The market for a particular player in fantasy baseball drafts is really whatever someone in your league is willing to pay. This obviously changes from draft to draft. But nevertheless, we can still extract useful information from the ADP trends generated by the NFBC drafts. It's important to generate a useful sample size, so for this analysis, I will incorporate information from all non-auction NFBC drafts, which includes 10, 12, and 15-team formats.
Casting this wide net allows us to separate the data into two parts - 71 drafts in the first three weeks of January and 45 drafts between Jan. 22 and Feb. 6. This gives us a picture of which players are moving up and which are moving down draft boards.
Even though this ADP review draws from all types of drafts, I've analyzed it here through the lens of a 15-team format. So this is set up with a focus on the first 150 players drafted, which equates to the first ten rounds of 15-team leagues. Since the top players have less ADP movement than the ones drafted in later rounds, this ADP analysis highlights players that have moved more than their current draft round. In other words, a first-round player is highlighted if they moved just one place, while a tenth rounder needs to have changed ten positions to be listed below.
ROUND ONE (Based on 15 team drafts)
As expected, most of the movements are small. Interestingly, in the first round Tatis and Soto have swapped the second and fourth position around Mookie Betts as fantasy owners lean towards the additional steals Tatis can provide. In addition, deGrom, Freeman, and Darvish have moved up one place while Cole, Yelich, and Bauer have fallen behind them. These changes are not major and could easily be reversed in the coming weeks in my opinion.
The second round shows some bigger movers, as Adalberto Mondesi shifted five spots to the beginning of the second round and Brandon Woodruff has now edged three picks higher to the back of the second round. This has come at the expense of Lucas Giolito and Manny Machado. Mondesi is viewed as a potential league winner if he can attain his projection of 50+ steals, but it isn’t clear why Giolito and Machado are dropping just yet.
The third round shows upward movement for Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager and Anthony Rendon while Xander Bogaerts is falling back. Kershaw is being viewed as a solid SP2 and Seager is perhaps at the beginning of a breakout with an excellent team context. Bogaerts, on the other hand, may struggle to achieve his counting stats with a relatively weak Red Sox lineup.
Here in the fourth round, we can observe the continued fantasy impact of the signings of Liam Hendriks (agreed to terms with the White Sox on Jan. 15) and George Springer (signed with the Blue Jays on Jan. 23). Drafters have decided thus far that Josh Hader should still be the #1 closer off the board, so he has vaulted to the middle of the fourth round. The fallers here include Pete Alonso, which might be a reflection that he could lose playing time if the National League does not have the DH available, and Cavan Biggio, who also has playing time concerns with the acquisition of Marcus Semien.
In the fifth round Aroldis Chapman is moving up as fantasy owners are looking for sure things at closer. There are so many unsettled bullpens that we may see the top five or six relief options move up even higher over the next month in response. It isn’t clear why Hyun Jin Ryu is dropping, but there may be some concern about whether he can be counted on for a full 180-plus inning workload. He tends to wear down as the season moves along, and this may partly explain his sparkling 2.69 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in the shortened 2020 season. Nevertheless, I don’t expect Ryu to fall much further as the emphasis on starting pitching should keep him solidly in the fifth round.
Yordan Alvarez underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees in late August, and this ADP decline reflects the uncertainty about his readiness for spring training. Similarly, Dinelson Lamet underwent platelet-rich plasma therapy during the offseason as he recovers from a last year’s elbow injury. It would appear that he's progressing, but he remains a big injury risk for 2021. The Padres' multiple rotation additions also seem to indicate that they are not confident in Lamet's health.
Anthony Rizzo may be dropping in NFBC drafts as the Cubs appear to be offloading parts and may be less competitive in 2021. Brad Hand signed with the Nationals on Jan. 24, so his situation has markedly improved, plus the closer inflation that helped Ryan Pressly’s ADP is also supporting a move upward for Hand. Finally, fantasy owners are very interested to see if the Padres can unlock more potential from Joe Musgrove after trading for him on Jan. 18. It will cost owners a round eight pick to find out, up from round nine a couple of weeks ago when he was a member of the Pirates.
Tommy Pham’s market is a little softer as it seems that the Padres have lots of outfield options. In addition, he is still recovering from a couple of offseason surgeries so until he reports for spring training there is a lack of clarity about his exact readiness. Tommy Edman should play regularly, but he is coming off a lackluster 2020 campaign in which he generated a .685 OPS. Marcus Semien, of course, agreed to a one-year contract with Toronto on Jan. 26, and this has boosted his stock as a member of a stronger lineup.
Kirby Yates also signed with the Blue Jays on Jan. 19, powering him up the ranks from a round 15 speculative selection to a solid tenth round pick. He would have moved even higher but there are still worries about his health following August elbow surgery. If he proves he is ready during spring training, expect another jump up of a round or two. Josh Bell also moved up following his trade to the Nationals from Pittsburgh on Dec. 24. Bell struggled in 2020 with a .669 OPS, but he should be the clear starter at first base in Washington in 2021.