Fantasy Baseball Grapevine

by Tim Heaney on March 7, 2008 @ 18:30:12 PDT

 


It's never wise to remain stubborn with your preseason rankings. Fantasy players and writers alike need to take into account how often their cheat sheets will change from the Winter Meetings to opening day. Positional battles, injuries and prospects can all factor into the spiking as well as plummeting of fantasy stocks.

Here's a summary of what has happened in the last several months as KFFL has continuously revisited our offseason rankings.

Moving Up

Catchers

Victor Martinez, Cleveland Indians
We didn't focus enough on positional scarcity when factoring V-Mart into our overall rankings. This is one case where Martinez goes highly in drafts because his power from the catcher position is pretty much unmatched. 

Johnny Estrada, Washington Nationals
His signing in Washington gives him an opportunity with Paul Lo Duca (knee) possibly hobbled at the start of the season. Estrada has always been a solid offensive catcher, and he could find a nice place in NL-only leagues for a cheap price. He'll be splitting time when Lo Duca returns, however.

Jason Kendall, Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee starter didn't have enough at-bats registered. We had speculated that backup Mike Rivera could steal a bigger chunk of at-bats as a backup, but reports say that Kendall will play the heavy majority of time. Due to job security, Kendall is a fallback plan in NL-only leagues.

Rod Barajas, Toronto Blue Jays
Barajas' signing allows him to compete with aging catcher Gregg Zaun. The Jays have two prospective catchers in Robinson Diaz and Curtis Thigpen that could take over soon, so Barajas could be a valuable placeholder while they develop. He has some pop and makes for a reasonable buy in AL-only leagues.

First Basemen

Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers
We predicted a bit of a drop-off for him, and just like his feelings about his contract, he has a right to be upset. He came out too low in our overall rankings, and we needed to recommend him higher than some other players.

Daric Barton, Oakland Athletics
We were skeptical about Barton's power upside, but we still had him ranked below some reserve first basemen. His pure contact swing could make him an impact player early on, especially hitting in the front half of the A's order.

Mike Jacobs, Florida Marlins
The lefty-hitting slugger hit 17 home runs in just 426 at-bats last year while fighting a thumb injury. He could hit cleanup in the Marlins' young order this year, which should give him plenty of RBI opportunities.

Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Votto appears to be more than ready for the majors, and the Reds realized this, too, as they have basically made him the starter for the coming season. KFFL acknowledged this move by sliding him up our board.

Dan Ortmeier, San Francisco Giants
The switch-hitter will have a chance to start at first base for the coming season. He could be a sneaky source of 15 home runs and even double-digit steals.

Nick Johnson, Washington Nationals
Is Johnson finally healthy? Johnson has always been an above-average contact hitter; Dmitri Young's continuing health problems could open the door for him. We bumped him up as a good waiver wire target and NL-only option.

Sean Casey, Boston Red Sox - Enters Rankings
Casey's presence here only comes with the signing. He will only have minimal value in AL-only leagues since Kevin Youkilis has become an institution at first for the Sox.

Second Basemen

Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Everyone's favorite contact-hitting second baseman came out a little low originally; we didn't alter his projections to accurately reflect his injury situation last season. The mid-range fantasy option still sits in an above-average lineup and should have a chance to contribute in three categories this coming season.

Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox - Enters Rankings
The Cuban import has been tearing the cover off the ball in spring training, and he's showing the most promise out of all their second base candidates. He can also play the outfield, so the Sox have a versatile player on their hands.

Jeff Kent, Los Angeles Dodgers
We underrated the 40-year-old by predicting a bit of a drop-off. He still hit 20 home runs last year and could still reach a .290 average in the future. He presents a good low-end value among second basemen.

Kazuo Matsui, Houston Astros
We were skeptical that he could be effective other than stolen base opportunities, and we even tweaked down that category for him. We tweaked him up a bit because he could still be serviceable atop an above-average Astros lineup.

Jose Lopez, Seattle Mariners
Despite our fantasy distaste for him, we had Lopez ranked lower than some AL backups. He had some personal issues last season that caused his play to dwindle a bit. We feel he can bounce back to being the mediocre - at best - option in deeper leagues.

Brent Lillibridge, Atlanta Braves - Enters Rankings
The prospect has some speed, and Lillibridge could make an impact this season with the questionable depth options in the Braves infield. He had 104 steals in three seasons throughout the minor leagues, so he could also be a late-round speed grab in NL-only leagues.

Third Basemen

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
It might be redundant to slot Cabrera in our Moving Up section, but how could we not increase his RBI total with him batting fifth in that lineup?

Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
The wrist injury originally scared us, but we set him back on track with his normal power numbers. He is still a cornerstone of the Nationals' future and could go comfortably in the first 110 picks in drafts.

Edwin Encarnacion, Cincinnati Reds
Encarnacion continues to be a fantasy letdown since he's been hyped almost every year he has been playing. He's still a serviceable middle-range fantasy player, but we rated him lower based on his past disappointment. His injury history was also a factor in that thought process.

Nomar Garciaparra, Los Angeles Dodgers
Despite the fantasy love for Andy LaRoche, Garciaparra looks to be the favorite to start the season at the hot corner for manager Joe Torre. Sure, he's in a sharp performance decline, but he is expected to receive the bulk of the playing time at this point.

Pedro Feliz, Philadelphia Phillies
The average-killing Feliz found a home in Philly and will be handed the starting job on opening day. He's certainly a more productive option than Greg Dobbs and could make for a deep pick in NL-only leagues. Expect 20 homers and a .260 average.

Rich Aurilia, San Francisco Giants
He wasn't projected with enough at-bats after he was named the starting third baseman. The super-utility player has been starting the last few seasons, and even if he loses the job he will still find at-bats at several different positions.

Jack Hannahan, Oakland Athletics
Hannahan could see some more playing time if Eric Chavez (back) ends up missing the start of the season. He mashed in limited action last season (24 RBI in 144 at-bats) and could be a waiver wire flier if he ends up taking over for awhile.

Eugenio Velez, San Francisco Giants
Velez's ability to also play second base and outfield gives him some nice value in NL-only leagues. He stole 126 bases in 347 minor league games.

Shortstops

Miguel Tejada, Houston Astros
Even with the declining numbers and offseason turmoil, Tejada still ranks as a top-10 shortstop in most draft formats. KFFL underestimated his place in the Astros lineup during our original projection phase.

Kevin Frandsen, San Francisco Giants
The fringe prospect now has a starting shot with Omar Vizquel on the shelf. He will also be in contention for the starting second base job when Vizquel returns, but he might be favored as part of the Giants' supposed youth movement.

Jeff Keppinger, Cincinnati Reds
With Alex Gonzalez down for at least the start of the season, Keppinger offers a better offensive alternative at short. He hit five home runs in 241 at-bats last season and could make for a cheap infielder on draft day.

Jed Lowrie, Boston Red Sox
Manager Terry Francona has reportedly been interested in seeing him on the field at second base, shortstop and third base. They might try to fit him in wherever possible, meaning he could cut into Julio Lugo's playing time.

Brendan Ryan, St. Louis Cardinals
Ryan can play all over the infield for the Redbirds, and we added him despite his place on the current depth charts. He has seemingly been a hot NL-only commodity given the fact that manager Tony LaRussa likes to rotate playing time between his infielders.

Outfielders

Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians
We needed to give him greater all-around numbers after reviewing his original projected statistics. He is still a threat for 30 steals, and his strikeout rate decreased last season. He's still an obvious second-round pick.

B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Rays
We added a few more at-bats because he missed a portion of last season with a quadriceps injury. He should undoubtedly remain a second-round pick.

Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox
Not even his second-half performance last year could convince us to originally place Manny in his proper spot among outfielders. We think he's declining a bit, but even his down years make him better than most non-upside outfielders. He should bounce back in some fashion this year.

Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kemp is almost assured of the lion's share in right field, and we projected 469 at-bats to reflect this. He makes for a possible 30-20 threat this season and should be considered an upper- or middle-tier No. 2 outfielder.

Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles
We originally projected him for a bit of a drop-off this year, but hitting in the No. 3 spot in the Orioles order made us realize it was a mistake to project him for a drop-off. He's at least a legitimate 20-20 threat who will have ample RBI opportunities.

Nick Swisher, Chicago White Sox
KFFL upped Swisher's numbers because of his place in the heart of the White Sox order. We expect him to hit at least 32 home runs and top 90 RBIs with his increased schedule at US Cellular Field.

Juan Pierre, Los Angeles Dodgers
One of the most polarizing fantasy players, Pierre should start in left field because of his contract and new manager Joe Torre's favor of veteran players. He's still a source for steals in the middle rounds.

Chris Duncan, St. Louis Cardinals
The masher might see more time at first base if Albert Pujols ends up succumbing to his high-grade elbow ligament tear. Duncan's dual eligibility could be an asset if he meets the requirements, so we're bumping him up a bit here. He's still a good No. 4 outfielder.

Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Jones' move from Seattle to Baltimore provides for much friendlier hitter confines and a higher place in KFFL's rankings. His grasp on the starting job makes him a high-upside No. 4 outfielder in most leagues.

Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks
His dismal batting average in limited time last year is scaring some people from drafting him. It's possible that he could be a year away from breaking out, but his power/steals combination makes him an intriguing pick in most NL-only drafts. KFFL eventually considered the future more in the present.

Carlos Gomez, Minnesota Twins
The speedy youngster has the first shot at starting in center for the Twins with the departure of Torii Hunter. He is an impact base-stealer, but he needs to work on his fielding and contact. He makes for a great late-round speed demon.

Colby Rasmus, St. Louis Cardinals
Upside comes into play here; the super-prospect now has a chance to make waves, especially if Albert Pujols' injury steps up another level. The likes of Brian Barton and Skip Schumaker aren't likely to sway the front office from playing their future center fielder if it's their best option.

Garret Anderson, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Anderson had his second-half surge after a terrible first half, and his slow start made us slot him in lower on our cheat sheet than he should have been. He's still a source of 15 home runs even as his bat starts to slow down a bit.

Wily Mo Pena, Washington Nationals
Pena will be the third outfielder for the Nationals, and even though he will have to fight off Elijah Dukes, we brought Pena up a bit because of his power potential. He is still owned by right-handed pitching, so he will need to rectify that to move any higher.

Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds
We started Bruce off lower than his normal stock because he wasn't assured of the starting center field job. We moved him up, but the signing of Corey Patterson could bring him right back down, especially if rumors about a hamstring injury turn out to be true.

Rocco Baldelli, Tampa Bay Rays
We needed to up his at-bats to match him up within the Rays' totals for outfielders last year. If he stays healthy, he can prove to be a productive pick in the later rounds of drafts.

Geoff Jenkins, Philadelphia Phillies
We didn't originally take into account his presence in Philly's bandbox. He's a great source of 20 homers late in the draft and could be a mid-range outfielder in NL-only formats.

Jim Edmonds, San Diego Padres
For NL-only leagues, Edmonds could be a great source of stats because of his guaranteed job in center field. The veteran still has some juice left, and we recognized his place in the Padres lineup by boosting his stock a bit.

Matt Stairs, Toronto Blue Jays
Stairs had a hot period last season while platooning with Reed Johnson in left field. He will once again carry that timeshare with Johnson battling Shannon Stewart for time. He could be a valuable commodity in AL-only leagues.

Mark Kotsay, Atlanta Braves
Hitting near the top of the Braves lineup apparently wasn't enough for us to rank him among the outfield starters. The potential for scoring runs there made us rethink his statistical situation.

Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers
He is expected to lose the Dodgers outfield free-for-all since he has the least upside and is more of a platoon player. He will still find at-bats and is a moderately serviceable back-end outfielder in NL-only formats.

Brad Wilkerson, Seattle Mariners - Enters Rankings
His signing in the Rainy City makes him the likely starter. He is expected to be somewhat challenged by youngster Wladimir Balentien, but he should win out and could be a cheap source of 15 home runs.

Wladimir Balentien, Seattle Mariners - Enters Rankings
The youngster will have a shot to make the roster, but Wilkerson would likely stand in his way of the staring spot in the beginning. Balentien is considered to have more raw power than Jones did, so he could receive a shot at some point this season.

Endy Chavez, New York Mets
With Moises Alou's impending hernia surgery, Chavez could grab the lion's share of at-bats. Reports have also listed Damion Easley as a possibility, but Chavez is the better fielder and should have control of replacing Alou.

Luis Gonzalez, Florida Marlins
Like Edmonds, Gonzalez at least reappears in our rankings with his signing. He won't figure in as a starter but could have 200 at-bats given youth and fragility in the outfield.

Shannon Stewart, Toronto Blue Jays
His signing north of the border adds another body to the left field situation. There are whispers that Johnson could be traded, but Stewart's value is undefined right now until he knows his role.

Brian Giles, San Diego Padres
He has made progress while recovering from microfracture surgery in his knee. We pumped him up a bit since he will be keeping his starting job in right field.

Corey Patterson, Cincinnati Reds - Enters Rankings
He was often drafted as a free agent in many fantasy leagues this year, and now his stock could explode if he ends up winning the center field job. Manager Dusty Baker is familiar with Patterson from their Cubs days, so he could have more of an inside track.

Designated Hitters

Travis Hafner, Cleveland Indians
A hot spring has given KFFL the indication that he has regained a bit of his swing that he failed to find last season. Pronk could be in store for a rebound season, so we bumped him up to account for our optimistic forecast.

Frank Thomas, Toronto Blue Jays
Age continues to be a concern, but he still hit 26 home runs last season. This cheap power source was below players with nominal upside, and although Thomas certainly doesn't present that, he does offer a minimal addition to the big-bopper categories.

Starting Pitchers

Erik Bedard, Seattle Mariners
The move to a pitchers' park and a contending team propelled Bedard into our top five starters. Expect him to be taken as early as the third round in some leagues as the spacious confines of Safeco Field have inflated his fantasy stock.

Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
The King came in lower than some risky pitchers despite a 14-win season. He has immense potential, and his decrease in ERA last season made us bump him up upon further review. He could go within the top 100 players drafted.

Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays
His stagnantly mediocre strikeout rate was our most immediate concern, but he has posted 16 wins and at least 220 innings in consecutive seasons. His WHIP and batting average against both jumped a bit last year, but he can still be had for good value in the top 130 players.

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
We didn't take his strikeout rate into consideration, and we took the Giants' dismal team into account when downgrading his potential. Lincecum has made fantasy drafters drool over his potential, and it took KFFL a little while to accept his potential.

Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox
The injury to pitcher Curt Schilling (shoulder) jolts Buchholz's value up in our rankings. He now has a virtual lock on the No. 5 spot in the rotation given his performance last season. The Sox could invoke another innings cap this year to keep him fresh, though.

Ian Snell, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates right-hander has some of the most underrated numbers in the game, but his lack of wins made us follow that path. He is one of the better mid-range pitching options and makes for a solid No. 2 or great No. 3 fantasy hurler.

Dontrelle Willis, Detroit Tigers
It's easy to panic when an erratic southpaw switches over to the American League. Still, we originally had Willis plummeting down below many less intriguing No. 5 starters. He should undoubtedly have better run support and is worth a late-round flier in most formats.

Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees
The southpaw is in the twilight of his career, but he posted 15 wins last season while working out of many self-made jams. He still has the Yankees offense behind him along with enough craftiness to pass as a low-end fantasy starter.

Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox
Like Buchholz, Lester's fantasy stock has new life with the Schilling injury. Lester has less electricity than Buchholz but partially as a result of the Boston offense went 4-0 in 11 starts last season. The presence of starter Tim Wakefield (back) likely makes him the No. 6 starter for now.

Ervin Santana, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
He could have the inside track on the No. 5 starting job with the injury to Kelvim Escobar (shoulder). Santana's upside is well-documented, but his erratic 2007 had rumors swirling of bullpen time. Now he has a chance to turn things around at the rotation's back end.

Joe Saunders, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
While he has a shot at cracking the rotation, he will likely be the No. 6 even with Escobar sidelined. Still, as the swingman he retains some value in deeper leagues.

Jonathan Sanchez, San Francisco Giants
The prospect now has a shot to show his stuff in the rotation with the injury that is expected to keep southpaw Noah Lowry (wrist) out through April. He could earn some value in NL-only leagues as a depth pitcher. 

Carlos Villanueva, Milwaukee Brewers
We bumped him up because he now lines up as the No. 4 starter. His upside caused us to revisit his potential and increase his innings total. He's a major sleeper this year, especially in NL-only formats.

Hayden Penn, Baltimore Orioles
This post-hype prospect might have some new life with the season-ending injury to southpaw Troy Patton (shoulder). Penn might be a candidate for the back end of the rotation, making him at least a waiver wire target in AL-only leagues.

Livan Hernandez, Minnesota Twins - Enters Rankings
The workhorse signs with a team desperate for an inning-eater. He has nominal fantasy value, but that's enough to send him into our rankings. Hernandez makes for a good spot-start option in most leagues without inning caps.

Esteban Loaiza, Los Angeles Dodgers
The veteran looks to be the favorite for the No. 5 spot, but the right-hander has been inconsistent and injured over the last few seasons. He needs to be wary of the Dodgers pulling the trigger on youngster Clayton Kershaw, and so should you. 

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers - Enters Rankings
Try to contain your excitement - he enters the discussion for this season. Momentum is gaining to showcase him, but the Dodgers don't want to shove him into the spotlight unless they absolutely need him. He's a good waiver wire target during the season.

Bartolo Colon, Boston Red Sox - Enters Rankings
His signing gives the Red Sox another last-ditch option for pitching depth. Don't get too excited; he has to climb over more reliable options in Buchholz, Lester and even the injured Tim Wakefield to have an impact.

Steve Trachsel, Baltimore Orioles - Enters Rankings
With the back of the rotation up for grabs, KFFL added Trachsel because of his experience with the Orioles last season. The "Human Rain Delay" pitched 140 innings for the O's last year. He would only help as an emergency starter during the season.

Relief Pitchers

Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox
We only had him tabbed for 33 saves although the Sox had a total of 45 saves last season. We expect Manny Delcarmen to have a few opportunities this year to spell Papelbon, but we realized we took that too literally regarding Pap's total.

Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
We have some concerns that his violent pitching motion could cause trouble, but he had his lowest single-season walk total last year. We trimmed down his WHIP to match his career numbers. K-Rod's no slouch, and we needed a "DUH" moment to remind ourselves of that.

Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins
Our apparent knocking of closers continued early on with Nathan's ERA being jacked up during our initial projection period. We were originally worried that he could be bit by the injury bug with almost 550 career innings pitched, but his numbers were still microscopic last year.

Takashi Saito, Los Angeles Dodgers
Despite our concerns about Saito's age and funky delivery, we kept him a little too low on our rankings. He had fantastic ratios last season, and the Dodgers' improved staff could help him maintain his dominance from 2007.

Jose Valverde, Houston Astros
We are skeptical of him repeating his performance from last year, but he demonstrated improved control from his previous erratic years. He goes from a successful team to a team that is expected to improve, so we upped his stock with this in mind.

Manny Corpas, Colorado Rockies
We took Brian Fuentes into account a little too much. After the Rockies signed Corpas to a long-term deal, we corrected our initial doubts of his worth this season. He's one of the top No. 2 closers and could be a passable No. 1.

Jason Isringhausen, St. Louis Cardinals
He comes into spring training healthier than usual as his past hip problems seem to have subsided. We still view him as a solid No. 2 closer, but we tempered moving him up too far because the Cardinals might not give him many save chances.

B.J. Ryan, Toronto Blue Jays
The southpaw is scheduled to be ready for opening day after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last season. For all intents and purposes, he pushes fellow reliever Jeremy Accardo to a setup role.

Eric Gagne, Milwaukee Brewers
We were skeptical of his performance given his time in Boston, but Gagne moves back to the National League for a team that had more than 40 saves last season. We tweaked him up a bit to reflect his past NL success and the league change.

George Sherrill, Baltimore Orioles
He's now the front-runner for the closer job while subbing for the injured Chris Ray (elbow). The southpaw had a ratio of 11.04 strikeouts per nine innings last season and possesses the best closer stuff on the roster right now. He's one of KFFL's favorite sources for cheap saves.

Brandon Lyon, Arizona Diamondbacks
He was given the job, so naturally we take notice. Despite the buzz around setup man Tony Pena having better closer stuff, Lyon seems like the more reliable option at this juncture.

Bob Howry, Chicago Cubs
After hearing news that Cubs manager Lou Piniella had considered the veteran reliever the early favorite for the closer job, we gave him numbers similar to his time last year in which he subbed for Ryan Dempster.

Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs
We gave him less innings and some more saves because we project this job changing hands several times. He obviously has the most upside of all three candidates, but the Cubs could keep him in the seventh or eighth inning for the tougher outs.

Tom Gordon, Philadelphia Phillies
He has new fantasy life with the possible extensive absence of Brad Lidge. He suffered through various shoulder problems last season, but if Lidge is out for an extended period of time, he could see some value. We accounted for this by moving him up a bit.

Joaquin Benoit, Texas Rangers
His strikeout ratio makes him a legitimate closer sleeper candidate, especially with the erratic nature of current closer C.J. Wilson. We added several saves to his projection because will be next if Wilson tumbles.

Justin M. Miller, Florida Marlins
Upon further analysis, we revised his WHIP and base on balls projections since they weren't continuous with his career averages. He's a possible sleeper closer this year, but he also has Matt Lindstrom to worry about with that competition.

Kazuo Fukumori, Texas Rangers
One of the new Japanese imports has had an impressive spring thus far, and we toned his WHIP down a bit since he seems to be deceiving hitters.

Taylor Tankersley, Florida Marlins
His prior strikeout rates didn't match up with our assessment. He has a slim shot at sniffing the closer role, but he was still more effective when he took the ball.

Luis Vizcaino, Colorado Rockies
His overuse last season at the hands of former Yankees manager Joe Torre caused us to be skeptical of his abilities. However, the league change, his second-half numbers and his new coaching staff brought some optimism for his new situation. He's still not worth drafting in most leagues. 

Eddie Guardado, Texas Rangers
Guardado went through a mini-voyage in the KFFL rankings. He was removed then added again after early spring training reports cite that he's in good shape. With injuries to relievers C.J. Wilson and Joaquin Benoit, Guardado could see some time as a setup man.

Moving Down

Catchers

J.R. Towles, Houston Astros
He's being hyped as the next big thing in Houston, but his lack of a track record doesn't coincide with that thinking. The 'Stros are banking on his Double-A numbers, but you shouldn't take much of a risk for your fantasy squad.

Ronny Paulino, Pittsburgh Pirates
We feel Paulino has a chance to be a good buy-low No. 1 catcher or a superb No. 2 option, but he was coming out a little higher than more stable NL catchers.

Gerald Laird, Texas Rangers
Jarrod Saltalamacchia's expected dominance in the catcher spot made us downgrade Laird's impact. He could be trade bait at some point.

First Basemen

Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
This was quite the obvious downgrade; Pujols (elbow) has already fallen in drafts and our rankings due to the high-grade ligament tear in his elbow. At this point, he's a dice roll even if he drops below his normal draft value.

Dmitri Young, Washington Nationals
His diabetes has reached the news once again, and many considered his 2007 success a fluke. The Nationals re-signed him this offseason, but that doesn't mean he's a safe fantasy option. The younger Nick Johnson could challenge him to playing time.

Second Basemen

Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
A favorite rebound candidate in the fantasy world, we still thought we had him ranked a bit high. Sure, he hit 11 home runs in the second half last year, but his average is still a hindrance. His upside is somewhat cancelled out by his free-swinging mentality.

Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays
He is the center of a hot-button issue in the fantasy world: Was Hill's 2007 power surge legitimate? KFFL has mixed feelings about his potential for this year, and this was a tempering of opposite viewpoints. He could be a 15-homer option this year if the burst was for real.

Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates
He makes for a stable last-resort pick at second base, but he doesn't offer much else besides a high batting average. There's not much support in that lineup, and he was moved down in our system when our original projections made him come out too high.

Danny Richar, Chicago White Sox
The offseason favorite for the second base job, the former Diamondbacks prospect might lose some favoritism due to the performance of Alexei Ramirez. The Sox traded for Richar last season, and he gave forth an underwhelming performance. Keep your eyes peeled here.

Akinori Iwamura, Tampa Bay Rays
His expected eligibility at second base still wasn't enough of a reason to stick with our original standing of him among the top sector of the position. He doesn't steal enough bases to justify having him ahead of more reliable options, including Kent.

Juan Uribe, Chicago White Sox
The presence of both Ramirez and Richar didn't bode well for his stock; he complained earlier in the offseason about having to be in a reserve role. He has less upside than the other two candidates and should not be drafted in shallow leagues.

Third Basemen

Chone Figgins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
We put too much stock in his game-changing ability to steal bases. His fantasy numbers otherwise are mid-range in impact, and although he's a valuable player to have, he came out above several other more well-rounded options in our rankings.

Troy Glaus, St. Louis Cardinals
His switch from turf to grass was apparently enough for us to raise his power numbers a bit from the previous season. His season ended with foot surgery, and despite his new lineup settings he shouldn't be in the top 12 among third basemen.

Eric Chavez, Oakland Athletics
Chavez (back) might not be ready for the start of the season as he's still recovering from his latest offseason surgery. He was only a low-round gamble at best, and there's little about his current situation that prevented KFFL from dropping him.

Andy LaRoche, Los Angeles Dodgers
He likely won't be able to immediately showcase the tools everyone has been talking about since Garciaparra is still there. He can't be taken before the later rounds until he is promised his share.

Greg Dobbs, Philadelphia Phillies
The arrival of Feliz knocks him to the bench and fantasy irrelevance. He will still have eligibility at first base, so he could be a bench option in NL-only leagues.

Shortstops

Julio Lugo, Boston Red Sox
Lugo’s latest back issues and the looming presence of prospect infielder Jed Lowrie caused us to tweak him down a bit. Although he could be a rebound candidate after last year's rocky season, he might be dropped to a late-round flier at this point.

Alex Gonzalez, Cincinnati Reds
The slick-fielding shortstop developed a compression fracture in his kneecap and is expected to miss a good chunk of the early part of the season. His already low stock took a hit.

Omar Vizquel, San Francisco Giants
A knee injury will cause him to miss four to six weeks, meaning this sleeper for steals will be able to nap outside fantasy lineups for the near future. He is now waiver wire fodder.

Outfielders

Alex Rios, Toronto Blue Jays
KFFL has had some internal debate over Rios' stock this year, and we ended up balancing our expectations for him. One camp feels Rios can be a 30-25 hitter this year, and some feel he has already reached his peak. 

Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies
Sure, he's a threat for 40 stolen bases, but his below-average power numbers did not justify our high ranking of him. He's one of the better middle-round values, but we had him ranked a bit too high.

Michael Bourn, Houston Astros
The hottest new stolen base commodity in drafts came out a little too high on our board. Although Bourn will be batting leadoff, he has yet to show a track record of other offensive production. The stolen base value apparently propelled him higher than we wanted.

Willy Taveras, Colorado Rockies
Although Taveras has more productive experience atop a productive lineup, see Bourn's paragraph for the basic story. He still has moderate value in the middle rounds of most drafts for outfield depth.

Lastings Milledge, Washington Nationals
The Mets castoff was a little too high for our liking, given his inconsistency in limited time. Milledge could make for a superb 15-15 player in the later rounds, but he still isn't being drafted in most average-sized mixed leagues.

Luke Scott, Baltimore Orioles
The youngster with pop had too many at-bats in the middle of a battle in left field. He seems to be the favorite for left field and could succeed if he takes advantage of that short rightfield porch.

Moises Alou, New York Mets
This might be shocking news, but Alou (groin) will start the season on the disabled list with a scheduled hernia surgery. 

Cody Ross, Florida Marlins
He was the undisputed No. 4 outfielder before the arrival of Luis Gonzalez, so we had to knock him down a bit. Ross hit .335 with 12 home runs in 173 at-bats and could still be useful in NL-only leagues because of his ability to play every outfield spot. 

Jason Pridie, Minnesota Twins
A piece of the trade that brought in outfielder Delmon Young, Pridie's stock has been deflated due to the arrival of Carlos Gomez.

Craig Monroe, Minnesota Twins
Monroe will not be in line to start in center field, but he could be slated in a platoon with designated hitter Jason Kubel. He will not be a regular player, and fantasy owners shouldn't worry about him during drafts.

Norris Hopper, Cincinnati Reds
The mildly exciting youngster now moves down to No. 3 on the center field depth chart. Hopper’s fantasy relevance disappeared when Patterson entered the picture.

Ryan Freel, Cincinnati Reds
The speedster will have a utility role now. See Hopper's entry for further details.

Reed Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays
The signing of Shannon Stewart probably knocks Johnson out of the possible platoon with Matt Stairs. Johnson is the No. 5 outfielder at the moment and could end up being trade bait.

Designated Hitters

Jim Thome, Chicago White Sox
Despite his 21 second-half home runs last year, we are not too confident that this will happen again. He missed some time at the beginning of last season with a ribcage injury, and for someone his age this could be a mildly unnerving proposition.

Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
Butler is a great sleeper candidate this season due to his raw power, but we had him above more sure options at designated hitter and first base. Still, he should not be ignored in the later rounds.

Starting Pitchers

Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay Rays
More shoulder problems for everyone's favorite Led Zeppelin song, but he's only expected to miss several starts to begin the season. Kazmir seems poised to return, but we knocked off two starts' worth of statistics.

James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays
Sticking in Tampa, Shields came out a little high on our cheat sheets for a one-season wonder. His control was nearly impeccable last year, but he was ahead of more established starters. He might even be the No. 1 if Kazmir misses time, but Shields' stock should be tempered to that of a No. 2 fantasy starter.

Curt Schilling, Boston Red Sox
His rehabilitation from a partially torn rotator cuff will likely sideline him until after the All-Star break. He chose to rehab the injury rather than have surgery, so that rightfully knocks him down for us.

Kelvim Escobar, Boston Red Sox
Escobar (shoulder) and injuries seem to be a match made in fantasy...well, you know. Last season's promise now takes a hit along with his draft stock. He's due to miss a month of the season at least, so be wary.

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers
Gallardo's (knee) injury doesn't appear to be as serious as once thought, but we knocked a few starts and innings off his total. This only knocked him down slightly in our rankings. He's certainly worth taking if he drops below the 10th round.

Joba Chamberlain, New York Yankees
Since the Hut will be starting the season in the bullpen, his starter rating has decreased. Of course, his strikeout rate remains his top draw, and the Yankees eventually want him to join the rotation this season. However, he won't come cheap in most drafts as a result.

Noah Lowry, San Francisco Giants
The southpaw is battling wrist issues and is expected to miss April. His scheduled absence opens the door for others in the Giants staff, including hot prospect Jonathan Sanchez.

Jason Schmidt, Los Angeles Dodgers
Surprisingly, Schmidt reportedly has a tired arm to complement his shoulder issues from last season. He's a risky proposition at this point unless you have a draft or roster spot available and your options are running thin.

Chris Capuano, Milwaukee Brewers
His battle for the No. 5 spot with prospect Manny Parra caused us to stifle his projection. Capuano had a rough go of it last season after two mediocre campaigns, and Milwaukee might be ready to move in a different direction.

Anibal Sanchez, Florida Marlins
He continues to struggle in his rehab from surgery to repair a torn labrum and could be out until at least the All-Star break. He is becoming less and less of a factor at this point, and a longer absence would remove his fantasy significance.

Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins - Removed from Rankings
Once considered a good contender for the No. 5 slot, the signing of Livan Hernandez deems him irrelevant. Look for right-hander Kevin Slowey as a Twins back-end option instead. 

Relief Pitchers

Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati Reds
We had him originally projected with 39 saves. We changed this when we realized that he's in the Great American Ball Park of Pitcher Pain. The Reds won't win many games, so we adjusted him accordingly. He's still a fringe top-10 closer.

Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals
The former Rule V pick is a nice story, and we believe he stands as a top-tier No. 2 closer this year. However, our excitement boiled over a bit too much when we gave him a 0.69 WHIP. We quickly altered that one.

Matt Capps, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates won't offer as many save opportunities as we gave Capps, and we originally overestimated his projected innings since we took into account his innings as a non-closer last season. He's still a good No. 2 closer.

Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies
His recent knee problems knocked him off the first tier of National League closers. He was already far from the most stable of firemen, but this offers some new concerns over his 2008 status.

Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants
We handed him good numbers like the Giants handed him the job, even with his dismal injury-riddled performance last season. The uninspiring Giants don't justify his save numbers being as high as we made them, and he needs to show more control before he moves up our board.

Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers
Everyone's favorite setup man was projected a little too highly by KFFL. Yes, he is one of the most dominant non-closer relievers in the league, but we had his WHIP a little too low for his strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He's still a great pickup to round out a pitching corps.

Fernando Rodney, Detroit Tigers
Rodney (shoulder) was announced to be out indefinitely with shoulder tendonitis Feb. 27. He was slated to be the main setup man with the injury to Joel Zumaya (shoulder), but now hangs in fantasy limbo. He should be considered an in-season waiver wire target if and when he heals. 

Pat Neshek, Minnesota Twins
The Twins workhorse had higher numbers than some closers. Despite his steady production as the setup man, we couldn't justify recommending him more than some closers.

Derrick Turnbow, Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers setup man usually comes with a lower WHIP and a higher ERA than what we gave him. His second half skewed his numbers a bit from last season, and we took that into account. He could be a steal in deeper leagues as insurance in case Eric Gagne falters.

Heath Bell, San Diego Padres
We evaluated him at a higher level than some low-level closers. Although Bell was highly reliable last season to provide a great strikeouts-per-nine-innings figure, some worry about the wear-and-tear on his arm after a season of 93 2/3 innings. He's still valuable in NL-only leagues. 

Jeremy Accardo, Toronto Blue Jays
Accardo's dazzling 2007 campaign will go for naught if B.J. Ryan stays healthy as closer. Accardo drops in our rankings for obvious reasons, but he might make for a stash pick in case Ryan's health falters again.

Jamie Walker, Baltimore Orioles
He is now nothing more than a setup man in Baltimore. He was part of the committee to replace Ray and Baez last year, and his above-average control makes him a nice fit in the eighth inning - but not on average-sized fantasy teams.

Tony Pena, Arizona Diamondbacks
His fantasy balloon was deflated when Brandon Lyon was named the closer. He's still worth a look in deeper leagues as insurance since he is regarded as having better stuff than Lyon. His control was a bit of a problem at the end of last season, though.

Kerry Wood, Chicago Cubs
We knocked his save total down a bit because of the open competition. We curbed our original optimism that he could be used effectively in short outings. Marmol has the upside and Howry has the stale stability to knock Wood's stock down.

Brad Hennessey, San Francisco Giants
He recorded 19 saves in place of the injured Wilson last year, but he won't have the same luxury this season. He was rated higher than some more reliable closers-in-waiting, so he needed to be toned down a bit.

Joey Devine, Oakland Athletics
The trade that sent outfielder Mark Kotsay to Atlanta brought in Devine, who we assessed could be a closer sleeper, especially with trade rumors surrounding Huston Street. These were quickly squashed since Devine might not even make the team.

Kiko Calero, Oakland Athletics
Coming off rotator cuff surgery, Calero might struggle a bit more than we originally anticipated. Since he also is far from being a serviceable fantasy reliever, we toned his value down to the point of irrelevance.

Joel Zumaya, Detroit Tigers - Removed from Rankings
Everybody's guitar hero won't make enough of an impact this year for us to project him - he's expected to miss at least half the season. Thus, Zumaya (shoulder) was removed from KFFL's slate.

Mike Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves - Removed from Rankings
Since he is expected to miss at least half the season, Gonzalez (elbow) isn't suitable for projections since he probably won't be much of a factor.

Troy Patton, Baltimore Orioles - Removed from Rankings
The young up-and-comer acquired from the Astros went from boom to bust when doctors discovered a torn labrum, and he is now done for the season.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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