FANTASY PLAYS: Potential busts for 2017 fantasy season
In fantasy draft prep, you'll hear three terms more than any others: breakout, sleeper, and bust. Looking at the negative of the three, how do we define what a bust is? It really depends on whom you ask.
A bust can be a player who doesn't live up to his average draft position (ADP) or high expectations but still has a good year, or it can be someone who was just plain awful.
Busts are, unfortunately, a part of playing fantasy. They happen every single year. The good news is there are sometimes ways to avoid them, like not overreacting to a career year, identifying signs of decline, or addressing pre-existing injuries.
Here are seven fantasy baseball bust candidates for the 2017 season:
JEAN SEGURA (2B/SS, Seattle)
There's no bigger regression risk (in the negative sense, at least) in fantasy baseball than Segura. That makes him a big bust candidate. He enjoyed a career year last year in Arizona, which doesn't get enough credit as the second-best home ballpark for hitters behind Colorado.
Segura hit a career-high 20 home runs to go along with a career-high home run-to-fly ball rate, meaning more of his fly balls became home runs. The Mariners need help on the base paths, as they stole just 56 total bases last year, and Segura can provide the speed as he's a near-lock for 30 steals. If his power and average regress to his career norms in a neutral ballpark (which Seattle is), you'd be better suited to wait about 100 picks and grab Tim Anderson, who offers a similar skill set for a cheaper price.
ALBERT PUJOLS (1B, Los Angeles Angels)
Despite dealing with numerous injuries over the past five seasons, Pujols has played in at least 152 games in four of his five seasons with the Angels. That's likely going to change this year, though, as Pujols had foot surgery in December. At this point in his career, Pujols is going to give you 30 homers and not crush you in average. But if he misses Opening Day, will that result in him missing all of April? What about May?
Drafting a first baseman early will help you avoid this headache all season.
ADRIAN GONZALEZ (1B, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Gonzalez dealing with elbow inflammation may be the best thing possible for fantasy owners. Without the injury, Gonzalez would have been drafted as a borderline starter in 15-team leagues at first base. He's easier to stay away from given the injury.
You recognize his name, sure, but do you recognize the player that hit the ball on the ground 46.2 percent of the time and lowered his fly ball rate from 36.7 percent to 27.5 percent last season?
Take a chance on Mike Napoli, Tommy Joseph or Greg Bird later in drafts if you need to fill the position.
DAVID DAHL (OF, Colorado)
If Dahl is a bust this year, it won't be by his own doing. As spring training games start he still hasn't been guaranteed a full-time job. With a National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) average draft position of 92, the No. 22 outfielder off the board, Dahl remains a high-risk, high-reward pick until it's known he's going to get everyday at-bats at the big-league level.
Dahl is not bad by any means; he just carries too much risk to be taken this early in drafts.
RICK PORCELLO (SP, Boston Red Sox)
Wins aren't predictive in baseball and the same is true for fantasy baseball.
Porcello's value is driven by his 22 wins and 223 innings pitched last year - both career highs - en route to the American League Cy Young Award. Porcello will still have value, but he's a better fit as a No. 3 or No. 4 fantasy starter instead of a No. 2 with his lack of ability to miss bats and rack up strikeouts.
MATT HARVEY (SP, New York Mets)
Harvey is talented but we know very little about how players perform after having surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, which causes pain in the shoulders and neck and numbness in the fingers.
He could be great, good, average or droppable by July.
FREDDIE FREEMAN (1B, Atlanta)
Don't pay for Freeman based off his career season in 2016. That's what's required, it seems, based on his No. 26 overall average draft position in NFBC.
He's a better value at the end of the third or beginning of the fourth round in 12-team leagues. Without knowing how Atlanta's new home field will lean as far as ballpark factors, Freeman is too risky at his current rate.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com