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January 9, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

The Top 50 2013 Signees for Dynasty Drafts

by Bret Sayre


Once the holidays have moved on and the calendar has flipped, dynasty leaguers all start to crawl out of the woodwork to submit their rosters for the current season and draft the new group of eligibles to dream on. As Wooderson would say, "that’s what I love about these current-year draftees, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” The promise of the 2013 signees collectively pool together to give dynasty-league rebuilders new hope of contention and dynasty-league contenders new trade chips with which to get the pieces to put them over the top.

And while the 2013 crop isn't the strongest we've seen in recent memory, there are still high-upside options from which to choose. The slight quirk of this year is that the options with the most fantasy upside are, for the most part, not the high school players. In fact, only one of the top six players on this list fit into that category—which is a change of pace from last season, when Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, and Addison Russell all fell into that space (and are all now top-10 prospects in the game). There is no prep arm with more impact potential than Jonathan Gray and no prep bat with more power potential than Kris Bryant. On the international front, just like last year, the crop is headlined by a Cuban hitter and a Japanese pitcher who have impact upside—though for fantasy purposes, they may be less exciting than Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes. Then again, that's not much of a knock on Masahiro Tanaka or Jose Abreu, as you'd be hard pressed to find a one-two punch to match them in most seasons.

This is also the time of year that I get a lot of questions about trades involving draft picks. Like every other year, there is a drop-off after the first tier of players available, but 2014 drafts will see more dramatic tiering in the first round than we're used to. So when someone asks me on Twitter, “should I trade player X and a first round pick for player Y,” the answer is inevitably another question: What pick is that? There is a very sizable difference between the fifth pick and eighth pick in drafts this year, so even small differences matter. And to expound on that a little further, if you don’t have a pick in the top six this year (or top five if Tanaka is not available in your draft), it might be a good time to explore trade options. The biggest weakness of this class of fantasy prospects is in the midsection, and you can take advantage of that by dealing picks for players or pulling a Bill Belichick and securing more picks for 2015—which will have a much deeper draft pool.

These rankings assume a standard 5x5 rotisserie 16-team league where you can keep players forever without restriction. In a deeper league, guys like Mark Appel and Colin Moran will get a slight bump up, just like upside-driven names like Tim Anderson or Aaron Judge will get that same treatment in shallow leagues. “Get on with the list already,” you’re probably thinking and potentially saying out loud to your computer screens (although most of you probably went straight to the names first and are backfilling with the content). Don’t worry, I forgive you. But yes, the list (in tiers):

1) Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
2) Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
3) Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, Free Agent
4) Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians
5) Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
6) Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros

Let’s start at the top. Despite Tanaka and Abreu heading straight to the majors and both having chances at stardom, I'm still taking Bryant with the first pick in drafts this year. As a rather polished college hitter, he's not going to be too far behind the pair as far as ETA goes, and the power is just too tantalizing to pass up. That said, it's certainly defensible to take any of the top three with your first selection, depending on how much you believe in the international products. Abreu could be pre-injury Kendrys Morales, but he also has lingering questions about ability to catch up to velocity and his hit tool. Tanaka could be a healthier and slightly better version of Hisashi Iwakuma and slot in as a very good no. 2 fantasy pitcher for your squad, but he's got a ton of miles already on his arm (without the support of a Darvish-like frame).

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Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Abreu, ... (01/09)
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