Although the World Series ended just a few weeks ago, we already have some of us fantasy baseball degens looking towards the 2021 baseball season! The NFBC has launched some 50 Round Draft and Hold leagues where you draft your 50 players and set your lineup weekly with only those you selected – no trading and no add/drops are permitted in these types of leagues. These leagues require more strategy and maintenance than a Best ball but less maintenance than a traditional fantasy league with adds and drops.
These leagues pay out the Top 3 of the league. Still, they also have an overall component where you must rank highly in all 10 of the traditional rotisserie categories, putting a huge premium on saves and speed. A balanced team with a high ceiling is the key to be competitive in the overall competition. Obviously, you don’t have to go for broke with each pick, selecting risky guys like Adalberto Mondesi or Joey Gallo. Still, it is imperative to get a steals base to match up with teams in the other leagues and be competitive overall.
Feel free to check out the ADP from the NFBC here: https://nfc.shgn.com/adp/baseball
Offensively, I was able to get a lot of power, some positional flexibility (not as much as I wanted), and a few speed sources but not as many as I would like. Steals will clearly be my weakness and Catcher, as I waited a long time on the position while addressing other needs.
My favorite draft value was either George Springer in round 5 or Carlos Correa in round 10. Neither guy will steal many bags but are excellent hitters and will be able to stuff the stat sheet outside of the stolen base department. Springer has averaged a 150 wRC+ the past 2 years combined and should play on a good offense (hopefully). This is the first year I have been in Correa at his price since 2016; I do like him more now that he made it through the 2020 season fully healthy and very affordable.
Josh Donaldson’s health outlook makes me a little nervous given his lower half issues, but at pick 205, he was worth the gamble, in my opinion. I did make sure to back him up with several 3B that has upside.
I did load up with lots of power in each position outside of CI with Joey Votto penciled in as my Opening Day CI, but I can insert a MI in for Muncy and then shift Muncy in for Votto if he starts his age 37 season off slow. That is one of the many advantages of multi-position eligible guys, something I prioritized heavily.
Regarding my pitchers, my 2nd and 3rd round picks were Luis Castillo & Max Scherzer, who will carry my club as my pitching anchors. I can’t stress this enough; make sure you have a very firm plan for pitching. After the top ten arms get selected, there are bigger questions than ever. I feel much more comfortable drafting several stud pitchers early on that I really trust and then build up my offensive base (the bats are very, very deep…so many quality options) from there rather than trying to cobble together my staff in rounds 5-12. I selected some interesting options in Sandy Alcantara & Frankie Montas a little later on in rounds 9 & 11, respectively.
Closer is a tough, tough thing to figure out in these leagues, especially in the early drafts. You can elect to pay the premium price tag for guys like Liam Hendriks or Aroldis Chapman, or you can stock up with mid-round bats and pitchers and elect to take a guy with more risk, like I did drafting Craig Kimbrel in round 15, at pick 216. Kimbrel had an end to the 2020 season, and I believe he will factor into the 9th for the Chicago Cubs. I could back up Kimbrel with high-end dart throws such as Diego Castillo and Emilio Pagan, high skilled relievers who may close out games for elite teams, but I would like to grab more ‘sure things’ in the future draft and holds.
For my reserve bats, I was able to draft 5 additional multi-position eligible guys to maximize games played or take advantage of match-ups vs a weak pitching staff. I mostly fade prospects, only taking a few gambles, such as Bobby Witt Jr (who sneakily could be a factor in 2021 if Maikel Franco leaves KC) and Khalil Lee (cheaper Leody Taveras type) quite late. I was mainly looking to have a steady stream of playing time off my bench in case injury struck.
Jarred Kelenic is partially considered a stash, but I believe he has a good chance to be up in the 1st half, and if he inks a deal to buy out his pre-arb years, this could be a steal of a price. Jose Trevino is a sneaky, cheap Catcher who actually received plenty of playing time in Texas. I believe he will play as I do not think Sam Huff will make enough contact to be a true full-time regular in Texas in 2021. I drafted 5 total catchers, including Michael Perez, who was snatched up off the waiver wire by the Pittsburgh Pirates with a very high claim. Perez could be a small factor in Pittsburgh, not a bad outcome for my 50th pick.
In addition to Michael Perez, I drafted fellow Pirate Bryan Reynolds, Adam Frazier, and a multi-position guy in Erik Gonzalez, all guys who are projected to start based on Roster Resource’s depth chart. The bad teams are where you can find cheap playing time that is overlooked. Last year I was able to add Rio Ruiz, Jose Iglesias, and Pedro Severino very cheap on the back end of my roster under the premise they had starting jobs on Roster Resource. Baltimore wasn’t looking to add much extra payroll. The bad teams can have playing time available very cheap in the draft, and knowing the Roster Resource depth charts can help you find it.
In terms of pitchers, I did grab 2 guys who are risky but have some upside with Mike Soroka (already throwing off flat-ground) and Noah Syndergaard. Following that, I just went for boring, bulk innings guys who will get innings. I did take on a prospect, Jackson Kowar, who I think will get an opportunity to pitch in Kansas City given his polish and their willingness to bring up arms once they are ready. His increased velocity paired with his great changeup makes me giddy with excitement, especially since he is dirt cheap (535 overall in my draft).
All in all, this is a team I think has a very high floor given the playing time, power up and down the lineup, and 2 aces that provide balance for the team. I feel pretty happy with the offense at each position, knowing I can mix and match the Joey Votto spot with an assortment of MI’s by moving Max Muncy into other areas of the roster. The weaknesses are speed, as I didn’t get as many base stealers as I would like, which is usually a weakness for me as I’m a sucker to draft a guy I consider to be a better hitter (I use wRC+ to determine this often). The lack of speed is something I will be looking to address in my next Draft Champions draft. Regardless, I think the offense can carry me to a cash spot in the league, and we will see where things go from there.
I was determined to grab multiple arms in the first 4-5 rounds of this draft, and I was happy with Luis Castillo and Max Scherzer. Castillo is a guy who doesn’t concern me, and I am very excited to have him leading my team in 2021, while Max presents some health risks. I still like the talent a lot, and since he is my 2nd pitcher, I was more willing to draft him. I was pretty happy with the value of Craig Kimbrel, but he is far from safe as a closer. I backed him up with a few guys who could factor into saves, but saves are a definite weakness of this team. In my next Draft Champions draft, I will be more willing to push up even a Raisel Iglesias type who I think will secure the lion-share of his team’s saves. I followed up my pitching core with a bunch of volume guys who aren’t terribly exciting but can be match-ups plays vs weaker offenses or break glass in case of emergency guys if I do get stuck with a slew of injuries. I feel much more comfortable grabbing guys who will likely play in the 2nd half of the draft than to try to throw a dart on a prospect who may or may not play and who may not even be effective.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to ask me any questions or follow me on Twitter!