Fantasy Clicks: Draft-scheduling lessons learned from Nathan's MRI

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Recent Fantasy Clicks 03-08-10: Fantasy Preview Breakdown, Part III 03-03-10: Fantasy Preview Breakdown, Part II 03-01-10: NFL Combine Revelations 02-26-10: A Fantasy Preview Breakdown 02-24-10: Green Flag Goodness: Hitters 02-17-10: Green Flag Goodness: Pitchers 02-15-10: Red Flag Alerts: Pitchers 1-27-10: Red Flag Alerts: Infielders 1-25-10: Championship Sunday Revelations 1-22-10: Playing A Championship Sunday Hunch 1-20-10: Early Mock Draft Madness 1-18-10: Divisional Playoff Revelations 1-15-10: Divisional Playoff Round Clicks 1-13-10: Back In The Baseball Business 1-11-10: Wild Card Revelations 1-06-10: Fantasy Clicks Year-End Spectacular 1-04-10: Wild Card Round Clicks 12-28-09: Week 16 Revelations/Week 17 Clicks 12-23-09: All You Need To Know For Week 16 12-21-09: Week 15 Revelations 12-18-09: Thursday Night Revelations (Week 15) 12-16-09: Dontcha Hate When That Happens? 12-13-09: Week 14 Revelations 12-11-09: Thursday Night Revelations (Week 14) 12-09-09: Fantasy Playoff Rules To Live By 12-07-09: Week 13 Revelations 12-04-09: Thursday Night Revelations (Week 13) 12-02-09: The Believers Of Calvinism 11-30-09: Week 12 Revelations 11-27-09: Turkey Day Revelations 11-25-09: All Hail The Perfect Showdown 11-23-09: Week 11 Revelations 11-20-09: Thursday Night Revelations, Week 11 11-18-09: Trade Deadline Rules To Live By 11-16-09: Week 10 Revelations 11-13-09: Thursday Night Revelations, Week 10 11-11-09: The Ballad Of Alex Smith 11-09-09: Week 9 Revelations 11-06-09: The Daffy Dichotomy Of DeAngelo 11-04-09: A Pre-Flight Trade Checklist 11-02-09: Week 8 Revelations 10-30-09: Meet The Avoidables 10-28-09: Rodgers vs. Favre -- A Lambeau Reunion 10-26-09: Week 7 Revelations 10-23-09: Fright ... For Old D.C. 10-21-09: Shoot For The Moon With Brady 10-18-09: Week 6 Revelations 10-16-09: The Pittsburgh Shell Game 10-14-09: The Tailback Honeymoon's Over 9-28-09: Week 3 Revelations

Kids, It's OK To Wait ... For Draft Day

Joe Nathan: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

It's perfectly natural for fantasy enthusiasts to get giddy over baseball as soon as the calendar rolls to March, especially when MLB Network airs a Spring Training game every day at 1 p.m. EST. (How cool is that?) But, amid this deluge of all things baseball, fantasy owners need to remember this: The first three weeks of March are NOT for drafting in real leagues. No, that sometimes-excruciating window of inane Grapefruit/Cactus action is solely for mock drafting and then more mock drafting ... as a means of distracting owners from officially plucking guys on March 6 who'll be on the injured list March 7 -- four weeks before the season begins -- like these notables:

RP Joe Nathan, Twins (set to have MRI on right elbow)
Draft Prognosis: I'm no doctor (although I do play one on TV), but I believe it's fairly common for athletes to incur soreness or develop scar tissue after surgery (back in October); so, on the surface, I shouldn't freak out about the barking in Nathan's elbow. But then again, the 35-year-old has logged 685 innings in 10 pro seasons ... and that streak of six consecutive seasons of sub-1.07 WHIP/sub-2.70 ERA has to end some time, right? For now, I'm going to proceed as planned with Nathan -- he's the No. 1 closer in AL-only leagues.

3B Alex Gordon, Royals (out 3-4 weeks with broken thumb)
Draft Prognosis: If you're going to break a thumb ... do it in early March. Gordon has been a fantasy underachiever -- expectations-wise -- since making Kansas City's big-league club in 2007, but eventually Lady Luck has to migrate over to his side. Of course, he's going to need a healthy thumb to swing the bat effectively. To paraphrase Kramer: It's a valuable appendage. The good news to all of this? Gordon can now be had in mixed leagues for the low, low price of a Round 20 or later draft pick. For AL-only leagues, though, he likely won't slide a notch or two.

SS Jose Reyes, Mets (back in New York City to treat a thyroid imbalance)
Draft Prognosis: In a perfect world, Reyes would remain a low Round 2/high Round 3 pick in mixed leagues, especially if his maladay turns out to be incidental. But there's just something ominous about his playing career ... as if we've already seen the best Reyes has to offer. Conservatively, he drops one round with Average Draft Position.

OF Cameron Maybin, Marlins (day-to-day with groin injury)
Draft Prognosis: If Jorge Cantu or Dan Uggla had sustained a groin injury, no one would be sweating their respective fantasy values; but Maybin -- blessed with intriguing power/speed potential -- needs to be in peak health to command the fantasy spotlight. Right now, he remains a superb choice as the last pick in deeper mixed-league drafts.

Verdict: Don't be roped into initiating a fantasy draft that starts before March 19, or March 26, if you can help it. Oh sure, injuries can occur at anytime with any player ... but it also helps to decrease the odds of being a moron on Opening Day -- especially if your second-string shortstop, David Eckstein, is logging full-time fantasy starts because of Reyes' uncertain health.

WHIP Masters

Citing my favorite pitching stat, here are's projections for starting pitchers with WHIPs of 1.28 or less ... and at least 100 innings pitched this season (ruling out Rangers superstud Martin Perez for the time being):

1. Tim Lincecum, Giants -- 1.04 WHIP
2. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals -- 1.07 WHIP
3. Dan Haren, Diamondbacks -- 1.10 WHIP
4. Javier Vazquez, Yankees -- 1.12
5. Roy Halladay, Phillies -- 1.12
6. Justin Verlander, Tigers -- 1.17
7. CC Sabathia, Yankees -- 1.17
8. Cole Hamels, Phillies -- 1.18
9. Johan Santana, Mets -- 1.18
10. Zack Greinke, Royals -- 1.18
11. Roy Oswalt, Astros -- 1.19
12. Josh Beckett, Red Sox -- 1.19
13. Cliff Lee, Mariners -- 1.20
14. Scott Baker, Twins -- 1.21
15. John Lackey, Red Sox -- 1.21
16. Jake Peavy, White Sox -- 1.21
17. Josh Johnson, Marlins -- 1.21
18. Randy Wolf, Brewers -- 1.22
19. Ben Sheets, Athletics -- 1.23
20. Ted Lilly, Cubs -- 1.23
21. Huroki Kuroda, Dodgers -- 1.23
22. James Shields, Rays -- 1.23
23. Jered Weaver, Angels -- 1.23
24. Matt Cain, Giants -- 1.23
25. Jon Lester, Red Sox -- 1.23
26. Joel Pineiro, Angels -- 1.24
27. Felix Hernandez, Mariners -- 1.24
28. Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks -- 1.25
29. Ricky Nolasco, Marlins -- 1.25
30. Tommy Hanson, Braves -- 1.25
31. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies -- 1.25
32. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals -- 1.25
33. Justin Duchscherer, Athletics -- 1.26
34. Tim Hudson, Braves -- 1.26
35. Chien-Ming Wang, Nationals -- 1.27
36. John Smoltz, Free Agent -- 1.27
37. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros -- 1.27
38. Phil Hughes, Yankees -- 1.28
39. Brett Anderson, Athletics -- 1.28
40. Kevin Slowey, Twins -- 1.28
41. David Price, Rays -- 1.28
42. Mark Buehrle, White Sox -- 1.28
43. Edwin Jackson, Diamondbacks -- 1.28
44. Gavin Floyd, White Sox -- 1.28

It's What To Look For

Are you having trouble making sense of the 839 publications -- give or take a few -- devoted to fantasy baseball this spring (print and online)? More specifically, can you tell the difference between a draftable and non-draftable starting pitcher? Well, here are my across-the-board, minimum requirements for selecting pitchers -- in terms of 2010 projections:

Mixed Leagues
WHIP: 1.29 (the 1.40-plus guys will absolutely kill you)
Strikeouts: A 2.5-to-1 K/BB ratio
ERA: 4.03 (don't let any 4.10-plus pitcher off the hook in mixes)
Wins: 14 (I'm the least militant about this one -- since pitchers have little control over wins)

AL- or NL-Only Leagues
WHIP: 1.34
Strikeouts: A 2.25-to-1 K/BB ratio
ERA: 4.16
Wins: 12

Preview Observations: Outfielders

Thoughts from the starting pitchers of the Fantasy Baseball Preview ...

**I fully accept that Tim Lincecum (ranked No. 2) will be drafted ahead of Zack Greinke (No. 1) in all mixed leagues (at least the ones NOT based in Missouri). After all, these are the spoils that come with winning consecutive Cy Youngs before the age of 25 ... and stealthily wearing winter wool caps year-round, without someone calling negative attention to it (although Stewie Griffin did express his contempt for Colin Farrell for roughly the same fashion faux pas).

**As great as Lincecum will be this season -- barring injury, of course -- I think Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright (projections: 20 wins, 189 strikeouts, 2.84 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) will capture the NL Cy Young. But don't feel an absolute need to reach for him on draft day. The rule of thumb: Wainwright has typically gone immediately after Boston's Jon Lester in mixed-league mock drafts.

**I cannot recall a stronger cast of arms ranked from Nos. 4-10. Seriously, you could put the names of Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Dan Haren, Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson and Jon Lester into a hat and draw out 10 different sequences -- and then each time, make a legitimate case that each particular set has fantasy merit.

**Call me crazy, but I think Lester has the upper hand in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts over Sabathia and Verlander -- but not necessarily victories.

**The countdown's 1-10 picks may be rock-solid, but I'm certainly walking the plank of unpredictability with Yovani Gallardo (No. 11), Clayton Kershaw (12) and Tommy Hanson (13). These pitchers should be fantasy studs for the next decade; but there's no guarantee as to when the greatness will occur. It goes without saying: If you're the type of fantasy drafter who likes to wait on starting pitching ... be sure to grab Cliff Lee, Javier Vazquez, Josh Beckett as immediate insurance policies to the volatile Gallardo, Kershaw and Hanson.

**If any pitcher outside the top 20 has a chance of cracking the top-5 ... my answer would be Jake Peavy. Yes, he's not totally comfortable with American League hitters yet; yes, he's had his share of elbow injuries in years past; and yes, Peavy is no longer a spring chicken at the age of 29. But Peavy is merely three seasons removed from his Pedro-esque campaign of 2007: 19 wins, 2.54 ERA, 240 strikeoutss, 1.06 WHIP, and that cannot be ignored in this forum.

**You could do worse than drafting the Rays' entire starting five -- Matt Garza, James Shields, Wade Davis, David Price, Jeff Niemann -- in AL-only and mixed-league drafts. Each starter has a realistic shot at 15 wins, with low ERA and WHIP totals, to boot. Of course, it's imperative to also draft at least one starter off the top 10 list (Verlander?) ... and then make a latter-round play for Tampa Bay prodigy Jeremy Hellickson, who could easily supplant any of the above Rays come June (or earlier).

**The four safest rankings in the mini-countdown? Look no further than Josh Beckett (No. 17), Johan Santana (18th), Matt Cain (20th) and James Shields (No. 21). At the very least, each pitcher will bring stability to your fantasy staff.

**Johan may be termed a 'safe' choice, but please hold no delusions of him carrying fantasy teams, either. With the Mets' porous stable of starting arms, it'll be hard enough for Santana to bear the weight of anchoring a rotation in real-life baseball -- let alone fantasyland.

**Reports out of Orlando say Jair Jurrjens' once-ailing shoulder appears to be OK. But I'm not totally buying it just yet ... which may explain why Jurrjens and Chris Carpenter are side-by-side in the rankings. By all means, I hope both purported aces can make it through the season without incident ... but it never hurts to be a little skeptical in fantasyland. Exhibit A: Justin Duchscherer, circa March 2009.

**From a rankings perspective, I have lower fantasy expectations for Kevin Slowey. But I still plan on moving heaven and earth to land him on draft day -- no serious-but-far-from-career-hindering wrist injury can stop Slowey from possibly posting the greatest K/BB ratio of the last 30 years. (Ambitious, aren't we?)

Maybe It'll Be Monday, Maybe It Won't

In Friday's Clicks, I teased the much-anticipated release of the 5-Minute Guide to Fantasy Baseball Goodness, with the understanding the piece would get much love on the site that same day. Well, thanks to Julius Peppers' landmark signing with the Bears ... that didn't happen; and now, I'm left to confirm the 5-Minute Guide will definitely run this week -- but without a firm date. So, be on the lookout for a fresh take on the 2010 Fantasy Baseball Preview -- unless some other big-name (but arguably declining) NFL defender inks a big contract with a new club.

Rank & File

Here's something that didn't make the Preview -- the top 20 AL-only first basemen:
1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2. Mark Teixeira, Yankees
3. Justin Morneau, Twins
4. Kendry Morales, Angels
5. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
6. Victor Martinez, Red Sox
7. Carlos Pena, Rays
8. Billy Butler, Royals
9. Michael Cuddyer, Twins
10. Paul Konerko, White Sox
11. Chris Davis, Rangers
12. Garrett Atkins, Orioles
13. Russell Branyan, Indians
14 Nick Johnson, Yankees
15. Lyle Overbay, Blue Jays
16. Matt LaPorta, Indians
17. Justin Smoak, Rangers
18. Hank Blalock, Rays
19. Daric Barton, Athletics
20. Mike Carp, Mariners

Wanna Join Our Baseball League?

Back by popular demand, we've decided to admit at least one lucky Fantasy Clicks reader into the & Friends fantasy baseball league. Up until March 21, we'll be accepting short-essay submissions (limit 1-2 paragaphs please) for the final slot in our small, but prestigious league (kind of like George Costanza). The requirements are simple: Outside of having reliable computer access for Draft Day (either March 31 or April 1), you must demonstrate passion for fantasy baseball (hence, the short essay) and derive regular pleasure from posting humorous retorts on our league message board.

One last thing: It certainly helps to be comfortable with accepting or declining blockbuster trade proposals during the graveyard-shift period of 2-6 a.m. -- the bewitching hours for all the Atlanta-based employees. You can also hit me up on Twitter for this contest ... although it'll be hard to meet the above requirements in 140 characters or less. Good luck!

Green Light Goodness: Hitters

Victor Martinez: Elsa/Getty Images

In an earnest effort to inject today's Clicks with happy news, here are a few sensory-pleasing trends from 2009 to build upon when evaluating veterans for this season. In lay terms, we're guaranteeing the following hitters will equal or eclipse these thresholds:

First Base
Albert Pujols: Expect ... 135 RBIs
Miguel Cabrera: Expect ... 96 runs/103 RBIs
Ryan Howard: Expect ... 105 runs
Adrian Gonzalez: Expect ... 99 RBIs
Joey Votto: Expect ... 25 HRs
Billy Butler: Expect ... 21 HRs
Garrett Jones: Expect ... 10 steals
Chris Davis: Expect ... 21 HRs

Brian McCann: Expect ... 94 RBIs
Victor Martinez: Expect ... 88 runs/.303 average
Matt Wieters: Expect ... .288 average
Miguel Montero: Expect ... 61 runs

Second Base
Ian Stewart: Expect ... 70 RBIs
Placido Polanco: Expect ... 82 runs
Robinson Cano: Expect ... 103 runs
Dan Uggla: Expect ... 90 RBIs
Asdrubal Cabrera: Expect ... 17 steals
Brandon Phillips: Expect ... 78 runs
Ian Kinsler: Expect ... 101 runs
Dustin Pedroia: Expect ... .296 average
Brian Roberts: Expect ... 110 runs/30 steals
Chase Utley: Expect ... 93 RBIs

Elvis Andrus: Expect ... 33 steals
Yunel Escobar: Expect ... 14 HRs
Ryan Theriot: Expect ... 81 runs
Alexei Ramirez: Expect ... 14 steals
Miguel Tejada: Expect ... 14 HRs
Jimmy Rollins: Expect ... 100 runs/.250 average
Derek Jeter: Expect ... 107 runs
Hanley Ramirez: Expect ... 24 HRs/27 steals

Third Base
Alex Rodriguez: Expect ... 30 HRs/78 runs
David Wright: Expect ... 88 runs/.307 average
Evan Longoria: Expect ... 100 runs/33 HRs/9 steals
Pablo Sandoval: Expect ... 25 HRs
Kevin Youkilis: Expect ... 99 runs
Michael Young: Expect ... .322 average
Gordon Beckham: Expect ... 14 HRs/58 runs/63 RBIs
Chase Headley: Expect ... 12 HRs/10 steals

Rank & File, Part II

What's good for the goose is good for the gander ... the top 20 NL-only first basemen:
1. Albert Pujols, Cardinals (the greatest of all time? ... maybe)
2. Ryan Howard, Phillies (shouldn't slip past No. 8 in mixed leagues)
3. Prince Fielder, Brewers
4. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
5. Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks (the greatest wild card amongst the group)
6. Lance Berkman, Astros
7. Derrek Lee, Cubs
8. Joey Votto, Reds (wayyyyyyyyyy too good to be No. 8 here -- tough crowd)
9. Pablo Sandoval, Giants
10. Adam Dunn, Nationals
11. Garrett Jones, Pirates
12. James Loney, Dodgers
13. Adam LaRoche, Diamondbacks
14 Jorge Cantu, Marlins
15. Todd Helton, Rockies
16. Aubrey Huff, Giants
17. Travis Ishikawa, Giants
18. Jeff Clement, Pirates (a major sleeper in NL-only leagues)
19. Martin Prado, Braves
20. Micah Hoffpauir, Cubs

On Top Of The Heap

Next up, here's the REVISED list of baseball's leadoff hitters in fantasyland, 1 through 30:
1. 2B Ian Kinsler, Rangers (amazing 30-100-100-30 potential)
2. OF Grady Sizemore, Indians (might dip to No. 3 in Cleveland's batting order)
3. OF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
4. OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
5. 2B Brian Roberts, Orioles
6. SS Jose Reyes, Mets (thyroid problem has prompted drop from No. 3)
7. OF Curtis Granderson, Yankees (a reasonable lock for 115 runs)
8. SS Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
9. SS Jason Bartlett, Rays
10. OF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
11. OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (a sneaky-good 20/20 candidate)
12. OF Denard Span, Twins
13. OF Nate McLouth, Braves
14. OF Michael Bourn, Astros
15. OF Nyjer Morgan, Nationals (turned on the jets in '09, post-trade)
16. OF Chris Coghlan, Marlins
17. SS Rafael Furcal, Dodgers
18. OF Scott Podsednik, Royals
19. SS Everth Cabrera, Padres (50 steals seems quite doable)
20. OF Rajaj Davis, Athletics
21. OF Juan Pierre, White Sox
22. SS Erick Aybar, Angels
23. 2B Skip Schumaker, Cardinals
24. 2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers
25. OF Austin Jackson, Tigers (the way-too-early returns on A-Jax are encouraging)
26. OF Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks
27. OF Drew Stubbs, Reds (he'll rank considerably higher here in 2011)
28. SS Ryan Theriot, Cubs
29. OF Eugenio Velez, Giants
30. SS Alex Gonzalez, Blue Jays

Why We Buy Preseason Magazines

Since Sports Illustrated doesn't publish a fantasy baseball preview magazine, there's no conflict of interest with the following gush: If you buy only one publication in the next three weeks (hopefully, you'll purchase at least 5 or 6), make it Fantasy Baseball Index ... or the online version. Otherwise, you'll miss out on pitching-research gems like this:

Pitchers with deceptively high ERAs in 2009:
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins -- Actual ERA: 5.06 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.30
Cole Hamels, Phillies -- Actual ERA: 4.32 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.55
Jorge de la Rosa, Rockies -- Actual ERA: 4.38 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.69
Justin Masterson, Indians -- Actual ERA: 4.52 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.90
Derek Lowe, Braves -- Actual ERA: 4.67 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.16
Brett Anderson, Athletics -- Actual ERA: 4.06 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.56
Scott Baker, Twins -- Actual ERA: 4.37 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.88
Justin Verlander, Tigers -- Actual ERA: 3.45 ... Adjusted ERA: 2.96
Max Scherzer, Tigers -- Actual ERA: 4.12 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.69
Rich Harden, Rangers -- Actual ERA: 4.09 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.71
Roy Oswalt, Astros -- Actual ERA: 4.12 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.75
Paul Maholm, Pirates -- Actual ERA: 4.44 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.09
Jake Peavy, White Sox -- Actual ERA: 3.45 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.11
Josh Beckett, Red Sox -- Actual ERA: 3.86 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.56
Gavin Floyd, White Sox -- Actual ERA: 4.06 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.77
John Lester, Red Sox -- Actual ERA: 3.41 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.13
Jonathan Sanchez, Giants -- Actual ERA: 4.24 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.97
Aaron Harang, Reds -- Actual ERA: 4.21 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.97

Note: Players listed with current team

Why We Buy Preseason Magazines, Part II

Pitchers with deceptively low ERAs in 2009:
Jair Jurrjens, Braves -- Actual ERA: 2.60 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.01
J.A. Happ, Phillies -- Actual ERA: 2.93 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.28
Edwin Jackson, Diamondbacks -- Actual ERA: 3.62 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.29
Kevin Millwood, Orioles -- Actual ERA: 3.67 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.83
Matt Cain, Giants -- Actual ERA: 2.89 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.98
Randy Wells, Cubs -- Actual ERA: 3.05 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.03
Brad Bergesen, Orioles -- Actual ERA: 3.43 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.30
Bronson Arroyo, Reds -- Actual ERA: 3.84 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.68
Chris Carpenter, Cardinals -- Actual ERA: 2.24 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.08
Matt Palmer, Angels -- Actual ERA: 3.93 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.75
Tommy Hanson, Braves -- Actual ERA: 2.89 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.70
Felix Hernandez, Mariners -- Actual ERA: 2.49 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.27
Rick Porcello, Tigers -- Actual ERA: 3.96 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.68
Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates -- Actual ERA: 3.92 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.60
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals -- Actual ERA: 2.63 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.31
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers -- Actual ERA: 2.79 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.41
Mark Buehrle, White Sox -- Actual ERA: 3.84 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.44
Johan Santana, Mets -- Actual ERA: 3.13 ... Adjusted ERA: 3.71
John Danks, White Sox -- Actual ERA: 3.77 ... Adjusted ERA: 4.29
Zack Greinke, Royals -- Actual ERA: 2.16 ... Adjusted ERA: 2.67 (the definition of splitting hairs)

It's All About The Slot: #4

Some people would consider the No. 4 pick in a 12-team draft to be a two-hour exercise in futility -- sitting in No Man's Land, powerless to control the flow of the draft ... while hoping that good value consistently falls into your lap every 17th (or 7th) pick. Well, hath no fear or ambivalence. Here's a sound strategy for nailing a mixed-league draft when owning the 4th and 21st slots:

Round 1, Pick 4: Motive -- Best overall player
1st option: OF Ryan Braun, Brewers ... 2nd option: 1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Round 2, Pick 21 overall: Motive -- Best 5-category outfielder
1st option: OF Matt Holliday, Rockies ... 2nd option: OF Grady Sizemore, Indians

Round 3, Pick 28 overall: Motive -- Best player available
1st option: SP Zack Greinke, Royals ... 2nd option: OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

Round 4, Pick 45 overall: Motive -- Best power-hitting infielder
1st option: 3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs ... 2nd option: C Brian McCann, Braves

Round 5, Pick 52 overall: Motive -- Best 5-category outfielder or starting pitcher
1st option: OF Jayson Werth, Phillies ... 2nd option: SP Jon Lester, Red Sox

Round 6, Pick 69 overall: Motive -- Best high-end pitcher or 5-category infielder
1st option: SP Josh Johnson, Marlins ... 2nd option: 1B Lance Berkman, Astros

Round 7, Pick 76 overall: Motive -- Best closer or power-hitting infielder
1st option: RP Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers ... 2nd option: OF Shin-Soo Choo, Indians

Round 8, Pick 93 overall: Motive -- Best run-producing corner infielder
1st option: 1B Derrek Lee, Cubs ... 2nd option: RP Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox

Round 9, Pick 100 overall: Motive -- Best player at a scarce position
1st option: SS Jason Bartlett, Rays ... 2nd option: OF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

Round 10, Pick 117 overall: Motive -- Best high-end starting pitcher or closer
1st option: SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies ... 2nd option: RP Trevor Hoffman, Brewers

Round 11, Pick 124: Motive -- Best power-hitting infielder
1st option: C Matt Wieters, Orioles ... 2nd option: SP Chad Billingsley, Dodgers

Round 12, Pick 141: Motive -- Hitter with greatest 20/20 potential
1st option: 2B/3B Ian Stewart, Rockies ... 2nd option: SS/2B Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

Round 13, Pick 148: Motive -- Best 5-category outfielder
1st option: OF Corey Hart, Brewers ... 2nd option: OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

Round 14, Pick 165: Motive -- Best starting pitcher or closer
1st option: SP James Shields, Rays ... 2nd option: RP Ryan Franklin, Cardinals

Round 15, Pick 172: Motive -- Best closer
1st option: RP Rafael Soriano, Rays ... 2nd option: RP Frank Francisco, Rangers

Round 16, Pick 189: Motive -- Best 5-category outfielder or speed demon
1st option: OF Juan Rivera, Angels ... 2nd option: OF Dexter Fowler, Rockies

Round 17, Pick 196: Motive -- Best starting pitcher with K/WHIP potential
1st option: SP Kevin Slowey, Twins ... 2nd option: 2B Howie Kendrick, Angels

Round 18, Pick 213: Motive -- Best available player
1st option: 2B/3B Casey McGehee, Brewers ... 2nd option: OF Drew Stubbs, Reds

Round 19, Pick 220: Motive -- Best closer or backup catcher
1st option: RP Leo Nunez, Marlins ... 2nd option: C Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks

Round 20, Pick 237: Motive -- Best player available
1st option: SP/RP Netfali Feliz, Rangers... 2nd option: OF Julio Borbon, Rangers

Round 21, Pick 244: Motive -- Best outfielder with run-producing potential
1st option: OF Magglio Ordonez, Padres ... 2nd option: OF Kyle Blanks, Padres

Round 21, Pick 244: Motive -- Young player with greatest upside OR Alex Gordon
1st option: 3B Alex Gordon, Royals ... 2nd option: OF Cameron Maybin, Marlins

Mi Casa, Su Casa; Su Dinero, Mi Dinero

If you're ever looking to win an easy fantasy public league on ESPN, CBSSports, Sporting News, etc., without really trying, simply join one where its commissioner advertises something in the vain of: Diamondbacks Fans Only, or Die-Hard Mariners Honks Only or You must know that Darnell Coles was one of six Detroit Tigers to hit 20 homers in 1986 to play here.

Think about it: These commissioners aren't trying to entice the savviest fantasy owners from all parts of the world. No, they're seeking someone else to vent with in the chat rooms -- IF Dan Haren ever maintains his dominance AFTER the All-Star Break ... or WHEN Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez goes into a mid-June swoon (rhyme intended). In other words, they're looking for a new friend, a faceless companion to lean on during, uh, those lean times of a season (pun intended). But really, that's the best kind of league to join -- you get inside the heads of apologists and myopians, who will undoubtedly reach for their hometown stud, while killing them slowly over a loooooong season with sound, rational decisions about guys ... who may or may not be wearing your favorite team's jersey (winning intended).

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