On Wednesday, February 17th at 1:00 PM ET, my 2016 Fantasy Baseball season officially began with the start of the NFBC Draft Champions League 3719, a 15-team mixed, 50-round slow draft. For those unfamiliar with the Draft Champions format, well, the draft is kind of important. In addition to no trading, a rule that applies to all NFBC leagues, no in-season pickups are allowed in Draft Champions leagues. The 50 players you draft (23 starters, 27 reserves) are the 50 players you will have for the entire season. The only in-season management required is setting lineups every Monday, with hitter lineup changes permitted on Friday as well.
Since owners are allowed eight hours to make each selection, patience is a must. While it is very rare that someone uses the full eight hours, it is not uncommon for an hour or two to pass between some of the picks. But the relaxed pace suits me just fine, as there is ample time to research players, and in the latter stages of the draft, research players who I might not know much about. In this respect, I have found the Draft Champions setup to be an invaluable tool to help me prepare for my other drafts, which is why I make sure to schedule it well in advance of the mid to late March draft crunch.
Let's now take a peek at the early portion of my league's draft and focus on a handful of players whose draft position differed significantly from their NFBC ADP. Although I will never use ADP lists to tell me who to pick, they can be useful when trying to determine if it is too risky to wait another round to take a certain targeted player. That said, every draft is different, so treating ADP too seriously can often lead to either missing out on a player you really wanted or, in hindsight of course, regretting that you reached for a player. So, if you plan on drafting any of the following players, it might be a good idea to ignore ADP entirely.
DC draft: 109
If Kipnis bats in the leadoff spot for most of this season, as he did for the vast majority of 2015, he should once again score a high number of runs. But he has yet to bat at least .260 in consecutive seasons and his power and speed production has tailed off in recent years. Considering the quality depth at the 2B position, I'm leaning towards going with one of the cheaper options in my March drafts, even though he could turn out to be a solid pick, especially at #109.
DC draft: 77
There's been plenty of hype surrounding Odor heading into the 2016 campaign, and maybe the Rougned Fan Club will prove to be right. But as I mentioned in a previous column, is there really a huge difference between Odor and Neil Walker, who was taken with pick #231 in the DC draft?
DC draft: 112
Although Kinsler's 30/30 days are a thing of the past, he remains a reliable across-the-board contributor. His ADP of 92 seems about right while drafting him at #112 could net quite a profit. Keep in mind that Kinsler was taken 35 picks after fellow second baseman Odor and a few picks after Kipnis.
DC draft: 49
You know the deal with Adrian. He's a little boring but he's also extremely consistent. In other words, he's a comfortable fallback option should you miss out on the truly elite first basemen. I have no problem with my DC league mate selecting him at #49 and I don't understand why he's ranked well outside of the top-60 in ADP.
DC draft: 62
Starting pitchers were going off the board early and often in the DC draft. In fact, Salazar was the 21st SP selected. That's right, more than one-third of the first 62 picks were starting pitchers. Taking into account the league format, it does makes sense, as streaming pitchers is not an option, so owning the high-end guys who can safely be started regardless of the matchup becomes all the more important. As for Salazar, there's a lot to like, most notably the high strikeout rate. But the track record is rather thin, so it's no sure thing that he will deliver low-end ace/high-end SP2 numbers. And that's what he will need to do for his Draft Champions league owner to break even.
It's now 5:30 PM ET on Saturday, February 27th. With pick #410, I'm on the clock.