Most of our player takes at the draft table are more about price than player; in theory, there’s a good time and a bad time to select almost anyone. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, you want your fantasy analysts to provide the list of players they’re proactively drafting and proactively avoiding. Today, I present a few player fades.
Note that there’s plenty of talent listed here, and I would be willing to consider any of these guys in the right circumstance. But I’m not optimistic I’ll get that chance, and there might be some other red ink that’s worth discussing.
I know some of these players will land on your roster, and maybe they’ll steer you to a championship. Take this for what it’s worth: a list of players I like less than the market. I didn’t want to fill this article with a bunch of middle-round and late-round picks; where’s the utility in that?
I welcome your thoughts at any time: @scott_pianowski.
Bobby Witt Jr., SS/3B, Royals
Witt was the No. 32 player in 5x5 value last year, heady stuff for a rookie. But significant improvement is priced into his 2023 ADP. He’s going to be a first-round pick in most NFBC leagues, and I don’t want to write that check. (Witt’s Yahoo ADP around 17 or 18 is far more reasonable — if you can get it.)
Witt’s contact stats are strong, but he’ll also swing at just about anything. His OBP was under .300 last year. And the Royals lineup has so many dead spots; there are only four players in the current lineup who feel like good bets to be average or better offensive players. Lineup context and buoyancy matter. You won’t find that here.
I think it’s interesting that Witt and Randy Arozarena have almost identical projections from the spreadsheet guys, but Arozarena is available around 30 picks later in a traditional draft. Granted, they play different positions, and Witt’s pedigree means something — his theoretical upside is higher than Arozarena’s, and projection systems aren’t always great at framing someone’s ceiling. Heck, I’m excited about Witt’s future, too. But I don’t want to make the assumption that he’s an instant MVP candidate. I can’t believe some analysts might take Witt over someone such as Mookie Betts.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Cardinals
I’ve always admired his game (as a baseball writer and as a fantasy manager), and I suspect last year’s MVP season puts Goldy on the inside track for an eventual Hall of Fame plaque. This makes me happy.
But Goldschmidt was one of baseball’s luckiest hitters last year. His .317 average was 56 points higher than what Statcast’s batted-ball data suggested, and Goldschmidt also had a slugging percentage that outkicked his Statcast number by 96 points. Throw in an upcoming age-35 season, and I suspect Goldschmidt has a modest regression year and doesn’t earn enough to justify his top-20 Yahoo ADP.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox
Much like the Goldy fade, this one hurts. I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan. But the Red Sox have assembled their weakest lineup in a solid decade, and I want my early-round picks to be surrounded by other stars. Pete Alonso and Devers have neighboring ADPs in the middle of the second round; I would snap-call on Alonso there every time.
Mike Trout, OF, Angels
He’s one of the five best players I’ve ever seen, and it’s not like Trout has shown a major decline yet; he still rocked a .283/.369/.630 slash last year, with 40 homers. But he has played in only 68% of possible Angels games the past six years, and his running game is gone for good — four steals since the beginning of 2020. Mike Trout remains a four-category star, but you have to assume he’ll miss 30% of the season, too.
Jacob deGrom, SP, Rangers
Every pitcher we draft comes with baked-in injury concerns, but deGrom’s past two seasons have me spooked, especially since his Yahoo ADP is still a lofty 34.3. I’m not in the mood to be an emotional wreck every five days, fretting anytime deGrom delivers a pitch and appears to land in an unnatural way. A healthy deGrom is my favorite watch in the majors, and even if I knew he’d get to a modest 28 starts, I’d push him to the top three on my pitching board. But it’s too late in his career for me to draft him proactively.
Dylan Cease, SP, White Sox
The bouts with wildness can drive you batty, though Cease got away with it last year; his Savant-suggested ERA was a half-run higher than his actual ERA, and he also outkicked his FIP by almost a full run. Most of the projection systems have Cease pegged for an ERA around 3.60 and a WHIP around 1.21, which doesn’t justify the mid-40s ADP that Yahoo rooms have produced. Maybe Cease can get those walks under control this year, but I will not draft like that has already happened.
Tyler Glasnow, SP, Rays
There’s usually a celebratory receiving line after Glasnow gets selected; competitors will quickly tell you “nice pick” and note you might have selected a league-winner (if that term even makes sense for fantasy baseball, a game with many more data points than fantasy football). But how can we ignore that Glasnow has pitched more than 62 innings just twice and more than 88 innings just once? And it’s not like Glasnow enters the 2023 season with a clean bill of health; he was diagnosed with a left oblique strain two weeks ago and is expected to miss another four-to-six weeks.
Don’t draft into injured players unless the ADP is a steal; injuries will find you no matter what you do.