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Saturday, January 20, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: JUSTIN SMOAK 1B TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Fool me once shame on you.  Fool me twice shame on me.  This tried-and-true premise looks to be reserved for anyone interested in drafting Toronto Blue Jays slugging first baseman Justin Smoak for 2018 fantasy baseball and this is especially true after what looked to be a big breakout campaign from the former first-round pick and much-lauded prospect just the year prior.  By now the story of Smoak is well-worn as the former 11th overall pick in the 2008 draft was once traded for Cy Young-winning pitcher Cliff Lee and who was deemed the next great first base slugger by anyone who saw him rise through the minor league ranks.  Well as so often happens, the hype failed to meet the actual production and soon Smoak was putting up a string of .220-hitting seasons whether he was playing in Seattle with the Mariners or with the Blue Jays.  Even as recently as 2016, Smoak was forced into part-time duty mostly versus lefty pitching as his bat continued to lag (.217 with 14 home runs in 341 at-bats).  Be that as it may, Smoak was given another chance by the Blue Jays in 2017 and the rest as they say is history as he went on to put up tremendous overall offensive numbers to the tune of:

.270
38 HR
95 RBI
85 R
0 SB

Having always possessed big-time power, Smoak really showed off that skill last season as his career-high 637 at-bats helped in the cause.  What really helped Smoak as well was a new contact-driven approach that helped him drastically shave his previously gross 32.8 K/9 in 2016 all the way down to just 20.1 a year ago.  Throw in a 11.5 BB/9 rate that was very good and Smoak for once was not an average killer.  So all seems right now correct?  I mean the talent was always there, Smoak is striking out less, and playing with confidence so he should be safe for investment this season right?  Not so fast Jack.

Digging into the numbers a bit more, there is still some major cause for concern here.  While Smoak was hot as a pistol during the first half of the season (.294, 23 HR,), he was actually back to being the pre-2017 ugly slugger in the second half (.241, 15 HR).  Opposing pitchers found some new holes in Smoak's swing and his K/9 rose.  So in actuality, we still only have one single half of Smoak performing like a guy worthy of daily usage in fantasy baseball and the rest is all garbage.  Not enough of a sample size to recommend him as anything more than a UTIL or CI this season.  There are some who are planning to get Smoak cheap for 1B and fill out other spots on the diamond first.  In theory this may seem like a good idea but Smoak still has a ton of red flags attached to his name that depending on him for the all-important first base spot is filled with trouble.  So do yourself a favor and resist the urge to overinflate last season's numbers from Smoak and proceed with some more caution.

2018 PROJECTION:  .257 27 HR 88 RBI 80 R 0 SB


*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: JOSE PERAZA 2B CINCINNATI REDS

We admit to possibly going a tad overboard hyping Cincinnati Reds infield prospect Jose Peraza heading into the 2017 fantasy baseball but it was difficult not to be seduced by the offensive skills the speedster possesses.  Peraza hinted at what he was capable of while debuting for the team in 2016 as he batted .324, hit 3 home runs, and swiped 21 bases in just 256 at-bats.  Those were tantalizing numbers in a small sample size and combined with being very young, it appeared as though a breakout was at hand for 2017.  Unfortunately, we didn't give enough thought to Peraza being just 23 and thus likely having to undergo some adjustments at the major league level.  A very tough beginning to the season (.226 March/April) made it seem more likely that Peraza would be sent back down to the minors than being a help in fantasy baseball but from that point forward the kid wound up doing all right.  While the overall numbers fell short of expectations in terms of fantasy baseball (.259, 5 HR, 23 SB), the Reds seem prepared to see it through with Peraza for the 2018 season.  Turning just 25 in April, Peraza could very well make do on his remaining potential this season and the lowered draft price this time around makes him an interesting buy-low candidate.

2018 PROJECTION:  .277 6 HR 40 RBI 66 R 28 SB 
*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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Friday, January 19, 2018

2018 FANTASY BTASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: RANDAL GRICHUK GETS NEW LIFE IN TORONTO

The St. Louis Cardinals have unloaded not one but two of their previously lauded outfield prospects this season, starting with Stephen Piscotty being shipped to the Oakland A's and now followed by a Friday deal where they moved slugger Randal Grichuk to the Toronto Blue Jays.  This is an interesting move for Grichuk as he was stalled out in St. Louis after back-to-back underwhelming seasons in 2016 and 2017 and he now moves into a big power-leaning ballpark in Rogers Center in Toronto.  Considering that power has always been the most stable aspect of Grichuk, he needs to be moved up a bit on fantasy baseball outfield cheat sheets for drafts this spring given that aspect of things.  Looking back on 2017, it was clear what the problems were with Grichuk and that was strikeouts which took a major toll on his batting average.  A .238 average and horrible 30.1 K/9 rate were all that was needed to see that Grichuk is flawed overall hitter but on the positive side, he did crack 22 homers in just 422 at-bats.  While Grichuk will likely continue to drain your batting average even after going to Toronto, a run at 30 home runs is very much in the cards here as he will likely be an everyday player for the Blue Jays to go along with the new ballpark helping him out.  A net gain for Grichuk all the way around in other words.


*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: A.J. POLLOCK OUTFIELDER ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Yes him again.  Anyone who has been a habitual reader of this site knows the love yours truly has for Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock.  After all, Pollock was one of our best sleeper calls in recent memory when we tabbed him as a major value play prior to the 2015 season.  Major value Pollock was as he put forth a blockbuster five-tool campaign that included 20 home runs, 111 runs, 76 RBI, 39 steals, and a .315 average.  With a past as a former first round pick, Pollock was the new star OF 1 on the block who would go in Round 2 of most fantasy baseball drafts as visions of a 25/25 campaign popped with regards to 2016.  Well as often happens in fantasy baseball, the gods had other ideas as Pollock didn't even make it out of spring training before suffering a broken elbow and when he finally did come back later in the year, it was for just 12 mostly meaningless games. 

In terms of 2017, Pollock had some buy low appeal as the broken elbow was looked at as a fluke injury and so he was highly sought after once again.  Well the injury bug got Pollock again as he played in only 112 games and eventually was moved out of the team's leadoff spot.  The latter is just as significant as the injury problems as Pollock's runs and steals potential take a major hit when not leading off and his overall 2017 numbers underwhelmed:

.266
14 HR
73 R
49 RBI
20 SB

On the surface, a 14/20 campaign is very fantasy baseball-friendly but the steals really started to dry up when Pollock was moved down the order.  Keep in mind half of those 20 steals came in April before a groin issue propped up.  Also Pollock has now missed significant time in four of his last five seasons which means there is a clear trend with him getting hurt which needs to be factored into his draft cost. 

Now in terms of what the D-Backs will do with Pollock this season, they have Chris Owings coming back and Ketel Marte could also be a leadoff option.  If Pollock does get the call, he can be an easy 15/20/.280 guy at the very least and that is with some injury time mixed in.  This is always a tough call given the risk but Pollock remains in his prime at the age of 30 and capable of being an OF 1 on talent alone. 

2018 PROJECTION:  .290 16 HR 57 RBI 89 R 24 SB  


*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: BYRON BUXTON OUTFIELDER MINNESOTA TWINS

After a few false starts, it appears as though we finally are seeing the arrival of Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton if his 2017 production can be believed.  The former number 2 overall pick in 2012 has been a fantasy baseball sleeper hound’s obsession since right after his name was called in the MLB Draft; with some early projections predicting he would be the next Mike Trout-like superstar five-tool player.  As almost always happens in overhyped situations such as this, Buxton disappointed his loyal followers when given a chance to stick with the Twins both in 2015 and 2016.  Clearly being rushed to the majors, Buxton showed he was far from ready to tackle top tier pitching as he batted just .209 and .225 during those first two forays into the big leagues.  The holes in Buxton’s swing were gaping as he topped the horrid 30.0 K/9 mark in both of those campaigns as well (31.9 and 35.6 respectively).  While no one was ready to give up on Buxton just yet, all was quiet on the sleeper front as 2017 drafts got underway.  It was at this point where the always profitable post-hype sleeper theme took center stage and the talent began to bubble to the surface.  The much-ballyhooed tools that earned Buxton such hype in the first place began accumulating as well since he went on to hit 16 home runs, steal 29 bases, and batted .253 in 511 at-bats.  We all need to be reminded that Buxton will be just 24 when the 2018 season gets going and so there can be no surprise that it took him awhile to get his game in order given the lack of minor league seasoning.  Be that as it may, Buxton’s potential as a 20/30 guy could very well be in the cards this season and a graduation to OF 2 status would then result.  Now Buxton still needs to do a ton of work on the strikeouts as his 29.4 K/9 a year ago remained hideous and the batting average will never become a help if he doesn’t start making inroads there.  Overall the elevator is rising steadily here and so Buxton can be put down as just the latest post-hype sleeper to make good on their talent. 

2018 PROJECTION:  .267 19 HR 63 RBI 79 R 34 SB  
*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT PRIMER: FIRST BASEMAN

The first baseman are up next as we continue to preview the upcoming 2018 fantasy baseball season in leaving no stone unturned.  Let's check out who yourrs truly likes, hates, and how to address those who man the power-packed position.

Draft Strategy:  It is fairly obvious that first base in fantasy baseball is the most potent power-packed spot in the game and despite possessing good depth, it is imperative you get one of the top guys so as to keep pace with the rest of your league.  I always try to do my best to have my first baseman by the end of Round 2 and at worst the end of Round 3.  In addition, it always is a good idea to come back here for your UTIL or CI guy. 

2018 FIRST BASEMAN I WILL TARGET

Paul Goldsschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, Jose Abreu, Cody Bellinger:  I put all of these guys in the same group due to the fact that I want to have one of them by the end of Round 2.  If I were to rank them by personal preference, I would go:

1.  Goldy
2.  Votto
3.  Rizzo
4.  Freeman
5.  Bellinger
6.  Abreu

I have no problem with any of these guys outside of a tiny bit of worry about Bellinger's average but that is about it.  Get one of these studs and you are looking good early in your draft.

Rhys Hoskins:  Also having eli.gibility in the outfield, Hoskins is going to be a big-time target of many.  Truth be told, I am anticipating not getting Hoskins due to the hype and the high price that always goes with it but I love the power and the fact the kid has a tremendous eye that draws walks.  That should allow Hoskins to hit .280 soon enough to go with 40 homer.  Look out. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  Yes the average is slipping and Encarnacion is getting long in the tooth but you still can get nearly 40 homers, 100-plus RBI, and 90-plus runs here for a declining price. 

Ian Desmond:  Desmond was never right physically last season as he dealt with constant injuries and so he deserves somewhat of a mulligan.  The versatility will be nice right off the bat and Desmond can go right back to his 20/20 days for a vastly discounted price this season if he can stay healthy. 

Justin Bour:  Always have a soft spot for the powerful Bour who can hit 25-30 home runs but yet no one ever wants him.  Market inefficiency such as this is how you win fantasy baseball leagues if you strike.

Josh Bell:  Would take Josh Bell on as a UTIL or CI buy as his power really took off last season, albeit with a hit to his average.  If Bell can start merging the two, then things get really intriguing.

2018 FIRST BASEMAN I WILL AVOID

Eric Hosmer:  There is no denying Eric Hosmer was tremendous in 2017 but he remains a heavy ground ball rate guy who at his optimal can hit 25 homers and almost nothing more with that approach.  Of course, I would likely change my mind on Hosmer if he signs in Boston but the guy has made a history of driving his owners crazy. 

Wil Myers:  It is not that I hate Myeres but I do dislike the annual average hit he brings to the table and the ballpark as we all know is tough.  Yes 20/20 is entirely possible which you can never sneeze at but I want less injuries (Myers has struggled there as well) and a better average.

Matt Carpenter:  Man this guy is physically falling apart and the average has taken a tumble with the ill health. 


*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

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THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 NFL PROSPECT DRAFT GUIDE NOW AVAILABLE FOR SALE

With USC QB Sam Darnold gracing the cover, The Fantasy Sports Boss 2018 NFL Draft Guide is now available for sale on Amazon at the follwing link:  https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Boss-Draft-Guide/dp/1983925713/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1516287109&sr=8-3&keywords=2018+nfl+draft

This year's guys includes the following features in addition to the hundreds of players we analyzed and ranked:

-Ten Burning Questions
-Feature on Saquon Barkley and ugly history of Penn State running backs moving into the NFL.
-Team-By-Team Needs
-2018 Mock Draft
-First Round Log
and much, much more.  Be sure to get your copy today! 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: MICHAEL CONFORTO DOWN/JIMMY NELSON UP

Some key injury issues leading into the first batch of 2018 fantasy baseball drafts need our attention in order to stay on top of the latest news that can move a given player up and down the board.  Two that are currently rehabbing from surgery in New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto and Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson are right a the top of this list with some interesting updates on each worth mentioning.

Michael Conforto:  Speaking with reports on Wednesday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson admitted that he doesn't expect to see Conforto on the field with the team until May 1 due to his very serious surgery last summer after he tore the posterior capsule on a hard swing.  The surgery was expected to keep Conforto down for much of the winter and with February approaching, his timeline has not changed much at all.  That means already Conforto is down one month of prospective fantasy baseball numbers and this is a real shame considering he busted out in a major way in 2017 before getting hurt to the tune of 27 homers, 68 RBI, and a .279 average.  The top outfield prospect really came through on his talent and he would have been an easy call for 30 homers this season if he had not had the surgery.  So what we do have now is a top OF 2 who can be had for the price of an OF 3 as the fantasy baseball community always lets guys who are not going to be ready for Opening Day slide quite a lot in drafts.  Despite the fears of any shoulder injury, we suggest you take advantage of any discount.

Jimmy Nelson:  On the more positive side, 2017 breaking starter Jimmy Nelson is expected to begin a throwing program on Friday which is a good month ahead of time schedule from his shoulder surgery last summer.  Shoulder surgeries for a pitcher are extremely scary and often they don't come back as the same type of player but the fact Nelson is already rehabbing a month ahead of schedule suggests he is feeling good and there are zero complication.  This is a nice development and a potentially exciting one since Nelson really came on last season as he pitched to a 3.49 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and struck out a massive 199 batters in just 175.1 IP as he vastly improved BOTH his control and HR/9.  While there could be some FLUKE involved given the fact Nelson has never approached numbers like this, the guy was always a good strikeout artist in the minors and has talent that made prospect hounds trail after him.  Again, shoulder surgeries are a major deal and it is possible Nelson is lacking some velocity upon his return but his ADP was never expected to go that high anyway so the risk is minimal.  We would be buyers here if Nelson slips to being your SP 4/5.


*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE:  EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1981820833/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513627262&sr=1-3&keywords=2018+fantasy+baseball