NFBC Market Report: March 6th-13th


With the National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues transitioning to Main Event season, Fighting Chance Fantasy has you covered with weekly risers and fallers according to Average Depth Positions (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 market trends in high-stakes leagues can be useful in determining which fantasy players are worth targeting and which players are being faded by sharp fantasy managers. Exploiting market deficiencies can give you an edge on ideal roster construction and give you a leg up on your competition. The following players were tracked for the time period of March 6th-13th   

Estimated read time: 7-10 minutes 

NFBC RISERS

 TEAM

 POS

ADP 3/6

ADP 3/13

+/-

Wyatt Langford TEX  OF  151 142 +9
Byron Buxton MIN  OF  250 241  +9
Will Smith  KC RP  341 332 +9
Chris Sale ATL SP  154 146 +8
Henry Davis PIT OF/C  286 278 +8
Colt Keith DET 2B/3B  323 315 +8
Shane Bieber CLE SP  173 166 +7
DL Hall MIL RP  361 354 +7
Jarren Duran  BOS  OF  171 165 +6
James Paxton  LAD  SP  332 326 +6 
Trevor Rogers  MIA SP  343 337 +6
Logan Allen  CLE  SP  349 343 +6
Clarke Schmidt  NYY  SP  353 347 +6
DJ LeMahieu  NYY  1B/2B/3B  355 349 +6
Cole Ragans KC SP  102 97 +5
  • The Wyatt Langford Hype Rolls On 

The Wyatt Langford hype train kept ascending the NFBC this week as the outfield prospect continued to make his case to stay with the Texas Rangers on Opening Day. The Rangers might not have a choice but to lean on their younger players to open the season with all the injuries they sustained this spring. Veterans Nathaniel LoweCorey Seager, and Josh Jung are all working their way back from injuries and all are in danger of missing Opening Day. Lowe will likely miss the first week or two of the regular season with an oblique strain. Texas is still hoping Seager will be ready in time for the regular season while recovering from offseason sports hernia surgery. Josh Jung has missed an extended amount of time this spring due to a calf strain that could keep him sidelined into the regular season. 25-year-old prospect Justin Foscue could fill in at first base until Lowe returns, while Ezequiel Duran could see extra playing time at third base and shortstop for both Jung and Seager. Both Foscue and Duran were being considered for DH duties in spring training but with the additional assignments, more at-bats could come Langford's way. It's an interesting development since the Rangers didn't have a spot for Langford to begin camp. It would've taken an injury to Evan CarterLeody Taveras, or Adolis Garcia to receive regular playing time in the outfield. If Langford's stellar spring extends into the regular season, could we see regular at-bats for rookie going forward?  

It's exciting to think the defending World Series champions could begin their title defense with two rookies under 22 years old. The Rangers are expected to start Carter as their everyday left fielder this season. It's weird to call Carter a rookie, considering we saw him playing in the World Series last year, but he still qualifies as a rookie in 2024. You might be surprised to learn that a team has started two rookies the year after winning the World Series. It's rare to see any team starting two rookies - never mind it being a defending champion. In 1998, the Florida Marlins started Mark Kotsay and Derrick Lee the year after it won the 1997 World Series title. The main difference is that Florida conducted an infamous firesale the following offseason, and the Rangers fully expect to contend in 2024.  

Langford is one of the most fascinating stories in sports right now considering he wasn't drafted coming out of high school in Florida. Langford came to the University of Florida as a catcher but saw zero playing time in his freshman year at Gainesville. The Gators moved him to the outfield where he flourished and eventually earned First Team All-SEC and Second Team All-American honors. Langford gained a reputation for being the most well-rounded hitter in college baseball and the Rangers selected him fourth overall just eight months ago. At this time last year, Langford was still staring at Florida only to see himself breaking camp with Texas. How far will he be pushed up for the risk outweighs the upside? We'll be keeping tabs on him as long as he keeps ripping up the Cactus League and beyond.  

  • Byron Buxton Continues To Soar in NFBC

Byron Buxton continued to convince sharp fantasy players his comeback is for real this week as he climbed almost a full round in ADP in the NFBC. Buxton was my featured player here a couple of weeks back as the Minnesota Twins announced he would be their starting center fielder on Opening Day. The former All-Star has hovered in the 250 overall range of NFBC drafts but suddenly spiked up after a solid couple of spring games. Buxton has homered and hit two triples in his limited playing time, as the Twins are being cautious with the 30-year-old. Injuries have plagued the once-promising career of the Platinum Glove award winner, which led to offseason surgery that removed the plica in his inner knee. Buxton has compared the pain he was experiencing in the past to a knife stabbing him in the knee after every step. Since the procedure, Buxton has reported being pain-free and feeling like his old self again. Hopefully, for fantasy and baseball fans, he has a real shot at returning to his rightful place patrolling center field. 

When healthy, Buxton had the potential to supply a combination of power and speed that's so valuable in fantasy baseball. For whatever reason, most likely health, Buxton has never supplied in both categories simultaneously in the same season. In 2022, Buxton hit a career-high 28 home runs but has never topped more than 29 steals in a season. He had only three seasons of double-digit steals in his nine professional seasons. More risk-averse managers could point to Buxton's durability as a reason to stay away. Since 2017, Buxton's season high in plate appearances was 382, and only played as many as 92 games in that same span. If - and it's a big if - he can stay healthy most of the season, he could be a huge difference-maker in fantasy leagues. Where he's going in drafts, he won't sink your season but has a real chance to help you win your league. We'll keep monitoring his price in the NFBC markets, but today might be the best price you'll get heading into Opening Day if this trend continues. 

  • Shane Bieber ready to rebound in 2024? 

Speaking of players ready to rebound, former Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber has turned in an encouraging spring so far, and the NFBC is taking notice. Bieber had a frustrating performance decline last year before being shut down at the All-Star break after reporting discomfort in his forearm and elbow. The 28-year-old had experienced a dip in velocity, going from an average of 94 mph in his banner 2020 season to 91.3 mph in the last two years. Bieber finished with a career-worst 20.1 percent strikeout rate and the worst ERA since his rookie year at 3.80 in 128 innings. Trying to turn around his fortunes, Bieber spent part of his offseason training with Driveline, a data-driven development organization designed to evaluate pitching mechanics through state-of-the-art motion capturing.

Bieber and Driveline claimed to have restored his velocity on his fastball and recorded breaking pitches similar to where he was in 2020. Pitching indoors in a controlled environment doesn't exactly replicate what a big-league environment offers, but it was a step in the right direction. So far, Bieber has used what he learned at Driveline and applied it to his promising spring training this year. If Bieber can rebound somewhere close to where he was in 2020, the Guardians could quietly have one of the best pitching staffs in the major leagues. Cleveland has some interesting young pitchers like Tanner BibeeTriston McKenzieGavin Williams, and Logan Allen. Allen also appeared on this risers list by jumping up six spots in the NFBC. Like Buxton, fantasy managers might be hesitant to invest in a player with recent health concerns. Bieber can give you an edge with his current price if he carries his strong spring into the regular season.       

NFBC FALLERS

 TEAM

 POS

ADP 3/6

ADP 3/13

+/-

Kyle Bradish BAL SP  158 193 -35
Lucas Giolito BOS SP 217 250 -33
Ryan Pressly HOU RP  212 231 -19
Noelvi Marte CIN 3B  164 179 -15
Matt Brash SEA  RP   300 314 -14
Shane Baz TB SP  209 222 -13
Bryan Abreu HOU RP  329 341 -12
Kodai Senga NYM SP  88 99 -11
Walker Buehler LAD SP  138 148 -10
Emmet Sheehan LAD SP  260 270 -10
Jeff McNeil NYM 2B/OF  287 297 -10
Alek Manoah TOR SP  339 348 -9
Tommy Edman STL 2B/SS/OF  167 174 -7
John Means BAL SP  293 300 -7
Justin Verlander HOU SP  127 133 -6
  • Noelvi Marte Suspended 80 Games for PEDs

The most shocking spring training news happened this week when Major League Baseball announced Cincinnati rookie Noelvi Marte will serve an 80-game suspension for violating the joint drug prevention and treatment program. Marte tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug Boldenone and won't be eligible to return to fantasy lineups until June. Prospective NFBC managers dropped the 22-year-old a full round this week, and he'll likely appear on the list of players descending ADP leading up to Opening Day. Marte was the Reds' projected starter at third base after coming to The Queen City last year in a trade for ace Luis Castillo at the deadline. In just 114 at-bats with Cincinnati last year, Marte showed an exciting combination of power and speed that sharp fantasy players covet when searching for the next breakout prospect.

According to Baseball Savant, Marte recorded a Max Exit Velocity of 115.6, which was exciting considering he would potentially play half his games in the launch pad that is Great American Ball Park. Marte was also aggressive on the base paths and stole six bases in eight attempts last year, which led Dan Szymborski to project him with 17 steals in his pre-suspension ZiPS Projections. Ariel Cohen's ATC Projections has adjusted for the suspension and has Marte hitting just seven home runs and eight steals in 61 games this season. The Reds will have to reshuffle their lineup, with the primary benefactor of playing time going to veteran Jeimer Candelario. He'll see a bump in ADP as he takes over the hot corner full-time until Marte returns and is currently going at pick 211 overall. If there's a franchise that can overcome the loss of their everyday player - it's the Reds. Cincinnati was loaded with talented infielders and, weirdly, might've found more playing time for Spencer Steer, Jonathan India, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand. 

  • Lucas Giolito Opts For Season-Ending Surgery

One of the biggest fallers in NFBC this week wasn't a surprise as Boston right-hander Lucas Giolito announced he opted for season-ending internal brace surgery on his pitching elbow. The former All-Star reported discomfort after his second spring training outing, which forced him to shut down workouts until further examination of his right ulnar collateral ligament. Giolito signed a two-year deal at $38.5 million with the Red Sox and will turn 30 years old this summer. In 2012, Giolito had Tommy John surgery to repair his original UCL after the Washington Nationals selected him as the top overall pick in the amateur draft. This time Giolito opted not to have the well-known ligament replacement surgery, instead opting for the internal brace surgery, which uses an artificial material to repair the ligament. The main benefit of internal brace surgery is the shortened recovery time. Typically it takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months to recover from Tommy John surgery, while the alternative surgery takes a minimum of nine months. Either way, the right-hander should fall fast out of draft consideration outside of dynasty leagues. Giolito had been a great source of innings and strikeout upside over the past six seasons. He threw at least 160 innings in five of the last six seasons and has over 1,000 strikeouts in his big league career. His ZiPS Projection had him again going over 160 innings and 173 strikeouts before being shut down for good in 2024.

With Giolito sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Red Sox will either pivot to in-house options or sign another starter before Opening Day. Veteran Nick Pivetta is the first pitcher taken in NFBC at pick 182, followed by 25-year-old Brayan Bello much later at 224 overall. Kutter Crawford could garner sleeper appeal at pick 268 as well. The 27-year-old made 23 starts last year for Boston and finished with a 4.04 ERA, however, he posted a 3.30 xERA, according to Baseball Savant. Look for all three pitchers to get a bump in NFBC ADP over the next couple of weeks unless we learn the Red Sox sign Jordan Montgomery to anchor its pitching staff. Montgomery and Boston had been rumored as a possible landing spot for the free-agent pitcher before the devastating injury news to Giolito. Now that Giolito's out, it might force the Red Sox's front office hand before we get to the regular season. How much money Boston invests into this non-contending team remains to be seen. Of course, we'll keep our fingers on the pulse of NFBC ADP, to take advantage of any market deficiencies before draft day. 

  • Who Will Start For LA After Glasnow, Yamamoto?

It's easy to get mesmerized by the Dodgers lineup every year - especially when they make it an annual tradition to add former MVPs. Spending $1.1 billion on three players such as Shohei OhtaniTyler Glasnow, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto will do that to you. But what's happening to the rest of the pitching staff? Glasnow and Yamamoto look to be a solid 1-2 punch on top of the rotation but the Dodgers have some serious question marks in the back half of their staff. Ace Walker Buehler is working his way back from his second Tommy John surgery and will miss Opening Day, easing back into a throwing program. The two-time All-Star is targeting a May return without any setbacks in extended spring training. The NFBC is one of the less forgiving fantasy sites when it comes to injured players. With no injured reserve spots to stash Buehler, the right-hander has been falling consistently in ADP. This week he fell another round to 148 overall and it'll be interesting to see how far he falls before Opening Day.  

Prospect Emmet Sheehan was a top candidate to absorb innings until Buehler was ready to return to the rotation. Sheehan was a popular sleeper pick before spring training, but a shoulder strain has put those plans on hold. Sheehan has yet to appear in a game this spring and is scheduled to start throwing a bullpen session in camp. The Dodgers are downplaying the severity of his injury but will take a cautious approach to the 24-year-old. Sheehan joined the Dodgers ahead of schedule last year and pitched 60.1 innings filling in for a rotation riddled with injuries. Los Angeles has already announced the former sixth-round pick will start his season on the injured list, which dropped him another ten spots in the NFBC. The Dodgers will have a puzzle to figure out in the first month of the season with this patchwork staff. Veteran James Paxton could be leaned on heavily in the early going, and he made his debut on the riser list this week. Still in the 300+ range, Paxton has gone mostly undrafted this spring but could be a nice streaming option in daily leagues.   

Michael Chasco on X @ChascoFCF for more fantasy baseball coverage.


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