Matthew Selz shares his Fantasy Baseball knowledge with you and helps you get a better understanding on how to prepare for your upcoming draft!   You can follow him on Twitter @theselzman!

The principle of protection isn’t a new one in the world of baseball. Every manager wants as much protection as possible for his big bats in the lineup to help them produce the way they can. Managers also want depth on their bench to cover for the inevitable injury run that every team goes through each year. The same should be true for you as a fantasy baseball team owner.

Last season, 2017, saw a change to the DL rule in MLB that shrank the minimum stay to 10 days from 15 the years prior. That made a HUGE difference in the amount of players put on the DL in 2017 as compared to the seasons before. Three years since 2011 the DL trip figure has been 540 or more, including 571 in 2016. That’s a lot. Numbers like that correlate to more than 30,000 days of action missed in three of the last five years. Again those are big numbers. But in 2017 659 trips were made to the DL, nearly 100 more than 2016, which was already a record year. The 659 trips led to 51,031 days of missed action. So what does that mean for you and your fantasy hopes? It means protection is a good thing for your roster.

Just drafting your starting roster and not accounting for injuries is simply a strategy for disaster and a last place finish. We all know that avoiding injury prone players is a smart strategy, but many of us forget to accrue depth on our roster in case something goes wrong. With the kind of stats talked about above, why would you take that chance?

I know what you’re thinking, the last article talked about scarcity and now you’re supposed to get depth to protect my roster? Yes precisely. Depth doesn’t mean that the players have to be full-time players, it’s great if you can find that depth, but a part-time player is better than having nothing coming from that roster spot.

Players who have multi-position qualification are the best ones to go after for the bench spots because they can cover multiple guys getting hurt throughout the season. A guy like Jose Reyes who will qualify at 2B, SS, and 3B is very handy given the injury history of the Mets regulars over the past few years. Matt Adams, now with the Nationals, fits at OF and 1B, also handy given the volatility at both those positions throughout the season. That being said, the vast majority of players that land on the DL are pitchers. Starters and relievers alike, but clearly starters bring more fantasy value overall. Sticking in the NL East for the moment, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Josh Smoker, Steven Matz, Max Scherzer, Joe Ross, Stephen Strasburg, Koda Glover, Ryan Madson, Shawn Kelley, Enny Romero, Sammy Solis, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola, Clay Buchholz, Joaquin Benoit, Zach Eflin, Jeanmar Gomez and that list doesn’t even include the Marlins or Braves which add another 23 pitchers to that list. Getting the picture?

Lots and lots of pitching depth is needed to compete for the season, and yes most leagues allow for waiver pickups but you may not want to leave it to chance to get the guy you really want. More teams are going with six-man rotations to start the year and that makes more pitchers available and with a decent amount of fantasy value. Taking long relievers and middle relievers is more relevant than ever with that many pitchers hitting the DL and again needing production from every roster spot and even relievers produce more than an injured starter.

Bob Lung presents the facts and figures on why drafting Rookies can be can very RISKY in the early rounds! You can follow or respond to him on Twitter at @bob_lung.

The one question that I get asked every year is “Why don’t you include rookies in your consistency analysis?” My answer has always been “They’re too inconsistent.” Or “College talent doesn’t always equate to NFL talent.” That normally leads to “Well, what about Odell Beckham, Jr. or LeVeon Bell or Leonard Fournette?” Good point.

So, I decided this year to back up my theory with facts. I accumulated the number of draft choices at the offensive positions (QB, RB, WR and TE) since 2010. For the past eight years, there have been 340 of these players drafted in the first four rounds. I did only the first four rounds since that’s where most of the NFL starters come from. Yes, there are the Tom Brady’s of the world that are drafted in Round 6, but those are few and far between.

The breakdown of the positions and rounds are as follows:

 

Rd 1

Rd 2

Rd 3

Rd 4

Total

QB

22

9

11

13

55

RB

12

22

20

34

88

WR

30

30

40

42

142

TE

6

14

17

18

55

Total

70

75

88

107

340


Next, I accumulated all the rookies who exceeded a 60% Clutch Rating (how consistent the player was during the season) and played more than 10 games in their rookie season since 2010.

 

90% - 100%

80% - 89%

70% - 79%

60% - 69%

Total

QB

0

1

1

2

4

RB

2

4

5

4

15

WR

1

2

2

4

9

TE

0

0

1

1

2

Total

3

7

9

11

30 


As you can see above, since 2010, only 30 TOTAL rookies have ever exceeded a 60% Clutch Rating in their rookie season. Around 67% of those players had a Clutch Rating between 60-79%, while only 33% were over an 80% Clutch Rating. In summary, it’s even rarer that a rookie has a Clutch Rating over 90% in his first season. Let’s look at the breakdown by position.

 

90% - 100%

80% - 89%

70% - 79%

60% - 69%

Total

QB

 

 

 

 

7.27%

RB

 

 

 

 

17.05%

WR

 

 

 

 

6.34%

TE

 

 

 

 

3.64%

Total

0.88%

2.06%

2.65%

3.24%

8.82%


The chart shows that less than one percent of all position players drafted in the past seven years have earned a Clutch Rating over 90% in their rookie season. The other Clutch Rating categories don’t show much success either with success ratings between 2.06% and 3.24%. In total, less than 9% of all rookies since 2010 earned over a 60% Clutch Rating.

If you’re wondering, who were these 30 rookies, who earned over a 60% Clutch Rating in their first season, then you’re in luck! We’ll start with the quarterbacks. Remember, only four quarterbacks out of the 48 (8.33%), drafted in the first four rounds since 2010, have earned over 60% Clutch Rating. Robert Griffin and Marcus Mariota both earned a 67% Clutch Rating while Cam Newton had an extraordinary 81% in 2011 and Dak Prescott earned a 75% Clutch Rating in in 2016.

With all of the quarterbacks drafted in the first round in 2017, you would have expected to see at least one make the cut. And, if Deshaun Watson wouldn’t have torn his ACL after Week 7, we probably would have seen him listed below. He was at an 86% Clutch Rating after seven games. However, the rules have been that players play at least 10 games to qualify for this status.

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

Clutch Rate

1

1

CAR

Cam Newton

2011

81%

4

135

DAL

Dak Prescott

2016

75%

1

2

WAS

Robert Griffin

2012

67%

1

2

TEN

Marcus Mariota

2015

67% 


The running backs lead all positions with 15 rookies having exceeded the 60% Clutch Rating. This equated to 17% of all the drafted running backs since 2010. Of those 15, only one exceeded a 90% Clutch Rating until 2016 and he was LeVeon Bell. In 2016, first round pick Ezekiel Elliott not only reached the 90% rating, he exceeded Bell’s rookie season record of 92% with a 93% Clutch Rating.

This year, was a banner year for the rookie running backs, as four of them gain the lofty status of over 60% consistency in their rookie year. 2012 had the previous record with three backs qualifying. We start with the two studs, who both exceeded 80%. Leonard Fournette (85%) and Alvin Kamara (81%). Fournette was a highly regarded back and was picked by many to succeed in the NFL. Kamara wasn’t drafted until the third round but was drafted by the perfect team for his skills. The Saints made him the new “Darren Sproles” and he took the ‘title” and literally ran with it!

Two other great rookie backs included Christian McCaffrey and Kareem Hunt. Both ended the season with a 69% Clutch Rate. Again, McCaffrey was the highly drafted back out of Stanford and was expected to be successful in PPR leagues in 2017. Hunt was also drafted in the third round (like Kamara) but burst onto the scene in the first regular season game of the year! He cooled off a bit but still ended the year ranked fourth in total points and 12th in consistency. 

Lastly, just like the quarterbacks, we had a running back, who had a Clutch Rate over 60%, but only played in four games. Dalvin Cook had a great start to the season by enjoying a 75% Clutch Rate, but succumb to injuries that ended his season.

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

Clutch Rate

1

4

DAL

Ezekiel Elliott

2016

93%

2

48

PIT

Le'Veon Bell

2013

92%

2

61

GNB

Eddie Lacy

2013

87%

1

4

JAX

Leonard Fournette

2017

85%

3

67

NO

Alvin Kamara

2017

81%

1

31

TAM

Doug Martin

2012

81%

1

10

STL

Todd Gurley

2015

77%

6

173

WAS

Alfred Morris

2012

75%

2

36

JAX

T.J. Yeldon

2015

75%

1

3

CLE

Trent Richardson

2012

73%

5

155

BUF

Karlos Williams

2015

73%

1

8

CAR

Christian McCaffrey

2017

69%

3

86

KC

Kareem Hunt

2017

69%

2

37

CIN

Giovani Bernard

2013

69%

5

160

STL

Zac Stacy

2013

64%


The wide receivers are second in total rookies over 60% with seven. This equated to only 6.33% of all the drafted wide receivers since 2010. However, the biggest difference between the wide receivers and running backs is the success AFTER their rookie season. Almost all these receivers have had continued success after their consistent rookie season and remain as some of the top receivers heading into 2016. Michael Thomas was a perfect example of that in 2016 and continued his success into 2017 as well.

The two receivers who qualified this year were not highly drafted. JuJu Smith Schuster was drafted in the second round by Pittsburgh but took advantage of the occasional disappearance of Martavis Bryant and earned a 64% Clutch Rating in 2017. Cooper Kupp was a third-round pick and quietly earned a 60% Clutch Rating in Los Angeles in a PPR format.

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

Clutch Rate

1

12

NYG

Odell Beckham

2014

92%

2

47

NOR

Michael Thomas

2016

80%

1

4

CIN

A.J. Green

2011

80%

1

6

ATL

Julio Jones

2011

75%

3

76

SDG

Keenan Allen

2013

71%

2

62

PIT

JuJu Smith-Schuster

2017

64%

3

69

LAR

Cooper Kupp

2017

60%

1

7

TAM

Mike Evans

2014

60%

2

61

JAX

Allen Robinson

2014

60% 


The tight end position was solely owned by Jordan Reed. However, this past season, Evan Engram not only joined the group, he knocked Reed out of the top spot with a 73% Clutch Rating. Now, Engram and Reed are only tight end since 2010, who earned over a 60% Clutch Rating in his rookie season. That’s right. No Rob Gronkowski (38%), Jimmy Graham (55%), Julius Thomas (0%); Tyler Eifert (20%) or Travis Kelce (0%). So, if there are any rookie tight ends that you are targeting, please make sure you are drafting in the very late rounds or you’re drafting in a dynasty league.

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

Clutch Rate

1

23

NYG

Evan Engram

2017

73%

3

85

WAS

Jordan Reed

2013

67%


The facts show what many Fantasy owners already know, drafting rookies early is risky. The chance of drafting a rookie, who earns over a 60% Clutch Rating, is only 8.82%. Your chance of drafting a rookie who earns over an 80% Clutch Rating is less than 3%. Let’s be honest, you want the players that you draft in the first two rounds of your Fantasy draft to have an 80% Clutch Rating or higher. So, who would you draft? A proven veteran or a rookie? The facts above have already answered the question for you.

Kaz Kalita and Adam Sutton are teaming up to bring the Top Daily NBA Plays!

 

Welcome to the Thursday edition of the NBA DFS Top Plays article here at Big Guy Fantasy Sports.
The dynamic of me focusing on the Starting Five format and Adam focusing on the Main format has worked well, so we will continue along with that approach for now.

We have only two games to work on this last night before the upcoming All-Star break. I strongly advise you to dial back from your typical amount in play since there will be a ton of overlap in lineups tonight. Instead of breaking down each position, I will go game-by-game on this small slate. Let’s go ahead and take a look at my favorite options in each game tonight.

 

 

 

DEN at MIL (-2.5) 8:00 PM EST

  • Denver projected total – 105.5
  • Milwaukee projected total – 108

{/mprestriction}

The first game tonight features the Nuggets visiting the Bucks, with the Bucks being slight favorites. There really is not a lot to love on the Nuggets side of things, but with only four teams on the slate we cannot simply write off everyone on the Nuggets. If I have to use a player or two from the Nuggets side, I would use either Gary Harris ($11,000) or Nikola Jokic ($14,500). The Bucks are only middle of the pack against opposing shooting guards and Harris’s minutes are pretty secure, averaging nearly 35 minutes per game. Also, Harris is a premier on-ball defender so he is definitely capable of racking up a few steals on any given night. Jokic is also in a decent spot against the Bucks who are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. I would not be completely shocked if this were a game where Jokic goes 15/15 in points and rebounds. With that being said, I’m probably not choosing Jokic if I am only building one lineup tonight. We’ll get to him in a moment, but there is a really cheap center option I like tonight which will allow us to pay up for the two best stars on tonight’s slate.

As far as the Bucks, the first player we have to mention is Giannis Antetokounmpo. With not a lot to choose from at forward and there not being a ton of star power on tonight’s slate, Greek is definitely a solid option to consider tonight. He may be priced a little too high, but on a two game slate we really need to focus on raw points more so than points per dollar. If you’re going the balanced lineup approach you may want to leave Greek out of your lineups in favor of Jimmy Butler, but I do think there is a viable lineup path to fit both Butler and Greek in the same lineup. Another option from the Bucks to consider tonight is Eric Bledsoe ($13,500). Bledsoe enters tonight’s game with decent form over his last five games, averaging 40.06 FanDuel points. If he hits that number on the nose, it would be exactly the 3x we should be targeting for each player in this format. There is definitely a strong possibility he hits or exceeds that number considering the Nuggets have allowed the second-most FanDuel points to opposing point guards this season. I’m not really on Khris Middleton ($13,500) tonight since I would much rather just take Bledsoe at the same price or another guard in the second game. The only other available Bucks player available to us in S5 is Tyler Zeller ($8,000) and he is the key to fitting both Butler and Greek in your lineup if you go that approach. John Henson will be missing his third consecutive game. Although Thon Maker has been the starter in those two games, but Zeller has still seen over 20 minutes in each game and has put up 18.1 and 28.6 FanDuel points. As long as he lands somewhere in between those two numbers, he will have done his job if it allows us to fit Butler and Greek and both have big games.

 

LAL at MIN (-10.0) 9:00 PM EST

 

  • Los Angeles projected total – 118.5
  • Minnesota projected total – 108.5

The night cap of this slate involves the Lakers traveling to the Timberwolves. The spread is incredibly large with the Timberwolves favored by 10, but we cannot write off either team on a two game slate. Starting with the Lakers, Kyle Kuzma ($12,000) is in play if you decide to only use one of Butler and Greek. Kuzma was extremely solid early on this season, but then became inconsistent as Luke Walton deployed an unpredictable front court rotation. The Lakers front office helped this dilemma big time for us by trading Larry Nance to the Cavaliers in the Isaiah Thomas trade. Since then, Kuzma has averaged 27 minutes per game and has once against become a reliable DFS option, averaging 33.4 FanDuel points per game. Julius Randle ($13,500) and Brook Lopez ($10,000) are okay options if you want to go either route at center, but I still prefer the punt route with Zeller over using either of those two guys. If I’m the Timberwolves, I’m probably putting Butler on Brandon Ingram ($12,000) and if that’s the case I much rather prefer to use Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($10,500). I’m not really a fan of either Isaiah Thomas ($13,000) or Josh Hart ($10,500) tonight, but Hart could be in play as a GPP dart throw if you need the salary to get both Butler and Greek into your lineup.

 

Even though the Timberwolves are favored by 10 points tonight, we really do not have to worry much about them pulling players in a blowout since coach Tom Thibodeau is notorious for playing his players heavy minutes, even in blowouts. I already kind of mentioned my favorite Timberwolve player to use tonight and that’s Jimmy Butler ($14,500). The Lakers have allowed the second-most FanDuel points to small forwards and I do prefer the $1,500 savings from Greek if you have to choose between the two. After that, Karl-Anthony Towns ($15,000) is not bad way to spend $15,000 if you cannot get on board with the Zeller punt, since the Lakers allow the second-most FanDuel points to opposing centers. On a larger slate I probably would not be too interested in Jeff Teague ($12,000), but it is hard to ignore the matchup against the Lakers tonight. The last player who deserves mentioning is Taj Gibson ($10,000), who is a decent and relatively cheap option on tonight’s slate if you do need the savings here. Gibson has been down a little bit recently, but he is still consistently seeing minutes in the 30s.

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