Initial 2021 fantasy baseball rankings are up on the website for your viewing, critiquing, and sharing pleasure. Jump right to the rankings, or read on for an explanation of my methodology.
ADP Over Projections
I took a different approach to produce rankings this year. In the past, an initial set of rankings came from player projections run through dollar value calculators in Draft Buddy or Last Player Picked. Then, from spring training to Opening Day, make adjustments for changes in playing time expectations or risk-reward valuations.
This year, the initial rankings are based on Average Draft Position (ADP). Yep, straight ADP – where players are drafted on average. The ADP is from drafts taken place since early this year in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. NFBC hosts the sharpest fantasy baseball players so their ADP is the best available. Note most NFBC leagues are 15-team, 5X5 roto, and start-two catchers (if you are wondering why so many catchers are in the overall rankings).
Tiers I added manually to break up the position rankings for players drafted close together. Tiers help identify drop-offs at each position and guide draft decisions. Similarly ranked players in shallow tiers get a higher draft priority than players in deeper tiers.
Layer in Dollar Values
Still holding our available projections and dollar valuation models in high regard, I crunched those numbers and display them alongside the rankings. This creates some inconsistencies, because the projections may like a player more or less than his ADP.
For example, the first base rankings show Jose Abreu at $22, $1 more than DJ LeMahieu, even though LeMahieu is on average drafted a round earlier. There are examples of this all over the cheatsheets, and some are significant.
Realizing this, I found I like it. Now I can scan the rankings and see what players have the biggest discrepancy between their dollar value and draft cost. This could be an excellent way to identify overvalued and undervalued players.
Are You A Value Or Analytical Drafter?
I consider myself a value drafter. A value drafter is someone who has a good feel for how the draft is going or should proceed. They build their team trying to get the best deals possible. Traits include patiently waiting for value players to present themselves instead of reaching to make sure to acquire a particular player. The ability to adjust on the fly is important.
The opposite type of drafter is more analytical in nature. These drafters have rankings highlighting select players they are confident will outperform the consensus opinion on those players. Their plan is to draft those players, make the rest of the draft room go, “huh?”, and reap the benefits of being right.
I have a lot of respect for analytical drafters because many of them are very sharp. They cut through the Groupthink of fantasy analysis. That doesn’t necessarily make them the best drafters, however. Even if I think Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. is primed for an MVP season (I don’t, just an example), that does not mean I should pony up a second-round pick for him.
A little above his ADP is fine, but way above his ADP when it is unnecessary is an overpay and puts a lot more pressure on the analysis to be right. A value drafter has to fight the opposite problem sometimes, waiting too long to pull the trigger.
This is one of the many aspects that makes participating in fantasy baseball drafts a ton of fun – the decision making challenge.
An advantage of setting up my rankings this way is with respect to updates. Whether ADP or projections, I can push the new data on to my existing rankings and note the changes in player value.
The 2021 fantasy baseball rankings are already not perfectly aligned with ADP. That is because the ADP changed from the initial rankings. That’s good. It provides an ongoing opportunity to identify over and undervalued players leading up to each of my fantasy baseball drafts.
My first big draft is The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, better known as TGFBI, scheduled for March 1st. It will be a tall task to finish as well as I did last year at 30th overall. This year there are 29, 15-team leagues, or 435 competitors.
I certainly could use some practice before then. So who is up for a draft?