That’s right, it’s just about go time for the newest “expert” fantasy baseball league. I am participating in League Number 4, which includes fantasy personalities such as James Anderson from RotoWire & Tony Cincotta from the FNTSY Network.

The draft order for this league was set randomly. As such, I was assigned to the 15th overall pick (the wheel). There isn’t a better placement in my opinion. Not only is this league utilizing a slow-draft, a format in which I love being on the wheel, but it’s also filled with some sharp competition. When playing against a strong field of fantasy baseball managers I’ll take the wheel over middle of the pack any day.

My strategy at the 15/16 turn is simple – draft one of the top starting pitchers and a hitter. If for some strange reason two of the top four or five starting pitchers were to fall to me at said turn, I would more than likely alter my plan and take two starters.

In a typical 15-team mixed slow-draft from the wheel, I’d be looking at a starter and Gary Sanchez, but because TGFBI only utilizes one catcher, I’ll be waiting on the position until the middle-to-lower-end of what I see as a big cluster of similar talent at the position. This cluster includes the likes of Wilson Ramos, Yadier Molina, Brian McCann, etc.

As I begin to map out a potential draft plan, I’ll utilize NFBC ADP to get an idea of who and/or what positions might be available at any given pick. This exercise can be somewhat less productive during the early rounds, but a general idea can still be gained as long as you provide yourself a little more flexibility and understanding that the ADP’s will be a little more tightly bundled in this portion of the draft.

Looking at the current NFBC ADP, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Chris Sale all project to be off the board before my pick at 15. Corey Kluber with an ADP of 14.22 is the most likely starter to fall to me, however, this order can vary greatly from draft-to-draft, so I’m really just hoping one of the four falls to me.

Remember, after my back-to-back picks at 15/16, I will not be selecting again until picks 45/46. If the big four starters are taken, do I consider Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, Carlos Carrasco, Zack Greinke or Luis Severino as early as pick 16?

I have to. The starting pitcher pool has some cliffs this season. For example, the projected value range of my top-15 starters range from the mid-30 dollar range with Chris Sale and Corey Kluber all the way down to $18 with Gerrit Cole.

To miss out on at least a mid-to-high $20 option as a staff anchor will put me in immediate catch-up mode when building my pitching staff, which is not a position I feel like chasing and hoping to get lucky with during the season.

In terms of hitters I’d like to see fall, Kris Bryant (NFBC ADP: 15.16) is atop my list of desired hitters. Nailing down 30 home runs, with the potential for 10 stolen bases, a strong batting average and what should be good counting statistics would be a stellar way to begin my offense.

If Bryant is unavailable with my selection, Freddie Freeman and Jose Ramirez are my two backup options at this point. You’ll notice in both situations I am aiming to protect batting average early. Being an overall competition, I cannot afford to be weak anywhere coming out of the draft, despite the fact that yes trading is allowed. Personally, I love to trade, but I’m not willing to bet my success in the overall on having to make a trade. I’d rather use that option to really push me over the top or address an injury if need be.

The slow-draft for this league begins tomorrow. I’ll be back with more updates and planning as we get underway.

Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavila III

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