There have been a plethora of dominant players when it comes to high stakes NFBC leagues and one of them is a man named KC Cha. He has dominated for years and he profited the most money last year when it came to the Draft Champions format. Vlad Sedler actually interviewed KC Cha in an article who at the time before the 2020 season had won 35 NFBC league titles, in short, he is a fantastic and dominant player.
The reason I am bringing up KC Cha is because of the way he prepares for drafts. KC Cha uses an interesting method, he doesn’t create his own projections he instead evaluates a thousand players and then eliminates 80 percent of the pool. 80 percent. This means by the end of it all KC Cha is left with 200 players on his draft board.
Personally, I love this method because unless you are very good with numbers, know how to use regression, and your name is Phill Dussault creating your own projections is a difficult task. There are proven projections out there and I’d rather evaluate players based on those as well as my own research. I adopted the KC Cha method last season and while I started off with the “easier” competitions in NFBC I cashed out in three out of my five leagues.
This brings us to the point of this article. I have started my draft process and have been eliminating players off of my draft board and figured I would write about some of those players and my reasons why. So if you care about what I think, here they are!
Even before his injury, I was likely out on Lance McCullers as I assume his inflation would have been way too high for me. People love Lance McCullers and I get it, I really do. He has a beautiful curveball and is somewhat a polarizing player who was finally able to put it together for an entire season.
He has a huge flaw in his repertoire in his sinker, sure it gets a solid amount of groundballs but it is often left over the middle of the plate and results in a lot of hard contact. I don’t think it has enough movement to really improve and his inability to hit the edges with it just makes it a very suspect type of pitch.
With that said I also don’t believe in his increased strikeout rate. He has a low SwStr% as well as an extremely low O-Swing% meaning he isn’t creating a lot of swinging strikes as well as not a lot of chases outside of the zone. Now last season he did have a lot of called strikes but based on his heat maps I just can’t see it sticking since he misses middle middle with his sinker, slider, and curveball.
Essentially I see a decrease in strikeout rate, an increase in ERA (check his 4.02 SIERA), and an erratic pitcher that we have seen year in and year out. Now tack on how he experienced forearm tightness in the playoffs which adds to his extremely long resume of past injuries and I am officially out.
This one might be shocking and I will totally be fine with being wrong here but one player who will not be on my board is J.T. Realmuto. Please don’t yell at me! Just hear me out! The love for Realmuto comes from his playing time as well as the ability to steal bases. I totally get that but let me explain.
Let’s look at his rankings in terms of catchers.
Realmuto is currently going at pick 56 in draft champions leagues, going ahead of players like Austin Riley, Byron Buxton, Nick Castellanos, and others. Now the argument here is the advantage you get from Realmuto versus other catchers which makes drafting him such a big advantage. My argument here is how much of an advantage are you really getting? Let’s compare Realmuto against a catcher who is going at pick 119 in Willson Contreras.
There isn’t a big difference here in my opinion. Sure Realmuto hits more line drives creating a better average but Contreras can easily hit for more power. Contreras also has a higher EV/FBLD than Realmuto. I also think the new DH will help Contreras match Realmuto’s plate appearances and he could easily rack up the counting stats either matching or coming very close to Realmuto has done in the past. I think of it in this way, why not grab someone like Austin Riley who will compensate for the lower average with Contreras, and grab him as your catcher 60 picks later? This way you now have a top-end third baseman which is a very shallow position in this year’s player pool.
Could I be wrong here? Sure. But the way I see it is Realmuto doesn’t have as big of an advantage over other catchers as we might think and I would much rather grab Contreras or even Grandal later so I can add someone else around the 56 pick range.
Max Muncy had a great rebound season in 2021 hitting 36 home runs with a 140 wRC+ and .895 OPS. Unfortunately, Muncy suffered a torn UCL in his elbow in October in addition to dislocating it. The latest news on Muncy is that he is not recovering as quickly as he would like. We will certainly know more closer to the season but if his elbow continues to nag him or doesn’t heal fully I can’t imagine Muncy having his usual power. A power that you are drafting him for.
This one pains me and is even hard for me to type out. My infatuation for this man has no bounds but unfortunately, I cannot draft Pablo Lopez this season. His skill-set is fantastic and has everything I love in a pitcher with a high ground ball rate as well as a high strikeout rate. His changeup is one of the best in the league and is such a joy to watch. But we have a problem and that problem is his shoulder.
Let’s look at his injuries since 2018:
2018: Right shoulder strain.
2019: Right shoulder strain.
2021: Strained right rotator cuff
Uh this is not a good trend or one you want to see. Year in and year out he has continued to have shoulder issues and is a big reason why he has only pitched at most 111.1 innings in a major league season. Projections have him sitting at 166 innings pitched and I think that’s way too high as I can see 150 at most. You can certainly build around him since he has such a great skill-set and will easily give you a sub-four ERA but with his current ADP of 108, I’d prefer a safer option for innings like Tyler Mahle.
Clayton Kershaw meets my no draft rule about PRP injections. PRP injections are never a good thing and are essentially a way to get around Tommy John surgery. It’s very rare that it works, one of the few pitchers who had success with it in the past is Masahiro Tanaka. Besides him though I have never seen good results just take a look at Dinelson Lamet. Last season fantasy players were still drafting him after his PRP injection and it just never panned out. Stay away from these pitchers, sure it can work out but I’d much rather take my chances elsewhere.
I have seen a lot of love for Tarik Skubal within the fantasy community, but I for one will not be drafting him. This is more so because of his ADP and I don’t think he will ever dip to where I am comfortable taking him.
Tarik Skubal improved as the season went on he ditched his split-finger for his changeup and slider which resulted in a much better performance from him. He went from having a 6.14 ERA in April to a 3.33 ERA in May and a 3.14 ERA in June. He faltered in July to only rebound in August and then eventually was brought down to shortened outings to protect his arm.
His four-seam is the reason why I am scared. It never improved throughout the season making me believe it won’t improve next season either. It’s his most thrown pitch and yet he can’t locate it at all. Last season hitters had a 166 wRC+, .310 ISO, .403 wOBA, and a -13.2 pVAL against it. In essence, he doesn’t utilize it properly and hitters can easily read the pitch. This is really really bad.
There is upside here with the impressive breaking balls he has but unless he lowers that four-seam fastball usage it’s hard for me to buy-in. I’d much rather the pitchers around him like Marcus Stroman, Jose Urquidy, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.