Evaluating Pitching For 2020

The strategeries for drafting in a normal MLB season may not apply in 2020.  My fear is pitching is going to be even more challenging to predict with a condensed schedule.  This is going to be a sprint, not a marathon.  I am anticipating quicker hooks for pitchers with the expanded rosters and condensed schedules.  The new 3-batter rule for pitchers along with possibility of a Universal DH will also impact pitching usage in 2020.   Wins may be more difficult to come by for back end starting pitchers than ever before.  Playing winning matchups with back-end starting pitchers is often a key to fantasy baseball success.  

That task became much more difficult late last season as some back-end starters were getting pulled after 4 innings.  Why wouldn’t managers apply their September managing style to the shortened 2020 season?  A 4-inning start from a back-end pitcher is virtually useless. The problem is the strikeouts often aren’t there and the metrics aren’t clean.  With less potential starters to choose from I will have to find my production elsewhere.     

My plan to combat this problem for 2020 is two-fold. First, I plan on ignoring everything I usually do in terms of service time manipulation and limiting pitch counts.  This season is going to be short so I anticipate teams sending out their best guys no matter what.  I would rather draft a young pitching prospect late and gamble on his role over drafting a back-end starter.  If the prospect doesn’t make it, I can cut bait for the next best thing.  Take Dustin May of the Dodgers, the Phillies Spencer Howard, Forrest Whitley of the Astros, or the Blue Jays Nate Pearson.  These are pitchers that in a normal season may have had their workload kept down and the service time manipulated.  The Dodgers, Phillies, and Astros are each in win-now mode. All 3 hurlers could both provide valuable innings as starters or multiple inning relievers for their respective clubs.  Pearson on pure talent alone is the best pitcher on the Blue Jays major league roster.  I would think Pearson would benefit more from pitching in the MLB over a minor league academy.  Conversely there are some huge names in MacKenzie Gore, Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal and Sixto Sanchez that I don’t see starting the season in the Majors.  Not enough innings in higher level minor league ball.  Why ruin their confidence in a going nowhere campaign.   

Step 2 later in drafts, I will fill out the last few spots of my pitching roster with SP/RP pitchers or high strikeout relievers that go multiple innings.  The K’s and metrics should be better and supersede the potential of getting a Win.  These pitcher’s will help in 3 categories instead of just chasing one.  I have to balance reaching innings limits and moves limits so I won’t be able to use all swing pitchers.  Pitchers I plan to target as part of this plan are Drew Pomeranz of the Padres.  His 15.4 SO/9 was something to behold in 25 appearances with the Brewers last season.  His 17 starts with Giants gives SP/RP eligibility.  As a 7th or 8th inning guy in San Diego sign me up.  Brewers hurler Freddy Peralta had a 12.6 SO/9 as a reliever and often worked multiple innings picking up 5 of his 7 wins as a reliever.  My guess is manager Craig Counsell uses Peralta as a swingman again.   

Another young Brewers pitcher I have a hunch on is Corbin Burnes.  32 appearances last season with an 8.82 ERA for this RP eligible pitcher.  However, Burnes 12.9 SO/9 may make him a worthy late round gamble.  Remember in 2018, Burnes won 7 games in 30 relief appearances.  A.J. Puk is only RP eligible, but had a 10.3 SO/9 in 11 appearances as a reliever last season.  His status as a starter or reliever is yet to be determined.  In a relief role, Puk may be able to go multiple innings.  The Astros Josh James is listed as an RP at the moment, but he was competing for a role in the rotation before the shutdown.  James had 14.7 SO/9 as a reliever last season.  What would provide more value for the club using James once maybe twice a week or using him 3 times a week in high leverage short roles?                  

Just for 2020, I plan to target high strikeout low metric swingmen or prospects more so than ever before. Pitching is often a crapshoot. When you think you’ve got the answers, the managers change the questions.    

Winston Rehabs Career In The Bayou

Jameis Winston has a career 19,737 yards and has already surpassed the career totals of “The Mad Bomber “Daryle Lamonica (19,154), “The Ruston Rifle” Bert Jones (18,190), and “The Punky QB” Jim McMahon (18,148).  Numbers don’t mean as much as the eras of football have changed significantly.  Winston’s 5,109 yards in 2019 are the 8th highest single-season total in NFL history. His 33 TD and 30 INT was a roller coaster ride for the Buccaneers.  Winston set an NFL record with 7 interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in 2019.  If memory serves me correctly 2 of Winston’s first 3 passes vs. the Texans interceptions with the first one being returned to the house.  I received multiple texts from upset friends that I recommended to play Winston.  The 84.3 Passer rating made Winston the 27th rated passer.  Bruce Arians is a solid offensive coach that couldn’t reign in Winston.  Teams passed on Winston in favor of other free agents and or draft choices.  Reportedly Winston had more lucrative offers on the table, but took the 1-year cheap deal with the Saints.

The Quarterback carousel is full of lost causes that turned it around with a change of scenery.

There’s a myriad of reasons why QB’s find success elsewhere, development as a player, better coaching, better scheme, better surrounding players and so on and so forth.  Here’s a few Quarterbacks that went from Heroes to Zeroes and back to Heroes.      

Before the draft in 2019, Ryan Tannehill was traded with a 6th rd pick in 2019  from the Dolphins to the Titans for a 4th 2020 and 7th 2019.  The Dolphins had decided to move on from their former first round pick and hit the reset button.  Tannehill far outperformed expectations, led the Titans to the AFC Championship Game, and won the Comeback Player of the Year award in the process.  Jim Plunkett flamed out in New England and San Francisco before winning a pair of Super Bowls with the Raiders.  Randall Cunningham sat out a year before returning to the Vikings and leading the team to an NFC Championship Game appearance.  Steve Young was discarded for Vinny Testaverde in Tampa Bay.  Young was traded away for a 2nd and a 4th in 1987 to the 49ers.  The rest is history in a Hall Of Fame career.  Testaverde flamed out in Tampa as well and went on to have a lengthy NFL career that included 2 Pro Bowl appearances.                   

After 5 seasons in the league, the book is out on Winston.  Bad decision making far outweighs the rocket arm.  The Saints are a great landing spot for the 26-year-old Winston to rehab his career.  The Saints have played Winston twice a year for 5 years. Their coaching staff knows his strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies.  Working with Sean Payton, Joe Lombardi, and Drew Brees in theory should assist in Winston cleaning up some of the bad decision making in his game.  Winston has the opportunity to put together good tape in the preseason and get considered for another job.  Winston also has the opportunity to force his way into the Saints Post-Brees plans.

Closer Strategery

Closers are the position where I’m often looking to draft as late/cheap as possible. Every fantasy owner manages their team differently. I am of the belief of why spend an early draft choice or high dollar auction money on the most volatile position in all of baseball. Closers often lose their jobs to a string of sub-par performances. One club’s disposed closer is another club’s reclamation project.  Starting Pitchers who no longer have the repertoire to go through a lineup multiple times are sometimes put in the bullpen.    

6 pitchers came out of nowhere in 2019 to be among the league leaders in Saves.  In preparing drafts no of these pitchers were on my radar. Entering 2019, Liam Hendricks had 1 Save in 8 major league seasons with 4 clubs.  Hendricks at age 30 appeared in a career-high 75 games. Along with 8 Holds, Hendricks took over for an injured Blake Treinen and finished with 25 Saves.  Hendricks is now the undisputed closer in Oakland. As quickly as Hendricks found it, Treinen lost it.   

Treinen’s roller coaster ride the last few seasons can show how quickly relievers get turned over.  2014-2016 Treinen pitches in lower leverage roles for the Nationals. Treinen wins the closers job in 2017 in Washington and is ineffective.  He’s moved to the Oakland A’s in July and ends up with 13 Saves in Oakland. Goes on to Save 38 games in 2018 in an All-Star Campaign. 2019, Treinen has 16 Saves then promptly loses his job due to injury and ineffectiveness. The 2020 offseason is granted free agency and signs with the Dodgers.

Taylor Rogers in his 4th season with the Twins figured it out in 2019.  30 Saves, 10 Holds, 11.7 SO/9, and 1.000 WHIP. Because the Twins do so much mixing and matching in their bullpen it took a while to lock into Rogers as the closer.  Sometimes clubs are reluctant to put a lefty in the closer’s role.      

In 4 seasons, Hansel Robles worked in lower leverage situations in the Mets bullpen before getting released mid-season in 2018.  Robles pitched much better in LA in 11 appearances. Entering the 2019 campaign, Cody Allen’s $8.5 million dollar contract put him in the closer’s role for the Angels.  After 4 Saves, the wheels came off for Allen and he was never able to regain the closer’s job back. Allen appeared in 25 games and was released in June. Robles finished with 23 Saves for the Halos.    

Ian Kennedy signed with the Royals in 2016 to help stabilize the starting rotation to the tune of 5-years and $70 million dollars.  Kennedy was decent his first season in KC 11-11 3.68 ERA. The next 2 seasons saw Kennedy go 5-13, 5.38 ERA and 3-9, 4.66 ERA. For 2019, it was determined Kennedy would work out of the bullpen going forward.  Kennedy was in a camp battle with Wily Peralta for the closer’s job. Kennedy took over early in the season and saved 30 games. He also posed a career-high 10.4 SO/9. 2020 is the final year of the contract and he may actually have trade value now.  

Emilio Pagan is on his 4th team in 4 seasons.  He ended up with 8 holds and saving 20 games as Jose Alvardado and Diego Castillo both got injured and imploded.  In 3 major league seasons Pagan owns a 0.982 and a 10.6 SO/9. Gopher balls are a problem for Pagan as he’s allowed 7, 13, and 12 in respective years.  Now with the Padres, Pagan is projected to set up Kirby Yates. In terms of contract status, Yates is in a walk year and Pagan won’t be a free agent until the 2024 campaign.  Maybe Pagan will be in line for Saves again if the Padres fall out of contention.       

Carlos Martinez has been an enigma during his time in St. Louis.  Entering his age 27 season, Martinez was projected to remain a mainstay in the Cardinals rotation.  Unfortunately, a shoulder injury threw off the start of his season. Arriving in the middle of May, Martinez was brought back in the bullpen.  Jordan Hicks saved 14 games until being shut down for the campaign with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Martinez ended up eventually taking over as closer and saved 24 games.  The 9.9 SO/9 and 1.179 WHIP ended up being career bests for Martinez.  

Entering fantasy drafts in 2019, Liam Hendricks, Taylor Rogers, Hansel Robles, Ian Kennedy, Emilio Pagan, and Carlos Martinez were not on my radar.  However they were each on one or more of my fantasy rosters in 2019. There’s no guarantee last seasons’ success will carry over to 2020. Closer is one of the most volatile positions in all of baseball and owners need to be prepared to pursue the next best thing.

Below are the Saves leaders for the last 3 seasons.  There’s some stable names on this list and more than a few one-hit wonders.     

2019

Kirby Yates SD 41

Roberto Osuna HOU 38

Aroldis Chapman NYY 37

Josh Hader MIL 37

Brad Hand CLE 34

Raisel Iglesias CIN 34

Will Smith SF 34

Kenley Jansen LAD 33

Alex Colome CWS 30

Ian Kennedy KC 30

Taylor Rogers MIN 30

Sean Doolittle WSH 29

Hector Neris PHI 28

Felipe Vazquez PIT 28

Edwin Diaz NYM 26

Liam Hendricks OAK 25

Carlos Martinez STL 24

Ken Giles TOR 23

Shane Greene ATL 23

Hansel Robles LAA 23

Emilio Pagan TB 20

Sergio Romo MIN 20

2018 

Edwin Diaz SEA 57

Wade Davis COL 43

Craig Kimbrel BOS 42

Kenley Jansen LAD 38

Blake Treinen OAK 38

Felipe Vasquez PIT 37

Brad Boxberger ARI 32

Aroldis Chapman NYY 32

Shane Greene DET 32

Brad Hand CLE 32

Raisel Iglesias CIN 30

Bud Norris STL 28

Cody Allen CLE 27

Ken Giles TOR 26

Sean Doolittle WSH 25

Fernando Rodney OAK 25

Sergio Romo TB 25

Keone Kela PIT 24

Brandon Morrow CHC 22

Robert Osuna HOU 21

2017                                                       

Alex Colome TB 47

Greg Holland COL 41

Kenley Jansen LAD 41

Corey Knebel MIL 39

Robert Osuna TOR 39

Fernando Rodney ARI 39

Craig Kimbrel BOS 35

Edwin Diaz SEA 34

Ken Giles HOU 34

Wade Davis CHC 32

Cody Allen CLE 30

Brandon Kintzler WSH 29

Raisel Iglesias CIN 28

AJ Ramos MIA 27

Kelvin Herrera KC 26

Hector Neris PHI 26

Sean Doolittle WSH 24

Aroldis Chapman NYY 22

Jim Johnson ATL 22

Brandon Maurer KC 22

Brad Hand SD 21

Felipe Vasquez 21

Seung Hwan Oh 20

10-Team Auction Dynasty Draft

This is a 10-team weekly locking roster with a lineup breakdown of positions including corner infielder, middle infielder, and utility.  The pitching lineup breaks down to 3 starting pitchers, 2 relief pitchers, and 3 pitchers. In this total point’s league, scoring for hitters is slanted more for Home Runs and RBI. While Strikeouts, Wins, Saves, and Holds are the major scoring categories for pitchers.  This is an auction draft and the first 9 players are this year’s keepers with costs going up $5 each year. 

This team has won the championship in consecutive seasons. Being able to have Pete Alonso, Gleyber Torres, Cody Bellinger, Nick Castellanos, and Luis Robert as building blocks is huge. I drafted Torres in another league for $26 dollars. Bellinger is well worth the $26. Alonso and Castellanos at $6 is a maximum return on cost.  Robert is a $6 gamble I’m taking.  

This is the most money I believe I’ve ever spent on keeping pitchers.  Walker Buehler, Blake Snell, Jose Berrios, and Liam Hendricks also give me a good base.  Buehler is a Cy Young candidate. Snell is coming off injury and won the Cy Young. Berrios is incrementally taking steps forward each season. I want to own him when the full breakout takes place.  Banking on this being the year. Hendricks would have gone for double his cost if among the player pool. As much as I despise spending money on pitching, these pitchers justify their costs. 

Walker Buehler LAD, SP$11

Nicholas Castellanos Cin, RF$6

Blake Snell TB, SP$11

Cody Bellinger LAD, RF$26

Pete Alonso NYM, 1B$6

Jose Berrios Min, SP$11

Liam Hendriks Oak, RP$6

Gleyber Torres NYY, SS$11

Luis Robert CHW, CF$6

Kris Bryant ChC, 3B$20

Alex Bregman Hou, 3B$34

Manny Machado SD, 3B$20

Paul Goldschmidt StL, 1B$19

Adalberto Mondesi KC, SS$10

Frankie Montas Oak, SP$5

Taylor Rogers Min, RP$7

Ken Giles Tor, RP$6

Franmil Reyes Cle, RF$6

Sean Murphy Oak, C$1

Craig Kimbrel ChC, RP$4

Francisco Mejia SD, C$1

Mike Foltynewicz Atl, SP$6

Michael Kopech CHW, SP$3

Mitch Keller Pit, SP$1

Jo Adell LAA, CF$1

Kevin Newman Pit, SS$2

Moving to some of the players I drafted, the resumes for the top hitters in the lineup speak for themselves.  I’m going to focus more on the multiple position eligibility assembled among my core players. Kris Bryant can play 3 positions in this lineup configuration.  Alex Bregman and Manny Machado can play 4 positions. Gleyber Torres can play 3 positions. Cody Bellinger fills out 3 spots in my lineup. Kevin Newman helps out in 3 positions.      

Bidding up other owners cost me twice in this draft.  I wanted to mess with one owner in bidding up Paul Goldschmidt.  I was willing if he dropped Goldy on me at that price. Matt Olsen was the player I was going to target at 1B.  Olsen ended up going for $15 dollars. That $4 more dollars on Goldschmidt could have gone into another good player. That’s a risk I felt was worth taking.  Adalberto Mondesi was me bidding up an autobidder and trying to spend her money. My intention wasn’t to draft Mondesi, however I’m ok with the result. Bidding up other owners is part of the play in an auction draft.  I tend to not bid up players I wouldn’t want just in case they get dropped on me.  

Franmil Reyes and Frankie Montas were my 2 middle-late must haves in this draft.  My Tammy Wynette came out for those 2. Reyes with full-time at-bats is a cheaper version of Nelson Cruz in my opinion.  Montas went for $11 in my previous draft. Playing in multiple leagues I tend to draft some of the same players. Mike Foltynewicz and Mitch Keller were keepers from my other draft.  Foltynewicz burned fantasy owners with 3 months ERA’s over 6.00. His August ERA in 5 starts was 3.90 and in 5 September/October starts the ERA was a sparkling 1.50. The blowout in Game 5 vs. the Cardinals doesn’t carry much weight for me as a fantasy owner.  Foltynewicz pitched hurt early last season and was sent to the minors. Physical health and something clicked in the minors as he came back up to pitch like an ace the final 2 months of the season. 3 other owners play in both leagues and knew of my thoughts on Foltynewicz so I had to spend more on this go-round.  Keller’s xFIP made me a believer. HIs ERA was 7.13 last season but the xFIP came in at 3.47. With a new coaching staff and new approach to pitch sequencing, it’s possible Keller takes a step forward. I view him as a building block for next season.   

My relief pitching left something  to be desired in the first draft, so I spent a bit more this time around.  Taylor Rogers, Ken Giles, and Liam Hendricks give me safe options while Craig Kimbrel is a wild card. Giles is in a walk year and possibly could be moved at the deadline. I’d rather wait and see for that to happen, than miss out on production in the meantime.  Kimbrel’s 13.0 SO/9 was my reasoning for the selection.  

The catching position is where I had to go cheap with more money spent on pitching than usual.  Sean Murphy and Francisco Mejia give me 2 young options with solid minor league track records. Whether they can put it together in the show is another story.  

Michael Kopech and Jo Adell are my cornerstone guys for next season.  I anticipate both making major splashes at some point in the 2020 campaign.  The plan is for them to stay on my roster all season regardless of what league they are at the moment. 

Overall I’m happy with the power and multiple position eligibility assembled in my hitters. Pitching wise these players fit my M.O. has younger arms with high SO/9.  My team is built to defend the crown and has some blue chip talent to build around for next season. The window on this group is closing in 2020 as some of the keeper costs will be too rich for my blood.            

12-team Auction Dynasty League Draft

This is a 12-team weekly locking roster with a lineup breakdown of positions including corner infielder, middle infielder, and utility.  The pitching lineup breaks down to 3 starting pitchers, 2 relief pitchers, and 3 pitchers. In this total point’s league, scoring for hitters is slanted more for Home Runs and RBI. While Strikeouts, Wins, Saves, and Holds are the major scoring categories for pitchers.  This is an auction draft and the first 5 players are keepers. I was thrilled to keep Luis Robert, Catcher Will Smith, Liam Hendricks, Mike Foltynewicz, and Mitch Keller. Robert is a no-brainer with service time bought out. Smith’s fall off scares me, but was cheap at a thin position.  Hendricks is in a good situation to pick up where he left off last season. I like to go cheap on closers so Hendricks fits the bill. More on Foltynewicz and Keller later in the post. I was able to stay cheap for my keepers this season. Keepers can stay for an additional 2 years and go up 1.5 times in cost each season.   

Will Smith LAD, C$2

Mitch Keller Pit, SP$2

Liam Hendriks Oak, RP$2

Mike Foltynewicz Atl, SP$3

Luis Robert CHW, CF$2

Mookie Betts LAD, RF$33

Jose Ramirez Cle, 3B$24

Trevor Story Col, SS$25

Gleyber Torres NYY, SS$26

Jose Altuve Hou, 2B$19

Brian Anderson Mia, 3B$4

Eddie Rosario Min, LF$10

Eric Hosmer SD, 1B$3

Craig Kimbrel ChC, RP$7

Kyle Hendricks ChC, SP$7

Zac Gallen Ari, SP$6

Nick Senzel Cin, CF$2

Matthew Boyd Det, SP$13

Caleb Smith Mia, SP$1

Michael Chavis Bos, 1B$1

Dustin May LAD, RP$1

Ryan Mountcastle Bal, 1B$1

Shaun Anderson SF, SP$1

Danny Jansen Tor, C$1

Hunter Harvey Bal, RP$1

Austin Hays Bal, RF$1

Nate Pearson Tor, SP$1

Nico Hoerner ChC, SS$1

My assessment of the draft is I have a lot of power up in the middle in nontypical power positions.  Gleyber Torres, Trevor Story, and Jose Altuve all should be among the elite at their positions. Jose Ramirez is a bet on a bounceback.  Mookie Betts is a safe franchise cornerstone and Eddie Rosario is a solid source of power that is not yet a brand name. Rosario has 24 or more Ding Dongs in 3 consecutive seasons and drove in 109 last season.    

1B is the one area the roster is lacking star power.  Eric Hosmer for $3 I believe is a good value. Hosmer, despite a .310 OBP, drove in 99 runs.  I don’t believe Hosmer is in a full decline at age 30. Michael Chavis can provide power at 1B/2B.  The player’s that Chavis would have to beat out for playing time don’t scare me.  

Nick Senzel has struggled with injuries throughout his young career.  Offseason acquisitions may take away from Senzel having an everyday spot in the lineup.  I can see Senzel playing in a super-utility role and forcing his way into the lineup. Brian Anderson has multiple position eligibility and has over 1,133 career major league at-bats.  If Anderson is going to take a step forward this is the year to do so. I was willing to gamble $4 that he does so. Austin Hays is a former 3rd rd pick that may see a lot of playing time on a bad team.  Anderson and Hays fit into one of strategies of targeting young players on bad teams in the later rounds of drafts.

Pitching is often the area in which I will spend the least amount of money.  Starting pitching will open up the purse strings more so than Closers. Relief pitching is way too volatile to invest large sums of money into.  Last season Liam Hendricks came out of nowhere for 25 Saves and took away the job from Blake Treinen. 2018 saw Treinen Save 38 games and receive CY Young votes. Playing the Saves game on waivers provided plenty of opportunities. Ian Kennedy with 30 Saves, Taylor Rogers 30, Carlos Martinez 24, Hansel Robles 23, Emilio Pagan 20.  Saves are often available on waivers if you pay attention. None of those pitchers were on my radar at the draft in terms of Saves. I invested cheap in Saves on this team and will play the waivers game again.       

Kyle Hendricks is a homer pick as one of my favorite players in all of baseball.  He doesn’t provide the strikeout rate of the elite, but The Professor gives the lineup solid metrics.  With an improved bullpen Hendricks may be in line for a few more Wins.      

I take the Hugh Hefner approach to pitching, I’m always looking for newer-younger models.  Zac Gallen has the looks of an ace and goes for a fraction of the cost. I traded Gallen away at the deadline last season as part of trade to acquire Mookie Betts. The owner kept 2 of the 3 players I sent along in the deal (Yordan Alvarez and Austin Meadows) and put Gallen back into the pool.  The 10.8 SO/9 is worth the early investment.       

Advanced statistics such as xFIP and SIERA help me to find pitchers that could provide more value than acquisition cost in drafts.  Boyd for $13 dollars would give you the impression I need my head examined. At that stage of the draft pitchers came at a premium and draft costs went up in the process.  His ERA was 4.56 and he gave up a league worst 39 Gopher Balls. The xFIP was 3.88 SIERA 3.61. Boyd had 238 strikeouts to go with a 9-12 record for a bad Tigers team. My belief is that Boyd has dealt with some bad luck the last 2 seasons.  A market correction could mean Boyd outproduces his draft cost. Keller is a perfect example as his ERA was 7.13 last season but his xFIP came in a 3.47. With a new coaching staff and new approach to pitch sequencing, it’s possible Keller takes a step forward.   Zac Gallen is a player I’ve followed for a few years. I traded Gallen away at the deadline last season to acquire Mookie Betts. The owner kept 2 of the 3 players I sent along in the deal (Yordan Alvarez and Austin Meadows) and put Gallen back into the pool. The 4.15 xFIP and SIERA of 4.24 on Gallen don’t paint as rosy of a picture as the 2.89 ERA.  Numbers are part of my decision making process, but some of the picks are based on a gut feeling. My hunch is Gallen takes a step forward in 2020.        

Looking into each pitchers season in splits also helps to find hidden value.  Foltynewicz burned fantasy owners with 3 months ERA’s over 6.00. His August ERA in 5 starts was 3.90 and in 5 September/October starts the ERA was a sparkling 1.50.  The blowout in Game 5 vs. the Cardinals doesn’t carry much weight for me as a fantasy owner. Foltynewicz pitched hurt early last season and was sent to the minors. Physical health and something clicked in the minors as he came back up to pitch like an ace the final 2 months of the season.  $3 is a steal for Foltynewicz in my opinion.  

Besides xFIP and SIERA, I also pay close attention to SO/9 in looking for upside.  

The biggest head scratcher in this draft would probably be Craig Kimbrel, the first pitcher I selected.  2019 was a noted dumpster fire for Kimbrel. 6.93 ERA, 0-4 record, 13 Saves in 23 appearances. The xFIP4.75 and SIERA 3.91 calm the dumpster fire a bit as does the 13.0 SO/9.  His command started to show signs of leaving in Boston in 2018. That was part of the reason he was unsigned for so long. The 13.0 SP/9 makes Kimbrel a gamble I’m willing to take.  My gut feeling is Kimbrel can replicate the numbers with the Red Sox and with Liam Hendricks coming so cheap I could gamble on Kimbrel a bit more. Scared money doesn’t make money.         

Caleb Smith’s xFIP and SIERA paint an uninspiring picture, however his 9.0 SO/9 is worth a $1.  Smith pitches in a still spacious ball park and is a trade candidate.  

The end of my draft was upside lottery tickets. Ryan Mountcastle is a dynasty stash/trade chip due to his power and multiple position eligibility.  Dustin May and Nate Pearson could possibly avoid shutdowns due to the shorter season. Both can be cheap keepers for 2021 and 2022. Hunter Harvey is my speculative choice to Save games for the Orioles this season.  Not sure how Mychal Givens can possibly be put in the role again.   

Shaun Anderson was sent to Triple A after the draft.  I view him as a wait and see stash.    

Danny Jansen’s career .367 minor league OBP was worth a flier.  I wanted an insurance policy if Will Smith busts. Nico Hoerner did alright in limited action for the Cubs last season.  With the logjam the Cubs have in the infield it wouldn’t surprise me if Hoerner didn’t break camp. He’s a dynasty stash to me that could be up later in the year after more seasoning.          

Overall I really like a majority of this team. If I had to do the draft over again I would have spent more money on starting pitching earlier so my hand wasn’t forced to overspend on Matt Boyd.  The Craig Kimbrel cost could be another one I would like a do over. I will definitely have to play the waiver game for Saves again this season.     

Fantasy Football Busts Of 2019

Fantasy Football is a fluid as year to year things change.  The players on this list were breakouts once and can be bouncebacks in 2020.  Unfortunately these players did not perform to their draft costs. A myriad of reasons for the down seasons can vary from injuries to inadequate coaching.  Coaches not being truthful about injury reports was another to take note. The 2019 season provided many interesting statistics however one in particular stands out.  Before the season If you told me Lamar Jackson would rush for more yards than Todd Gurley and David Johnson combined I would have taken that bet. (1207-1202)

Browns QB Baker Mayfield

Unfortunately the step forward from year 1 to year 2 was a step backward.  Passer rating dropped from 93.7 to 78.8 interceptions went up from 14 to 21.  TD dropped from 27 to 22. The surrounding talent at the skill positions improved with the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr.  Unfortunately incompetent coaching on the offensive side of the ball spearheaded by Freddie Kitchens and Todd Monken played a contributing factor in Baker’s demise.  He also played a part in being careless with the ball. I am willing to spend a late round pick as a QB2 on Baker in 2020. 

Rams QB Jared Goff

Pass attempts went up by 65 from 2018 to 2019.  Sadly yards were down by 50 to 4,638 and TD’s dropped from 32 to 22.  Sean McVay was unable to get his offense on track all season. Goff got exposed as play action was non-existent and the defense got the doors blow off a few times this year.  Goff maybe learns from the struggles of 2019 and improves in 2020. I spent a middle round pick on Goff this year as my QB2. I may consider doing the same again as I don’t believe McVay’s offense stinks again in 2020.  I guess even “Super Geniuses” have down years.     

Bears QB Mitch Trubisky

Much of the hope built in 2018 was wiped away in 2019. “What The F^%$ Was That” is the best way I describe Trubisky’s play and Matt Nagy’s play-calling in 2019.  Trubisky’s accuracy and decision making got exposed in year 2 of Nagy’s offense. Trubisky did play hurt with left shoulder and hip injuries limiting his ability to make plays with his feet.  Nagy didn’t do Trubisky any favors with his play-calling either. Completion percentage dropped from 66.6 to 63.2 and TD’s down from 24 to 17. 2020 is a pivotal year in Trubisky’s career as he’s playing to get the 5th year option picked up.  Improving on footwork should be his main priority this offseason. QB2 late if you draft Mahomes or Lamar Jackson.   

Panthers QB Cam Newton

Played thru foot injury for 2 games before shutting it down for the season.  Across the leagues I play in Newton was drafted ahead of Lamar Jackson, Carson Wentz, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Kyler Murray.  Underwent foot surgery in December and theoretically should be ready for the off-season program. Whether it’s in Carolina or somewhere else is to-be-determined.  Newton is a QB2 gamble entering drafts next season. 

Cardinals RB David Johnson 

As a first round pick Johnson’s season was an unmitigated disaster. 345/2 and 370/4.  Didn’t scoring a rushing TD after Week 6. After the Week 7 injury fiasco of 1 carry for 2 yards vs. the Giants, DJ was useless for fantasy owners.  Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury not being forthcoming with the injury details contributed to the problem. Noted Kliff. Kenyan Drake was acquired in a trade and took the job away. Johnson’s cap number means he’ll more than likely be around in 2020.  I’ll have to re-examine the Cardinals offseason before drafting Johnson again at any cost. 

Steelers RB James Conner

464/4 and 251/3 in a lost season.  Week 8 saw Conner go for 145 yards against the Dolphins. The Steelers were the most snake bit team in the NFL this season.  I’d consider Conner again in drafts at nearly a similar cost in 2020. 

Falcons RB Devonta Freeman

His Week 16 performance helped win me a league championship. 2 rushing TD this season. 88 rushing yards was his season high (accomplished twice).  59/410/4 TD kept Freeman rosterable. 2020 is an interesting case for Freeman as injuries along the offensive line I believe played a part in his down season.  If the Falcons don’t draft a RB, I’d consider Freeman again a few rounds later.   

Chiefs RB Damien Williams

Over-drafted due his late 2018 success. Missed 5 games due to injuries, but wasn’t that effective when healthy. Just 3 games with over 100 total yards this season.  In his first 6 games played rushing for 30 yards or less. I watched a lot of good players get passed over in favor of Williams drafts. For 2020, I probably will pass on Williams unless it’s really late. 

Patriots RB Sony Michel 

912 rushing yards and 7 TD. 0 games with 100 yards rushing. 1 game with 3 TD and 0 scores in 11 of 16 games. Just 12 receptions on the season. 2020 drafts I may be more inclined to select Damien Harris with a later pick. 

Raiders/Patriots WR Antonio Brown

1 game for 4/56/1 was his season.  Fantasy owners that spent a 2nd round pick on AB were burned twice. Countless valuable players were passed over in favor of Brown.  Then many of those fantasy owners failed to strike while the iron was hot and trade away Brown. (Something I mentioned on my segment on a Milwaukee Radio Fantasy Football show.) Strangest fall from grace I’ve ever seen from an athlete in his prime. Hopefully Antonio Brown receives the help he may need.  

Vikings WR Adam Thielen

30/418/6 TD.  Week 7 vs. the Lions caught 1 ball for 25 yards and a TD. His season was essentially over. Missed 6 of the last 9 games with injuries. Was active and caught nothing in 2 contests and 3 for 27 yards vs. the Chargers in Week 15.  Fantasy owners burned a roster spot hoping for Thielen to return. I don’t believe Mike Zimmer was truthful with the injury updates on Thielen. I’m noting that Zimmer isn’t truthful about injury updates for 2020. If healthy, Thielen should be a high upside bounce back candidate.  

Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr.

73/1,035/4 TD for Beckham in Cleveland.  64 players had more receiving TD than OBJ in 2019. Not what owners were expecting with that early of a draft choice.  The Browns were the winners of the off-season in 2019 and it didn’t translate to the field. Injuries also played a part.  I would consider OBJ in drafts next season at the right price.   

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

42/552/3 TD is quite a precipitous fall from 111/1,426/7.  JuJu missed 4 games with injuries and was done in by inadequate play at the QB position.  One of my favorite bounce-backs in 2020, don’t let JuJu fall in drafts. 

Rams WR Brandin Cooks

Streak of 4 consecutive 1,000 yard seasons was snapped in 2019. 42/583/1 isn’t what owners expected from the deep threat in McVay’s offense.  The Rams took a step back as referenced in my Goff write-up, but Cooks struggled with concussions. Concussion history and lack of red zone TD’s have taken Cooks off my board the last 2 seasons. The draft cost for Cooks is often too rich for my liking. 

Chargers WR Mike Williams

One of my biggest disappointments in football in 2019. I strongly endorsed Williams as a keeper for 2019. On 66 targets had 43 catches for 10 TD. Imagine if Williams got 90 targets in 2019. He did for 49/1001/2 TD. In researching this piece I was surprised to see Williams actually hit the 1000 yard-mark.  Averaged a league high 20.4 yards per catch. Williams reportedly played thru knee pain in 2019. Free-falling in the draft in 2020 is the only way I’d consider Williams.   

Colts TE Eric Ebron

13 TD in 2018 down to 3 TD in 2019.  Lesson don’t chase touchdowns in fantasy football. Ebron will likely looking for a new home in 2020.  Depending on where Ebron goes he may be a TE2. 

Buccaneers TE OJ Howard

34/459/1 TD playing with a QB that led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards.  A lot of these guys on this list were hurt, Howard played in 14 games. Howard was typically drafted in that round 6 to round 9 range of drafts.  28 Tight Ends scored more fantasy points the Howard in one of my PPR leagues. Bruce Arians historically doesn’t utilize the TE in his passing attack.  Howard is a candidate to get traded. In change of scenery, I may have some shares of OJ.  

Week 16 Fantasy Football Circle Of Trust

Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

Bengals have allowed the 3rd most yards per attempt to opposing passers.

Falcons RB Devonta Freeman

Early round pick sunk a lot of battleships this season with just 1 rushing TD.  All hope is not lost as the Jaguars allow opposing rushers 5.1 yards-per-carry and have allowed the 2nd most rushing TD with 19. 

Bears WR Anthony Miller

6 or more catches in 4 of his last 5 games. Bear Down. 

Eagles WR Greg Ward Jr.

6 catches for 71 yards and a TD last week. Injuries create opportunities for this former college QB. 

Chargers TE Hunter Henry

Just 2 catches each of the last 3 games. I say Henry dazzles us with his play vs. the Raiders.  

Dolphins K Jason Sanders

I see the Dolphins scoring frequently vs. the Bengals.

Broncos Defense

5 interceptions in 3 starts so far for David Blough. I see more turnovers in Denver.

Panthers SS Eric Reid

6 or more total tackles in 5 consecutive times. Colts should provide tackle opportunities. 

*DANCE WITH WHAT BROUGHT YOU!!!!!

Week 9 Fantasy Basketball Circle Of Trust

Mavericks SG Tim Hardaway Jr.

Luka Doncic is out with an ankle injury leaving a lot of shots available in the Mavericks offense. Hardaway should see a higher usage rate with Luka on the shelf. Hardaway should be in lineups for this 4-game slate.

Knicks PG Elfrid Payton

3-games this week. Interim Coach Mike Miller seems more inclined to use Payton in a crucial role. From watching Knicks games this season, the offfense has more flow with Payton over Smith or Ntilikina. If I can see it, so can Knicks coaching staff.

Hornets C Cody Zeller

Consecutive double-doubles with PJ Washington out. Zeller may remain a starter with Washington unavailable. The Hornets 4-game schedule makes Zeller a streaming option.

Week 15 Fantasy Football Circle Of Trust

Browns QB Baker Mayfield

Cardinals have allowed a league-high 32 Passing TD and a league-worst 113.9 opponents passer rating. I anticipate a shootout in the desert. 

Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay

PPR Flex play vs. a Chiefs defense that is generous to opposing running backs.

Titans WR AJ Brown

Averaging 9.4 Yards after the catch. Brown has emerged as a big play threat and that should continue vs. the Texans. Keep his name in mind when preparing for drafts next season.  

Panthers TE Ian Thomas

The Seahawks defense has allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing Tight Ends.

49ers K Robbie Gould

Should be busy at home vs. the Falcons. 

Seahawks Defense

Since the bye week, Panthers QB Kyle Allen has turned the ball over in 6 of his last 7 games.  

IDP

Jaguars MLB Donald Payne

29 total tackles in last 2 games since taking over for Myles Jack.