Risers and Fallers in NFBC Drafts


As soon as the confetti finished cascading down on the Kansas City Chiefs after Super Bowl LVIII, it signified the end of another NFL season and unofficially kicked off the new year in fantasy baseball. For some of the sharpest minds in the fantasy baseball community, the NFBC is where the cream of the crop competes 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 players are targeted by seasoned fantasy managers. Movement in overall Average Draft Positions (ADP) can give us clues in discovering which players to focus on and which ones to fade on draft day. At Fighting Chance Fantasy, we'll highlight these players weekly and feature players ascending or descending leading up to Opening Day.

Estimated read time: 7-10 minutes 

RISERS

  • Vaughn Grissom | 2B | Boston Red Sox

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending up 10 spots to 310 overall

It's hard to believe a franchise as storied as the Boston Red Sox has finished in last place in the AL East three of the previous four seasons. After winning the 2018 World Series, the Red Sox fans have witnessed its payroll shrink from $240 million to a projected $195 million in 2024. It's never a good look to call out the front office heading into a new season, but that's exactly how Rafael Devers decided to use his media availability to speak out about the state of the current roster. Honestly, who can blame him? Especially a player of the caliber of Devers watching the prime years of his baseball life at 27 years old on a non-contenting team like Boston. But there was one offseason deal fantasy managers should be paying attention to heading into Spring Training, and it involved a talented infielder buried on one of the best teams in baseball. 

Vaughn Grissom, only 23 years of age, was acquired in a deal that sent seven-time All-Star Chris Sale to the Atlanta Braves in late December. With seven of the nine positions occupied by All-Stars in Atlanta, Grissom became expendable after losing out to Orlando Arcia in Spring Training last year. With a change of scenery and a clear path to regular playing time, Grissom has a great opportunity to blossom in Boston. Managers at NFBC are the highest in ADP at pick No. 310, as it remains to be seen what Boston's plans are for the youngster. The lowest Grissom has averaged in ADP is pick No. 214 in Yahoo! leagues. He will likely remain in a reserve, the back end of your draft option, but could emerge at some point during the regular season.  

  • Robert Stephenson | RP | Los Angeles Angels

ADP Movement: Trending up 7 spots to 297 overall

The Tampa Bay Rays have a reputation for trading for talented players with a plan to unlock their untapped potential. Robert Stephenson is just its latest success story, and the veteran cashed in on a new three-year, $33 million deal with the Angels. After acquiring Stephenson from the Pirates last June, the Rays reworked his pitch mix and introduced a new cutter into his arsenal, which might have saved Stephenson's career. 

Even with a breakout season, Stephenson enters this season with a career 4.64 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. However, if you take the four months he trained with the Rays, Stephenson transformed into one of the best relievers in baseball last year. He finished with a 2.35 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP in Tampa Bay. According to Baseball Savant, Stephenson generated a 38.3% strikeout rate, the best of his professional career. Stephenson reportedly garnered much interest from perennial playoff contenders this offseason and was rumored to be a target for the Dodgers, Yankees, and Rangers. Ultimately, he chose to sign with the Angels, who haven't made a playoff appearance since 2014.   

It was no secret the Angels came in the offseason with a plan to revamp its bullpen and was willing to give the 30-year-old the second richest deal in the free agent market, only behind Josh Hader's five-year, $95 million deal with the Houston Astros (more on that later). The Angels had the sixth-worst bullpen ERA last season at 4.88 and witnessed incumbent closer Carlos Estevez implode with a 6.59 ERA in the second half of last season. Stephenson is a name to keep close tabs on in Spring Training, as we are in a wait-and-see situation for the Angels bullpen. New manager Ron Washington could name Stephenson the closer to begin the season, which would send him soaring before Opening Day. 

  • Jung Hoo Lee | OF | San Francisco Giants

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending up seven spots to 265 overall

It's been a nightmare couple of years for the San Francisco Giants front office. Bay Area native Aaron Judge flirted with his hometown team until the New York Yankees came to their senses and secured the star outfielder long-term. With money burning a hole in their proverbial pocket, the Giants turned their attention to Carlos Correa. Correa reportedly signed a 13-year, $350 million deal, but San Francisco left him at the alter once a routine physical revealed a significant concern about his reconstructed ankle. The Giants finally were able to use some of that cash this year with a long-term deal with Korean center fielder Jung Hoo Lee.

The 25-year-old former KBO star signed a six-year, $113 million deal and immediately became an H2H categories specialist as a mid-to-late round option this year. Lee comes to the Giants with a reputation for elite contact and on-base skills during his career in the KBO. Lee has a wide range of possible landing spots, depending on what platform you are playing on. He is currently going at pick 270 in CBS leagues, while ESPN's latest ADP this week lists him at pick 135. Managers in NFBC are a little more cautious here, but he could continue to trend in the right direction with clear playing time on top of the Giants lineup.  

FALLERS

  • Ryan Pressly | RP | Houston Astros

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending down 28 spots to 170 overall

It shouldn't be a shock Ryan Pressly is falling down ADP boards across all fantasy sites. With the addition of premiere closer Josh Hader in Houston, as mentioned above, Pressly's value is next to nothing except for leagues that value holds. Pressly's role will be a top-notch setup man in the Houston bullpen, which doesn't bode well in fantasy baseball. The addition of Hader also knocked the value of flamethrower Bryan Abreu as well. Abreu came in second on the list for biggest fallers by descending ten spots to pick 320 overall. Unfortunately for the fantasy community, not having a pitcher of Pressly's caliber not saving games is a blow for the position overall.  

If you've ever played fantasy baseball, assuming you're reading this, you most likely have played in the past; keeping at least two closers all year can cause many unwanted headaches. This is especially a blow for the dynasty managers who had relied on Pressly as one of their main contributors for saves this upcoming season. Without Hader joining the Astros, Pressly could've been a second or third-tier closing option, but now we will have to experience Hader missing time to regain any value this year. You have to give it to Pressly for handling the demotion with professionalism. Too bad we don't get fantasy points for being a great dude and teammate.    

  • Jonathan India | 2B | Cincinnati Reds

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending Down six spots to 220 overall

While trade rumors swirled around the former Rookie of the Year this offseason, the Reds gave infielder Jonathan India a two-year extension early in February. The deal would keep India under team control until the 2026 season, but where does he stand in the Reds lineup loaded with young and emerging talent? You can probably write Elly De La Cruz's name in ink on the lineup card for Cincinnati. After that, the Reds have some big decisions this spring as they have a talented group of infielders to sort out heading into the regular season.

India has been hampered the last two seasons and witnessed a drop in his numbers due to injuries to his hamstring and plantar fasciitis. The latter injury is reported to be an issue the 27-year-old is still dealing with heading into 2024. The Reds drafted Matt McLain No. 17 overall in 2021, giving Cincinnati their best up-the-middle defensive setup heading into Spring Training. McLain can supply big pop at a position not traditionally suited for power. McLain impressed at the plate last season by batting .290 with 16 homers and 50 RBIs in 89 games.

Where does that leave India? The Reds could have a plan for him at first base, in the outfield, or DH until he's fully recovered from his nagging injuries. Until we get more clarity on the plans this Spring, India's arrow is pointing down unless we see a resurgence for the once-future star. 

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


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