2016 Fantasy Baseball Catcher Rankings

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We all know that the catcher position in fantasy baseball is the most shallow, which is a direct result of catchers not collecting as much playing time than other positions because of the need for constant days off due to the rigors of the position. So just how important is it to grab one of the top ranked catchers? There are a couple of factors that should be taken into consideration.

First, is your league a 1-catcher or 2-catcher league? (i.e. how many catchers does each team have in the starting lineup?) In 2-catcher leagues, catchers carry significantly more value because the output of a replacement level catcher (i.e. an un-drafted catcher that you could easily pick up off the waiver wire) is extremely low. So someone of Buster Posey’s caliber in performance and consistency could actually be a borderline top 12 pick in 2-catcher leagues.

Second, how many teams are in your league? The lesser the number of teams, the lesser the emphasis there needs to be on drafting a top catcher. For instance, in a 10-team league that starts 1 catcher, the value gap between the top ranked catcher and a replacement level catcher is considerably less than a 16-team league that starts 1 catcher.

These are just some factors to consider when talking about fantasy catchers.

Below are THE BACKWARDS K 2016 FANTASY BASEBALL CATCHER RANKINGS. Included for each player is “The Backwards K Quick Take” and a self-produced player projection for 2016. 

***Please note the following:

  • The player’s names are color coded to signal different tiers at the position.
  • The rankings reflect standard 5×5 roto scoring settings (AVG/HR/RBI/R/SB) with position eligibility requirements as 10 total games played at a position in 2015, or 5 total games started at a position in 2015 (i.e. Yahoo! settings).
  • The numerical order is not necessarily a suggested order to draft them in, but it is the order that is calculated based on each player’s listed projections, unless noted otherwise.
  • Noted in some players’ “Quick Takes” is if they gain or lose notable value in points leagues that factor in penalize hitter strikeouts and reward hitter walks. Continue reading
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MLB DFS Strategy for Wednesday 9/30/15

STRATEGY FOR WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

Greetings all! I’m short on time here, so today’s article isn’t going to have the same format or as detailed analysis and information. Also, keep in mind that the weather in the eastern part of the nation this week might be a bit wet, as evidenced by the three games that were rained out and postponed yesterday, which surely crushed many hopeful DFS lineups. The weather across the slate looks pretty clean for now in terms of getting all the games in, but some strong winds may play a factor. ALWAYS be aware of the weather! So with that being said, let’s get down to it.

PITCHERS

  • Masahiro Tanaka ($10,200) is the highest priced pitcher of the day, but he runs into a Red Sox team that is on a 5-game winning streak with 32 runs generated during that time. Despite a 3-0 record against the Sox this season, Tanaka has not pitched particularly well against them with a 5.20 ERA and he has been nursing a hamstring injury. The Yankees really need a win here to shift their momentum heading into the post-season, but I don’t like the outlook for Tanaka against the surging (better late than never) Red Sox.
  • The lefty Drew Smyly ($9,900) has a home matchup against a Marlins team that is very unimposing and has been featuring a lot of left-handed bats lately. Like fellow lefty Matt Moore, Smyly should have a decent amount of success against the fish and he also carries a good deal of strikeout upside.
  • Jon Lester ($9,600) is seemingly coming at a reduced price in a road game at Cincy and I think that he makes for a nice play. The veteran lefty has seen the Reds three times this season and had two really nice DraftKings scores and one game was a bit of a dud, but I like his chances to produce a third good score. Lester has done a pretty good job at limiting the damage from the Reds’ best hitters and they are a team that can strikeout a lot, as evidenced by Lester’s 10 K performance against them earlier in the season.
  • Garrett Richards ($9,200) is pitching for an Angels team that is surging and very hungry for a post-season berth. He is the number one guy in their rotation and there’s no bigger game for the Angels this season than this one as they head into a 4-game series at Texas to conclude the regular season. The A’s generally don’t strikeout a whole lot, but Richards’ teammate Nick Tropeano punched out 11 A’s yesterday as perhaps the A’s have mailed it in. Richards has nice upside and has been pitching pretty well as of late.
  • Jordan Zimmermann ($8,100) is taking on the not so powerful Braves who he has baffled this season with a 1.97 ERA in 5 starts. Not usually known for his big strikeout appeal, Zimmermann has struck out nearly a batter per inning in the second half of the season (82 K in 84 IP) and definitely has some appeal here at a cheaper price and against a poor offense.
  • It may seem like a bargain for Scott Kazmir ($7,600), but I would not trust the lefty here. He hasn’t been sharp at all in September, the Astros are the worst road team in the AL (which hurts his chances at a win), and the Mariners have some right-handed bats that could really put a hurting on Kazmir (Nelson Cruz and Franklin Gutierrez). Avoid.
  • If you want to go cheap then I would suggest Andrew Cashner ($6,100) and Logan Verrett ($4,000). Cashner has been a huge disappointment this season, but on paper this is a pretty decent matchup pitching at Petco Park against a Brewers offense that is missing Ryan Braun. Cashner still carries a good amount of risk, but he does have big game potential. Verrett will likely be pretty highly owned due to his dirt cheap minimum price and a matchup against the lowly Phillies, but we can’t ignore him and the opportunity that he has. Verrett had a similar opportunity last week against the Braves and didn’t capitalize on it, but I would expect better of him this time and he has a great chance at a win.

HITTERS

  • The Mets seem like some pretty obvious stack option taking on the flyball heavy, unimpressive rookie Alec Asher. (NOTE: Beware of heavy winds blowing in from LF though)
  • The Angels will see the washed up veteran lefty Barry Zito, which presents a great opportunity for those right-handed bats.
  • The Rangers feature a lot of left-handed bats in their lineup, so taking on the lefty Matt Boyd may not seem ideal, but a few of those lefties have done well against Boyd this season. Rougned Odor and Mitch Moreland in particular have homered against him.
  • Mike Pelfrey has been absolute garbage on the road for the Twins this year with an ERA over 5.00, so the Indians seem like an ideal target that can be stacked with all those left-handed/switch-hitting bats they have. (NOTE: Beware of heavy winds blowing in from RF though)
  • Sneakily we can consider the Red Sox against the top priced pitcher Masahiro Tanaka who the Red Sox have hit well, as previously mentioned. (NOTE: Beware of heavy winds blowing in from LF though)
  • Also sneaky consideration should be given to the Mariners with those right-handed sluggers Nelson Cruz and Franklin Gutierrez having great potential. Gutierrez in particular is 10 for 23 with 3 HR against Kazmir.

***All player salaries reflect DraftKings pricing and the given strategy is more specific toward GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments rather than cash games (head to head, 50/50, etc.).  

***Article written before confirmation of starting lineups

***All stats from FanGraphs

MLB DFS Strategy for Monday 9/28/15

Source: www.sportsnet.ca

Photo Source: http://www.sportsnet.ca

Season long fantasy sports leagues have been around for decades now and have really revolutionized the way both casual and hardcore sports fans look at the game.  But a more recent adaptation of fantasy sports is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) approach where you are only committed to a single day’s worth of games at a time and can win some serious cash on a daily basis.

***All player salaries reflect DraftKings pricing and the given strategy is more specific toward GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments rather than cash games (head to head, 50/50, etc.).  

STRATEGY FOR MONDAY SEPTEMBER 28, 2015

I like to start my MLB DFS research by checking in on the weather, and check out some tips at The Backwards K on how to utilize the weather when constructing MLB DFS lineups.

As always, check in on the weather at least a couple hours or less before game time to get a better picture of any potential weather concerns, but it’s also good to know if the weather is going to be hot, cold, windy, or humid because these are all factors that could influence our DFS lineup decisions. Daily Baseball Data is a great spot to get an hour-by-hour forecast of each game. Continue reading

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire (9/25/15): Rich Hill Is Not Over the Hill Just Yet

Embed from Getty Images

We are just days away from the final week of the fantasy baseball season so that means that this will be the year’s final Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column. Sad times, I know. But that won’t prevent me from getting an early start on preparing for next year’s fantasy baseball season as I will be doing some research and analysis as soon as the season is over. Yes, I’m aware that I have a fantasy baseball addiction — and there is no cure — and I love it!

The final week of the regular season is always a bit funky. There will be plenty of adjustments to teams’ starting rotations as they either rearrange theirs for post-season preparation, shut down pitchers due to workload concerns, or go to a 6-man rotation to give some pitchers extra rest and/or to give some pitchers an extra look before the season concludes. Because of that, forecasting 2-start pitchers in the final week is practically impossible, so it’s best to just find pitchers who are pitching well and have positive hopeful matchups. In addition, many starting pitchers may even have their final start of the season cut short after a few innings. The same thing goes for hitters — they may see more days off and early exits from games as teams may more often start players who are normally reserves and also work in pinch-hitters, pinch-runners, and defensive replacements. Just be prepared for these things to happen and then yell at your MLB.com At-Bat app when you see the bad news — I do it all the time.

I’ll review last week’s recommendations first (see full article here), some of which did pretty well, and then I’ll give another 6 hitters and 6 pitchers who you can utilize for the final days of the season. Good luck to you all and bring home a fantasy championship or two!

***NOTE: To qualify as a waiver wire recommendation, a player must be owned in less than 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and less than 60% of CBS leagues (players typically have higher ownership levels on CBS). Continue reading

MLB DFS Strategy for Wednesday 9/23/15

Source: Ben Margot/Associated Press

Source: Ben Margot/Associated Press

Season long fantasy sports leagues have been around for decades now and have really revolutionized the way both casual and hardcore sports fans look at the game.  But a more recent adaptation of fantasy sports is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) approach where you are only committed to a single day’s worth of games at a time and can win some serious cash on a daily basis.

***All player salaries reflect DraftKings pricing and the given strategy is more specific toward GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments rather than cash games (head to head, 50/50, etc.).  

STRATEGY FOR WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 23, 2015

I like to start my MLB DFS research by checking in on the weather, and check out some tips at The Backwards K on how to utilize the weather when constructing MLB DFS lineups.

As always, check in on the weather at least a couple hours or less before game time to get a better picture of any potential weather concerns, but it’s also good to know if the weather is going to be hot, cold, windy, or humid because these are all factors that could influence our DFS lineup decisions. Daily Baseball Data is a great spot to get an hour-by-hour forecast of each game. Continue reading

MLB DFS Strategy for Monday 9/21/15

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Season long fantasy sports leagues have been around for decades now and have really revolutionized the way both casual and hardcore sports fans look at the game.  But a more recent adaptation of fantasy sports is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) approach where you are only committed to a single day’s worth of games at a time and can win some serious cash on a daily basis.

***All player salaries reflect DraftKings pricing and the given strategy is more specific toward GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments rather than cash games (head to head, 50/50, etc.).  

STRATEGY FOR MONDAY SEPTEMBER 21, 2015

I like to start my MLB DFS research by checking in on the weather, and check out some tips at The Backwards K on how to utilize the weather when constructing MLB DFS lineups.

As always, check in on the weather at least a couple hours or less before game time to get a better picture of any potential weather concerns, but it’s also good to know if the weather is going to be hot, cold, windy, or humid because these are all factors that could influence our DFS lineup decisions. Daily Baseball Data is a great spot to get an hour-by-hour forecast of each game. Continue reading

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire (9/18/15): Find Comfort In Conforto

Source: Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

Source: Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

We are getting down to the nitty gritty of it all with just 17 days left in the MLB season, so now is especially the time to not show fear. Take some risks by waiving certain players to pick up other players that may help you in a specific category and/or who are lined up for some very favorable matchups. The waiver wire is your friend more than ever this late in the season if you’re still in the running for your league’s championship. Chances are that half your league has checked out and they are contemplating which defense and kickers to stream for week 2 of the NFL season. Less league mates paying attention means that there’s lots of different things that you can do on your baseball waiver wire to improve your team each and every day for the rest of the season.

I’ll review last week’s recommendations first (see full article here) and then I’ll give another 6 hitters and 6 pitchers who are readily available and could be of interest to you.

***NOTE: To qualify as a waiver wire recommendation, a player must be owned in less than 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and less than 60% of CBS leagues (players typically have higher ownership levels on CBS). Continue reading

MLB DFS Strategy for Wednesday 9/16/15

Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Season long fantasy sports leagues have been around for decades now and have really revolutionized the way both casual and hardcore sports fans look at the game.  But a more recent adaptation of fantasy sports is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) approach where you are only committed to a single day’s worth of games at a time and can win some serious cash on a daily basis.

***All player salaries reflect DraftKings pricing and the given strategy is more specific toward GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments rather than cash games (head to head, 50/50, etc.).   Continue reading

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire (9/11/15): Canha Can Do

Mark Canha

Last week’s headliner, Franklin Gutierrez, didn’t end up providing any value at all over the last week because of an injury, but outside of Gutierrez, last week’s recommendations as a whole basically killed it. So hopefully you all we are able to capitalize on some of those players.

We have just a few weeks left in the season, so this is the time where you can’t be afraid to waive certain players that are battling nagging injuries or are slumping pretty badly, because it is all about maximizing what little opportunities remain. So scavenge that waiver wire, play those streamers, and win your league! Let’s look at some players who you might want to have on call, but first check out how last week’s recommendations did.

***NOTE: To qualify as a waiver wire recommendation, a player must be owned in less than 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and less than 60% of CBS leagues (players typically have higher ownership levels on CBS). Continue reading

MLB DFS Strategy for Wednesday 9/9/15

Source: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Season long fantasy sports leagues have been around for decades now and have really revolutionized the way both casual and hardcore sports fans look at the game.  But a more recent adaptation of fantasy sports is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) approach where you are only committed to a single day’s worth of games at a time and can win some serious cash on a daily basis.

***All player salaries reflect DraftKings pricing and the given strategy is more specific toward GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments rather than cash games (head to head, 50/50, etc.).   Continue reading

MLB DFS Strategy for Monday 9/7/15

Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsPhoto Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Season long fantasy sports leagues have been around for decades now and have really revolutionized the way both casual and hardcore sports fans look at the game.  But a more recent adaptation of fantasy sports is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) approach where you are only committed to a single day’s worth of games at a time and can win some serious cash on a daily basis.

***All player salaries reflect DraftKings pricing and the given strategy is more specific toward GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments rather than cash games (head to head, 50/50, etc.).   Continue reading

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire (9/4/15): Frankly, You Should Pick Up Franklin Gutierrez

Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the final month of the fantasy baseball season and chances are that many of the team managers in your league who are no longer in contention have checked out and stopped paying attention to the waiver wire. It’s an unfortunate circumstance in my opinion, as I like to play in leagues where teams remain competitive till the very end, but it does improve the chances of winning because that just means less competition when racing to the waiver wire to pick up some useful players.

So this week I am bringing to you another set of 6 hitters but only 5 pitchers this time because there just wasn’t a decent 6th pitching recommendation that I haven’t already given. These players could be of fantasy use to you for the upcoming week or even the remainder of the season. Let’s review last week’s recommendations first (see last week’s full article here) and then we will look at this week’s recommendations. Good luck!

***NOTE: To qualify as a waiver wire recommendation, a player must be owned in less than 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and less than 60% of CBS leagues (players typically have higher ownership levels on CBS). Continue reading

MLB DFS Strategy for Wednesday 9/2/15

www.newsday.com / Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

http://www.newsday.com / Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Season long fantasy sports leagues have been around for decades now and have really revolutionized the way both casual and hardcore sports fans look at the game.  But a more recent adaptation of fantasy sports is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) approach where you are only committed to a single day’s worth of games at a time and can win some serious cash on a daily basis.

***All player salaries reflect DraftKings pricing and the given strategy is more specific toward GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments rather than cash games (head to head, 50/50, etc.).   Continue reading

Fantasy Baseball Strategy: Make It a September to Remember

When the calendar flips over to September, that signifies that there is approximately one month left in the MLB season and things in the fantasy baseball land for season long leagues become pretty tense. It is the time of the season where you really need to make some calculated moves and you can’t be afraid to take some risks depending on the position that you’re in. Whether you’re in a head-to-head league vying for playoff glory or if you’re in a roto league trying to squeeze out every extra roto point, intelligent decisions down the stretch (and some good fortune) will provide you the best opportunity to achieve fantasy greatness. Here are some September tips and nuances to be aware of to help guide you.

Pay Attention to September Call-Ups

Once September 1 rolls around, MLB rosters expand to the entire 40-man roster, as opposed to the 25-man roster that they normally play with up until that point. This means that any player that is on a team’s 40-man roster is eligible to be called up from the Minors without the team having to make a corresponding move to send another player down to the Minors or to place another player on the DL. This gives MLB teams the opportunity to give young players some Major League experience for the final month of the season and it also allows for MLB teams to have some extra reinforcements to give their regular starters more rest or to utilize players for specialty roles such as pinch-running, pinch-hitting, defensive replacement, or situational pitching.

So there are going to be some prospects who are promoted to the Majors during this period (whether it is on September 1 or later in the month) who are going to step into significant roles for their team to become very fantasy relevant and could potentially provide excellent returns.  Whether it is an out of contention team giving auditions to their prospects or a contending team trying to put their best players on the field to vie for a post-season berth, there’s always going to be players who are called up in September who can make a positive fantasy impact. So pay attention to who is being called up and what role they are going to have on their team because you may be able to snag them off the waiver wire.

As previously mentioned, September call-ups gives MLB teams more opportunity to give their regulars some more rest and also to utilize players in specialty roles such as pinch-hitting and pinch-running. So some of the regular big name players may end up losing some starts or being replaced late in the game. With some extra speed guys off the bench, players like David Ortiz or Albert Pujols will get pinch ran for even more often late in the game, which takes away run scoring opportunities. While this won’t significantly impact your fantasy decision making on which players to start, it is definitely something worth knowing and being aware of.

Player Injuries

Another impact of September call-ups that is often overlooked or never thought of until the situation actually arises is the situation pertaining to player injuries. If a player incurs an injury in the late days of August leading up to September or in the actual month of September, then that player likely will not be placed on the disabled list. This is because with the MLB rosters expanding to 40 players on September 1, there really is no incentive or necessity to place an injured player on the DL when teams can freely promote any player that is already on the 40-man roster. It is a real unfortunate and annoying situation to deal with when you have an injured player that you don’t want to waive because you want his potential production for when he is healthy again, but you also don’t want him clogging up a spot on your roster, especially when your league has DL slots. In this situation, you just need to use your best judgment and decide what would be best for your team.

Utilize Schedules and Matchups to Your Advantage

While this is a strategy that should be used all season long, it really comes pronounced in the final month of the season when you need to make that final push. Glance at teams’ schedules and see what the rest of the season has in store for them. If a team has a road trip to Coors Field then maybe there’s some available hitters from that team who should have the opportunity to produce in the thin air. If a pitcher who is dominant at home but horrible on the road is projected to make 4 of his final 5 starts on the road, then use that knowledge to your advantage whether it means you bench him for the road starts or just outright waive him, which brings us to the next section…

Don’t Be Afraid to Waive Players

In the right situation, even if it carries some risk, you have to be open to the idea of waiving certain players. With only a month left in the season, this is when you really want to ride the hot hands and/or those who have favorable matchups. Injured players, players in prolonged slumps, or players in unfavorable situations are not going to do your fantasy team much good. So with only a month left in the season, there is much less risk to waiving a star caliber player who is not producing. This notion becomes a bit more cloudy in keeper or dynasty leagues, but waiving star caliber players in redraft leagues definitely needs to be given thought.

This doesn’t mean because Mike Trout only hit .218 with 1 HR in August you go and waive him for Franklin Gutierrez who hit .339 with 7 HR in August (though Gutierrez does make for a nice player to utilize against left-handed pitching). But for a better example, let’s take a look at Hanley Ramirez in the 2015 season. Ramirez produced well early on, but then he was hit with various injuries and he has missed 26 games of the season through August 31 (without ever being placed on the DL) — at least 20 of those 26 games missed were due to injury with the remaining games being routine days off. At the writing of this article, Ramirez has missed the last 4 games due to shoulder fatigue and he has hit just .183 with 0 HR and 7 RBI since the All-Star break. If and when Ramirez does return to the starting lineup, there’s really no telling if he can begin to produce again considering his awful performance in the second half with his nagging injuries likely hampering him. And even if he does eventually return, with the Red Sox out of contention he will likely be given extra rest. So it just seems like a poor outlook for him and I wouldn’t be afraid to cut fantasy ties with him if a viable replacement is available (I already have waived Hanley in a league).

Maximize Games Played/Innings Output

In many types of fantasy leagues, especially those with daily lineup changes, there are set limits on how many games you can use at each fantasy position and how many innings your fantasy pitchers may accrue for a team. In the final month of the season, this is where you really have to make it count and try to use as many games and innings as possible in an intelligent way. This doesn’t mean you go and pick up just any player and insert them into your starting lineup just for the sake of using more games or innings. Rather be smart about it and utilize some of the tips that were previously mentioned here to build a starting lineup for each day or week that will also give you an opportunity to use up as many games and innings as possible.

GOOD LUCK!

MLB DFS Strategy for Monday 8/31/15

Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Season long fantasy sports leagues have been around for decades now and have really revolutionized the way both casual and hardcore sports fans look at the game.  But a more recent adaptation of fantasy sports is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) approach where you are only committed to a single day’s worth of games at a time and can win some serious cash on a daily basis.

***All player salaries reflect DraftKings pricing and the given strategy is more specific toward GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments rather than cash games (head to head, 50/50, etc.).  

STRATEGY FOR MONDAY AUGUST 31, 2015

I like to start my MLB DFS research by checking in on the weather, and check out some tips at The Backwards K on how to utilize the weather when constructing MLB DFS lineups.

As always, check in on the weather at least a couple hours or less before game time to get a better picture of any potential weather concerns, but it’s also good to know if the weather is going to be hot, cold, windy, or humid because these are all factors that could influence our DFS lineup decisions.  Daily Baseball Data is a great spot to get an hour-by-hour forecast of each game. Continue reading