Risers and Fallers in NFBC Drafts: Feb 21-28


With National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues well underway, Fighting Chance Fantasy has you covered with weekly risers and fallers according to Average Depth Positions (ADP). If you're not familiar 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 veteran fantasy managers. Exploiting market deficiencies can give you an edge on ideal roster construction and give you a leg up on the competition. The following players were tracked for the week of Feb 21st through Feb. 28th  

Estimated read time: 7-10 minutes 

RISERS

  • Byron Buxton | UTL/OF | Minnesota Twins

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending up eight spots to 251 overall

Veteran fantasy managers in the NFBC tend to fade players rehabbing from offseason knee surgery, but they're making an exception for former All-Star Byron Buxton. Buxton is surging back to fantasy relevance in NFBC drafts this week mainly due to the Minnesota Twins announcing the former Platinum Glove award winner will be the Opening Day starter at centerfield. This was great news for baseball fans, as we haven't seen Buxton patrol a major league field since being placed on the injured list in 2022. The 30-year-old is returning to his rightful place at least to start spring training, which could be an excellent boost for Buxton's value heading into this fantasy season. The NFBC is getting ahead of the discrepancy at the current price of ADP 251, and it's time we should start thinking of doing the same. 

Buxton's value in fantasy leagues took a hit the last couple of years as soon as he lost outfield eligibility. Strictly as a utility-only option, Buxton went from a power/speed skillset fantasy managers love to a positionless, injury-prone roster clogger with zero versatility. That could all change once he regains eligibility in the outfield sometime this April. Of course, Buxton will still have to remain healthy to shake his injury-prone reputation. He has never completed a season without visiting the injured list in his big league career and has only played more than 92 games in a season once since 2017. How far Buxton can rise is the question. We'll worry about that down the road, especially if you prefer to draft closer to Opening Day. However, if you're drafting today, the current price is well worth the risk. Buxton can become one of the best comeback stories in baseball and possibly a league-winning, high-upside pick outside the top 200 players selected right now. Get in while you can.

  • Colt Keith | 2B/3B | Detroit Tigers

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending up seven spots to 329 overall

Traditionally, it's uncommon for a fifth-round prospect to receive a lucrative deal before earning his stripes, but that's how much the Detroit Tigers believe in Colt Keith. The 22-year-old caught the eye of veteran fantasy managers in the NFBC this week, and we witnessed a significant movement in ADP in NFBC drafts. Keith signed a six-year, $28.6 million deal with team options that could keep the youngster in a Tigers uniform for the next nine years. An extension of this nature, especially considering this specific player hasn't appeared in a major league game, is unusual but not without precedent. When you have suffered seven consecutive losing seasons like the Tigers organization, it's hard to blame them for borrowing a strategy from perennial playoff teams.  

Earlier this offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers made history by signing 19-year-old outfielder Jackson Chourio to an eight-year, $82 million deal. It was the largest deal for a player without accumulating any big league service time. We'll let other baseball sites explain what Keith's extension means in terms of baseball economics and arbitration years. What's most important for fantasy managers right now is to get Keith on your radar. The infielder has cemented his spot for Opening Day and possibly the next decade in Detroit. Still going in the post-300 range, Keith can be a valuable late-round asset for your team and should continue to rise in popularity across all fantasy sites with a strong spring. Dan Szymborski's ZiPS Projections has Keith with 19 home runs in 122 games. It'll be interesting how much lift Keith can generate in a big park like Comerica. At this backend-of-the-draft price, the left-hander could stay on your roster as long as he gets regular playing time the Tigers are willing to give the youngster. 

FALLERS

  • Kyle Bradish | SP | Baltimore Orioles

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending Down 28 Spots to 122 overall

The Baltimore Orioles are learning on the fly how hard it is to be a perennial contender in today's game. It's so bad right now that budding superstar Gunner Henderson's strained oblique is the least of their worries. That's because last year's ace, Kyle Bradish, will begin the season on the injured list while he recovers from a sprained UCL. The Orioles announced Bradish had undergone a PRP injection for his ailing elbow but remained optimistic he would make an impact at some point during the year. The Orioles are hoping Bradish can avoid the dreaded Tommy John surgery much like Philadephia Phillies ace Aaron Nola did in 2016. Fantasy managers in the NFBC are less optimistic, which resulted in him freefalling 28 spots to pick 122. 

Bradish finished 12-7 in 30 starts for an upstart Orioles team that won 101 games last year. He finished top-five for the Cy Young award voting with his fourth-best ERA in baseball at 2.83 and a 1.04 WHIP. This season will be a different story as Bradish heads into the season as one of the biggest question marks and barely holding onto late-round upside value. Is this a lost season for Bradish? Is there significant damage to the elbow ligament that may require Tommy John surgery? Even if Bradish returns to the starting rotation, will the Orioles shut him down if he's not close to last year's performance? The addition of Corbin Burnes makes even more sense now that the news of Bradish is out of the bag. Buyer beware. 

  • Walker Buehler | SP | Los Angeles Dodgers


NFBC ADP Movement: Trending Down 10 spots to 132 overall

Speaking of Tommy John surgery and why fantasy managers should consider it a major red flag: Here case in point Walker Buehler. Buehler and the Dodgers opted for the reconstructive surgery in August 2022 with the hope he can fully recover in time for Opening Day this year. His comeback will be delayed as the Dodgers announced Buehler will begin the regular season on the injured list. There is no concrete timetable for the right-hander to join the rotation and he will likely be on an innings limit when he returns.

Of course, the Dodgers will have to closely monitor Buehler this season - which doesn't bode well in fantasy baseball. If they want the two-time All-Star to pitch meaningful innings in October, his output will need to be mapped out until we get to the postseason. Expect Buehler to start his season in extended spring training and then set out for a minor league rehab assignment until he builds up stamina. How far will Buehler fall before he's worth the risk? Veteran fantasy managers at the NFBC will let someone else make that call for now.

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


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