Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Draft Prep: Top 10 Fantasy storylines

  •  

Opening day is right around the corner, but even as Fantasy (and real) rosters start to take shape, there are plenty of features on the Fantasy landscape that are still out of focus.

With many drafts and auctions still looming over the next few days, it pays to know whether Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera are really in a class by themselves in terms of value. It may also behoove Fantasy owners to get a sense of the degree to which Joe Mauer's change of position creates a change in value, or how much to downgrade Matt Kemp due to missed playing time.

Also, we have yet to see Jose Abreu or George Springer play in a major league game, so some owners are likely wondering if they are really worth the hype they've received in recent weeks.

Play on CBSSports.com in 2014!
Baseball Commissioner
Get the premium experience you deserve! Create a customized league with exclusive news and tools.
Start your league!

These are just some of the major storylines that are creating buzz in draft rooms, and I'm tackling 10 of them here. Drafts and auctions will only be with us for so much longer, though, so I will also dig into some storylines that could have legs well beyond opening day. The unfolding of the Rockies' closer situation and the eventual graduation of the Cubs' potent prospect class to the majors are just a couple of topics that are likely to be on the minds of owners weeks and months into the 2014 season.

So whether you are done drafting and already working on fine-tuning your roster, or your upcoming weekend will be devoted to staring at and restocking your player queue, here are 10 questions worth pondering, along with my view on each of them.

How much better are Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera than everyone else?

The simple answer is "a lot." Both players have 2014 projections that could be deemed as conservative, as both are predicted to drop off somewhat from last season's lofty levels. Even so, only Paul Goldschmidt's projected Fantasy point total comes within 60 points of either Trout's or Cabrera's, and given that Goldschmidt plays at the position with the largest bounty of high-end offensive talent, his value doesn't come close to either of theirs. To put that 60-point gap in perspective, it is approximately the same distance that separates Hanley Ramirez from Andrelton Simmons.

The Dynamic Duo's dominance translates to Rotisserie scoring as well. Again, setting Goldschmidt aside, both Trout and Cabrera project to add at least two more category points to your overall Rotisserie standings than any other hitter. Cabrera's dominance at his position is especially notable as he is projected to elevate your team at least four standings points more than any other third baseman would.

What's a realistic forecast for Matt Kemp?

Kemp's near-MVP season is now three years behind him, and that was his most recent full and healthy season. It now seems doubtful that Kemp can be the 50-50 player he aspired to be back then, but it's reasonable to expect enough production for him to finish as a top 10 outfielder in 2014. Despite dealing with a variety of injuries, Kemp embarked on a 35-homer pace in 2012, while posting a .303/.367/.538 slash line. Kemp didn't hit in an injury-ravaged 2013 season, but if he plays with a healthy ankle and shoulder, he's not too far removed from his 2012 level of production to be able to repeat it.

Beginning the season on the disabled list, Kemp has already put himself in a hole. However, even if he misses 30 games throughout the season, a return to his 2012 form would be good enough to place Kemp in the top 10 outfield rankings for Roto and top 30 for Head-to-Head formats, though on a per- game basis, he could essentially be a top 10 outfielder in the latter format, too. And Kemp doesn't need to steal more than 15 bases to earn that status.

Was Yasiel Puig too good to be true?

For starters, let's put aside whatever concerns we may have about the tension between Puig and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, particularly regarding Puig's indications that his back may be ailing him. I'm willing to assume that a) they'll work things out and b) Puig's back is fine.

Producing at the plate has a funny way of making controversies go away, and Puig can do enough offensively to make his personality quirks tolerable to management. He won't repeat last season's .300-plus batting average, as that was fueled by a difficult-to-sustain .347 average on grounders. Whatever regression Puig experiences won't be drastic, though, as his strikeout rate was inflated by a three-week span in July when he struck out 23 times in 64 at-bats. So while fewer infield hits will likely mean a lower batting average, more contact could mean more frequent extra-base hits.

The tradeoff of some singles for additional doubles and homers should lead Puig to meet or exceed his projected .291/.356/.532 slash line, which in turn, should be good enough for him to finish as a top 10 outfielder. He will be especially useful in Rotisserie leagues in the runs category, slotted ahead of Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp in the Dodgers' lineup.

How long before Rex Brothers takes over as Rockies closer?

Can LaTroy Hawkins keep the closer's role in Colorado all season? Weirder things have happened, like the year Brandon Lyon nailed down 26 saves for the Diamondbacks, despite a 4.70 ERA and ugly peripherals. Or the year-and-a-half period in which Matt Capps converted 29 saves despite a strikeout rate that only the Twins could love.

Typically, though, contact pitchers with mediocre WHIPs are not usually destined for closing greatness, and that's an apt description of Hawkins. Especially since he will ply his trade half the time in Coors Field, Hawkins' season could hit a snag at any time, and when it does, Brothers represents a viable, experienced alternative. Maybe Hawkins can skate by half the season or longer with a passable performance, but my hunch is that Brothers will supplant him by mid-May, if not sooner.

Who can you trust in the Braves starting rotation?

Despite the losses of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to their second Tommy John surgeries, there are still four Braves starters worth drafting no later than the middle rounds in mixed leagues. Julio Teheran will likely be the only member of last year's opening day rotation who will start this season in the rotation, and after last season's performance, he's worth taking among the top 20 starting pitchers. Now it appears that Mike Minor (shoulder) could miss a few weeks, but like Teheran, he proved last season that he can be a strong contributor to mixed league rotations. The lefty has lost some value but can still be considered alongside the likes of Gio Gonzalez and Zack Greinke.

Prior to the injuries to Medlen and Beachy, Alex Wood looked like the odd man out of the Braves' rotation, but now his spot looks more than secure. Given Wood's strong performances during his meteoric rise through the minors and his solid showing as a rookie, he now profiles as a mid- round pick. Finally, new addition Ervin Santana is also a reasonable mid-round option in points leagues, due to his 220-inning potential with a decent ERA and WHIP. However, his appeal is more limited to later rounds in Rotisserie.

None of the other pitchers in the mix to get starts this year, namely David Hale, Aaron Harang and Gavin Floyd, are worth trusting in mixed leagues, though Floyd has some appeal as a stashee in NL-only formats.

How long before the Cubs open the floodgates?

The Cubs are absolutely loaded with top prospects, and as many as four could debut at some point this season. Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler probably won't make the jump all the way from Advanced Class A, but they might have a shot at a late-season callup. More intriguing for 2014 are Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara, who could supplant Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney in the middle infield. Baez could also be a candidate to take over at third base, though fellow rookie Mike Olt has a better chance for opening day or early in the season. Even if Olt gains a stranglehold on the third base job, we could see both Baez and Alcantara by midseason.

Outfielder Albert Almora and pitchers C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson are working their way up the ladder as well, though a 2015 arrival is a more realistic expectation for them.

Is the hype on Jose Abreu justified?

In a word, yes. While we can't know how a player's skills will translate to major league ball, it's hard not to get excited about Abreu's power potential. In each of his last three full seasons in Cuba, Abreu slugged at least .800. That's right, slugging percentage, not OPS. By comparison, Yoenis Cespedes' highest slugging percentage in Cuba was .667, Kendrys Morales' was .609 and Yasiel Puig's was .581.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

To get Abreu you'll need to take him well before proven fallback types, like Brandon Belt, Mark Teixeira, Brandon Moss and Nick Swisher, based on his current average draft position within the first 120 picks. He's being taken around the same time as breakout candidates Anthony Rizzo and Matt Adams, and while we have some idea of what production we could get from them, neither may have Abreu's upside. Add in the fact that Abreu will play home games at a great home run park (U.S. Cellular Field), and he should well be worth the investment it requires to get him.

Does George Springer honestly deserve a middle-round pick?

If you like hitters who can provide power, steals and a high on-base percentage (and who doesn't?), then Springer is someone to consider in the middle rounds. Because the 24-year-old won't break camp with the Astros and may not get called up for two months or more, it's a risky move, so I wouldn't recommend it unless you already have at least two very reliable and productive outfielders.

In Roto leagues, Springer is being drafted in the same neighborhood as Nelson Cruz, Austin Jackson, Michael Cuddyer and Khris Davis, each of whom presents his own risks and can be replaced with only a minor downgrade a couple of rounds later. It's worth the gamble to grab Springer among the first 40 outfielders, which leaves you time to address other needs while potentially getting the per-game production of a top 25 outfielder. In Head-to-Head leagues, though, he is typically being drafted just within the top 200 picks, so there's no need to reach for Springer in those formats.

Can Chris Davis do it again?

As in hitting 50-plus homers and knocking in 130-plus RBI ... no Davis will not do that again. But Davis has long had the potential to be a 40-homer threat, but that promise laid dormant between 2009 and 2011. Having emerged in each of the last two seasons (bear in mind that Davis' 33 homers in 2012 came in only 139 games), Davis can easily be trusted to surpass the 40 mark again..

Also, Davis' contact skills have come a long way since his 2009 season, when he struck out 150 times in only 391 at-bats. That's not to say that making contact is a strength, but his K-rate is low enough and his line drive rate high enough that he can hit .270 and drive in more than 100 runs. Repeating last season's .343 batting average with runners in scoring position appears unlikely, though, so don't look for Davis to come near his total of 138 RBI. What he can do makes him good enough to make him a top five first basemen who could be taken as early as second at the position in Roto leagues.

Does Joe Mauer's move to first base make that much of a difference?

Had Mauer remained a catcher, he could have still been the most valuable catcher-eligible player this year, though it would have been a close call among him, Carlos Santana and Buster Posey, with Jonathan Lucroy not far behind. Getting moved to first base will allow Mauer to play almost every day, and those extra at-bats allow him to separate himself from the field.

Mauer had not played in as many as 140 games in four of the last five seasons, and he fell short of 120 games in two of the last three years. With less need for rest and a smaller probability of injury at first base, Mauer could easily play in 150-to-155 games. With that much playing time, he should outdistance point-league monster Santana by at least 40 points, while also projecting to add close to a full standings gain point over Posey in Roto formats.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al at @almelccbs .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Red Sox's Xander Bogaerts collects four hits vs. Angels
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:09 pm ET) Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts went 4 for 4 with two runs scored in his team's 6-1 win over the Angels on Sunday.

Starting in the No. 5 spot for the third straight game, Bogaerts delivered one of his best hitting performances of the season, picking up a double and three singles in the win. He's put together a seven game hitting streak and now owns a .290/.340/.407 line with two home runs and 15 RBI in 145 at-bats.


Phillies P Aaron Harang allows 2 runs in loss to Nationals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:07 pm ET) Phillies pitcher Aaron Harang gave up two earned runs in Sunday afternoon's 4-1 loss to the Nationals. 

Harang went six innings and allowed seven hits. He struck out two batters and walked two others. His ERA is now just 1.93 for the season. 

It was a solid effort in a game where he got only one run of support. Washington's Gio Gonzalez pitched a magnificant game on the other side which contributed to Harang's loss. Harang has now only allowed 14 earned runs in 65 1/3 innings this year. 

Harang's next start is projected for Saturday against the Rockies. 


Red Sox's Mike Napoli homers, drives in four runs vs. Angels
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli went 2 for 3 with a walk, a home run and four RBI in his team's 6-1 win over the Angels on Sunday.

Napoli demolished Angels pitching during the series, going 5 for 9 with four home runs and eight RBI in his last three games. Sunday's damage came on a two-run home run in the second inning to put the Red Sox on the board and a two-run double in the eighth.

Napoli has hit .203/.304/.420 with eight home runs and 21 RBI in 138 at-bats.


Red Sox's Wade Miley tosses eight one-run innings in win Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) Red Sox pitcher Wade Miley earned a win on Sunday, giving up one earned run on just four hits and one walk in eight innings while striking out two in his team's 6-1 victory over the Angels.

Miley (4-4) needed just 97 pitches to complete eight innings, limiting the Angels to just an RBI double in the sixth. He's managed three straight quality starts after an up-and-down April.

Miley owns a 4.47 ERA and 31:18 K:BB ratio in 50 1/3 innings. His next start will come Friday against the Rangers on the road.


Mariners reliever Carson Smith earning role as setup man
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:58 pm ET) Mariners relief pitcher Carson Smith doesn't have a defined role out of the bullpen, but it is becoming more and more clear by the game, according to The News Tribune.

Smith was called upon Friday and Saturday in the eighth inning to setup for closer Fernando Rodney. He did not allow a run in either inning, lowering his ERA to 0.90 in 20 innings of work.

"He's done a tremendous job for us," manager Lloyd McClendon said, "but we've got to be careful. We've got to be sure we don't overuse him, but he's got a bright future. That sinker is special.

"He's got a nice slider. More than anything, he's got great makeup. I think he's built for it."


Angels' Hector Santiago strikes out six in loss vs. Red Sox
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:55 pm ET) Angels pitcher Hector Santiago took the loss on Sunday, giving up three earned runs on seven hits and one walk in 6 2/3 innings while striking out six in his team's 6-1 defeat against the Red Sox.

Santiago (3-3) threw a whopping 124 pitches in the outing. He gave up a two-run home run in the second inning but limited the Red Sox to just an RBI sacrifice fly before his exit to earn a quality start.

Santiago owns a 2.47 ERA and 50:22 K:BB ratio in 54 2/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Tigers on Friday.


Braves' Jason Grilli strikes out three, earns 13th save
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:51 pm ET) Braves closer Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Sunday to earn his 13th save in his team's 2-1 win over the Brewers.

Grilli struck out the first two batters he faced before issuing a walk, but he was able to strike out one more batter to slam the door on his team's win. He's rattled off three straight scoreless outings, but Sunday's three-strikeout game was his first since April 13. Grilli owns a 4.11 ERA and 23:7 K:BB ratio in 15 1/3 innings.


Royals catcher Salvador Perez dealing with leg injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:46 pm ET) Royals catcher Salvador Perez has been playing through an apparent leg injury for some time, manager Ned Yost said on Sunday per FOX Sports Kansas City.

Yost called it a slight groin injury, while Perez described it as a tight left hamstring. He was given the final inning of Sunday's game off as a precaution. He went 1 for 3 with an RBI in the game and is now hitting .306 with 24 RBI on the season.


Braves' Mike Foltynewicz strikes out seven in win vs. Brewers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:45 pm ET) Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz earned a win on Sunday, allowing one earned run on just three hits and one walk while striking out seven in his team's 2-1 victory over the Brewers.

Foltynewicz (3-1) delivered the best start of his young career on Sunday, limiting the damage to a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. It was his fourth straight start with seven strikeouts and his second straight outing with only one free pass.

Foltynewicz owns a 4.25 ERA and 30:12 K:BB ratio in 29 2/3 innings. He's slated to face the Giants on Friday.


Brewers' Jimmy Nelson walks five in loss vs. Braves
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson took a loss on Sunday, allowing two earned runs on five hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings while striking out four in his team's 2-1 defeat against the Braves.

Despite his wildness, Nelson (2-5) was able to string together five scoreless innings before the Braves took a 2-0 lead in the sixth. It's the second time this season he's walked five batters in a game and his second straight start with at least four walks.

Nelson owns a 3.67 ERA and 47:23 K:BB ratio in 56 1/3 innings. He's slated to face the Diamondbacks at home on Saturday.


 
 
 
Rankings