NFBC Market Report: March 13th-20th

With the National Fantasy Baseball Championship gathering in Las Vegas for Main Event live drafts, Fighting Chance Fantasy has you covered with the latest risers and fallers in Average Depth Position (ADP). If you're unfamiliar with NFBC, it's where the sharpest minds in the fantasy baseball community compete for grand prizes upward of $250K. For us, mere mortal fantasy players, analyzing NFBC market trends can be a useful tool to stay ahead of your competition. Exploiting market deficiencies can give you an edge when constructing the ideal draft-day fantasy roster. The following ADP data were tracked from 119 NFBC drafts from the period of March 13th-20th and compared to ADP from March 6th-13th.   

Estimated read time: 10-15 minutes 

ADP 3/13
ADP 3/20 
Trevor Megill MIL  RP  466 376 +90
Joel Payamps MIL  RP  366 286  +80
Garrett Crochet CWS SP  457 389 +68
Ryan Weathers MIA SP  451 383 +68
Victor Scott STL OF  379 311 +68
Michael Kopech CWS RP  423 315 +66
Abner Uribe MIL RP 393  332 +61
Ceddanne Rafaela  BOS OF  338 283 +55
Jackson Merrill  SD  SS  306 260 +46
Gavin Stone  LAD  SP  332 297 +35 
Jared Jones  PIT SP  396 361 +35
Jose Leclerc  TEX  RP  235 204 +31
Zack Littell  TB  RP  339 309 +30
A.J. Puk  MIA  SP  268 241 +27
Jack Flaherty DET SP  327 301 +26
  • Merrill on the rise in NFBC ADP with promotion 

Jackson Merrill

Do yourself a favor this season, and don't leave your draft without clicking at least one Jackson on your fantasy team. Jackson Holliday and Jackson Chourio are future top picks in fantasy baseball, and the latest Jackson to emerge in NFBC ADP this week was San Diego Padres prospect Jackson Merrill. The 20-year-old won the team's Opening Day center field job with a strong spring and ascended 46 spots to 260 overall this week. In 13 Cactus League games, Merrill hit .351 with two home runs and two steals while showcasing promising hit tools he displayed in the minors last year. The 6-foot-3 lefty split last season with two clubs in the Padres organization in High-A and Double-A, and held his own against older prospects. Merrill impressed with a 12.1 strikeout rate while providing above-average power and speed. Merrill projects to be a future shortstop for the Padres, a position he played a vast majority of the time last year. Still, he showed versatility moving around the diamond and made appearances in left field, second base, and first base.

Fortunately for Merrill, the Padres are starting the 2024 campaign with an extremely shallow roster when it opened its season in Korea against the division-rival Los Angeles Dodgers. He secured his first career hit over the two-game series while hitting in the ninth spot in the batting order. Look for Merrill's stock to continue to rise as soon as he begins to hit closer to the middle or top of the Padres order. With his natural shortstop position spoken for, San Diego is using Merrill's athleticism in center field, and he could return double-digit steals early in his career. There's still a ton to learn about the youngster, such as righty/lefty splits and how concrete his playing time is. But we know the Padres were willing to give Merrill some at-bats to start the season, and he could provide some interesting value for fantasy players looking to fill a middle infielder spot late in drafts this weekend. Once he reaches the minimum amount of starts as an outfielder, Merrill could be a very valuable piece to move around your fantasy lineup. Merrill has a real chance to be special, so before you click that roster clogger, take a hard look at Merrill because he is a player on the rise and can return value all season long. 

  • How did the NFBC draft the Brewers bullpen?

Devin Williams

To be honest, Devin Williams deserves to be headlining the NFBC fallers section by dropping a whopping 246 spots in ADP in just one week. But since that news broke late last week, we should instead focus on who will replace the two-time All-Star within the Brewers bullpen. If you haven't heard, the reigning National League Reliever of the Year will be sidelined for approximately three months while recovering from two stress fractures in his back. Ironically, Williams took on a heavy workload last year and carried the Brewers bullpen after a rare in-season promotion. Milwaukee surprisingly moved on from All-Star Josh Hader at the trade deadline last year, essentially giving Williams the closer role full-time. Williams excelled in his new role and finished 8-3 with a 1.53 ERA and a career-high 36 saves to finish the year. Now, with Hader long gone and Williams on the shelf, the Brewers will look dramatically different on the backend of games until at least June. But who will close games for Milwaukee?

New manager Pat Murphy already had a challenging road ahead of him this season with the loss of front-end pitchers Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes. Woodruff had surgery on the anterior capsule in his right shoulder in October and is expected to miss the entire 2024 season. The Brewers decided to deal Burnes, the 2021 National League Cy Young winner, to Baltimore for Joey Ortiz and DL Hall. Burnes, 29, was set to become a free agent at the end of the 2024 season and reportedly feuded with the Brewers front office over arbitration hearings and ended any contract extension talks. Whoever was starting for Milwaukee, at least Murphy knew he had one of the premier closers in the game to finish out games. But now he may have to navigate with a committee approach until Williams is back in June until a hot hand emerges in Milwaukee.      

MIL Bullpen
Min Pick
Max Pick
Joel Payamps 286 +80 170 443
 Abner Uribe 332 +61 237  543 
Trevor Megill  376  +90 262  596 

Joel Payamps

The NFBC tapped reliever Joel Payamps as a prospective closer for Milwaukee and elevated the veteran pitcher to 80 spots in ADP to 286 overall last week. Payamps gained the second most ground in the top 500 in NFBC ADP next to teammate Trevor Megill. Payamps pitched his way into a new role in 2023 when the Brewers graduated Williams into the closer's role. The 29-year-old recorded a career-high 28 holds for the Brewers and finished his breakout season with a 2.55 ERA and 1.05 WHIP across 70.2 innings while notching three saves. Quite a turnaround for a journeyman reliever pitching for his fifth franchise in four professional seasons. Some deeper leagues don't have the luxury to wait and see how this situation will shake out for Milwaukee. If Payamps fails to take advantage of the opportunity to close games, then the Brewers could give some chances to promising young flamethrower Abner Uribe. The 23-year-old impressed last year with his triple-digit fastball and already owns the fastest pitch ever recorded for a Brewers pitcher at 103.3 mph. Uribe gained 61 spots in NFBC ADP and remains a speculative add in most leagues looking for any relief options to emerge with a steady job in Milwaukee. Megill remains a dark horse while turning in a good spring for Murphy's bullpen. The 30-year-old had a 52:12 K:BB rate over 34 2/3 innings last year. Even though he probably doesn't belong on a roster yet, make sure you get him on your watchlist in case Milwaukee pivots if Payamps or Uribe struggles early on.  

  • Rafaela ascends NFBC before final draft weekend 

Ceddanne Rafaela

In the first edition of this ADP series, we tabbed Vaughn Grissom, an early riser in NFBC ADP. Grissom was enjoying a good start to his spring and was projected to be an everyday second baseman in Boston's lineup. A groin injury has sidelined Grissom during spring training and could watch the Red Sox take the field on Opening Day without him. 23-year-old prospect Ceddanne Rafaela has been primarily in the outfield but may have played his way into the Red Sox lineup, filling in for Grissom. Rafaela has put pressure on projected center fielder Jarren Duran in camp with his elite speed and solid defense. Veteran fantasy managers at the NFBC are taking notice that Boston wants to keep the youngster in the lineup and moved him up 55 spots to 283 overall.

In limited action last year, Rafaela went 20-for-83 with two home runs and five RBIs in 28 games while hitting on top of the Boston lineup. Even being inexperienced at the big league level, Red Sox manager Alex Cora tried to take advantage of his speed last year. Rafaela stole 36 bags in 108 games in the minors and was able to pop 20 homers during that span. Once Rafaela makes the Boston roster, he can bring speed/power elements to Boston that need versatility as an outfielder and infielder. The Red Sox don't expect to contend in a loaded American League East that features some of the best teams in the league in upstart Baltimore Orioles and perennial contender Tampa Bay Rays. So, look for Rafaela to get some playing time, and they are trying to fit him into its lineup. Maybe we should, too. 

  • Is Victor Scott in the plans on Opening Day?

Victor Scott

St. Louis outfielder Victor Scott gained 68 spots in NFBC ADP this week and remains one of the best storylines heading into the final games this spring. Cardinals manager Carlos Marmol has waited until the last moment to announce who will open as the starting centerfielder on Opening Day. Scott, veteran Dylan Carlson, and Michael Siani were all in the mix during Grapefruit League games this spring. Carlson is likely to receive the job when we get to the regular season due to his experience, but Scott has made things very interesting for the former top prospect. Carlson, 25, had an offseason ankle injury and was projected to receive a large share of the playing time in center field as veteran Tommy Edman was recovering from his offseason surgery to his right wrist. Edman was shut down during the spring and is expected to start the season on the injured list. He has appeared as a major faller in NFBC ADP in past editions and continued the trend down this week, dropping another 48 spots to 263 overall.

Scott, 23, has been a dynamic base stealer during his minor league career. In 163 career games, Scott has an impressive 107 steals, and a 50-steal season in the major leagues is definitely on the table with regular playing time. Steals are such a fickle category in fantasy baseball, and players who specialize in that area with Scott's ability can carry your team all season long. In the past, even sharp fantasy players pushed up and reached for speedsters to supply their fantasy lineups while ignoring their light-hitting deficiencies. Prime examples like Billy HamiltonJake McCarthy, and Esteury Ruiz shot up draft boards despite not contributing to other important categories and burned even the sharpest minds in the industry. It will be interesting to see if Scott can shake the stigma and provide in multiple areas on your fantasy roster. Keep an eye out for how St. Louis will use Scott going forward. His defense is rated as a 70-grade, which should give Marmol motivation for plenty of playing time this year. Keep tabs on Scott late in your draft, especially if you have room to spare on deep rosters. If Scott can carry over his solid spring numbers into the regular season, then he could be one of the hottest free agents this summer and will require a lot of FAAB to acquire.         

ADP 3/6
ADP 3/13
Devin Williams MIL RP  71 317 -246
Gerrit Cole NYY SP 39 178 -178
T.J. Friedl CIN OF  105 252 -102
Eury Perez MIA SP  82 162 -80
Taj Bradley TB SP   273 350 -77
Danny Jansen TOR C  315 275 -60
Robert Stephenson LAA RP  314 373 -59
Jarred Kelenic ATL OF 205 257 -52
Noelvi Marte CIN 3B  346 396 -50
Tommy Edman STL 2B/SS/OF 215 263 -48
Emmet Sheehan LAD SP  329 372 -43
Nathaniel Lowe  TEX 1B  250 292 -42
Gavin Williams CLE SP  188 229 -41
Lars Nootbaar STL OF  253 290 -37
Brett Baty NYM 3B  358 394 -36
  • Where did the NFBC draft Yankees starters?

Gerrit Cole

Sadly, spring training will be known for the injuries to high-end fantasy baseball pitchers this year. Pitching has been a position that's traditionally safe at the top of fantasy drafts, but this year feels different without the reigning American League Cy Young award winner, Gerrit Cole. With the biggest draft weekend of the season on the horizon this weekend, many fantasy managers are left wondering where to draft the recently shutdown ace. The Yankees and Cole concluded rest was the best option after discovering nerve inflammation as the root cause of discomfort in his pitching elbow. On the bright side, the 33-year-old isn't dealing with a torn UCL, but the All-Star will possibly miss most of the first half recovering and ramping up after three to four weeks of not picking up a baseball. Sharp fantasy managers in the NFBC sounded the Death Star Klaxon with the news, and Cole's ADP imploded 139 spots to 178 overall.

Using NFBC ADP, the next four starting pitchers for the Yankees all received a boost in recent drafts this week. Nestor CortesCarlos RodonMarcus Stroman, and Clarke Schmidt gained at least a round as part of the new starting rotation in New York. Cortes has been named the Yankees' new Opening Day starter and gained the most spots in NFBC ADP. Cortes dealt with his fair share of injuries last year and was limited to 12 starts. Rodon is a two-time All-Star but has underperformed his lucrative contract in pinstripes. Rodon had a year to forget and finished with a 6.85 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. However, the former first-round pick can provide strikeout upside if you can stomach the high ERA and WHIP. Despite a down year, Rodon recorded a 22.4 strikeout rate and a 12.5 percent swinging strike rate, which could lead many to believe he's a good candidate for positive regression this year. 




Min Pick

Max Pick

Carlos Rodon 145 +9 85 195
Jordan Montgomery 188 -14 133 300
Nestor Cortes 215  +16 164 284
Marcus Stroman 240 +7 168 293
Clarke Schmidt 312 +9 229 390

Marcus Stroman is taking the ball in the third rotation spot for the Bombers after signing a two-year, $37 million deal in the offseason. The two-time All-Star also dealt with injuries in his final year with the Chicago Cubs. Hip and rib injuries derailed a solid first half, and he was only able to pitch 24 innings in the second half of last year. The Yankees lost out of the Blake Snell sweepstakes and could turn their attention to free-agent Jordan Montgomery. The left-hander held out for a long-term deal but could find a roster on a short-term deal by Opening Day. Don't let Montgomery fall too far in those drafts over the weekend, and could be a steal even with a lengthy ramp-up before making his debut - possibly back in the Bronx. 

  • How is the NFBC handling the Eury Perez injury?

Eury Perez 

It's expected that a pitcher of Cole's caliber with higher mileage on the pitching odometer will get some time in the shop. Pitchers like Lucas GiolitoKyle Bradish, and Kodai Senga experienced significant injuries this spring, and we were almost out of the woods until Eury Perez popped up on the news notifications late in camp. Last week, the Marlins announced the 20-year-old is in danger of missing Opening Day after reporting elbow discomfort during a spring training start. The youngster turned in an electric rookie season last year for Miami and finished with a 3.15 ERA in 91 1/3 innings over 19 starts. Sharp fantasy managers were targeting Perez as a popular breakout this year, but with his outlook cloudy, the NFBC sank the Marlins' hurler 80 spots to 162 overall. Mitigating the risk/reward for Perez has been difficult as the Marlins have been slow to provide any updates on his health. Perez is scheduled to undergo imaging and testing on his throwing elbow, and we'll likely learn more about his status after many drafts have been completed.

MIA Starters



 Min Pick

Max Pick

Jesus Luzardo 77 +10 56 118
A.J. Puk 241 +27 185 350
Braxton Garrett 255 +1 198 475
Trevor Rogers 295 +1 229 384
Edward Cabrera 331 -21 256 481
Ryan Weathers 383 +68 258 582

Naturally, the rest of the pitching staff gets an upgrade in ADP as long as Miami remains ambiguous about Perez's status. Unfortunately for the Marlins, Perez isn't the only pitcher with injury concerns. Both Edward Cabrera and Braxton Garrett are working their way back with bullpen sessions last week. Cabrera was shut down for a shoulder impingement and saw his stock fall 21 spots to 331 overall. Garrett, meanwhile, has already been ruled out of Opening Day and is scheduled to make his debut in late April. With Garrett and Cabrera ailing, it opens the door for A.J. Puk and Ryan Weathers to get opportunities early in the season. Manager Skip Schumaker has a puzzle to figure out in the first month of the season, and fantasy managers desperate for streaming potential should keep tabs on this staff. 

  • Kelenic descends in NFBC ADP with Duval signing 

Jarred Kelenic

Many veteran fantasy managers were excited to see how former top prospect Jarred Kelenic would fare with 500-plus at-bats in an elite lineup like the Atlanta Braves. A combination of power and speed intrigued the Braves front office enough to make a trade with the Seattle Mariners in the offseason. Kelenic was enjoying the best year of his career before fracturing his toe in a dugout incident that kept him sidelined for the stretch run last year. With a change of scenery and without all the pressure of producing in the middle of the Seattle lineup, the Braves were hoping it could unlock his untapped potential, hitting behind stars like Ronald AcunaMatt Olson, and Ozzie Albies. Kelenic may have sparked some interest in Atlanta with his unique reverse splits when facing left-handed pitching (.259 vs. LHP, .253 overall in 105 games in Seattle).

With the regular season around the corner, that dream was dashed as soon as the Braves decided to sign veteran Adam Duvall to platoon with Kelenic in left field. The move left NFBC managers to pivot as well, and he fell 52 spots to 257 overall in one week. It's hard to blame Atlanta - and the sharps in NFBC - for finally pivoting away from everyday at-bats for Kelenic, as the left-hander had just three hits in 38 Grapefruit League at-bats. In 12 spring training games, Kelenic wasn't able to display his power/speed profile, with no home runs and one steal. Kelenic is still 24 years old and an injury away from being inserted into one of the best lineups in baseball. Fortunately for him, defense and speed don't slump, but for now, look elsewhere unless you can afford to use a spot on a deep roster to see if he can turn it around in Atlanta. 

Follow Michael Chasco on Twitter (X) @ChascoFCF for more fantasy baseball coverage.

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