-catching skills. If he returns to the states he would be a sneaky good option in those Fantasy Football leagues that have rookie drafts.
Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon is out 2-4 weeks with an upper body injury, a massive blow to his Fantasy hockey owners who were benefiting from what had been a breakout season of sorts. MacKinnon has 61 points (24 goals, 37 assists) and was sporting a solid plus-10 before sustaining a huge hit from Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler on Tuesday night.
I would look in the direction of Flyers center Travis Konecny as a viable replacement for MacKinnon. Konecny has scored four goals in his last five games and has seen his ownership in CBSSports.com leagues rise to 35 percent. He’s a good DFS play at $4,700 at DraftKings and $4,800 at FanDuel, so keep him in mind as you set your lineups.
Saturday Night’s Alright For Stacking
Two NBA games have strong stacking potential on Saturday, as Rockets-Cavaliers and Warriors-Nuggets will offer enough running and gunning to throw together a lineup on those two games alone.
The one player I like is Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who put up 43.10 Fantasy points in Thursday’s shootout against the Thunder. Murray ($6,800 at DraftKings) is averaging 19.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in his last 10 games and continues to mature into a reliable DFS play.
Each team has at least one high-salaried star to use as a foundation, but James Harden looks to be the best play as he comes into Saturday with eight games of at least 40 Fantasy points in his last nine contests. At $11,500 at FanDuel, Harden should be worth the salary against a Cleveland team that is tied for 25th in scoring defense. He torched the Cavs for 80.70 FP in a home win on November 8 and I wouldn’t be shocked if he approaches that total again.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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