Fantasy Take-Fest, Part II: Are Calvin Ridley, Yu Darvish, Mitchell Robinson ready for the next level?

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This is Part 2 of a series in which I use the results of the recent “League of Leagues” three-sport fantasy draft as an excuse to give hot takes on all things (non-sports included at the bottom).

Part 1 | Part 2 Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

ROUND NINE

113. Myles Turner

114. Fred VanVleet

115. Stefon Diggs

116. David Johnson

117. Luka Doncic (keeper)

118. Kelly Oubre Jr.

119. Manny Machado

120. Yu Darvish

121. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

122. Matt Olson

123. Paul Goldschmidt

124. Jonathan Villar

125. Clint Capela

126. Whit Merrifield

Stefon Diggs found a poor landing spot for his fantasy value (and a weird fit as arguably the league’s best route runner connected to a quarterback whose strengths are anything but accuracy), but he further helps the outlooks for Josh Allen (my QB7) and Devin Singletary (my RB10). Both Diggs and John Brown finished top-10 in WOPR last season, so their fantasy values no doubt take a hit ... David Johnson ranked last in PFF’s Elusive Rating last season and was 50th out of 56 running backs the year before, but he gets new fantasy life in Houston thanks to arguably the worst trade in the history of pro sports.

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Yu Darvish posted a silly 118:8 K:BB ratio with a 0.81 WHIP over 81.2 innings after the All-Star break last season (his 35.6 K-BB% during the second half was a better mark than any season of Pedro Martinez’s career), when he became the first pitcher since the 1800s to strike out eight or more batters without a walk in five straight starts. With his elbow no longer barking and in the NL, Darvish is a dark horse Cy Young candidate and my SP8, ahead of Stephen Strasburg.

ROUND 10

127. Austin Meadows

128. Aroldis Chapman

129. Victor Robles

130. Keenan Allen

131. Eddie Rosario

132. Calvin Ridley

133. Ronald Acuna Jr. (keeper)  

134. Melvin Gordon

135. Josh Jacobs (keeper)

136. Adam Thielen

137. Kirby Yates

138. Tommy Pham

139. Kevin Love

140. Giancarlo Stanton

Calvin Ridley is an extremely intriguing pick entering Year Three with Austin Hooper out of town and Julio Jones continuing to disappoint in the scoring department on the downside of his career (Jones scored in one of the final 12 games last season). Ridley should be treated as a top-20 WR with upside for top-three if Jones were to do gown.

I’m out on the Denver backfield with the plodding Melvin Gordon joining Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, while Adam Thielen should once again be treated as a top-15 fantasy WR with Stefon Diggs out of town … Aroldis Chapman looks ready to throw 105 mph this year.

ROUND 11

141. Luis Robert

142. Noah Syndergaard

143. Damien Williams

144. Jose Berrios

145. Tyler Glasnow

146. Gordon Hayward

147. Josh Donaldson

148. Mark Andrews   

149. Joey Gallo

150. 1st Supplemental Pick

151. Marcell Ozuna

152. Nelson Cruz

153. 2nd Supplemental Pick

154. Zach Ertz

Tyler Glasnow allowed the lowest expected BA in baseball last year and is my dark horse pick to win the AL Cy Young, while Josh Donaldson and Joey Gallo get big boosts in OBP formats … Even in high stakes NFBC leagues, Nelson Cruz was underrated and disproportionately dinged for being DH-only. Cruz is 39 years old, but he hit .311 with 41 homers, 81 runs scored and 108 RBI in just 120(!) games last season. Playing through a compromised wrist, he also posted a career-high 163 wRC+ (#4 in MLB, just ahead of Cody Bellinger). Cruz’s Yahoo ADP is comically low (83.4).

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With Hayden Hurst gone, I moved Mark Andrews to #1 on my tight end board … Tough break having since learned Noah Syndergaard will need Tommy John surgery, which isn’t exactly a rarity for Mets pitchers ... George Kittle has broken a tackle once every five receptions during his career, while Zach Ertz has forced a tackle every 22.3 catches ... Damien Williams is a top-12 RB on my board right now (pending the draft).

Last year the 1st pick in the supplemental draft (incoming NBA and NFL rookies) went in Round Five, yet this year it lasted until Round 11, which reveals a less exciting upcoming rookie class that doesn’t feature Zion Williamson. The NBA draft looks like a crapshoot as much as ever without a clear-cut top pick (although as a Warriors fan, Ethan Strauss has me convinced Killian Hayes is the move), but there are some intriguing college football players about to enter the league, with the obvious caveat being their landing spots, which can be crucial.

Jonathan Taylor is the all-time leader in YFS per season and appears to be a special prospect who’s getting comped to Adrian Peterson, so those in dynasty leagues with a Superflex position have a tough choice at #1 between Taylor and Joe Burrow, PFF’s highest-graded prospect ever.  

D’Andre Swift (the favorite to be the first RB off the board), JK Dobbins (led in yards created per attempt), Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Cam Akers (who experienced the worst run-blocking in college football over the last five seasons) are also solid running back prospects. We also need to pay attention to the landing spot of AJ Dillon, who’s an intriguing sleeper.

In a historically loaded draft class for wide receivers (and with my 49ers making a shrewd move up to #13), I could be talked into any one of three WRs, with Jerry Jeudy the polished one and Henry Ruggs insanely explosive, but give me CeeDee Lamb, who looks like a unicorn prospect and the real deal. Just remember, NFL GMs: Avoid the non-early declared wideouts during the draft.

ROUND 12

155. Eloy Jimenez

156. Marlon Mack

157. Josh Bell

158. Max Muncy

159. Trevor Bauer

160. 3rd Supplemental Pick

161. Mitchell Robinson

162. Jose Abreu

163. Robert Woods

164. Derrick Henry (keeper)

165. Jarvis Landry

166. Danillo Gallinari

167. Corey Kluber

168. Carlos Santana

Despite not starting and seeing limited minutes, Mitchell Robinson was providing third-round fantasy value in cat leagues after the All-Star break (79.1 FG%!). He’s 21 years old and ranks in the 99th percentile in points per shot attempt (Cleaning The Glass’ version of True Shooting%) and has blocked 3.6 shots (with 1.4 steals) per 36-minutes during his career. It won’t be easy overcoming the Knicks’ situation, but Robinson will start providing first-round fantasy value as soon as next year and has keeper written all over him here.

Robert Woods saw 79 targets over the final seven games last year and should benefit from Todd Gurley and possibly Brandin Cooks (on trading block) leaving, so he looks like a steal going four rounds after Cooper Kupp … In case you missed Trevor Bauer and his ongoing spin rate “experiment.”

Derrick Henry is the rare special back who doesn’t catch passes yet is still worth a top-five pick in PPR leagues. I’ll go on record and predict Henry scores 25 touchdowns this season.

ROUND 13

169. Nick Chubb (keeper)

170. Sonny Gray

171. Kyler Murray

172. Montrezl Harrell

173. Rafael Devers (keeper)

174. Rhys Hoskins

175. Carlos Correa

176. Miguel Sano     

177. Kerryon Johnson

178. T.Y. Hilton

179. Mike Moustakas

180. Zack Wheeler

181. Jusuf Nurkic

182. Terry Rozier

Miguel Sano hit 34 homers over just 105 games last year with a 143 wRC+ after the All-Star break. He should have an easier time staying healthy now playing first base full-time and is in a hitter’s park. Sano finished #1 in Barrel%, #1 in Hard Hit% and #2 in exit velocity last season and is my pick to win the home run title ... The tequila must’ve started to kick in for Brad Evans here, as that’s an aggressive pick with Jusuf Nurkic coming off such a serious injury.

Nick Chubb is one of the very best running backs in football (he was PFF’s highest-graded blocker and runner by a mile last season, when he finished with the second-most broken tackles and fully passed the eye test), and Cleveland made a point to upgrade its awful offensive line during the offseason (specifically signing RT Jack Conklin). However, given Kareem Hunt’s return, having to face the Steelers/Ravens 25% of his schedule, and the very real question mark surrounding Baker Mayfield, he’s not a top-10 RB for me. In fact, I’d draft Damien Williams over him without hesitation if KC doesn’t add a running back early in the draft.  

T.Y. Hilton has an ADP of WR29 in early NFFC leagues, which is beyond curious since he remains Indy’s clear alpha wideout (Indy actually saw Devin Funchess and Eric Ebron leave) and now goes from having a QB who refused to throw deep to one who had the third-most air yards last season (Philip Rivers also owns a career 8.0 YPA indoors, which were all road games, and is without question a huge upgrade). There aren’t a ton of receivers who project to see more targets than Hilton, whom I have as a top-15 WR.

ROUND 14

183. Pascal Siakam (keeper)

184. Liam Hendriks

185. Roberto Osuna

186. Lauri Markkanen

187. James Conner (keeper)

188. Adalberto Mondesi (keeper)

189. Terry McLaurin   

190. Edwin Diaz

191. Shane Bieber (keeper)

192. Juan Soto (keeper)

193. Andrew Benintendi

194. Taylor Rogers

195. Mike Soroka

196. Aaron Gordon

Terry McLaurin has an uncertain QB situation but finished top-10 in WOPR as a rookie and is going to be a problem for the league for years to come. Washington has the seventh-most targets available, and McLaurin just quietly had a historical rookie season.

What Juan Soto is doing is special (he owns the best wRC+ by a teenager in MLB history), and considering he started running more last season (12-of-13 on SB attempts), and he plays in baseball’s second-best hitter’s park (now that Texas is indoors), he’s going to put up some truly monstrous fantasy seasons. Soto is my pick to win the NL MVP award this year (and you can get him 10/1 here).

ROUND 15

197. Shohei Ohtani

198. Kenley Jansen

199. Brad Hand

200. Franmil Reyes

201. D.J. Chark

202. David Montgomery

203. Gary Sanchez

204. Ken Giles   

205. Eric Bledsoe

206. A.J. Green

207. Raisel Iglesias

208. Hassan Whiteside (keeper)

209. Frankie Montas

210. Alex Colome

In this case, being a Cleveland homer helped The Miz (unlike when he took Jarvis Landry in Round 12), as he swooped my guy Franmil Reyes, who’s coming off a season in which he hit 37 homers in fewer than 500 at-bats while playing 50+ games in Petco Park. Reyes no longer has to worry about playing time now locked in as Cleveland’s DH, and he finished top-five last season in average exit velocity and Hard Hit%, so there’s a strong chance he hits 45+ homers while not hurting batting average. He’s slated to hit fifth behind OBP monsters, Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez, so don’t be surprised when Reyes finishes as a top-10 fantasy outfielder this season.

It’s remarkable Shohei Ohtani’s bat is now considered his best skill, as the last time we saw him pitch (as a rookie learning an entirely new culture), he posted a 29.9 K% and a 15.2 SwStr% over 10 starts (both marks would’ve ranked in the top-12 among starters last year). Of course, he also owns a career 136 wRC+ (and fantasy managers have to be salivating with Angel Stadium playing more extreme than Coors Field for left-handed power ever since moving the fences in two years ago), so the Angels might have the two most valuable players in baseball on the same team.

Hassan Whiteside has now led the NBA in rebounding once (and was #2 this year) and blocks twice (by a wide margin this season) during his career, something Shaquille O’Neal never accomplished once during his 19 seasons in the league. Considering the price, Whiteside was the most valuable fantasy basketball asset in 2019/20.

DALTON’S BONUS TAKES

My 30 Most Overlooked TV Shows (in no particular order): Catastrophe, The Fall, I’m Sorry, Da Ali G Show, Black Mirror, Rectify, Nathan For You, Carnivale, Extras, Louie, Dark, Kingdom, Patriot, Hannibal, Banshee, Party Down, The Shield, Twin Peaks, The Leftovers, Strangers With Candy, Atlanta, In Treatment, The Office (UK), Brickleberry, The Eric Andre Show, Review, The OA, Tell Me You Love Me, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia & Peaky Blinders 

DDD’s Music Picks: Elliott Smith – “King’s Crossing” ... FKA Twigs – “Sad Day” ... Father John Misty – “Mr. Tillman” ... Iron and Wine – “Boy With a Coin” ... Modest Mouse – “Little Motel” ... Alice In Chains - “Don’t Follow” ... Broken Bells – “The Ghost Inside”

Here’s a Classic Longread: “Blood Will Tell”

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