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Gut’s Guys and FOMO — Vlad Sedler’s Top Player Exposures for Fantasy Baseball 2024

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Opening Day of the baseball season is finally here, which means we bid adieu to the best part of the season – draft season! These last four months of researching, creating/maintaining projections and multiple sets of rankings, and of course, drafting, has been quite grueling. Now let the fun begin, and let’s play ball!

 

My draft season began right after Thanksgiving when I entered my first Gladiator. Fast forward to Opening Day and it looks like I actually kept my promise to myself – I entered fewer leagues than in 2023! Most of what I drafted this winter is the same as last season. I added a few Gladiators, which is fine since those require zero in-season management. I cut down on Main Events (from 4 to 3), on Cutlines (from 5 to 3) and my Draft Champions (from 15 to 12). My only two non-NFBC leagues are industry/expert leagues I’ve played in for the last several years. The Fantasy Sports Gaming Association league is the only one where I have a partner (FTN’s Adam Young). By the way, we won that league last season and are ready to defend our crown this season.

Here’s what I drafted:

# entries Contest Name # teams Format In-Season Management Site
3 Main Event 15 5×5 roto FAAB NFBC
1 Super Auction 15 5×5 roto FAAB NFBC
1 TGFBI (industry) 15 5×5 roto FAAB NFBC
5 Online Championship 12 5×5 roto FAAB NFBC
1 RazzSlam (industry) 12 Best Ball Points Modified FAAB NFBC
3 Cutline 10 Best Ball Points Modified FAAB NFBC
12 Draft Champions 15 5×5 roto Draft’n’Hold, no FAAB NFBC
6 Gladiator 15 5×5 roto Draft’n’Hold, no FAAB NFBC
1 Tout Wars (industry) 15 5×5 roto (OBP) Draft’n’Hold, no FAAB OnRoto
1 FSGA (industry) 14 5×5 roto FAAB RT Sports

Though I didn’t win any of my Main Event leagues, I did end up with a profitable fantasy baseball season for the 11th straight year since I came in third overall in both the NFBC RotoWire Online Championship (2,490 teams) and the NFBC Cutline Championship (over 1500 teams). I’m still chasing an NFBC overall title to this day and doing so is yet again my goal this season.

Player Exposure

Let’s run through my NFBC player exposure one position at a time. The PCT (roster percentage) is based on the 32 leagues I drafted there. Note, only 10 of them (Mains, Auction, OCs, TGFBI) are FAAB leagues.

Catcher

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My three favorite catcher targets at their respective ADPs (Alejandro Kirk, Luis Campusano, Logan O’Hoppe) were the ones I drafted most of. Kirk and Campusano are on the short list of catchers who could be helpful in batting average and this an annual by-design strategy. Kirk felt underpriced most of draft season with an ADP in the 250-270 range, and I feel confident about a bounceback season for him. I would have liked to draft more of O’Hoppe but he is quite popular in most of my drafts, typically getting drafted before his ADP. Iván Herrera is the studly backup who could end up as a top-15 catcher if he was somehow able to earn 400 plate appearances. 

First Base

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This is “getting my guys” at its finest, though I definitely did not snag as many Triston Casas and Alec Bohm shares as I wanted to. FTN VDP Projections has Casas as hitter 55 on a 640 PA with a 5×5 roto stat line of 84-31-93-.271. I could not help myself to Yandy Díaz shares, most notably at pick 172 in my final Main Event. Diaz played most of last season with a groin injury yet still produced third-round fantasy value (15-team leagues) and casually hit .330, leading all AL hitters. I took the plunge on Bryce Harper at a min pick of 1.12 in my live (Vegas) Main Event purposely so that I could pair him with Austin Riley. Harper is my pick to win the National League MVP. Ty France and Ryan Mountcastle were two of my favorite corner infield targets for the second consecutive season.

https://ftnfantasy.com/pricing

Second Base

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My general strategy with middle infielders was to wait on them unless I got the fifth pick (for Mookie Betts) or unless I was able to snag Gleyber Torres along the way (which rarely happened). José Caballero, Jorge Polanco, Brendan Donovan were all heavily underpriced based on my valuations. Caballero has the highest bust potential of this group, but since I was picking him off all draft season between rounds 25-45, he’s deep down my depth chart and I won’t have to force starting him if he loses his job. Caballero is one of the few hitters in baseball with 40-plus-steal potential. Polanco and Donovan really need to stay healthy, and if they do, both should easily outearn their reasonable price tags (245 ADP and 303 ADP respectively) as top third of their lineup hitters with plus contact skills. I’m not particularly fond of Brice Turang the hitter, but he has top-notch speed, and his defense should keep him in the starting lineup. And yes, I still believe Miguel Vargas will help the Dodgers (and my fantasy teams) for a nice stretch, but I cooled off on targeting him after January.

Shortstop

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Plenty of crossover with my second baseman and shortstops position-eligibility-wise. I would have loved to score more Bo Bichette shares as he’s one of the few hitters who can hit over .310 with 200-plus R/RBI. I invested post-350 ADP picks on Tim Anderson before he signed with the Marlins and continued doing so in the 300-350 ADP range once he did. I don’t have particularly high expectations, but I don’t think he’s quite yet dust and will finally be playing with some motivation. Turns out I drafted Anderson on all five of my OC teams. Luis Rengifo’s multi-position flexibility lured me in, but I also do believe he’ll play a key role in this Angels’ offense and could hit 20 homers with 15 stolen bases. Rengifo might earn some playing time atop the lineup against lefty pitchers.

Third Base

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My third basemen are a mixed bag, but I did heavily target Bohm, Jake Burger, Manny Machado and Jeimer Candelario these last couple of months. Ezequiel Duran was always quite affordable and provided valuable positional flexibility for my Draft Champions leagues. I ended up very few shares of Riley (2), Rafael Devers (2), Elly De La Cruz (1) and lucked out with just one Noelvi Marte (suspension) share. That was on a Cutline, and I’ll be dropping him in that first FAAB period in two weeks. It was shocking to see Manny Machado hardly rise in ADP once it was clear that he would be healthy for the start of the season.

Utility

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I never have a problem drafting UT-only players, which is a strategy that has stuck with me for well over a decade as I’ve earned massive profit from the likes of David Ortiz and Nelson Cruz, who were perennially undervalued by the market. Joey Meneses should earn 1B eligibility at some point in the first month or two of the season and is fresh off a year where he nearly drove in 90 runs as the Nationals’ No. 3 hitter. Marcell Ozuna after pick 150 coming off a season in baseball’s best offense where he hit 40 dingers felt like a steal as well.

Shohei Ohtani is listed as a pitcher in the NFBC player shares, but I have five of him. He was my very first Draft Champions pick way back in early December and I also drafted him seventh overall in my first Main Event.

Outfield

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Ah yes, the guy I can’t quit, Mr. Tyler O’Neill. Let his days in Beantown be most fruitful as we pray for a (mostly) full season of health. Jazz Chisholm, as you probably know, was featured in my annual breakout hitters article. My competition in the live Super Auction definitely made me pay a tax for him as I set the high winning bid amount in that format at $29. Hey, get your guys. Speaking of my guys, Seiya Suzuki, Max Kepler, Sal Frelick, Jung Hoo Lee and Riley Greene were heftily underpriced in the market per the VDP model and I made sure to scoop up as many of them as I could. Though most of my Lee shares came in January and February as I kept getting beaten to the punch in my most recent leagues. I believe both him and Frelick could score 80-plus runs with 20-plus SB and an average over .280. The Jarred Kelenic shares are mostly from Gladiators in December and January. Suzuki was my “This Year’s Yelich” runner-up and is the only outfielder I’ve rostered on two of my three Main Events. I have O’Neill on four of five Online Championship teams and have Chisholm, Donovan and Max Kepler on three of five. Don’t ask what got into me with all those Giancarlo Stanton shares. He was dirt cheap and old habits die hard. Juan Soto was my highest-priced hitter ($39) in the live Super Auction. Soto, Jazz and Machado are the core of that team.

Pitcher

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Time will tell how it all shakes out, but I feel very confident in my ability to scout breakout or bounceback starting pitchers. As you can see, that group for me this season includes Hunter Brown, Kutter Crawford, Jordan Hicks, Garrett Crochet, Reynaldo López, Garrett Whitlock and Frankie Montas. I typically make it a point to avoid all Cincinnati Reds pitchers (because of that ballpark) but couldn’t help myself on a post-300 ADP Montas. I believe Hunter Brown will be a borderline top-five pitcher in the American League and that at least one of these relievers-turned-starters (Whitlock, Crochet, Lopez) smash in value this season. My highest confidence level of this trio is in Garrett Whitlock, who I believe follows the Zach Eflin breakout plan. 

My highest rostered closers/relievers were Pete Fairbanks, Mason Miller, Will Smith and José Alvarado – not exactly a trustworthy group. Smith because of the skills decline and the other three due to annual health concerns. Most of my Smith and Fairbanks shares are from DCs as I haven’t drafted many of them in the month of March. Nothing has changed in my stance on Fairbanks, though I do have mostly Evan Phillips and Andrés Muñoz on my highest stakes teams. 

The pitcher I’m most invested in this year is Max Fried. I have him on my Super Auction and two of my Main Events. His health will be paramount to my success. With how the VDP model more heavily weighs ERA and WHIP, Fried has been ranked as a top-five starting pitcher there all preseason. 

To wrap things up, here are all the players I have 25% or greater exposure to on NFBC:

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Here are my highest exposure players from 2023 who panned out:

https://ftnfantasy.com/pricing

‘Fear Of Missing Out’ Players

Let’s first start with the list of my 2023 FOMO players who had great season:

Here is my list of FOMO players – guys I wish I had many shares of (in order of desire):

  • Henry Davis – I was ready to reconfigure parameters of my Yelich article for him (2 shares)
  • Royce Lewis – I have one(!) share in it was in my final draft (Cutline); AL MVP candidate
  • Joe Musgrove – I let a couple bad spring starts scare me away, but I believe (2 shares)
  • Ronald Acuña – Only had two 1.01 picks of my 32 teams; the epitome of FOMO
  • Mitch Garver – One of my favorite catchers yet kept missing him (1 share)
  • Bobby Miller – Three shares, but the FOMO isn’t massive since his price kept soaring 
  • Victor Scott – Just 2 shares but how can you not have FOMO with everyone else?
  • Austin Riley – High price (Round 2) but he might be a top-three fantasy hitter this season (40 HR)
  • Alex Cobb/DL Hall – Two shares each for SPs I like who should outearn their ADPs
  • Kevin Ginkel – A full Paul Sewald fade should have led to many more shares of him
  • Trevor Megill/Jason Foley – Guys I think lead their team in saves; wish I had more than 2 
  • Elly De La Cruz – I couldn’t pay the price (1 share) but my FOMO here is lighter than the rest

I greatly appreciate you all riding along this draft season! We’re going to have a monster season with some big league wins and likely an overall title or two among us. Opening Day is here, so let’s play ball!

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