Fantasy Articles

Last year quite a number of players soared to amazing fantasy heights.  Some of them may sustain those heights, but the odds are more than half of them won't.

The regression may not be huge, but it will occur for many of the overachievers.  That doesn't mean these players won't have great fantasy value, but you might want to think about if they are worth the premium dollars that they are likely to command on draft day.

 

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Lance Berkman moves back to first base this season.
Lance Berkman (OF/1B, Cardinals):  Of all the players on this list, Berkman might be the safest bet -- if he can stay healthy enough to get 500 at-bats.  But realistically that's not going to happen.  Those days are long past for the 36-year-old slugger.  Last year he went .301-31-94 and without Pujols in the lineup the Cards are going to have to ask him to do even more.  That's a tough thing to expect for while his skills are still solid, he faded in the second half.  Age and injury, not to mention a slight fading of skills are likely to affect his production even more.  Still 450 at-bats could equal 22-24 home runs and a .280 average sounds right.

 

Curtis Granderson (OF, Yankees):  Granderson busted it open last year, posting what is likely to be the greatest season of his career.  He's 31 going into this season and even at the bandbox called Yankees Stadium won't allow him to repeat his 41 home run season.  That said, he's a lock for 20+ home runs, but his 21% FB/HR rate is unsustainable.  Expecting him to match last year's 25 steals is probably a reach too.

Matt Kemp (OF, Dodgers):  Kemp has gone on record saying that he'll build on last year's .324-29-128 with 40 steals and go 50-50.  Odds are against that happening and some regression both in power and speed are just as likely.  Like Granderson above Kemp had a 21% FB/HR rate, but in Kemp's case the rate didn't just come out of nowhere.  His FB/HR rate has increased over the last four years, but still expecting some regression should factor into your draft decision.  Still if you aren't breaking the bank he's someone I'd put at the top of my shortlist.  This guy is a fantasy monster and a top 10 fantasy player and at 27 he's moving into his prime offensive years.

Jose Reyes (SS, Marlins):  Yeah, he won a batting title last year and he stole almost 40 bases, but his health and his hamstrings are always big issues.  While his batting average should stay close to .300 and maybe be a bit better, betting on his legs now that he's approaching 30 is a shakier decision than it was a few years ago.  Still if he can stay healthy, Ozzie Guillen will give him plenty of chances to swipe bases.

Justin Verlander (SP, Tigers):  Not many pitchers win 20 games two years in a row, but Verlander is likely to come close so long as his health stays good.  While he is entering into his prime years, he pitched out of his socks last year, beating his xERA by more than 0.60 runs.  He's still a top 10 pitcher, but betting on last year, or expecting him to build on last year, is a long reach.

Ryan Braun (OF, Brewers):  Braun is an elite player no doubt about it.  But he'll be facing a few new challenges this year.  One will be the shadow of his positive test for PEDs that was dismissed on a technicality.  The other will be the loss of Prince Fielder in the lineup behind him.  That loss will result in Braun getting challenged less and him seeing fewer quality pitches.  That coupled with the increased scrutiny and whispers about PEDs could get into his head.  He won't repeat his MVP numbers if he can't keep his head clear.

Mike Napoli (C, Rangers):  Napoli is power personified in the catcher position, but a .300 hitter?  No way.  Napoli is a career .264 hitter who, before last season, had never hit above .273. The Ballpark at Arlington may add ten points, but Napoli doesn't repeat in average.  Bet on it.

Desmond Jennings (OF, Rays):  The Rays outfielder is very much a work in progress, and his 19 home runs last year were a total fluke.  He'll get to a point in his career where 20 home runs may be a norm, but his value this year will be in speed and runs scored.  That said, expect those two categories to be his value this season.