Let's face it -- your draft picks are basically your fantasy baseball predictions for the 2017 season. Same goes for your rankings if you put together your own list or cheat sheet. If you rank Sleeper X above Player Y, you're basically saying Sleeper X is going to have a better season.
We all have our share of hits and misses (that's why the waiver wire was invented), but it's always fun to get things down on paper before that first pitch on opening day.
With that in mind, here are some of our predictions for the upcoming season.
Fantasy Baseball Predictions
Kyle Schwarber will be the top fantasy catcher (in Yahoo leagues, that is).
The reason for this is pretty simple -- he doesn't actually play catcher. It's a huge advantage in fantasy leagues (especially weekly leagues) because it means more games. There are worries about Schwarber, including his spot in the lineup hurting his RBI chances and the potential for him sitting against some lefties, but we feel confident that the 24-year-old hitting machine will be among the catcher-eligible leaders in average, homers, and runs (and still high in RBIs).
Paul Goldschmidt will be in the conversation for next year's No. 1 overall pick.
Despite finishing last year as a top-five overall fantasy player, Goldschmidt didn't seem to be mentioned among this year's top-pick candidates. Maybe it's because Mike Trout is such a no-brainer -- or maybe it was because people aren't buying the 32 steals --but Goldschmidt actually had a "down" year by his standards in homers, RBIs, and average last season. If he's motivated to keep the steals up, he could be a 30/30 1B with 100/100 runs/RBIs and a .310-plus average. What more do you want?
All but one person in your league willregret not drafting Jonathan Villar.
Villar was fantasy's biggest surprise in 2016, and it's understandable that owners are a little leery of a regressionheading into '17. But even if the homers fall from 19 to 14, there's still plenty of upside here. His high BB-rate means he should get on base enough to challenge for at least second in the league in steals behind Billy Hamilton, and he'll score a bunch of runs in Milwaukee's free-wheeling offense. Finding a huge steals guy who can hit double-digit homers and drive in a relatively decent amount of runs is a major bonus, especially when he qualifies at 2B, SS, and 3B in Yahoo leagues.
Carlos Correa will have a better fantasy season than Trea Turner.
Turner's rise to fantasy draft darling is eerily similar's to Correa's last year. Both went full "Beast Mode" for around half a season (Correa a bit more, but close enough), and fantasy owners drooled at their respective five-category upsides, especially at thin middle infield positions. At just 21 with 99 MLB games under his belt, Correa was a first-round staple; Turner, at 23 with 100 games on his resume, is going as high as sixth in some drafts. It's easy to understand why, but the trusty "double it" stat projection modelfor a guy who played half a season rarely works out. To be fair to Turner, his SB ability gives him a leg up on where Correa was last year, but he odds of him clubbing 20 HRs or hitting north of .320 seem remote. Correa fits the profile of a 30-plus HR hitter who should drive in a bunch of runs and could steal 20 bases. This isn't a knock on Turner; it's merely a reminder of how good Correa is and will be.
This is the year Adrian Beltre starts falling off.
In truth, 2015 looked like the year Beltre started to fall off, as he hit .284 with 18 homers, 83 runs and 83 RBIs. But he came roaring back last year (.300-32-104 with 89 runs), and now fantasy owners seem to think he's going to live forever. Beltre certainly has withstood the test of time as one of the very best players of his generation, but at almost 38 and already dealing with a calf injury, we suspect his '17 season is going to be closer to his '15 output than his '16 production. Young sluggers like Miguel Sano and MaikelFranco won't hit for as high of an average, but they could potentially double his HR total, especially if Beltrehas to deal with nagging injuries.
Christian Yelichwill have a career year.
Yelich'syear-to-year numbers don't scream "fantasy star", but what if he hits his career highs in the same season?He'd finish with a .300 average, 21 homers, 21 SBs, 94 runs and 98 RBIs. Hello, fantasy star. At 25, Yelich still has room to grow, especially in the power and run-production departments. He might not top 20 SBs again,but this looks like a season where he can really break out. If he can hit between a non-suspended Dee Gordon and a healthy Giancarlo Stanton all year, then 100 runs/100 RBIs is definitely in play.
At least one of Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, Matt Harvey, Adam Wainwright, and Dallas Keuchel will challenge for a Cy Young.
All five of these former (current?) aces struggled last year, with injuries and flat-out poor performances being to blame. As a result, these guys are plummeting much lower than usual in drafts, but that creates value opportunities for the fantasy owners who take chances on them. Some of these pitchers are on the downside of their careers, but that doesn't mean they can't have at least one more season in the sun. We rank Keuchel the highest, but Greinke and Hernandez are right behind him. Wainwright is the lowest because of his declining K-rate. Harvey just might have the most upside if he's healthy.
At least 20 teams will change their closer at some point this season.
This is fairly typical in any given season, and this year looks especially volatile on paper considering several of our top-15 RPs haven't closed for a full season (Edwin Diaz, SeungHwan Oh, Ken Giles, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis). Some of these changes will be temporary because of DL stints; others will be permanent. Of course, some teams will change their closer more than once (the A's and Reds look like they're going to open the season with committees), so you also have to be ready for that.Bottom line -- don't feel comfortable with your drafted closers right now.