Throughout the offseason, the Fantasy Team has analyzed every position group in multiple ways. We have offered tiered rankings, three-year rankings, dynasty rankings, and various kinds of player profiles. We have even suggested players to target and avoid at each position, though that’s more of a compilation of individual opinions than some kind of overarching consensus. I’d argue that no other site has provided such a comprehensive preview, both in terms of breadth and depth, of the 2016 fantasy season.

Some readers are still prepping for their drafts, though, which means those folks are scouring the rankings for draft-day bargains. Using the NFBC average-draft positions provided here, we can identify a half-dozen players who are, on average, being taken too low. These are players one can reasonably expect to fall beyond where their likely production would otherwise have them be drafted. In other words, these six guys are potential bargains.

Yan Gomes, C, Cleveland Indians

  • Overall ADP: 175th
  • Positional ADP: 11th

I guess we’re going to collectively forget about the 2013 and 2014 seasons just because Gomes limped his way through an injury-riddled 2015 campaign. He only managed 389 plate appearances and only managed a pedestrian .231 batting average; however, it’s important to recognize that he still clubbed 12 homers. In other words, his .160 ISO wasn’t too far removed from his career .180 ISO—and although it was a career low, only eight catchers (min. 300 PA) bested Gomes isolated power numbers from a year ago. He’s a good bet, if healthy, to be one of the better sources of homers from the catcher position.

Furthermore, for those pointing at the batting average, the 28-year-old (yep, only 28) suffered a .285 BABIP. That’s well below his career average of .312, and even further below what he compiled in 2013 and 2014, the only two seasons in which he had over 300 plate appearances. I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t expect Gomes’s BABIP to bounce back above .300, especially when one considers the fact that he never had a BABIP under .290 in his minor-league career.

Overall, he’s a good bet to hit 20-plus homers with, at least, a passable batting average. Only three catchers swatted more than 20 home runs in 2015—Russell Martin, Brian McCann, and Salvador Perez—and all three of them were top-four fantasy catchers. If Yan Gomes can stay healthy over the course of an entire season, he should easily outperform his preseason ADP, and there’s some serious top-tier upside.

Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Boston Red Sox

  • Overall ADP: 291st
  • Positional ADP: 23rd

We can complain that he’s overweight all we want, but it’s also disingenuous to pretend as if his weight is suddenly an issue. Sandoval has always struggled with his body. Yet he’s still a career .288/.339/.452 hitter with a “bad body.” The core components of what constitutes Pablo Sandoval remained in place. He remains a free-swinger, doesn’t walk too much, and keeps his strikeouts in check. His ground-ball rate jumped to a career high, but that wasn’t coupled with an increased pull percentage, which indicates that he wasn’t merely rolling over the baseball more often. Instead, his .270 BABIP is by far the lowest of his career. Sandoval has an extensive track record, and any BABIP under .290 just doesn’t fit—and I don’t see anything out of the ordinary statistically that would account for that drop. Simply citing age or weight as a catch-all excuse is full of non-verifiable assumptions and narrative-building.

It should be noted that Sandoval continues to struggle against lefties. All 10 of his home runs came against right-handed pitching in 2015, and he’s a career .259/.306/.368 hitter against southpaws. He’s searching for something that works, even ditching switch-hitting. Perhaps Boston figures out a way to platoon him at third base—something that could paradoxically improve his fantasy stock in a way, if deployed correctly, as he hit .266/.317/.427 against righties last year and still had ample room for BABIP improvement.

Gerardo Parra, OF, Colorado Rockies

  • Overall ADP: 194th
  • Positional ADP: 52nd

Here’s a dude who was the 30th-ranked fantasy outfielder a year ago, signs a contract to move to the hitter’s paradise at Coors, and still somehow falls outside the top 50 in preseason drafts. People are undoubtedly worried about his freefall after joining the Baltimore Orioles—as he only managed a .218 TAv—but it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. His performance in Baltimore doesn’t mirror anything he’s done in the past, and while one could say the same thing about his Brewers’ production, we’re still talking about a career .277 hitter who connected with double-digit homers in two of the past three years moving to Coors Field.

In other words, he’s moving to a place that made Corey Dickerson look like a borderline fantasy All-Star, even though Dickerson only hit .246/.286/.410 away from Coors Field. I think Gerardo Parra is a good bet to hit 15 homers and swipe 15 bags with a .270-plus batting average. Not all that different than what Brett Gardner did a year ago, and he was the 25th-overall fantasy outfielder.

Clay Buchholz, SP, Boston Red Sox

  • Overall ADP: 286th
  • Positional ADP: 77th

A polarizing figure in fantasy baseball, Buchholz could pay huge dividends for an owner who’s willing to make a minimal investment. The right-hander disappointed (that feels like an understatement, but I would’ve needed to invent a word to portray the feeling I have in mind) in 2014, posting a 5.34 ERA and torpedoing everyone who paid a pretty penny to acquire him after a brilliant 2013 campaign. Things improved a year ago. It wasn’t just the 3.26 ERA that impressed, either, as his 3.37 DRA and 78 cFIP both bode well for the future. His swinging-strike rate jumped back into the double digits, which resulted in a 22.8 percent strikeout rate, and his command improved. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of his performance was that he handcuffed lefties:






vs. LHH






vs. RHH






That reverse platoon split is vastly different from the 2014 season, in which he allowed lefties to hit .281/.356/.437 with only a 17.1 percent strikeout rate and a 9.1 percent walk rate. In fact, if we regressed his BABIP against righties in 2015, he would’ve had a truly stellar season.

Of course, Buchholz has crimson red flags due to his injury history. He missed the last three months of the season with a right flexor strain in his elbow. He’s 31 years old and has only made 28-or-more starts in three big-league seasons. Fantasy owners should expect the right-hander to miss time. The upshot, though, is that it appears he’s poised for a productive season on the mound, and at 286th-overall, it’s not as if you’re paying much to get 100 innings of above-average work.

Nathan Eovaldi, SP, New York Yankees

  • Overall ADP: 318th
  • Positional ADP: 87th

There isn’t much that I can say in this space that I didn’t cover a couple of weeks ago. His improved performance in the second half coincided with a firm commitment to his splitter (or changeup), so much so that one can’t help but wonder what he could put together in 2016 while utilizing such a repertoire over a full season.

It remains ludicrous that Eovaldi continues to go behind guys like Blake Snell, Nathan Karns, and Josh Tomlin. The former will begin the year in the minors with no real timetable for a jump to the majors, while the latter two currently don’t project to break camp in their club’s respective starting rotations. I also mentioned that Eovaldi could profile very similarly to Jake Odorizzi, who is currently being drafted as the 42nd-overall starter, and Eovaldi should be the one receiving the most run support between the two.

Oh, and just because it’s enjoyable to type, Eovaldi reportedly touched 99 mph with his fastball during his spring debut.

Will Smith, RP, Milwaukee Brewers

  • Overall ADP: 256th
  • Positional ADP: 31st

Smith has been unable to slide up draft boards because the Milwaukee Brewers refuse to name a full-time closer, but fantasy relievers can remain a valuable commodity outside of the saves category. For example: Smith did not close a single game in 2015 yet accumulated more raw fantasy value in ESPN leagues than Gio Gonzalez, who was the 75th-overall starter. A 34.5 percent strikeout rate will help make that happen.

If Smith does become the everyday closer for the Brewers—which is likely, not least because the Brewers will want to maximize his trade value before the July trade window—he still is safer than guys like Steve Cishek, Jason Grilli, Brad Ziegler, Arodys Vizcaino, Fernando Rodney, J.J. Hoover, and the like. Three of those guys are consistently going higher than Smith in fantasy drafts.

What’s the downside for Smith? A high-volume-strikeout reliever with a handful of save opportunities, who perhaps struggles a bit with his WHIP ratios due to a higher-than-average walk rate. The upside is a top-10 fantasy reliever with 30-plus saves and a strikeout rate at 30-plus percent. Both of those are rosterable in deeper leagues. Unlike Ziegler, for example, who isn’t worth a roster spot if he’s not closing for the Diamondbacks. Same with Cishek. Same with Hoover. And so on.

And that’s why we’re talking about Smith and not Jeremy Jeffress. Smith is arguably rosterable regardless of this spring’s outcome with a high upside. Jeffress’ fantasy value hinges completely on whether or not he’s pitching the ninth inning. Side with Mr. Smith.

Thank you for reading

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That was a compelling argument you made for Pablo Sandofat but I think I'll pass anyway. Somethings he rarely if ever does at a buffet.
That's good news for others, my friend.
I am a big fan of Eovaldi, but is there a player who consistently gets less production from their talent than him?
Over the course of his caree, perhaps, but there was a notable shift in who he was in the second half last year. Not sure it's a far comparison until we get more data. We just have legitimate reason to think it won't be more of the same in 2016.