Based on early trends in ADP, which players do you believe are being undervalued the most and why should drafters be giving these guys another look?
Tristan H. Cockcroft: With the early ADP returns in, it appears that designated hitters, predictably, are being undervalued in drafts. Why is everyone so afraid to clog up that DH/utility spot, year after year? Each of my top four options at the position is going at least a round later than his ranking, and in the cases of Nos. 2-4, Kendrys Morales, Hanley Ramirez and Albert Pujols, they're going 25-plus spots later.
Nelson Cruz, going outside the top 50, is the only player in baseball with 39-plus home runs in each of the past four seasons -- and no other player has more than two such seasons in that time. Morales is one of only eight hitters with a minimum of a .190 isolated power and a .170 well-hit average (while qualifying for the batting title) in each of the past three seasons, hinting at his underrated power. Ramirez was monstrously unlucky in terms of RBI opportunities (and production when given them), and while his playing time is somewhat in question, he's still a rebound candidate in a loaded lineup. And Pujols, while not the star he once was, still provides good power in what should be a more productive lineup in 2018.
I know, filling that DH/utility spot can give the perception of limiting your options in the later rounds, but isn't that what your bench is for? Don't forget these players, and don't be afraid to select them well before the final rounds in ESPN standard leagues.
Eric Karabell: I will not say I spend a lot of time looking at the ADP from a year ago as compared to the current season, but I do look -- and this is often an underrated practice. A year ago, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano were each top-30 selections in ESPN average live drafts. OK, so what has changed? Marte served a suspension. Bogaerts had a hand injury. Cano turned 35. As a result, all three of these players can be had a discount that seems to be based more on narrative than anything else.
However, with Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard and Milwaukee Brewers infielder Jonathan Villar -- all coveted in 2017 -- we have more tangible reasons to let them slide in current drafts. Again, they were universally regarded as strong selections at this time a calendar year ago, and in an overreactive world, the difference in ADP from one season to the next is a great place to look for undervalued assets. Yes, fantasy managers burned by the aforementioned players might have a tough time investing, but that is hardly a recommended practice. Be objective.
With Bogaerts, for example, he could be available five rounds later this season in drafts. He is 25 years old and still has the same power potential we all saw in 2016 when he hit 21 home runs. He could bat third in one of the strongest lineups in the sport. Oh, and he is healthy today. Bogaerts seems like an obvious pick for undervalued, unless you believe he is already past his prime and can't bounce back. Marte is not likely to miss half the season again, and he combines modest power with big speed. Cano is not too old to still hit 30 home runs, and neither is Cabrera. Syndergaard, when healthy, can be great. Villar is one season removed from a 62-steal campaign. Who is he? Well, just look at last season's ADP!
AJ Mass: If you've put in the time and done your own research, crunched the numbers and come up with a rankings list that takes into account your league's scoring system and rules, then you should have the confidence to stick with it. Far too many times, I've heard fantasy managers moaning and complaining that they didn't get the guy they wanted to draft because they were too scared to get laughed at by picking a guy far sooner than his ADP indicated. If you're one of these easily influenced people -- and you know who you are -- then please don't even bother to look at ADP.
However, if you are able to stand there alone on an island and hold firm to your research, then ADP can certainly help you decide between two players of relative value when you are on the clock. When in doubt, you're going to want to take the guy less likely to be there when your turn comes around again. ADP is no guarantee, but it's a fairly good indicator of when a player is going to be selected -- especially if your league contains a whole bunch of folks whose idea of draft day prep is to click on the ADP list and use that as their rankings.
To name some names, based on quick perusal of the Live Draft results thus far and my own personal rotisserie rankings, six players jump out at me as being undervalued at the present time: Whit Merrifield, Wil Myers, Jose Ramirez, Elvis Andrus, A.J. Pollock and Tommy Pham. I'm not going to let their ADP scare me away from grabbing them when I feel the time is right. You shouldn't either.
Kyle Soppe: I'm old enough to remember when Adam Eaton was a viable and versatile fantasy threat. You know what? You are too! In both 2015 and 2016, he scored north of 90 runs while hitting over .280, swatting 14 homers and stealing at least 14 bags for a White Sox offense that ranked 28th and 20th in runs scored in those two seasons. He was doing more of the same for a Nationals offense that finished fifth in runs scored last season before tearing his ACL in April.
Why is he getting no love and being considered a low-end OF4? Would you not argue that a 15/15 season with a .300 batting average is well within the realm of possibilities? Incidentally, that's a stat line that no outfielder got to last season. I'm not going to argue that Eaton is elite or has tremendous upside, but at his early asking price, I'm going to end up with him on more than a few of my teams. I recommend you do the same given how fast the outfield position runs dry.