Risers and Fallers in NFBC Drafts: Week of Feb 29th - March 6th


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 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 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 29th through March 6th  

Estimated read time: 7-10 minutes 

RISERS

  • Cole Ragans | SP | Kansas City Royals

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending up four spots to 102 overall

If you listened to any fantasy baseball podcast since last August, it was impossible not to hear Cole Ragans as a popular breakout candidate going into the 2024 season. Ragans pitched into the hearts of veteran fantasy managers and was a true difference-maker down the stretch after being traded to Kansas City for Aroldis Chapman at the deadline. Yes, Chapman was a win-now move for the Texas Rangers, and they have a banner to show for it. Unfortunately for Texas, the cost of doing business before a playoff push might've given the Royals its ace for multiple years down the road. Kudos to Kansas City for pulling off a Tampa Bay-esque move and trading for a talented player with the intent to unlock his untapped potential. Ragans reworked his pitch mix with the Royals coaching staff and began throwing a slider with immediate success. He was so successful that it earned him AL Pitcher of the Month in August, going 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 52 strikeouts. Ragans was regulated to the Rangers bullpen before being sent to Kansas City, where he turned 12 starts into a 5-2 record with a 2.64 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 71.2 innings. 

The southpaw picked up where he left off last year and has begun hitting a hundy on the radar guns early in spring training. It's hard to argue any pitcher has more upside than Ragans, and it wouldn't shock anyone who has been paying attention if he finishes in the top 12 for pitchers. However, he doesn't come without risk, as more cautious fantasy managers would typically pass on a pitcher coming off two Tommy John surgeries. Risk-averse managers would also want more chances for consistent wins, and we're not so sure the Royals' offense will supply enough runs for their 26-year-old ace.

You'll have to do your homework and map out some safer, boring pitchers to pair with Ragans on draft day if you choose to go down that path. Ideally, you don't want to be left with your top pitching options on the injured list early on and be forced to use a ton of your FAAB dollars chasing WHIP on the waiver wire - a recipe for disaster. This is what fantasy baseball is all about. Ragans can win your league with his strikeout potential but also blow up your entire season if he's one of your first starting pitchers. For now, his ADP continues to rise in NFBC leagues, and many experienced players are clicking his name before we get to the century mark on draft day - maybe we should follow their lead and enjoy the ride. 

  • Henry Davis | OF/C | Pittsburgh Pirates

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending up nine spots to 286 overall

The biggest riser this week, in terms of the number of ADP spots gained in NFBC leagues, belongs to former 2021 first-overall pick Henry Davis. The 24-year-old moved up nine spots, almost a full round to 286 overall, as veteran fantasy managers took notice of his hot start to spring training. What makes Davis so interesting this spring has a lot to do with where he plays defensively as much as what he's doing at the dish. Davis ripped through the minor leagues, playing his natural position as catcher, but he only played exclusively as a right fielder and DH early in his major league career. Back in November, Pittsburgh general manager Ben Cherington shared the franchise's vision for Davis and stated the young slugger will enter spring training as an option behind the plate. 

The Pirates signed veteran Yasmani Grandal to a one-year contract after he spent the last four seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The well-traveled Grandal is 35 years old and will have a role as a veteran presence managing Pittsburgh's pitching staff. Perhaps, even being a mentor for Davis when he takes days off to save his aging catcher legs. If Davis keeps his hot streak into the regular season, it'll be hard for manager Derek Shelton to not pencil in his name in the lineup card, given his versatility. Once Davis gains eligibility as a catcher, then his fantasy value will take on a drastic change. Get Davis on your radar and exploit the market discrepancy before his fantasy profile updates on your fantasy sites. 

  • Jackson Chourio | OF | Milwaukee Brewers

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending five spots to 141 overall

It's not uncommon to see a prospect get a bump during spring training, and we are starting to experience it with Jackson Chourio. The speedster jumped five spots in NFBC ADP this week and continued to be a popular pick for anyone desperate for speed. Chourio made history this offseason by signing a $80 million extension with the Brewers - the largest ever for a prospect with zero major league experience. He will turn 20 years old this month and has the skill set to be a future first-round pick in fantasy leagues for many years to come. Chourio had a prolific career in the minor leagues, whose numbers were being compared to Ronald Acuna. With a pay raise, we'll get a chance to see Chourio sooner than later, but the question is, where does he fit in Milwaukee's lineup?

Even though he's an excellent defensive centerfielder, the Brewers already have three very capable young defensive centerfielders, Sal Frelick, Garrett Mitchell, and Joey Wiemer, on their roster. At least we know the Brewers are not going to keep Chourio down in the minors to manipulate his service time. Hopefully, we'll get some more clarity as we inch closer to Opening Day, but maybe this is the time to buy into his ADP before his value skyrockets. NFBC managers are getting in now.

  • Wyatt Langford | OF | Texas Rangers

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending up five spots to 151 overall

Speaking of prospect hype, was there any player who created more buzz than the 22-year-old Wyatt Langford? Langford went deep three times in two Cactus League games and just about lit the fantasy baseball world on fire. The Rangers spent the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 MLB draft on Langford, and he destroyed minor league pitching from rookie ball to Triple-A in an extremely short amount of time. Langford is considered to be among the next wave of elite talent, along with Jackson Chourio and Jackson Holliday. The question will remain: how does manager Bruce Bochy plan to use Langford in his Texas lineup? 

Maybe Boch will wait to see how healthy both locked-in starters Josh Jung and Corey Seager are to start the season. Jung and Seager are working their way back from their injuries, which has led them to miss time this spring. To get them back to playing shape, they both could receive DH responsibilities early on. That would take away a possible spot for Langford to make an impact or be sent to the minors to get some reps. Remember, last year, Jordan Walker had a monster spring training that left fantasy managers salivating in March. Walker got off to a good start but found his way back to the minors at the end of April. Try to keep expectations of Langford reasonable as he is the prospect that doesn't have a job solidified in Texas - yet. 

FALLERS

  • Kodai Senga | SP | New York Mets

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending Down 11 spots to 88 overall

Rooting for the Mets every year must feel like a page in a novel you've already read over and over but don't realize until the last paragraph. An injury to a key member of the starting rotation? Wait, I'm pretty sure I've read this part already. It's like a joke at this point. Former franchise ace Jacob deGrom took the Mets faithful on a rollercoaster with his well-documented injury history, and fans thought the car finally returned to the station. With the news of Kodai Senga's injury, that clown car kept going down those tracks into the 2024 season. The former Japanese standout continued to slide down NFBC ADP boards this week as the 31-year-old was diagnosed with a moderate posterior capsule strain in his right shoulder during camp. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection and will enter the regular season on the injured list. Senga will be shut down for several weeks until he's ready to resume a throwing program that may require a lengthy buildup. That would put Senga into May as a possible target date, which led to his ADP dropping 11 spots for prospective NFBC fantasy managers. 

Senga's first year in the majors was one of the lone bright spots for a Mets team coming into the year with high expectations. Senga signed a three-year, $45 million contract after spending the first 11 years of his career in Japan. He finished with 29 starts last year with a stellar 2.98 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 166.1 innings. Elbow and shoulder injuries are scary for any risk-averse fantasy managers, but how long will Senga fall before being valuable in fantasy drafts? We'll keep an eye on how far he falls in the NFBC to give us some idea before Opening Day. 

  • Matt Brash | RP | Seattle Mariners

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending Down 16 spots to 300 overall

Seattle skipper Scott Servais got a scare during spring training when he received news that Matt Brash was being shut down. Brash, a key armament piece of Servais' bullpen last year, was diagnosed with medial right elbow inflammation while throwing in camp. With his status murky, veteran NFBC managers took notice and significantly dropped him 16 spots down and almost out of draft consideration. That was mainly due to initial speculation Brash suffered a serious arm injury that would've kept the 25-year-old sidelined for the entire 2024 season. According to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, Brash was looking down at his elbow while discussing the injury to staff, which led to the writer believing the Mariners had lost their key setup man. Divish has since reported Brash could resume throwing again this week but almost guaranteed he could start the season on the injured list.       

Brash is coming off a career year for the Mariners last year with 25 holds while striking out 107 batters over 70.2 innings. He excelled in the setup/ high-leverage role for Servais, which led some to speculate he could challenge incumbent closer Andres Munoz for save chances this year. Munoz, a former setup man himself, took over the closer role once Paul Sewald was dealt at the trade deadline last year. Munoz recorded 11 of Seattle's 18 saves after the Sewald trade and came into this year as the favorite for closing duties - at least to start the year. The Brash injury news hasn't impacted Munoz's ADP as he sits at 105 overall, but if we hear Brash could miss significant time, he could be locked in for saves in Seattle without any challengers. 

  • Shane Baz | SP | Tampa Bay Rays

NFBC ADP Movement: Trending Down eight spots to 209 overall

At what point do we go from telling people to fade a player to just rooting for him to get healthy? I don't believe in predestination, but is someone trying to signal to Shane Baz to explore another profession? Give the guy some credit for continuing to grind and chase his dream. Last week, the Rays announced Baz would be sidelined for an extended period of time after he suffered an oblique strain lifting a weight in training. Baz was already on a delayed timeline for Tampa Bay as he works his way back after missing all of 2023. Baz underwent Tommy John surgery in late September of 2022, and we weren't expecting him to make his debut until May at the earliest. 

The new injury took another hit to his already bad track record of durability. Baz is still 24 years old, however, and his next start will only be the 10th of his major league career. With a career .216 opponents batting average, he still has the potential to be an SP3 in fantasy leagues. He'll need to prove it before any experienced fantasy manager uses a roster spot on him. He'll continue to slide in high-stakes drafts, but you knew that already. Let's hope he can make it back to the big leagues and get over 100 innings without getting hurt again. Rest up, big fella. 

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


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