January 6, 2014
Fantasy Team Preview
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox won the World Series last year. They did so thanks in large part to bounce-back campaigns from many of their pitchers, career (or near-career) years from the likes of Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, full seasons from Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and David Ortiz, and an out-of-nowhere dominant season from Koji Uehara.
Despite the deep and talented team in Boston, this roster isn’t quite the fantasy goldmine you might expect. There are a ton of fantasy-relevant players here to be sure, but only a handful profiles as top-100 options heading into next season.
That being said, the Red Sox also have some of the game’s most exciting young players, many of whom on the cusp of receiving a ton of playing time. Their mix of skilled veterans, flawed but intriguing pitchers and talented prospects means this team has something for fantasy owners of every format.
This is a lineup with few fantasy superstars but littered with relevant fantasy contributors at every spot. Among known quantities, Pedroia is probably the best fantasy asset as a top-three second baseman, but Ortiz is a consistent top-50 fantasy player, too. Victorino is an underrated five-category contributor, while Pierzynski is a boring but consistent top-15 backstop. Napoli is a nice source of power, but a significant portion of his value is tied up in BABIP and he loses catcher eligibility this season. He’s somewhat overrated in fantasy circles.
Nava and Bradley are similar in that they’re must-owns in OBP leagues, but are fringe options in standard 5x5 formats. The former is absolutely worth a pick late in most drafts, though. Bogaerts is, in my opinion, the best fantasy prospect in the game, and has top-10 shortstop upside already. Middlebrooks comes with the biggest risk of anyone in this lineup, but he could pay huge dividends with a 25-plus homer campaign, too. He’s a divisive player, so it’s tough to peg his probable ADP or auction value.
There’s not a ton here from a fantasy POV. Should Carp see significant time against RHP he’d be worth a speculative add in AL-only leagues. Gomes really wasn’t very good last season despite becoming the Red Sox mascot. He shouldn’t be picked up even if he starts seeing regular playing time again. Ross is a great backup catcher but of little use unless Pierzynski gets hurt. Herrera is a non-factor despite his ability to hit for non-embarrassing averages.
Just like with the lineup, this rotation lacks fantasy star power but contains relevant players all the way through. Lester is the most consistent of the bunch. If you're expecting a return to the dominance of 2009 you're out of luck, but he's still a good no. 4 fantasy pitcher. Buchholz has the highest upside here, but you might only get 100 innings. If he stays healthy, he has top-20 starter upside. Lackey and Peavy are nice options to fill out your rotation: The ERA and WHIP won't kill you, and they'll compile strikeouts and wins. If Doubront can just be a little more consistent, he has the stuff to be a top-60-to-70 starter, but you can’t bank on that right now.
Projected Closer Candidates
There is no controversy here. Uehara just posted one of the best seasons by a reliever in history. The odds of him performing at that level again aren't good, but he's going to have a long leash as Boston's closer, and deservedly so. He might be overvalued this year, though; you should still take Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman first, and you could argue for Greg Holland and Kenley Jansen as well.
Should Uehara implode or become injured, Mujica would likely be first in line to grab some saves, with Junichi Tazawa and maybe even Craig Breslow in the mix as well. As it stands now, that triumvirate, along with Andrew Miller, figures to rack up some holds.
Will Middlebrooks vs. Stephen Drew
Player to Target: Xander Bogaerts
Player to Avoid: Jackie Bradley Jr.
Deep Sleeper: Brandon Workman