On Sunday, March 17, I drafted my $125k grand prize NFBC RotoWire Online Championship team with friend and co-owner Chris Hahn. Chris and I have both cashed the overall contest - he finished 7th in 2012 and I placed 15th last year - but we've struck out in all of our co-own entries. We are determined to right the ship this season.
We drew the 9th pick, which was our 7th KDS preference. Here are the results (scroll down to see the full draft board):
1.9 (9) - J.D. Martinez - The plan going in was to take Aaron Judge, but Team 8 quickly reminded us that nothing ever goes to plan in a room full of NFBC sharps. Judge went as early as 5th overall in Main Event drafts last weekend, so this really wasn't a huge surprise. I'm certainly not complaining that JDM was the player that fell to us.
2.4 (16) - Gerrit Cole - Cole was the target in Round 2. Do not be surprised if he finishes 2019 as the top fantasy starter overall.
3.9 (33) - Whit Merrifield - Five different starting pitchers were drafted in the 6 picks prior to this one. I didn't want to miss out on Walker Buehler since I don't yet have a share, but Chris thought there was a chance he might fall to us in Round 4. Teams 10 and 11 already had aces on their roster, so I was amenable. It was a tough choice between Merrifield, Juan Soto and Charlie Blackmon, but we went with the player that offers the most stolen base upside out of the trio.
4.4 (40) - Walker Buehler - I'll admit... I was sweating this one a bit. Team 12 did end up drafting a starter (Kershaw at 37th overall?) but Buehler never disappeared from atop our queue. If he wasn't available, Cody Bellinger and Anthony Rendon were our other top choices. This marks the first time in 3 years that I don't have Kershaw on my Online Championship roster. It feels... strange. By the way, if you're curious about the title of this blog, I'll point you to last year's Online Championship recap.
5.9 (57) - Gary Sanchez - We missed out on Daniel Murphy (5.6) and Yasiel Puig (5.7). Khris Davis was available and perhaps the safer pick. After all, we know exactly we're getting - .247 with 40-some homers and plenty of RBI. Chris brought up Sanchez's name, however, and I felt he has the upside to offer similar production at a very thin position. Chris agreed and we filled our first catcher slot. Honestly, this felt a bit strange because neither of us like drafting catchers early. Hopefully, someone will wake The Kraken and he rebounds in 2019.
6.4 (64) - Edwin Diaz - Team 10 sniped us on Mike Clevinger (6.3) and our queue didn't feature anyone I was truly in love with. Tommy Pham and George Springer were available and probably better options, but I noticed the lowest Diaz had gone in OC drafts that weekend was 60th overall and this was a (slight) value opportunity. Grabbing an early closer was definitely not part of our plan going into the draft, but it's how the cards fell. One of my biggest pet peeves during the season is scrambling for saves on the waiver wire and paying hundreds of FAAB dollars for a closer who might only hold the job for a week. Hopefully, we won't run into that problem with Diaz. I am slightly concerned about his move to New York, simply from an environment change perspective.
7.9 (81) - Kenley Jansen - Victor Robles was our target here but we didn't come close to landing him (7.3). We should've just taken him last round. Since the room seemed allergic to closers, we decided to zig when everyone else was zagging and grab our second closer before most teams even had one. Many fantasy experts I highly respect aren't paying up for saves this year, but since so many seem to be aboard that train, maybe this is the year to take the opposite approach and pay up for them?
8.4 (88) - Nick Castellanos - Castellanos isn't the sexiest pick, but at 27 he's in his prime power years and I love his batting average floor.
9.9 (105) - A.J. Pollock - Scooter Gennett was someone that Chris liked a lot and perhaps we should've taken that route since Pollock has burned all of us in the past. Whether Pollock hits leadoff or clean up, I think this pick has the potential to pay off in a big way as long as he stays healthy and avoids any possibility of a platoon. Now that I'm writing this down, I'm realizing those are big "ifs".
10.4 (112) - Amed Rosario - Amed is having a great spring and we all loved the steals he provided in the second half last season. Chris mentioned the possibility of him tapping into some power as well. If all goes well, Rosario may be someone we're drafting in the 3rd or 4th round next year.
11.9 (129) - Eduardo Rodriguez - A dark horse candidate for AL Cy Young? His K/9 keeps rising and BB/9 keeps falling (albeit slightly). I'd love to see what his stats look like in a 180 IP season.
12.4 (136) - Nick Pivetta - Mike Clevinger was drafted in this range last year and I think Pivetta has the chance to pay similar dividends. He improved his strikeout and walk rates last season and a 3.83 FIP suggests his 4.77 ERA was unlucky. I wasn't crazy about him going into the draft, but after researching him further, I love this pick. I just wasn't fond of it at the time because we were sniped on Wilson Ramos (12.3) and Josh Hader (12.2).
13.9 (153) - Yoan Moncada - This was one of my least favorite picks of the draft and everyone already knows why (psst....don't look at his strikeout rate). Best case, he figures things out in Year 3 and goes 20-20. Worst case, he'll drain the batting average a bit while still posting double-digit homers and steals. Based on how we constructed our roster, we're hoping he obtains 3B eligibility this season.
14.4 (160) - Chris Paddack - Yes, his innings will be limited. He probably won't post many wins since he'll pitch 4 or 5 innings at a time. But that walk rate.... can I insert the heart eyes emoji into this piece? With such a strong pitching foundation already, I felt we could reach a bit on Paddack knowing he'd be shut down at some point. Not to mention, my co-owner was gushing through the phone by mere mention of his name.
15.9 (177) - Miguel Cabrera - Miggy was a player we first discussed in Round 13, so the fact that we landed him 2 rounds later was a nice bonus. If he's back to full health, this could be one of the best picks of our draft.
16.4 (184) - Domingo Santana - After landing Paddack in Round 14, it was my turn to "fan-boy" over Santana. He's having a phenomenal spring and it wasn't long ago that he went 30-15 and was being drafted in the 6th or 7th round. We did consider Nick Senzel for this spot, but the power bat won out.
17.9 (201) - Rick Porcello - With an ADP of 169 in the Main Event, we simply couldn't pass up this value. We probably should have taken him three rounds earlier over Paddack.
18.4 (208) - Yuli Gurriel - At this point in the draft, we couldn't ignore the empty corner infield spots any longer. Gurriel was the best remaining player with 3B eligibility. I love his batting average floor and the fact he's so versatile defensively means he'll get plenty of at-bats, especially with the departure of Marwin Gonzalez.
19.9 (225) - Carlos Santana - Miggy carries some risk due to age/health, so backing him up with Slam-tana was a no-brainer, especially since we almost took him last round.
20.4 (232) - Willians Astudillo - This was way too early on Astudillo, but we knew a catcher run was approaching and he was one of 2 catchers left that we liked. The other one was Omar Narvaez, who went at the end of Round 24 and was a much better pick than this one.
21.9 (249) - Jeff McNeil - Could Jeff McNeil realistically challenge for a batting title? Here's hoping he gets enough at-bats to find out. We're also hoping he gets 3B or OF eligibility sometime in April.
22.4 (256) - Josh James - He may spend some time in the minors in order to stretch out and get healthy, but AJ Hinch sees him in the Astros' rotation this season, which is a great spot to be in.
23.9 (273) - Ryan McMahon - After Garrett Hampson was drafted in the 10th round, I wrote down McMahon on my draft sheet as someone to target 10 rounds later. Anything is possible in Coors, so I'm optimistic about this pick paying big dividends.
24.4 (280) - Lourdes Gurriel - I'm not thrilled with this pick, but my co-owner seems to like him and the dual-eligibility at the middle infield spots is nice.
25.9 (297) - Avisail Garcia - This was one of the first players Chris mentioned several weeks ago when we began preparing for this draft. As long as he maintains a regular spot in Tampa's lineup, I'm expecting 20-25 homers. Garcia left the park 19 times in only 93 games last year. A solid 5th outfielder.
26.4 (304) - Michael Pineda - The ratios might be ugly, but strikeouts galore!
27.9 (321) - Freddy Peralta - See above.
28.4 (328) - Wily Peralta - Go look at Brad Boxberger's spring stat line and you'll see why we grabbed Wily Coyote. A third closer option until Kyle Zimmer is ready to take over the job?
29.9 (345) - Maikel Franco - After scrolling through the list of available players, I was surprised to see Franco sitting there at pick 345. His ADP in last weekend's Main Event drafts was 258.5 and the lowest he went was pick 275. Third base is probably our weakest position so I'm glad we didn't overlook him.
30.4 (352) - Ian Kinsler - I had forgotten about Kinsler until Chris mentioned him as the draft was wrapping up. To be honest, we didn't need another 2B on our roster, but we drafted Kinsler for his skills and he could slot into MI or UT if he's on a hot streak. The fact that he's still reaching double-digit homers and steals into his late-30's is really impressive. Perhaps that streak comes to an end this season depending on when Fernando Tatis Jr. arrives to the show.
Chris and I welcome your feedback on the team. Feel free to share your honest opinions with us via Twitter.
I'll have another Online Championship draft review next week, as I'll be flying solo on 3/23 (10pm).