Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
All Apologies
Manny Ramirez: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Unbeknownst to the Fantasy Clicks reader on Monday, I actually had a jam-packed column all set for publishing -- even though I was enjoying a little mini-vacation away from the office. In fact, just seconds before I emailed it over to the SI.com editors ... the {darn} thing got lost in my computer and, inexplicably, would never be retrieved. (I searched every folder in my "C" and "D" drives and found bupkis.) Depressed over losing a 3,200-word column and then too busy at work on Monday night to rewrite the piece from scratch, I thought my fantasy world was indeed crashing down around me. But now, four days later and buoyed by the NCAA Tournanment tip-off ... I am back, baby(!) and fully ready to offer another power-packed Friday Clicks -- all in the name of helping you kick butt in your mixed- or specific-league drafts in the coming days. Let's roll!

It's All About The Slot: #1

Some people consider having the No. 1 overall pick in a 12-team draft a mixed blessing. Yes, you get a free shot at baseball's best fantasy talent ... but you also have to wait 24 looooooong slots before grabbing two players -- who may or may not possess Tier I status. Well, have no fear or ambivalence ... because here's a great strategy for nailing your mixed-league draft when owning the top pick.

Round 1, Pick 1: Motive -- Best overall player or best overall player at scarce position
1st option: 1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals ... 2nd option: SS Hanley Ramirez, Marlins

Round 2, Pick 24 overall: Motive -- Best outfielder available
1st option: OF Carlos Beltran, Mets ... 2nd option: OF Manny Ramirez, Dodgers

Round 3, Pick 25 overall: Motive -- Best outfielder or best player at scarce position
1st option: OF Manny Ramirez, Dodgers ... 2nd option: 2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

Round 4, Pick 48 overall: Motive -- Best starting pitcher
1st option: SP Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks ... 2nd option: SP Jake Peavy, Padres

Round 5, Pick 49 overall: Motive -- Best outfielder or No. 2-ranked catcher
1st option: OF Corey Hart, Brewers ... 2nd option: C Brian McCann, Braves

Round 6, Pick 72 overall: Motive -- Best available infielder or starting pitcher
1st option: 3B Chipper Jones, Braves ... 2nd option: SP John Lackey, Angels

Round 7, Pick 73 overall: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or top-end reliever
1st option: 1B John Lackey, Angels ... 2nd option: RP Francisco Rodriguez, Mets

Round 8, Pick 96 overall: Motive -- Top-end closer or best available outfielder
1st option: RP Joakim Soria, Royals ... 2nd option: OF Jermaine Dye, White Sox

Round 9, Pick 97 overall: Motive -- Best power hitter or starting pitcher
1st option: 1B Joey Votto, Reds ... 2nd option: SP Roy Oswalt, Astros

Round 10, Pick 120 overall: Motive -- Best starting pitcher
1st option: SP Rich Harden, Cubs ... 2nd option: SP Ricky Nolasco, Marlins

Round 11, Pick 121: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or best corner infielder
1st option: Nolasco ... 2nd options: SP Justin Verlander, Tigers ... or 3B Alex Gordon, Royals

Round 12, Pick 144: Motive -- Best infielder
1st option: C Matt Wieters, Orioles ... 2nd option: SS Mike Aviles, Royals

Round 13, Pick 145: Motive -- Best outfielder or middle infielder
1st option: OF Jayson Werth, Phillies ... 2nd option: SS Mike Aviles, Royals

Round 14, Pick 168: Motive -- Best closer
1st option: RP Matt Capps, Pirates ... 2nd option: RP Brian Fuentes, Angels

Round 15, Pick 169: Motive -- Best outfielder
1st option: OF Adam Jones, Orioles ... 2nd option: OF Nelson Cruz, Rangers

Round 16, Pick 192: Motive -- Best pitcher
1st option: SP Kevin Slowey, Twins ... 2nd option: SP Gavin Floyd, White Sox

Round 17, Pick 193: Motive -- Best infielder
Only option: 3B/1B/OF Carlos Guillen, Tigers

Round 18, Pick 216: Motive -- Best middle infielder
Only option: 2B/SS Yunel Escobar, Braves

Round 19, Pick 217: Motive -- Best outfielder
1st option: 1B Delmon Young, Twins ... 2nd option: OF Xavier Nady, Yankees

Round 20, Pick 240: Motive -- Best infielder or utility player
1st option: 3B Pablo Sandoval, Giants ... 2nd option: 1B Mike Jacobs, Royals

The Entries Are In ...

Where has the time gone? In the last six weeks, we have received more than 120 submissions -- some sarcastic, some begging for inclusion -- regarding the 14th and final opening in the SI.com & Friends baseball league. And sometime next week, we'll announce the lucky winner (or unlucky, depending on how they draft on The Big Day). But regardless of who we may choose, the thought has occurred to me about a thousand times: Why not create a series of offshoot leagues involving the obsessed Fantasy Clicks readers who weren't tabbed for the house league? Think about it: We have a ton of fantasy geeks (like myself) who are just chomping at the bit to prove their fantasy worth, so why not form a union based on the SI.com & Friends paradigm? Oooh, this idea could fly ... which is why y'all can expect an email from me in the very near future tackling this subject.

Rank & File

Here's my revised list of the top 20 second basemen in 5x5 American League-only drafts (HRs, RBIs, batting average, steals, runs).

1. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
3. Brian Roberts, Orioles
4. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
5. Howie Kendrick, Angels
6. Robinson Cano, Yankees
7. Mike Aviles, Royals (also has SS eligibility)
8. Mark DeRosa, Indians (also has 3B/OF eligiblity)
9. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays
10. Jose Lopez, Mariners
11. Placido Polanco, Tigers
12. Akinori Iwamura, Rays
13. Alexi Casilla, Twins
14. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
15. Mark Ellis, A's
16. Brendan Harris, Twins
17. Macier Izturis, Angels
18. Chris Getz, White Sox
19. Alberto Callapso, Royals
20. Luke Hughes, TWins (a total-base freak in the minors)

Rank & File, Part II

... And here are the top 20 second basemen in 5x5 National League-only drafts (HRs, RBIs, batting average, steals, runs).

1. Chase Utley, Phillies
2. Brandon Phillips, Reds
3. Dan Uggla, Marlins
4. Yunel Escobar, Braves (also has SS eligibility)
5. Kelly Johnson, Braves
6. Orlando Hudson, Dodgers
7. Emmanuel Burriss, Giants
8. Rickie Weeks, Brewers
9. Freddy Sanchez, Pirates
10. Ian Stewart, Rockies
11. Mike Fontenot, Cubs
12. Skip Schumaker, Cardinals
13. Kazuo Matsui, Astros
14. Eugenio Velez, Giants
15. Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks
16. Anderson Hernandez, Nationals
17. Blake DeWitt, Dodgers
18. Luis Castillo, Mets
19. Kevin Frandsen, Giants
20. David Eckstein, Padres

Tiers Of A Clown

In auction drafts, fantasy owners seldom haggle over a buck or two when plotting their pre-draft strategies. Instead, they rely heavily on the tier system to get through the exhaustive process of bidding for talent. So, in deference to these way-too-patient experts, here are the five classifications of second basemen in mixed leagues:

Tier I
Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Chase Utley, Phillies
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Brian Roberts, Orioles

Tier II
Brandon Phillips, Reds
Dan Uggla, Marlins
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
Howie Kendrick, Angels
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Mike Aviles, Royals
Mark DeRosa, Indians

Tier III
Yunel Escobar, Braves
Kelly Johnson, Braves
Orlando Hudson, Dodgers
Emmanuel Burriss, Giants
Rickie Weeks, Brewers
Freddy Sanchez, Pirates
Placido Polanco, Tigers
Jose Lopez, Mariners

Tier IV
Aaron Hill, Blue Jays
Ian Stewart, Rockies
Mike Fontenot, Cubs
Skip Schumaker, Cardinals
Alexi Casilla, Twins
Akinori Iwamura, Rays
Mark Ellis, A's

Tier V
Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks
Anderson Hernandez, Nationals
Eugenio Velez, Giants
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
Alexi Casilla, Twins
Alberto Callapso, Royals
Chris Getz, White Sox
Brendan Harris, Twins
Macier Izturis, Angels
Kevin Frandsen, Giants

Walk This Way

The following is a list of fantasy performers who will enter free agency before the 2010 season -- barring any in-season extensions this summer. So, if you subscribe to the theory that free-agents-to-be enjoy career years at their contractual peak ... then you'll want these guys on your '09 roster.

1. OF Matt Holliday, A's
2. OF Jason Bay, Red Sox
3. OF Vladimir Guerrero, Angels
4. OF Manny Ramirez, Dodgers (has opt-out clause)
5. OF Bobby Abreu, Angels
6. SP John Lackey, Angels
7. 1B Adam LaRoche, Pirates
8. 3B/2B Mark DeRosa, Indians
9. SS Miguel Tejada, Astros
10. 3B Chipper Jones, Braves
11. 3B Chone Figgins, Angels
12. 3b Adrian Beltre, Mariners
13. OF Xavier Nady, Yankees
14. OF Erik Bedard, Mariners
15. OF Jose Valverde, Astros

Something To Think About -- Teahen & Figgins

Depending on your league rules, AL-only owners could be getting a big boost at second base courtesy of Chone Figgins and Mark Teahen. Figgins, better known to Angels fans at the hot corner, actually played nine games at second last year and could earn immediate eligiblity at that spot (once again, depending on your league rules). Teahen's case at 2B is currently nonexistent, since the Royals only played him at 3B/OF/DH in 2008. However, the club has experimented with Teahen at the 4-spot, thinking he could supplant Alberto Callapso while finding consistent reps at the plate. Now, before you rush out and grab Teahen (Sporting News projects 13 HRs, 60 RBIs, 58 runs, 9 steals, .265 BA in '09) for secondary use, keep in mind that only six infielders in major league history -- at 6-foot-3 or taller -- have played at least 81 games at second in any season. Teahen, incredibly, just might be Lucky No. 7.

Phillips vs. Alexei

What's more to your liking ... an ex-flameout with Cleveland whose current franchise donned Red Stockings in the 19th century OR a onetime hidden gem whose current franchise dons white socks (in name only)? When it comes to Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips and Chicago White Sox second baseman Alexei Ramirez, I'm having trouble deciphering which hitter will have the better fantasy season. In fact, from my seat in the dugout, the race is too close to call right now ... which is why I have solicited the help of preseason annuals in declaring the eventual winner:

Fanball magazine
Phillips: 23 HRs, 83 RBIs, 86 runs, 27 steals, .266 average
Ramirez: 26 HRs, 86 RBIs, 85 runs, 16 steals, .320 average

Beckett's/Rotoworld
Phillips: 25 HRs, 92 RBIs, 91 runs, 27 steals, .281 average
Ramirez: 28 HRs, 87 RBIs, 93 runs, 23 steals, .287 average

Fantasy Baseball Index
Phillips: 24 HRs, 86 RBIs, 95 runs, 27 steals, .273 average
Ramirez: 22 HRs, 80 RBIs, 68 runs, 9 steals, .290 average

The Sporting News
Phillips: 28 HRs, 91 RBIs, 101 runs, 30 steals, .289 average
Ramirez: 22 HRs, 83 RBIs, 84 runs, 16 steals, .299 average

Verdict: If this decision was solely based on Rotoworld's ambitious projections, Ramirez would get the nod here. But looking at the whole, Phillips stands a better chance of winning the battle in HRs, RBIs, runs and steals this season -- although we can all agree Ramirez will probably hit for a higher average. So, how can I turn BP down now -- even when he's hitting in the 4-hole (a steals killer) for the Reds?

The Future Is Now

It's the grim reality of fantasy baseball, folks: To win a roto-style championship in AL- or NL-only leagues, you must have intimate knowledge of the next wave of dynamic playmakers coming from the minors. To wit, here is a listing of The Sporting News' top 20 prospects for the 2009 season:

1. SP David Price, Rays
2. SP Max Scherzer, Diamondbacks
3. C Matt Wieters, Orioles
4. OF Travis Snider, Blue Jays
5. OF Matt LaPorta, Indians
6. C/1B Pablo Sandoval, Giants
7. OF Colby Rasmus, Cardinals
8. 3B/OF Daniel Murphy, Mets
9. C Taylor Teagarden, Rangers
10. OF Cameron Maybin, Marlins
11. RP Jeff Samardzija, Cubs
12. 1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
13. OF Chris Dickerson, Reds
14. SP Trevor Cahill, Athletics
15. OF Josh Anderson, Braves
16. OF Brett Gardner, Yankees
17. SP Tommy Hanson, Braves
18. 3B/OF Mat Gamel, Brewers
19. OF Will Venable, Padres
20. C Lou Marson, Phillies

For a detailed listing of each franchise's top 10 prospects (courtesy of Baseball America), click here.

Total Bases Recall

For the loyal Clicks readers in fantasy football, you've heard me prattle on a thousand times about the importance of Targets -- the number of times a receiver is thrown to -- and how it's a fail-safe method for evaluating receivers. Well, I am equally passionate (fanatical?) about Total Bases in fantasy baseball. By my way of thinking, TB is the perfect convergence of coveting power hitters and on-base machines who make a living out of doubles. It's also a stellar indicator of future success -- even in meaningless spring games. To wit, here are the top 5 Total Base studs for each American League team in Grapefruit/Cactus league play (through March 18):

Angels
1. 3B Brandon Wood
2. 1B Kendry Morales
3. C Jeff Mathis
4. 2B Howie Kendrick
5. OF Chris Pettit

Athletics
1. OF Ryan Sweeney
2. OF Travis Buck
3. OF Rajaj Davis
4. 2B Gregorio Petit
5. 2B Aaron Cunningham

Blue Jays
1. SS Jason Lane
2. OF Travis Snider
3. SS Russ Adams
4. 2B Bradley Emaus
5. 2B Aaron Hill

Indians
1. SS Jhonny Peralta
2. C Kelly Shoppach
3. C/1B Victor Martinez
4. C Chris Gimenez
5. OF Grady Sizemore

Mariners
1. 3B Matt Tuiasosopo
2. 1B Russell Branyan
3. 1B Chris Shelton
4. 2B Chris Woodward
5. SS Ronny Cedeno

Orioles
1. 3B Scott Moore
2. OF Justin Turner
3. OF Nick Markakis
4. C Matt Wieters
5. OF Luis Montanez

Rangers
1. OF Josh Hamilton
2. OF David Murphy
3. 3B/1B Hank Blalock
4. 2B Ian Kinsler
5. OF Brandon Boggs

Rays
1. OF Ray Sadler
2. OF Elliot Johnson
3. OF Jon Weber
4. SS Reid Brignac
5. 3B Evan Longoria

Red Sox
1. SS Jed Lowrie
2. OF Jeff Bailey
3. 2B Nick Green
4. 1B Chris Carter
5. OF Jacoby Ellsbury

Royals
1. 1B Mike Jacobs
2. 2B Mark Teahen
3. OF Mitch Maier
4. C John Buck
5. 3B Alex Gordon

Tigers
1. 1B Jeff Larish
2. OF Timo Perez
3. 3B Mike Hessman
4. 3B Brandon Inge
5. C Gerald Laird

Twins
1. OF Carlos Gomez
2. OF Delmon Young
3. 2B Alexi Casilla
4. OF Michael Cuddyer
5. DH Jason Kubel

White Sox
1. SS Wilson Betemit
2. 1B Paul Konerko
3. OF Brian Anderson
4. SS Gordon Beckham
5. OF Josh Kroeger

Yankees
1. 2B Angel Berroa
2. OF Brett Gardner
3. 3B Colby Ransom
4. OF Shelley Duncan
5. OF Xavier Nady

Understanding ADP: Catchers

Citing the latest info from our friends at Mock Draft Central and the Average Draft Position component, here's a general idea of where/when we can expect the top catchers (including the ailing Joe Mauer) to come off the draft boards:

Russell Martin, Dodgers (43rd overall)
Brian McCann, Braves (45th overall)
Joe Mauer, Twins (57th overall)
Geovany Soto, Cubs (67th overall)
Victor Martinez, Rays (78th overall)
Ryan Doumit, Pirates (120th overall)
Matt Wieters, Orioles (126th overall)
Chris Iannetta, Rockies (133rd overall)
Mike Napoli, Angels (157th overall)
Bengie Molina, Giants (172nd overall)
Jorge Posada, Yankees (202nd overall)
Jeff Clement, Mariners (226th overall)
Ramon Hernandez, Reds (235th overall)
A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox (237th overall)
Dioner Navarro, Rays (239th overall)
Kurt Suzuki, Athletics (243rd overall)
Kelly Shoppach, Indians (251st overall)

Better Luck Next Year
Dwyane Wade: AP

Switching gears to basketball ... now that I've been shut out from the SI.com & Friends league playoffs (courtesy of one teeny, tiny non-turnover from Suns guard Leandro Barbosa) ... I figured it'd be a good time to speculate on the top 12 picks for next year's fantasy hoops drafts. (Like I have anything else better to do.)

1. LeBron James, Cavaliers
2. Kobe Bryant, Lakers
3. Dwyane Wade, Heat
4. Chris Paul, Hornets
5. Al Jefferson, Timberwolves
6. Amare Stoudemire, Suns
7. Danny Granger, Pacers
8. Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
9. Brandon Roy, Blazers
10. Deron Williams, Jazz
11. Stephen Jackson, Warriors
12. Yao Ming, Rockets

So, This Is How It'll End?

The calendar may read March ... but it's never too early to take an extensive peak at NBADraft.net and its usually spot-on projections for the 2009 NBA Draft. This exercise is purely speculative, of course, since none of the college underclassmen (or European gems) have made their intentions known for the June draft party ... but it's always fun to guess which player the lowly Kings might be targeting -- should they actually win the lottery. NBADraft.net's lotto projections are listed below; for a full acccount of the educated guesses (as of March 16), click here:

1. Kings: PF Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
2. Wizards: C Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
3. Clippers: SG James Harden, Arizona State
4. Grizzlies: PF Jordan Hill, Arizona
5. Thunder: PG Brandon Jennings, Virtus Roma (Europe)
6. Timberwolves: SF Gerald Henderson, Duke
7. Warriors: SF Earl Clark, Louisville
8. Raptors: SG/SF Chase Budinger, Arizona
9. Pacers: SF Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
10. Bobcats: SG DeMar DeRozan, USC
11. Nets: PF Craig Brackins, Iowa State
12. Knicks: PG Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
13. Bulls: PF DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh

The All-Dime Store Team

The All-Star festivities have come and gone, but that doesn't mean we have to stop the whole East-West competition thing. To wit, here are the league's best passers, by position, in the last 30 days:

Eastern Conference
PG -- Jose Calderon, Raptors (the quintessential pure point guard -- has no speakable flaws)
SG -- Dwyane Wade, Heat (MVP or no MVP ... no one's had a better season)
SF -- LeBron James, Cavaliers (is there anything in fantasyland he can't do?)
PF -- Boris Diaw, Bobcats (Mr. Versatility was the perfect addition in Charlotte)
C -- Brad Miller, Bulls (wouldn't be shocked to see a 10-assist game someday)

Western Conference
PG -- Deron Williams, Jazz (the NBA's leader in this category since Feb. 20)
SG -- Monta Ellis, Warriors (impressive stats -- for someone who takes so many shots)
SF -- Stephen Jackson, Warriors (you gotta love those lightning-quick hands)
PF -- Pau Gasol, Lakers (I really, really regret trading him for Josh Howard and Yi)
C -- Tim Duncan, Spurs (an absolute stud in six crucial fantasy categories)

True Value Software

82games.com is one of the best resources for NBA fans. Don't believe me? Well, check out another gem, chronicling the league's best and worst value picks in the last 20 drafts (1989-2008). In its research, 82games used a simple math equation (Rating = points/game + rebounds/game + assists/game) to illustrate its findings ... and classified the top five values as Gilbert Arenas, Carols Boozer, Dino Radja, Kobe Bryant and Ohio State prodigy Michael Redd. On the flip side, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Saer Sene, Serge Ibaka, Patrick O'Bryant and, of course, Kwame Brown bring up the rear. Hmmmm ... I wonder if Kwame gets pulled from the list -- if he leads (or at the very least, helps) the Pistons reach the Eastern Conference finals for a seventh straight time?

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