Fantasy Clicks: Strategy for drafting catchers and first basemen

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BY DAVID KOMER Recent Fantasy Clicks 03-26-10: A Fantasy-Fueled NFL Draft Breakdown 03-22-10: Fantasyland Prose & Cons: Mauer Power 03-19-10: The NL-Only Fantasy Spectacular 03-15-10: The AL-Only Fantasy Spectacular 03-12-10: Post-free agency adjustments in fantasy 03-10-10: In Case Of Emergency: Twins' Closer 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

Catch As Catch Can

Sam Bradford: AP

Fantasy baseball league drafts and auctions are in full swing as we hit the home stretch before Opening Day and with apologies to Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan to pick up a catcher until the drafts and auctions actually start. OK, so it's not quite his "...until you get hit in the mouth" line, but getting caught with a gaping hole at your backstop can sting all the same. From the neophyte to the time-tested fantasy gamer, it's universally one of the most frustrating spots to get a read on, mostly because of its lack of depth.

If sitting through a dizzying myriad of mocks as well as real snake drafts and auctions the past few weeks have taught me anything, it's to have a plan at this easily overlooked position.

Joe Mauer, the 2009 American League MVP, is the gold standard, and it isn't even close. But as the offseason speeds to a close, every draft or auction I've been in has seen his stock soaring. Whatever you think his value is, be prepared to pay some inflation. The highest I've seen Mauer fly off the board was with the last pick in the first round of a 12-team snake draft, while the lowest was pick No. 18 in round 2 out of multiple drafts. Usually his average cost was between $25 and $31 (yes, $31) on a $260 scale.

Following Mauer, the next two universal picks, Boston's Victor Martinez and Atlanta's Brian McCann have been going between the fourth and fifth rounds with regularity between $12 and $16. Both are fine alternatives to Mauer, but also are big-ticket items in their own right when it comes to the catcher spot.

Beyond the top three, there's been wild swings of value for Baltimore's Matt Wieters who was picked as with regularity between rounds 5-10 and purchased from $8 and $15 (!).

As somewhat of a draft day upside junkie, I'm bullish on Wieters and most of the younger catchers (McCann, Arizona's Miguel Montero, the Dodgers' Russell Martin, Oakland's Kurt Suzuki, the Cubs' Geovany Soto). Unless it's a bargain that's insane, go for broke with younger rolls of the dice, because odds are that at least half your league probably won't fill the position adequately anyway, as long as it's more than eight teams.

I do exclude Jorge Posada when it comes to the catcher age rule, whose surrounding lineup is always scary-good and whose 2008 season looks more and more like an anomaly. Posada's value has also been all over the place from rounds 7-13 and $5 to $9.

This is one of the hardest positions to get a read on, but there?s value to be had and upside to be had with the youth movement. SI.com?s Jay Clemons has an excellent catcher breakdown for further analysis from the 2010 fantasy baseball preview

First Base Not First Priority

From the thinnest position in fantasy baseball to the most stocked, we all know first base is packed with big names and bigger bats. But one draft day strategy I've been using in most of my leagues has had to do with waiting to fill the first base spot through the first few rounds. Unless you're looking at grabbing Albert Pujols first of course, target for the first couple rounds your marquee infielders (Hanley Raimrez, Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, Evan Logoria, David Wright, Ian Kinsler, etc.) and/or a star outfielder (Ryan Braun, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, ) and/or a No. 1 pitcher, and you?ll be surprised at the value left over - even after 3 to 4 rounds.Thus far, I?ve been more than happy to grab the Angels' Kendry Morales, the Twins' Justin Morneau, the Royals' Billy Butler and the Reds' Joey Votto from rounds 3 through 7, while usually picking up a couple standout infielders and one outfielder or a top-of-the-line pitcher before filling in the first base spot. In auction leagues, I've rarely spent over $20 on my first base spot with the price as low as $15 to (only once) as high as $23.The Rays' Carlos Pena, the Nationals' Adam LaRoche and the Rangers' Chris Davis are guys I considered had I waited even a little longer. Putting off the first base spot allows you to plug other areas first.

Fantasy Madness Marches On

The brackets might be toast, but the players (some, at least) are still out there. With one week left in the college basketball season, those brave enough to try their hand at Fantasy March Madness by drafting teams of individual players and totaling their stat lines through the tourney are eying the same wide-open Final Four that the hoops purists and bracketoligists are. The scoring system I used was assists, rebounds and made free throws x 2, three-pointers, blocks and steals x 3 + points scored. Of the four remaining teams, here is the top player, fantasy-wise for each.

Butler: Shelvin Mack, 55.7 fantasy point average

Michigan State: Durrell Summers, 46.0

West Virginia: Da'Sean Butler, 63.7

Duke: Kyle Singler, 55.0

East

Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia, 255

John Wall, Kentucky, 223

Devin Ebanks, West Virginia, 222

Kevin Jones, West Virginia, 185

Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky, 184

South

LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor, 229

Kyle Singler, Duke, 220

Ekpe Udoh, Baylor, 218

Jon Scheyer, Duke, 194

Omar Samhan, Saint Mary?s, 177 (3 games)

Nolan Smith, Duke, 177

Midwest

Evan Turner, Ohio State, 223 (3 games)

Durrell Summers, Michigan State, 184

Wayne Chism, Tennessee, 179

J.P. Prince, Tennessee, 175

Raymar Morgan, Michigan State, 174

West

Jacob Pullen, Kansas State, 264

Shelvin Mack, Butler, 223

Gordon Hayward, Butler, 204

Jordan Crawford, Xavier, 203 (3 games)Wes Johnson, Syracuse, 201 (3 games)

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