Opening Day is coming this Thursday, and that means that it’s crunch time to get in your fantasy baseball drafts before the season begins! Fantasy baseball is one of my favorite fantasy sports in particular because of the skill involved in drafting talent vs. positional need, while also trying to pick up some of my favorite players.
The Yankees roster is so deep and loaded with talent that several players will likely be drafted early and often. But how to figure out which Yankees to take, and when take them? Don’t worry. Pinstripe Alley has your Yankees fantasy baseball primer.
While the Yankees have several All-Star candidates, only two of their players are legitimate top-two-rounds material, and I bet you can guess who they are: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both ESPN and Yahoo project Judge slightly ahead of Stanton on a points basis, but due to the negative points that come with strikeouts, they aren’t quite first-round material.
Both outlets project Judge to land somewhere in the 13-18 range, while Stanton will likely come off the board shortly after. Both players will put up big numbers in total bases, runs and RBI, three prominent categories in many leagues, and should be regarded as fantasy cornerstones.
Most of the Yankees’ dominos will fall in rounds five through nine. Gleyber Torres is the third-highest ranked Yankee in ESPN leagues and fourth-highest in Yahoo, and projects to post 25-plus home runs and 80 or 90 RBI. With second base a relatively weak fantasy baseball spot, Torres is a solid candidate to produce real value.
In fantasy sports, defense is not considered. This makes players like Miguel Andujar eminently more valuable in fantasy than in real life. Gary Sanchez’s polarizing defense also doesn’t come into play here. While Andujar’s work at third is a major concern, and while Sanchez’s defense also has holes, both players’ offensive profiles are the only things that matter in fantasy.
Based on their output last year, Andujar will likely go before Sanchez. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sanchez outproduce Andujar this year. Whereas Andujar’s doubles are worth a solid two points in points leagues, Sanchez’s home runs are worth at least six points (four total bases, one run, one RBI). While owners do lose points for strikeouts, Sanchez’s potential to hit 30 bombs at a desolate position for fantasy makes him an intriguing mid-round target.
What About Pitching?
Pitchers are some of the most important players in fantasy baseball. After the elite aces go, though, there’s a huge drop in talent and a major risk of injury. The Yankees, however, have some healthy pitching options that are valid selections in rounds 7-12.
Fantasy baseball values wins and losses heavily, and in that case, guys like Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ are decent picks – they should run excellent records with a powerful Yankees offense behind them.
Yet each of these guys comes with a caveat. Tanaka and Paxton are injury-prone, and Happ is old enough where some decline could kick in, especially in the strikeout category. They’re solid adds, but there may be more trusty options available.
Relief pitchers are more valuable in fantasy baseball now than ever, thanks to the minimization of starters and the proliferation of strikeouts. The Yankees’ super bullpen is an invaluable tool on fantasy draft night, too. All of the Yankees’ top five relievers are locks to miss bats, earn holds and saves, and generally avoid giving up runs.
Aroldis Chapman still misses the most bats in the bunch, which is why I’d pick him first among the relievers, durability concerns and all. After him, Adam Ottavino is a solid pick that I would consider “reaching” for. Even though he won’t provide many saves, he should make fantasy owners very happy this year with a high usage rate and buckets of whiffs.
Injury Wild Cards
Ah, the old fantasy sports dilemma about an injured player. Is it worth taking the risk on an injured star now, or will this go down as a “lost” year for guys like Luis Severino, Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances?
If your fantasy league has “IL” spots built in that allows you to put an injured player on the IL and then claim a replacement off waivers, consider drafting these guys. If not, I might pass. Shoulder injuries to pitchers should scare any owner, and Severino and Betances could be out for longer than the Yankees think, or suffer serious setbacks.
Gregorius’ injury and subsequent return is a total crapshoot, and Hicks’ back has been far more troublesome than expected. Let someone else reach for their favorite players and deal with an injury this year.
There are few better feelings in fantasy than absolutely nailing your late-round dark horse picks. The Yankees have two potential under-the-radar flyers in Chad Green and Luke Voit. Unless you’re in a league with predominantly Yankees fans, Green and Voit should be available in the late rounds and provide solid value for their draft position. Wait out the night, and then scoop them out while no one else is looking, and you could have yourself a steal.