Whether you're looking at Yahoo's or ESPN's fantasy baseball rankings for 2017 (or some other site, like, say Sporting News), it's important to note the differences -- sometimes vast differences -- in players' projected values. This is especially true if you're playing in leagues on more than one site. No matter how devoted you are to your cheat sheet filled with potential sleepers and busts, it's almost impossible to deny that where a player is ranked on the draft applet you're using will affect you and your fellow leaguemates' strategies.
Because of all the external factors that go into fantasy baseball rankings -- position scarcity, category scarcity, injury worries, etc. -- it's really impossible to make a comprehensive set of overall rankings; however, that's the default setting inall draft rooms. Sure, you can sort by position (or name, or category...), but the players higher up in the window right in front of your face are undoubtedly going to command more attention.
As long as you don't reach too much, you can use that to your advantage by adjusting the way you prioritize sleepers and positions.
ESPN Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2017
(Rankings as of 3/23)
One of the first things that jumps out about ESPN's rankings is how much lower a lot of popular pitching sleepersare compared to Yahoo. Jamison Taillon (No. 191 on ESPN;121 on Yahoo), Aaron Nola (240; 129), Lance McCullers (235; 136), James Paxton (278; 134), Sean Manaea (286; 160), and Vincent Velasquez (277; 150), among others, especially stand out.
We could debate all day about which rankings are "better", but that doesn't really matter. The point hereis that you can't sleep quite as long on those sleepers in Yahoo leagues. They're going to pop up in the draft window sooner, which means they will be drafted sooner. If you want them, you have to go et them. Conversely, you can get some great value on these types of pitchersin ESPN leagues.
There are also big differences in the rankings of Yu Darvish (No. 60 on ESPN; 34 on Yahoo), Rick Porcello (70; 102), Kenta Maeda (164; 91), Danny Duffy (154; 105), Danny Salazar (169; 112), and Hisashi Iwakuma (138; 223).
Again, we're not saying one site is using better projections, but these gaps are worth noting.
Relievers are almost impossible to rank in a Top 300, so any drastic differences should be taken with a grain of salt, but Ken Giles (No. 111 on ESPN; 154 on Yahoo), Wade Davis (132; 99), Francisco Rodriguez (149; 191), A.J. Ramos (150; 200), and Jim Johnson (182; 249) are some of the prominent names that aren't particularly close in the respective sites' rankings.
Of course, positional rankings can be more important than overall rankings with spots like RP -- especially when you get into players ranked 15th or lower. At that point, even just two or three spots in the rankings can mean a big difference in where a player gets selected -- or if he gets selected at all.
Yahoo Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2017
Rankings as of 3/23
For position players, the biggest thing to know heading into drafts is that Yahoo has lower default standards for position eligibility than ESPN. As such, you'll see Kyle Schwarber in Yahoo's catcher rankings and Jonathan Villar in Yahoo's 2B rankings, but that's not the case on ESPN. This has a big effect on the difference in Schwarber's overall ranking between the sites. He sits at just 124 on ESPN but No. 54 on Yahoo.
Overall, catchers are valued much more highly on Yahoo. ESPN's top-ranked catcher is Buster Posey, who checks in at No. 83. Next is Jonathan Lucroy at No. 120. Yahoo has five backstops in their top 107, including Schwarber (54), Posey (55), Gary Sanchez (65), and Lucroy (78), all of whom slotin before ESPN's first catcher.
Despite Villar having extra position eligibility on Yahoo, he's ranked 22 spots lower than on ESPN (No. 28). That simply comes down to one site believing in him more than the other, which seems to be the case with a lot of 3B-eligible players.
Alex Bregman (No. 41 on ESPN; 92 on Yahoo), Evan Longoria (51; 75), Miguel Sano (87; 144), Jose Ramirez (99; 176), Eduardo Nunez (95; 174), and Jedd Gyorko (184; 289)are all much more highly valued on ESPN.
The same is true for a lot of key shortstops, including Jean Segura (No. 54 on ESPN; 86 on Yahoo), Addison Russell (104; 131), Troy Tulowitzki (106; 143), Dansby Swanson (106; 214), and Marcus Semien (198; 232). Swanson stands out the most and runs the risk of being severely overdrafted in ESPN leagues.
First base and second base don't have too many big differences worth noting, though Eric Thames isn't eligible at 1B to start the season in Yahoo leagues. He should quickly hit the five-start requirement, though, so don't let that scare you off.
Wil Myers (No. 32 on ESPN; 53 on Yahoo), Hanley Ramirez (81; 59), and Brandon Belt (79; 120) are worth second looks at first base, while Rougned Odor (67; 42) and DJ LeMahieu (62; 83) could go a few rounds earlier depending on which site you use.
As you might expect, outfielders are all over the place. Stephen Piscotty (No. 64 on ESPN; 126 on Yahoo) has one of the biggest gaps among early-round OFs, but Matt Kemp (101; 64), Jackie Bradley Jr. (74; 108), Billy Hamilton (112; 77), Yasiel Puig (122; 192); Keon Broxton (127; 183), Hunter Renfroe (162; 219), Manuel Margot (114; 297), and Max Kepler (172; 255) also stand out.
However, no one stands out more than sleeper du jour Mitch Haniger, who checks in at No. 163 on ESPN and 1,200 on Yahoo.
Every year a few players slip through the cracks like this (and Yahoo still has plenty of time to update its rankings and move him up), but it's a good idea to have a sleeper list readyand check on certain players before your draft. Another example is Koda Glover, who is set to open the season as Washington's closer but is not in ESPN's top 300 yet and is only No. 560 on Yahoo.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy
Ultimately, youshouldn'tlet your site's draft rankings affect you too much. Take in a wide variety of sources, including Fantasy Pro's consensus rankings, and have a plan for multiple players you want to target at each position. That way, if someone you wanted gets overdrafted because of his rankingon your site, you can adjust and grab someone else later. Unless you're dead set on getting a certain player, it's rarely good practice to reach and miss out on better value at other positions.
And if you are playing on two different sites, scout for differences ahead of time. It's easy to get into your head what round a player is "supposed" to go in simply because that's where he went in your last draft. Wipe that slate clean. Not only can your league's rankings greatly affect that, but, as anyone who's played fantasy baseball more than once knows, the specific people in your league also can cause all kinds of confusion.
Don't get suckered into overdraftinga certain player or missing out on your favorite sleeper.