With the new Fantasy Baseball season right on our doorstep, it’s time to start planning draft strategies for the 2017 season.
Last season, big name hitters dominated the big name pitchers in points formats. At the end of the year, it looked silly to have even drafted pitching before the third or fourth rounds. Obviously this isn’t a feasible plan for any team no matter what scoring system is used. However, it really makes you think about which pitchers are worth targeting when drafting.
There are always players that owners will shy away from on draft day because of their struggles the season before. In fact, recency bias is a common tendency for all Fantasy pitchers on draft day. Because of this, it might help you draft players that fall further than they should because of a sub-par season the previous year.
Buying low on draft day is always worth it when considering which Fantasy pitchers to draft, since pitchers can always be fairly unpredictable. Recency Bias can always negatively affect the draft stock of pitchers who have a lot of other positive factors going in their favor.
These aren’t Fantasy pitchers that will be drafted in the first five or six rounds, but instead make for great additions in later rounds. The Fantasy pitchers listed below have great chances of outplaying their value on draft day, and will lead your team to a Fantasy Championship.
2017 Fantasy Baseball: Five Fantasy Pitchers Ready For A Rebound Season
Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
It was a disappointing 2016 campaign for the 2015 AL Cy Young Award Winner. The Astros were relying on Keuchel to be so much more for their pitching staff and their team.
A fifth round pick in most formats, Keuchel struggled greatly in 2016, finishing the season with a 9-12 record, 4.55 ERA, and a 1.29 WHIP. His ERA was the major contributing factor to his struggles, as it is almost 0.80 runs above his career average. This has caused Keuchel’s draft stock to plummet this season. ESPN currently has him going 153rd overall, making him a risk definitely worth taking.
Along with his draft position, Keuchel has a lot going for him considering his struggles last season. Keuchel’s rehab is going well after missing the last month of his 2016 campaign. All reports say Keuchel is in excellent shape. The 2015 AL Cy Young award winner also pitched much better in his last two months, finishing with a 3.94 ERA in July and a 3.10 ERA in August.
Keuchel should also be in line to get more wins this season due to how stacked with young talent the Astros’ lineup is. Keuchel and the rest of the staff also have the benefit of competing in the AL West, which is by far the weakest hitting division in the American League. All of this combined with Keuchel’s low draft position makes him a very worthwhile risk in the 14th or 15th round of drafts. He could very well provide outstanding value this late in drafts.
Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates
The pitching rotation for Pittsburgh in 2017 looks to be a mess after how solid their rotation was in recent years. The most solid pitching option looks to be Gerrit Cole, who had an injury riddled 2016 campaign. All reports indicate that Cole’s elbow rehab is going well, and he will be the Pirates Opening Day starter.
Behind Cole, the Pirates have the second-year rookie Jameson Taillon. Taillon shows a lot of promise but doesn’t have the record to really step into the role of No. 2 in the rotation. Behind him are Ivan Nova and Chad Kuhl, who are only relevant in deep Fantasy leagues. This puts a lot of weight on a young and rehabbing Cole, who is also in a contract year. Cole is likely to explore free agency next season, and could be moved before this year’s trade deadline as well.
Cole is currently ranked 102nd in roto leagues, and 193rd in H2H points leagues. This shows how unsure experts are in how to rank Cole this season, which makes him a steal. Cole is one of the brightest young pitchers in baseball, but is coming off an injury-filled 2016 campaign. Even with this, Cole still only had a 3.88 ERA, but did struggle with giving up hits and didn’t have the strikeout numbers that he has had throughout his career.
Cole still has a lot of upside at this point in drafts, and will likely fall below his ADP. I really like Cole to bounce back this season in a contract year for Pittsburgh.
Drew Smyly, Seattle Mariners
Smyly’s move from Tampa Bay to the Mariners should help the 27 year-old’s performance this season. Smyly is coming off a poor season, where he finished with a 7-12 record, 4.88 ERA, and a 1.27 WHIP. If it’s any consolation, Smyly improved after July, as he went 4-1 and lowered his ERA by half a point. Smyly is ranked between 135th and 190th overall on ESPN, which is not based on last year’s production
Fantasy analysts are hoping that a change in venue will help Smyly’s performance this season. Fortunately for Smyly, he is moving from a hitters to a pitchers park, out of the brutal AL East and into the pedestrian AL West, and is joining a team with a solid lineup that should help Smyly safely win 10-12 games this year. However, all of these reasons have Smyly’s draft position higher than it should be based on last year’s production. Even though I wouldn’t draft Smyly as high as the 14th round, I definitely see him bouncing back this year.
Steven Matz, New York Mets
Steven Matz dominated preseason discussions last season of good sleeper pitching that will yield a high return in drafts. The 25 year-old got off to an electric start, going 7-1 in April and May with a 2.28 ERA, and never gave up more than four runs in a game. However, Matz struggled from June on, as he went 2-7 and struggled with injuries the rest of the year.
The Mets’ young star underwent surgery on October 4 to remove a bone spur from his elbow. Matz is confident that he’ll make 30 starts this season, and will rejoin one of the league’s best rotations. With Harvey returning from injury and Bartolo Colon in Atlanta, Matz looks to be the Mets’ third or fourth starter.
ESPN currently has Matz ranked inconsistently throughout their rankings, between 180th and 240th based on the scoring system used. This is an absolute steal for Matz who has a very high ceiling. If you sold high on Matz last season, he could’ve easily brought you a SP2 in return. If Matz stays ranked this low, I will be reaching for him in drafts in the 16th or 17th round. Be sure to not pass up on Matz when drafting in all formats this season.
Matt Moore, San Francisco Giants
As a Giants fan, I’m ecstatic to have Matt Moore back as a solid fourth option in the rotation. Moving him out of the AL East and into one of the best pitchers’ parks in AT&T Park has been a great move for Moore. The former Ray went 6-5 after coming to SF, with a 4.08 ERA, and had a dominant performance against the Cubs in the NLDS.
Moore’s issue was his inconsistency, as he had games at Colorado and LA where he was torched in September. However, Moore also had two games with 11 strikeouts in September, and won three of his five outings. What’s important is that Moore knows how to win games, and he’ll be in a much better situation in SF. Moore will have spring training to work with the Giants pitching staff, and should succeed as the fourth starter.
ESPN currently has Moore ranked similarly to Steven Matz, somewhere in between 180th-240th based on the scoring system used. While Matz has the higher upside, Moore will likely be overlooked and could fall to you in drafts. The strikeout count and situation makes Moore a great seventh starter on your team, but don’t reach for him in drafts. I’m looking for Moore to win 12 games this season, and potentially be a SP4 on your roster.
- Carlos Rodon
- Michael Pineda
- Aaron Nola
- Sean Manaea
- Robbie Ray
- Jeff Samardzija
- Lance McCullers
- Matt Harvey
- James Paxton
It’s important to study the rankings for all positions and look for pitchers like these listed above when drafting. Obviously it’s not smart to draft an all under-performer 2016 team, but it’s important to not undervalue pitchers like the ones listed above. These Fantasy pitchers can all prove to be solid or even star players on your Fantasy rosters.
The moral of the story is to consider all factors surrounding each player rather than just their 2016 performance. By doing this throughout your drafting process, you will find discounted value throughout your draft to help you win your season.
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