Fantasy Baseball busts for 2017: Early-round pariahs to avoid

With spring training underway, it can mean only one thing: your fantasy baseball draft is just around the corner. With that in mind, the Yahoo fantasy baseball expert collective offer up some bust warnings, those players we’ll be avoiding in the early rounds of upcoming drafts:

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Q. What infielder being drafted, on average (Yahoo ADP), inside the top 60 players, will you be steering clear of in ’17 fantasy drafts?

Brandon Funston: BUSTER POSEY. Sorry, Buster, but I’m not paying the top 50 ADP price for a backstop coming off career full-season lows in home runs (14) and OPS (.796), especially when he no longer stands alone in the upper class of the catcher-eligible crowd – see Kyle Schwarber, Gary Sanchez, Jonathan Lucroy and possibly Willson Contreras.

Andy Behrens: There’s just no chance I’ll ever get TREA TURNER on a fantasy team if his ADP is going to remain in the 12-16 range. This is insane. Turner obviously had an excellent half-season for the Nats, but there’s almost no power in his minor league profile. We can’t reasonably expect him to be better in the big leagues than he ever was at any minor league stop. 

Scott Pianowski: We can’t yell “Regression!” and leave the room on BRIAN DOZIER, the game is more complicated than that. But when I see his ADP settling into the mid-30s, I understand the crowd is expecting him to keep more of his 2016 haul than I do. I’m about 12-15 picks away on him; at the same position, I prefer Rougned Odor and Daniel Murphy. 

Fred Zinkie, lead fantasy writer for MANNY MACHADO. The steals are not coming back. Now that he has shifted from table setter to run producer, Machado will steal fewer than five bags on an Orioles team that rarely pushes the envelope on the bases. While recognizing that Machado’s multi-position eligibility is a nice perk, I would rather lock up Josh Donaldson, Trea Turner or Max Scherzer in the late first round.

Q. What outfielder being drafted, on average (Yahoo ADP), inside the top 60 players, will you be steering clear of in ’17 fantasy drafts?

Fred Zinkie, lead fantasy writer for Giancarlo Stanton. Remove the name value associated with Stanton, and fantasy owners have little reason to take him in the initial 40 picks of mixed-league drafts. The slugger is a lifetime .266 hitter who has yet to exceed 37 homers in a single season. In his seven years since he arrived to the Majors, the outfielder has played more than 123 games just twice. I would rather wait another round and grab J.D. Martinez, Ian Desmond, Christian Yelich or Yoenis Cespedes.

Funston: I echo Fred’s (above) remarks about Giancarlo Stanton – he’s on my “do not draft” list. But I’d argue BRYCE HARPER has similar issues (health, inconsistency) to Stanton, only he’s going more than 25 picks ahead of Stanton. Harper played 147 games last season, and he finished just No. 77 in the Yahoo game. His ’15 season (No. 4 in the Y! game) is what fantasy owners are chasing when they use a first round pick on Harper, but that ’15 campaign is an outlier in his five-year career, as he hasn’t reached 25 home runs or a .275 batting average in any of his other four seasons. I understand that he may be the most talented player in the game, but I want my top pick to be a slam dunk for first-round production, and Harper’s track record doesn’t support that enough.

Dalton Del Don: CARLOS GONZALEZ. He’s been plenty productive over the last two seasons, but there’s an injury history here (he averaged just 412.5 at bats over four seasons from 2011-2014), he’s now on the wrong side of 30 and most importantly, there’s a strong chance CarGo gets traded midseason. Outside of Coors Field last season, he posted a pedestrian .744 OPS (compared to .966 at home). I’m steering clear of Gonzalez at his price. 

Scott Pianowski: I share all the common concerns about Giancarlo Stanton; give me the petition, I’ll sign it. I’m also not sure what the big deal is about GEORGE SPRINGER. The career average is just .258, and he was a depressing 9-for-19 on steals last year. He’ll be strong in two or three categories, sure, but it’s not enough to justify the company he keeps. And remember he’s already 27 — not that Springer should be picking out a retirement community, but it’s entirely possible this is as good as it gets.

Q. What pitcher being drafted, on average (Yahoo ADP), inside the top 60 players, will you be steering clear of in ’17 fantasy drafts?

Andy Behrens: KENLEY JANSEN and AROLDIS CHAPMAN are as good as it gets in the ninth, but I’m not touching a closer inside the top eight rounds of a standard mixed draft. That’s just nonsense. Plenty of excellent high-K closers can be found outside the top-100 picks (Herrera, Diaz, Familia, et al), and of course we know a significant percentage of closing gigs will flip during the season. 

Scott Pianowski: DAVID PRICE is an easy and convenient answer, now that you heard the words “James Andrews.” I’m not going to go out of my way to find injury problems; they’ll come and get me soon enough. And I’m never the guy driving the STEPHEN STRASBURG bandwagon — not only are 200 innings never a good bet with him, but his ratios have been surprisingly ordinary in the last few seasons.

Dalton Del Don: JAKE ARRIETA. There aren’t too many options to pick from here, given that hitters continue to fly off the board in the early rounds at a far greater rate than pitchers, but I’ll go with Arrieta, who struggled during the second half last season. I’m not so worried about his 3.69 ERA over that span (it was actually accompanied by a 1.07 WHIP that was better than his 1.09 mark he recorded before the All-Star break), but it came with an eye-opening 69:33 K:BB ratio. Again, no one jumps out here, but I doubt Arrieta ends up on any of my teams this year (I’m also concerned about Corey Kluber coming off a season in which he threw 249.1 innings – give me Yu Darvish instead). 

Fred Zinkie, lead fantasy writer for JAKE ARRIETA — Fantasy owners should trust Cubs manager Joe Maddon when he says he plans to pace his starters this season, as Jon Lester led the team with 202 2/3 regular-season innings last year. With an innings cap around 200, Arrieta is unlikely to make a fantasy impact on par with some of the other pitchers being drafted around him. Plus, he raised some performance concerns by posting a 3.69 ERA and a 2.1 K/BB ratio in the second half of ’16. I’m happy to skip Arrieta and use a later pick on Lester, David Price (if he’s healthy), Johnny Cueto or Yu Darvish.


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