If you listen long enough to us yahoo’s (see what I did there) talk about fantasy baseball strategy, you’ll eventually hear one of us quote some old adage about how winning a draft is about knowing the folks you’re drafting against. It’s absolutely, 100% true but I like to take it a step further. It’s not just about knowing who you’re drafting with, but where you are drafting with them. All the major sites have their own, very different rankings and in an effort to advertise their own expertise, their draft rooms are going to display and utilize those specific rankings. We want to believe that we, the smart drafter, aren’t affected by this but we’d be liars and fools. Oftentimes those rankings will alter how the other folks in the room are drafting and so it all ties back into knowing those you’re drafting with. It becomes information vital to knowing them and anticipating what they are going to do. What I’ve tried to do here is highlight draft values that I see specifically in Yahoo’s draft rankings so that you can take advantage of them in your own drafts. To determine value, I’ve compared the Yahoo rankings to FantasyPros Consensus Rankings. It’s important to keep in mind that those Consensus Rankings do include Yahoo’s as well. Anyways, here are eight best player values I saw in yahoo draft rooms. Feel free to mention any others in the comments section if there are additional values you’ve been seeing in your drafts as well!
Yahoo Average Ranking – 61st
FantasyPros Consensus Ranking – 33rd
When I first saw this ranking, I had to do a double-take. Corbin is a proven ace and has been for years but Yahoo has him on average ranked 61st in the draft room. That’s the first pick of the sixth round in a twelve-team league whereas Fantasy Pros consensus rankings have him at pick #33. That’s more than two rounds of separation and I’m willing to bet that if you remove Yahoo’s ranking skewing the overall—it’s an even bigger gap than that. Our esteemed glorious leader and pitching guru Nick Pollack released his updated top 100 and he has Corbin Ranked #11! To be fair, he’s more than earned it with a really solid 29.5 K% and 3.20 ERA averaged over 402 IP during the last two seasons. This included a stellar wipe-out slider that he threw 37.5% of the time in 2019 with a 26.7 SwStr% and a 50.3 K%. Getting that at the beginning of 6th round? That’s a steal. In fact, I just grabbed Corbin in my home yahoo league at pick #56 so there’s at least some indication that this spot is where he is actually going and you’d be crazy to not scoop him up at really any point you feel comfortable after pick #36 and laugh all the way to the bank.
Yahoo Average Ranking – 90th
FantasyPros Consensus Ranking – 66th
I was floored when I saw this one. Twenty-four spots or the equivalent of two rounds separate Yahoo’s ranking for Matt Olson and FantasyPros Consensus Ranking. In this case, it’s the difference between taking him in the middle of the 6th round or the middle of the 8th. A prodigious slugger, Olson hit 36 HRs in 2019 despite missing a huge chunk of the beginning of the season after recovering from a broken hamate bone. That makes him about as good a lock as any to go after 15 HRs this year and he’d be looking to do so at a really weak 1B position that you can’t wait too long to fill. In case you wanted to be fully wowed by Olson’s power potential, check out his Statcast profile:
Top 4% in Exit Velocity, Top 2% in HardHit%, Top 10% in xwOBA, xSLG and Barrel%. This is a man that hits the ball very, very hard and is going to hit plenty of those hard-hit balls out of the ballpark. In a season where every HR counts more than ever, you can’t afford to miss out on Olson’s potential output, especially at a two-round discount. If he’s still there starting in the 7th, you have to snag him without hesitation.
Yahoo Average Ranking – 115th
FantasyPros Consensus Ranking – 101st
This one doesn’t quite have the same gaping chasm in terms of rankings separation but I think it’s worth noting that there’s over a full round difference between Yahoo’s rankings on Lance Lynn and the consensus. I’m almost always shooting to have my first two SPs to come from my top 25 and Lynn sits comfortably in both my and Nick’s rankings (he has him ranked as his 21st SP). In other words, if your draft follows their rankings you could get your #1 starter in the 6th with Patrick Corbin and your #2 in the middle of the 10th. That allows you to build one heck of a group of hitters to start off your draft. It’s hard not to like that if you’re in a Yahoo league. Lynn is the real deal too. His most important quality is his volume as he threw for over 200 IP last year but he’ll get you strikeouts too as evidenced by his 28.1 K% and his much improved 12.5 SwStr%. His fastball is his best weapon as he throws it over 50.0% of the time and locates it in the zone at 64.3% clip while still maintaining a 14.1 SwStr% and a 31.2 K% with the pitch. He locates 32.7% of his four-seamers up with a 22.9 SwStr% and that will always get the job done. Start looking for Lynn anywhere past pick #100 and enjoy the excess value.
Yahoo Average Ranking – 131st
FantasyPros Consensus Ranking – 84
Here’s another big one. In fact, Yahoo has a pretty heavy bias in general against the old school Jack of All Trades hitters like Jeff McNeil and Michael Brantley—and that represents a huge opportunity. Nearly 47 spots sit between where Yahoo values McNeil and where the rest of the Consensus sees him. While Brantley is a great comp for McNeil, I actually think he has the potential for more. Both players hit 22 HRs last season but Brantley did so in 637 PAs while McNeil did it in just 567. If you bumped McNeil up to Brantley’s PA level and he hits closer to 25 HRs and he might even get you up to 8 or so SBs. Perhaps the best part of this equation is his eligibility. McNeil qualifies at 2B, 3B, and the OF which allows you to plug in pretty much any hole in your lineup and gives you a ton of flexibility especially at the incredibly shallow 2B position. Take advantage of the massive discount and snag him at the end of the 10th in Yahoo leagues whereas all the rest of the suckers in other leagues have to pony up in the 8th round to get this do-it-all dynamo at the second weakest position in fantasy.
Yahoo Average Ranking – 175
FantasyPros Consensus Ranking – 114
This is a tough one. To a certain degree, I get why the ranking is so much lower, especially since they are likely baking in his injury risk and the news that the Yankees are going to limit their starters early on. The thing is I think they’ve overcompensated. If the Yahoo ranking was somewhere closer to 150, I would think it completely reasonable but 175 is too much. Despite an extensive injury history, Paxton has been very good when he pitches for quite a while now and 6’4″ lefties who throw a fastball that sometimes touches 100 MPH don’t grow on trees. Last year he managed a 29.4 K% with a 14.1 SwStr% which will always play.
It’s also worth looking at the other pitchers that are going around picks 150 and 175.
Even with the injury risk, I’d gladly take Paxton over every one of the pitchers in the first chart, let alone the second one. In other words, getting Paxton at the potential price of the latter group is an unbeatable value. Even if he essentially repeated his 2019, that’s value closer to say a Jose Berrios (who is going at pick 78 in Yahoo for reference) That’s a pitcher who could serve as an adequate SP2 or an elite SP3 if you go whole hog on hitters early on and to get him at this point in a Yahoo draft is just incredible value.
Yahoo Average Ranking – 204th
FantasyPros Consensus Ranking – 172
Full disclosure I am a J.D. Davis fanboy. If we were excited about Jeff McNeil hitting .318 with 22 HRs in 567 PAs, how can we not be excited about his teammate hitting .307 with 22 HRs in just 453 PAs and going nearly 70 to 90 picks later? I mean look at his Statcast chart from BaseballSavant:
Do you see all that red? He’s in the top 10% in Exit Velocity, HardHit%, xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG while sitting in the top 21% for Barrel%. That’s a heck of a hitter. Yet if that’s the case, then how come we’re not drafting him in the top 150 players? He is nearly unplayable in the field, which hurt his playing time in 2019. Despite this though, it sounds like he has a lock on the starting job in LF and the only guy pushing him for playing time is Jake Marisnick so we might see Davis get the lion’s share of ABs out there. Add in he can play some 3B and there’s the DH this season and Davis has a real shot at hitting .300 with double-digit HRs and good counting numbers for the 60 game season. To get that after pick 200 in Yahoo leagues is the kind of value that wins leagues.
Yahoo Average Ranking – 227
FantasyPros Consensus Ranking – 209
There’s a fair argument to be made that once you past pick 200 a 15 to 20 pick difference in rankings isn’t that significant but I still feel like it’s worth noting because, as I noted in the introduction, it’s what your draft room will be looking at so it’s useful information. I don’t quite get either of these rankings for Lowe if I’m being honest. They’re both values in my opinion even without the Yahoo ranking disparity. There is so very much to like in Brandon Lowe’s profile. Over 327 PAs, Lowe put up a .270 AVG with 17 HRs and 5 SBs in 2019 which is impressive on its own but it’s worth noting that his 91.6 MPH Exit Velocity would have been 26th best in the league and 3rd best amongst 2nd basemen besting early-round pick Keston Hiura. In fact, let’s make a quick comparison between those two players.
|Player||Exit Velocity||Launch Angle||HardHit%||Barrel%|
Lowe’s 19.2 degree Launch Angle would put him right between notable sluggers Kris Bryant, Hunter Renfroe, and Mookie Betts. His 16.2 Barrel% sits right between Jorge Soler and Christian Yelich. So why isn’t he a first-rounder at this point? He missed a good chunk of last season with injuries and perhaps, more importantly, he struck out at an astonishing 34.6% rate and his xBA of .244 says he likely got some luck in getting a .270 AVG. Real quick though, let’s check back in on our comparison from a moment ago.
As you can see they’re very similar in their flaws as well. In fact, they’re practically twins of each other pretty much across the board. The only difference is Hiura is currently being drafted in the 4th round in Yahoo drafts while Lowe is going somewhere near round 19. Grab Lowe really any point past round 16.
Yahoo Average Ranking – 233
FantasyPros Consensus Ranking – 187
I wanted to wrap things up with one more that really surprised me. Quietly, (perhaps too quietly) Christian Walker had a really impressive breakout year in 2019, hitting .259 with 29 HRs and an 11.0 BB% while putting up decent stats for the upstart Diamondbacks. The statcast numbers paint a fascinating picture:
As you can see he has elite statcast numbers that back up the fantastic numbers from last year. His excellent O-Swing% and improved SwStr% give credence to his walk rate as well. This is another guy who could easily hit double-digit home runs this year and getting that production this late in the draft is incredible if you picked him at 187, let alone 233 (essentially the 20th round). Not to mention with the addition of Starling Marte the Diamondbacks offense should be even better this year so I’d expect much-improved counting numbers (or the short season equivilant) from Walker this year. If Walker is still there as you approach pick 200, absolutely pull the trigger and you won’t be sorry.
Icon Sportswire photos | Adapted by Zach Ennis (@zachennis on Twitter and Instagram)