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Using a mix of Yahoo’s average draft position (ADP) and staff rankings that create a composite score among three Yahoo analysts, we will present a road map through the first 100 picks to come off the board in a typical Fantasy Baseball draft.
By breaking things down into segments of 10 picks at a time (as part of a larger three-part series) to highlight the safest bet, plus an underrated and overrated player, you are sure to come away with a more streamlined and less overwhelming way to plot out a course for a successful draft. While unexpected twists and turns develop in any draft and league sizes vary, walking in as prepared as can be is the best way to come out with a competitive squad.
All staff composite rankings and ADP data are to date, and subject to change.
Safest Bet: Nelson Cruz, UTIL, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 66 / Staff Composite Ranking: 69)
If I could pick Nelson Cruz as a safe pick every year I'd do it until he retires. Cruz will be 41 by the time the dog days of summer come around, but I don't care.
The man hits home runs. And he hits a lot of them. And he hits a lot of them consistently. Guess who's hit the most home runs since 2010?
The guy who is the safest option in picks 61-70, that's who. And speaking of current Minnesota Twins stars ...
Underrated: Kenta Maeda, SP/RP, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 65 / Staff Composite Ranking: 62)
Kenta Maeda was a revelation in 2020, and fantasy managers who drafted him got to reap the benefits of his dual-eligibility. Sure, Maeda won't be as good as he was last season (a .208 BABIP definitely helped his bottom line), but even with some natural regression, you'll get a mid 3s ERA, a respectable strikeout total, really good win and innings numbers and, not to mention, an ability to keep the basepaths clear (career 1.11 WHIP).
With no signs of decreasing velocity yet, Maeda has a great chance of a top 10-15 pitcher finish in 2021 (he finished fourth in 2020).
Overrated: Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers (ADP: 70 / Staff Composite Ranking: 70)
It was between Hiura or Cavan Biggio here — coincidentally, two of the top players at one of the weakest positions available (second base). In the end, I went Hiura, who is more of a defensive liability than Biggio — and, perhaps more importantly, strikes out more, too.
Safest bet: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals (ADP: 78 / Staff Composite Ranking: 70)
Paul Goldschmidt might have officially entered what Scott Pianowski calls "boring veteran" territory — a point in a player's career where they find themselves overlooked in fantasy circles, even though they're still producing.
Maybe it was the slightly-less-than-spectacular start to his Cardinals career, but this ADP seems a bit late for Goldschmidt. We saw more of the real Goldy in 2020 when he compiled a .304/.417/.466 slash line in 58 games.
He's consistently been one of the best hitting first basemen his entire career, with a keen ability to get on base. I'm not worried about Goldschmidt one bit this year.
Underrated: Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets (ADP: 74 / Staff Composite Ranking: 74)
I believe there's a middle ground for Michael Conforto that we haven't seen yet.
He hit .257/.363/.494 in 2019, with 33 home runs (along with a .290 BABIP).
In 2020, Conforto hit .322/.412/.515 with nine homers in 54 games (and a huge .412 BABIP boost).
I'd like to be in on the fun when Conforto settles into himself, perhaps to the tune of .275/.365/.485 with 30 home runs. And with the addition of Francisco Lindor and James McCann to the Mets lineup, maybe that happens this year.
Overrated: Trent Grisham, OF, San Diego Padres (ADP: 76 / Staff Composite Ranking: 77)
Trent Grisham has a great prospect pedigree — but we've yet to see this materialize in the majors. He's been relatively mediocre in his 110 career Major League games. Grisham doesn't have much power, and while the speed potential is enticing, it's not so much that I'm willing to ignore his below-average counting stats. I'll take my chances with Nick Castellanos a few picks later.
Safest bet: Kyle Hendricks, SP, Chicago Cubs (ADP: 84 / Staff Composite Ranking: 78)
Yeah, so Kyle Hendricks doesn't pile up the strikeouts like some of the other fantasy-friendly starting pitchers. But what Hendricks does do, he does very, very well. He'll deliver a quality innings output, he will rarely walk a batter, and he'll win his fair share of games too.
One of the game's premier control artists, Hendricks is a safe bet to deliver respectable ratios across the board in 2021.
Underrated: J.D. Martinez, OF, Boston Red Sox (ADP: 82 / Staff Composite Ranking: 71)
Big discrepancy in ADP and analyst rankings; I'm on the side of the analysts here. Fred Zinkie makes the case for J.D. Martinez in 2021 the best:
"Martinez has expressed multiple reasons to explain his disappointing 2020 season (.680 OPS). He complained during the campaign that the league’s temporary restrictions on in-game video use (thanks, Houston Astros) impacted his ability to prepare for plate appearances. And recently, Martinez admitted that he lost his focus during the COVID-19 shutdown and was not properly prepared for the start of the season. Just 33 years old, the slugger is far from washed up, and his three-year averages from 2017-19 (41 HR, 113 RBIs, 98 R, .313 BA) are the stuff that fantasy championships are made of. He’s a gift at his ADP of pick 85."
Overrated: Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros (ADP: 87 / Staff Composite Ranking: 76)
Are we witnessing the beginning of Jose Altuve’s decline? How will having fans back in the stands affect his mentality at the plate?
These questions come to mind when I think about Altuve at this point in the draft — questions I'm not willing to see answered firsthand with him on my fantasy team.
Safest bet: Jose Berrios, SP, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 93 / Staff Composite Ranking: 90)
If the aforementioned Paul Goldschmidt has reached boring veteran status, then Jose Berrios might have reached the boring youngster level. At a mere 26 years old, Berrios has yet to reach that upper echelon of starters, but what he has done is consistently deliver solid numbers year in and year out.
Berrios won't blow you away with his production, but one thing he will do is avoid hurting you anywhere. I consider him a safe pitcher option at this level of drafts — with an underrated aspect of his game possibly still untapped.
Underrated: Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals (ADP: 94 / Staff Composite Ranking: 94)
I see this ADP as a gift for someone like Salvador Perez. Fully healthy, Perez was the second-best catcher in fantasy in 2020, yet he's being drafted over 40 picks later than J.T. Realmuto. I'd take the still-just-30-year-old Perez near the ninth round over Realmuto in the fourth any day of the week; not because I think Perez is better than J.T., but because the value of taking him in the ninth outweighs Realmuto's in the fourth or fifth.
Overrated: Carlos Carrasco, SP, New York Mets (ADP: 91 / Staff Composite Ranking: 91)
I hope this pick ends up being completely wrong; it's hard not to root for Carlos Carrasco. With that said, this pick is entirely based on the question marks surrounding Carrasco's health heading into the season as well as his injury history; not his ability as a pitcher.
At this ADP, I'd lean in favor of a safer pitching option like Zack Greinke over Carrasco, while rooting for the new Mets pitcher to deliver a great year.