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Week 12 Fantasy Baseball Circle Of Trust

Rockies 1B/OF Ian Desmond

.357/.409/.631 slash rate the last 28 days.  2 venues Desmond has historically struggled on the docket this week with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers on the road. Owns a career .243 avg. in Arizona and .202 avg. in Los Angeles.  With the recent hot streak I would recommend keeping Desmond in lineups.

Angels RP Hansel Robles

10 Saves for the Halos so far this season. 8.6 SO/9 and 1.050 WHIP will help owners looking for Saves.  Cody Allen was released and Ty Buttrey may be kept in a setup role due to his versatility. Robles seems to have a long enough leash to warrant more ownership.  I picked Robles up in a few leagues to replace Blake Parker in my lineup.

Royals SP/RP Ian Kennedy

34-year-old hurler has successfully made the conversion from starter to reliever.  It took a while for Ned Yost to stand by Kennedy as his man. But Ned is now showing the world he loves him.  The last 4 appearances have gone for Saves. The best way to showcase Kennedy is to have him get outs in the 9th inning.  In 5 June appearances Kennedy has a 16.6 SO/9 and 0.923 WHIP. The reality is at $16.5 million for this season and $16.5 million for next season, Kennedy will be tough to move in a trade.  The Royals will essentially have to pay to make Kennedy go away. Fantasy owners looking for Saves can take advantage of the SP eligibility. I own Kennedy in multiple leagues.

Week 11 Fantasy Baseball Circle Of Trust

Nationals 2B Brian Dozier
.370/.419/.815 slash rate in the last 14 days. Dozier will miss Giolito in the 2-game series with the White Sox. A matchup with Greinke in the opener on Thursday, but decent matchups the rest of the series. Dozier is worth streaming for owners looking to add power this week.

Tigers OF Christian Stewart
.348/.400/.565 slash rate the last 14 days. Has games on the road with the Royals and at home vs. the Indians this scoring period. Bats mostly in the 2 hole with Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera behind him. There were ups and downs in his minor league track record, but Stewart is currently worth streaming.

Angels SP Griffin Canning
2 starts this week on Monday at home vs. the Dodgers followed by a Saturday road tilt with the Rays. 9.9 SO/9 and 1.017 WHIP in 7 starts this season. Canning has tough matchups with the Dodgers as the leader in baseball with a team .269 avg. vs. right-handed pitchers. The Rays are batting .264 as a team vs. right-handers. Canning with his ratios is worth streaming for the 2 starts.

Burning Roster Spots On Inactives

The draft pick compensation for qualified free agents in Major League Baseball is something I would expect to get changed in the next bargaining agreement.  We’ve seen lesser caliber free agents get signed as in turn clubs forfeit the compensatory pick.  Front office executives have changed the way business is done and have held a hard line in regards to spending and draft choices.  The main reason Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel didn’t get signed before the MLB draft was due to draft pick compensation.  Other factors could be cost and length of contract, but being tied to draft pick compensation was a dagger.  The fact that they couldn’t get signed with the compensation tag scared me off a bit, maybe the duo isn’t as good as they once were.  Is it possible the league is saying these name brand pitchers aren’t as name brand anymore? 

As a fantasy player I have refused to draft any players that don’t come to spring training at the start.  I watch enough free agents get signed late, fall behind in spring training and stink up the joint.  When both didn’t get signed as spring training was underway, I anticipated Keuchel and Kimbrel would remain unsigned until after the compensation date passed.  Owners that drafted those players lost 9 weeks of production.  Owners that took the plunge could have used other players in those spots to possibly win more games. I looked thru my 4 fantasy baseball leagues to see the records of the teams that own Keuchel, Kimbrel, or both.  The results were all across the board.  I was the latest out of all 4 leagues to pick up Keuchel. I got him on June 2nd.  In every other league both were drafted and held onto. 

League 1 Kimbrel was drafted in the 11th round of a 10-team snake draft in a daily categories league. Hindsight that owner passed German Marquez, Charlie Morton, and Kirby Yates.  Then he doubled up on Keuchel in the 17th round passing on Ken Giles, Alex Colome, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.  Granted no one knew Ryu would break out like this, but how many more wins would he have with a combo of any of those players for 9 weeks.  This owner is in 4th place in the league burning 2 roster spots for 9 weeks. He is a solid player and was comfortable doing such.  He’s made 26 roster moves this season around holing onto those two.  He is a solid player and was comfortable doing such.       

League 2 Kimbrel was selected in the 12th round of a 12 team snake draft in a daily categories league.  Kirby Yates went just after Kimbrel was selected.  Charlie Morton, Madison Bumgarner, and Rick Porcello were selected later that round.  Tyler Glasnow and Luis Castillo were selected in the next round.  He’s lost the Saves category with just Roberto Osuna as a closer.  The commissioner of this league is a good player and currently sits in 6th place.  Keuchel was drafted in 21st round and subsequently dropped a few days later for Matt Strahm.  I was able to pick up him on the Sunday before the MLB draft.  I am currently in 1st place in my division 2nd overall in a tightly contested league.  I’m limited to 3 roster moves each week and 50 for the season.  I’ve made 17 moves so far one of which is Keuchel.  There’s no way I have the record I do with burning a roster spot for Keuchel. 

League 3 is a weekly 10-team dynasty league with an auction draft.  Keuchel and Kimbrel are owned by the same team that sits at a league worst 1-8.  Keuchel cost $2 dollars ($7 next year) and Kimbrel went for $7 dollars ($12 next year).  Gained nothing with those 2 donuts on the roster for 9 weeks.      

League 4 is a weekly 12-team keeper league with an auction draft.  Keuchel went for $5 dollars and is on a 1st place team.  That owner is a Keuchel fan and drafts him every year.  Kimbrel went for $11 dollars and is on a team that has scored more points than anyone else, but is in 6th place with a below .500 record.  That owner hedged his bet with spending big money on Edwin Diaz and Kenley Jansen as well.  In that scoring format Closers with high strikeout rates have a high value.  His hitters are thin and that money could have brought some more firepower to his lineup.  That below .500 record could easily have flipped with Kimbrel’s money spent elsewhere. 

Each scenario for owning Keuchel and Kimbrel is different. It all depends if you have enough depth to cover the donut on your roster for that period.  I just think of all the pickups that I’ve been able to make to help me win games.  Those pickups wouldn’t have happened if I were sitting on either Keuchel or Kimbrel.  For me personally, I don’t recommend sitting on players in fantasy sports.  I would rather have active players at my disposal.      

Week 9 Fantasy Baseball Circle Of Trust

Yankees OF Clint Frazier

3 dongs 9 RBI .348/.423/.783 slash rate the last 7 days. Frazier is a former top flight prospect that hasn’t put it together yet in the show. Injuries and plate discipline have been a problem for Frazier. Seasonal players may want to get back on board in case Frazier is about to take off. I plan on holding Frazier thru whatever ups and downs in a keeper league.

Cubs OF Albert Almora

.295/.340/.614 slash rate over the last 14 days.  Defense has kept Almora on the active roster, but improved production has kept Almora in the lineup.  May have turned the corner in his 4th MLB season.  Fantasy owners looking for power may want to stream Almora this week.

 Rangers SP Lance Lynn

2 starts this week on Monday vs. the Mariners on the road followed by a Saturday home tilt with the Royals. Lynn’s ERA is misleading as he’s pitched much better in the last 14 days.

Week 8 Fantasy Baseball Circle Of Trust

Royals SS Nicky Lopez

I picked up Lopez in one of my leagues with Elvis Andrus on the DL.  In 4 career minor league seasons Lopez has a .296/.378/.403 career slash rate.  Lopez should be picked up in dynasty formats and should be useful in seasonal leagues.  Owners won’t receive power from Lopez, but should see help in OBP and steals.

Rangers OF Willie Calhoun

In parts of 3 seasons at Triple A Calhoun owns a career slash rate of .298/.361/.511.  There’s really nothing left to prove in Triple A and the time is now for Calhoun to carve out a role for the rebuilding Rangers.  As the centerpiece of the Yu Darvish trade from the Dodgers, Calhoun should have a long leash in Arlington this season.

Diamondbacks SP/RP Luke Weaver

2 road starts this week on Monday vs. the Padres and Sunday with the Giants.  In 4 road starts this season, Weaver is 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.059 WHIP and his SO/9 is up to 10.7.  Pumped Weaver was still available in 1 of my 4 leagues.

Week 7 Fantasy Baseball Circle Of Trust

Dodgers 2B/SS/OF Chris Taylor

.289/.325/.579 slash rate the last 14 days. With the multiple position eligibility, Taylor can be invaluable in daily formats. I’ve picked up Taylor in a league due to Dee Gordon getting hit in the hand.

White Sox OF Charlie Tilson

Healthy and off to the races in just 6 games this season Tilson has 3 steals. Tilson may be able to help owners looking to make up in stolen bases.  Tilson was a 2nd round pick of Cardinals in 2011 and hasn’t had an extended run in the majors due to injuries. On a rebuilding team, Tilson may be given the opportunity to showcase his talents.

Twins SP Kyle Gibson

2-starts this week at home on Tuesday against the Angels and a Sunday road tilt with the Mariners.  Angels have struck out the fewest times in the AL, while the Mariners have struck out the most. Gibson is 3-1 with  a 3.07 ERA and 0.920 WHIP in his last 5 starts. I’m ignoring the career 4.76 ERA vs. the Angels and rolling with Gibson for both starts. This veteran hurler is pitching better in 2019 than his career peripherals.

Week 6 Fantasy Baseball Circle Of Trust

Dodgers OF Alex Verdugo

With AJ Pollock on the DL, Verdugo is a worthy streamer.  .937 OPS the last 7 days .973 the last 14 days. Daily players should take note on Monday and Thursday with lefties on the mound.

Padres OF Franmil Reyes

1.017 OPS in the last 14 days.  Reyes has a home series with Mets followed by a road series with the Rockies.  Faces deGrom and Thor in the Mets series, but I’d still roll with Reyes this week.  If the Mets scare you off, DFS players can use Reyes this weekend in Colorado.

Twins SP Martin Perez

2-starts this week Monday on the road with the Blue Jays and a Saturday home tilt with the Tigers.  Blue Jays are batting .229 as a team with the Tigers aren’t much better at .233. This veteran lefty has a 1.077 WHIP in 4 starts this season.  

Week 5 Fantasy Baseball Circle Of Trust

Brewers 1B Eric Thames

.318/.404/.682 slash rate in semi-regular action.  Jesus Aguilar is hitting just .129 so far this season. The tide may have swung back to Thames in terms of playing time at 1B.  Aguilar may still get starts, but Thames may be the leader in the clubhouse at this point. Thames provides power and should be active in lineups for daily league players or DFS.  

Rangers OF/1B/2B Danny Santana

.321/.345/.500 slash rate the last 7 days. Santana is getting playing time at 1B with Ronald Guzman on the DL.  Has bounced around from the Twins to the Braves and now is getting a shot with the Rangers. On a rebuilding club, maybe Santana can force his way into more playing time when Guzman returns. Santana’s hot bat and position eligibility will help DFS players in the short term.

Braves SP Mike Soroka

2-starts this week vs. the Padres at home on Monday and a Saturday road matchup vs. the Marlins. The Padres have a team batting average of .222 while the Marlins check in at .227.  Soroka is a player that typically is owned in Dynasty leagues, but seasonal players may want to jump on board this week.

Week 4 Fantasy Baseball Circle Of Trust

Orioles 3B/DH Renato Nunez

Getting an extended look batting cleanup for the Orioles.  .304/.345/.532 slash rate so far this season. Nunez minor league track record .265/.321/.466 over 8 seasons and previous MLB experience don’t project a cleanup hitter.  That doesn’t matter right now as Nunez is making the most of getting AB in a premium spot. Maybe Nunez has figured things out at 25. Deploy Nunez in lineups until he proves otherwise.

Royals 3B/1B Hunter Dozier

Former 1st round pick is starting to do damage in the KC lineup.  .292/.397/.585 slash rate so far this season. The Royals are in a full rebuild and will give this 27-year-old a long leash.  Owners looking for power from a corner infielder should look to use Dozier.

Mariners RP Roenis Elias

Consecutive Saves for Elias. The Mariners have used a committee with Anthony Swarzak and Elias.  The southpaw has 4 saves and a 1.024 WHIP so far this season. The SO/9 of 6.6 isn’t what fantasy owners look for in Closers.  Owners chasing Saves may want to use Elias until the closer situation in Seattle settles itself out. Elias will still help owners with ratios even if the Saves fluctuate.  

Targeting Age In Fantasy Drafts

As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed that my body is starting to break down. Happens to everyone, even professional athletes.  My aging has helped me to come up with a better game plan in fantasy baseball, basketball, and football leagues. There’s a specific age bracket that I’m looking for in fantasy leagues.  If a potential replacement is obviously drafted by the team, then that player is completely off my big board.

I do not want to roster older players in weekly lock fantasy baseball leagues.  They often will miss day games after night games that’s a lot of at-bats missed throughout a season.  In a daily format I will give older plays more consideration since I can adjust the roster if they’re not going to play.   Investing in an older player means I’ll need to possibly secure a high end backup.

I don’t want anybody over the age of 32 as one of my hitters.  Too much wear on the player and signs may start to show. I don’t want a player to break down on my roster.  I miss on good players in the process, but tend to have a healthier roster. I actually passed on Justin Turner this year even though I think Turner still a real good player just because of his age.  I think very highly of Josh Donaldson, but he has shown too many signs of wear and tear. Donaldson slid in drafts this season, but I still didn’t want to invest at a discounted rate.

Just 4 fantasy baseball teams this season for me. The following is a breakdown of the oldest hitter on each roster.  Buster Posey is my backup catcher this season and is age 32. I kept him for cheap and plan to use him as a bench player.  Jonathan Lucroy at 33 is my backup catcher. Both teams the oldest everyday player is Anthony Rizzo at age 29. Yuli Gurriel is the oldest player I have in a daily categories league at age 35. I drafted Yuli with one of my last picks due to his 1B/2B/3B eligibility.  Paul Goldschmidt is my oldest starter at age 31. On the last team Justin Upton at age 30 is the elder statesman.

Moving to pitching, I’m looking for starters that are in between their 2nd and 7th year in the league.  Pitchers in that bracket tend to have a high strikeout rate and can go deeper into games. Going deeper into games increases the potential for Wins, K, and better ratios.  Older pitchers done at 100 pitches have less of a chance of pulling out wins in this era of bullpenning. Rookie pitchers are out of my target age bracket because of growing pains and shutdowns due to workload at the end of the season.  

Tommy John surgery can happen at any pitcher at any time it’s unavoidable.  Older pitchers may show signs of shoulder problems and more importantly back problems.  The velocity goes down incrementally making the hurler get by more on guile than stuff. Harnessed stuff outperforms guile in fantasy leagues.               

Take Clayton Kershaw as an example, had a terrific age 27 season, was effective in 21 starts at 28, lights out at 29.  Age 30 was still solid, but the strikeout per 9 dropped a bit. For the early round draft choice required to take Kershaw, that fantasy owner didn’t get return on his value.  In my theory Kershaw won 21 games in his 7th season, but went on to have value afterwards. I missed out on that production, but also wasn’t left holding the empty bag in 2018.      

With an 82-game season in the game of basketball I am very strict in terms of age limits. I’m looking for players aged 28 and under especially in weekly lock leagues.  Younger players play more games and more minutes which in turn leads to more stats. Younger players don’t break down as often and don’t have maintenance days. Following the idea by Gregg Popovich teams are starting to build in rest days to the schedule.  Can’t completely avoid the rest days, but try my best to limit them. Lebron James in 2017-2108 blows a hole in my theory playing his only 82 game season at age 33. This season however at age 34 played a career low 55 games. I squeaked out a championship in my basketball league this season.  LeBron James cost $51 dollars at the draft. For that amount I was able to draft Devin Booker $23, Rudy Gobert $22, and Luka Doncic $6. I got maximum value on my $51 dollars and the team with LeBron ended up going 6-14 on the season.

Football I view in a similar fashion.  Running backs John Riggins, Curtis Martin, and Thomas Jones all had great seasons into their 30’s, however a majority of backs that age go the other way.  I’m looking for running backs in between their 1st and 6th seasons. Running backs take an absolute beating playing the position. I tend to track Yards Per Carry like a hawk each season as I prepare for drafts.  If the YPC slipped was it poor line play, inept scheme, or diminishing skills? Often it’s due to loss of skills at that age. I tend to have the Hugh Hefner approach to running backs, I’m always looking for newer younger models.  

Wide Receivers the age bracket I’m looking for is between their 1st and 8th seasons.  Medical marvels like Jerry Rice and Randy Moss are exceptions to the rule. I’m tracking yards per catch totals in comparison to career average.  The YPC can give me an idea if a receiver still has the ability to take one to the house at a moments notice. If the YPC is falling the receiver slides farther down my draft board.       

Tight Ends I will often put a premium on the position and draft one of the top options early in drafts. The top options tend to fit into my age brackets as well.  Having a premium TE is a such a huge advantage. The amount of TE that break out each season to make a difference is so small in comparison to RB and WR.

Quarterbacks are the one position where I will consider drafting a little older player.  Escapability and arm strength are the aspects I look for in drafts. If a QB has his feet in cement, I’m avoiding him like the plague.  Drew Brees and Tom Brady are sure fire hall of fame QB’s however I question their ability to be able to crank it up for 16 games. With the amount of passing that takes place in the league, younger options are available later in drafts.     

I’ve really tried to refine my age brackets each season to fit how the leagues are trending.  Avoiding the older players is not a sure fire way to winning, I’ve missed on quite a few good performances by veteran players.  To minimize my risks I’m always looking for youth that is on the upswing. The strategy allows me to hit on lottery tickets and turn over my roster for the next big thing.  Most importantly the strategy is the best way I’ve found to limit injuries.