The answer is almost always "No."
The question will go like this. "Hey TMR. I have pick five. Is it too early to take Chase Utley?" And I'll say no. Now, I wouldn't take him there. As you'll see below, I have five guys I like more than Utley.
But it's your team. If he's the guy you want, grab him. Because he won't be there when it swings back around to you in Round 2 so your only chance to roster him will be right now. And it's not like he's bad.
There are a lot of flaws with rankings, probably the biggest of which is that the final rankings of players won't look anything like this list or any other. It's impossible. And even if you could travel in time, find out exactly how it would shake out and then print those, it wouldn't matter.
Because you still wouldn't have taken Dustin Pedroia ahead of Alex Rodriguez in the early second round last year, even though Dustin finished 12th on ESPN Player Rater and A-Rod was 13th in 2008. Had you drafted Pedroia instead of Rodriguez you'd have been called the kind of names usually reserved for me on ESPN Conversation (beta!).
Rankings are out of date as soon as you publish them because player value is always changing. Thursday afternoon Chad Cordero had no fantasy value. Now, as you get set to fill out your Tournament Challenge bracket, Cordero's potentially in the mix for the Seattle closer role at some point this year. But here's how rankings are helpful: as a guideline for draft day value. How I view certain players, how others in the room might value certain players, what the general consensus is. As the draft progresses you're gonna want to consult a list, but you should also feel free to veer from it. Because even if Carl Crawford is the next guy on the list, if you have Jose Reyes and Ichiro with your first two picks you're kind of set with speed for a while. Ya dig?
With all those caveats, here are my rankings. As in, mine. With my biases and general drafting strategy put into them. These rankings are based on the ESPN standard league game, which is a 5x5 roto league, 10-team mixed league with only one catcher. So, I only ranked 11 catchers. In a league this shallow, I don't think anyone should carry two catchers except for whoever drafts Matt Wieters, since he'll start the year in the minors. Hence the 11 catchers; 10 plus Matt. And count me among the very, very worried about Joe Mauer. He's crazy low in these rankings because of concerns I have about his health, ability to stay healthy and that he is batting-average dependent for fantasy value. And if he misses significant time, the high average does even less to help you.
As I wrote in my draft day manifesto, I feel there's lots of speed this year and more importantly, lots of power/speed guys. So in almost any case I will default to a guy with lesser speed or power if he gets a decent amount of the other. I devalued pitching across the board for two reasons. One, in a league this shallow you can always find pitching on the waiver wire. Second, I feel there are lots of quality arms this year, there are a number of guys who, due to various reasons, are very good pitchers whose value is depressed (like Chris Carpenter, Randy Johnson, Adam Wainwright, etc.). And, of course, you know my mantra of never paying for saves. So closers are very much devalued here.
There will, no doubt, be lots of questions about these rankings. So I'll do a "Mr. Roto's Mailbag" about them later this week answering the most common and best ones. Since it's in the commercial and all, I sort of feel I gotta do one. Oh, one last thing: Those that are fans should help the cause set up by one my readers: TMR for The Bachelor. I find this hilarious. And those who hate should sign, too. If I get it, maybe I'll leave fantasy sports and you can get someone you like in here.
I'm not updating these rankings except for once before the last drafting weekend of the preseason, so, as of Monday, March 16, here's my top 250.
Matthew Berry's Top 250
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- thinks his Orange should have no trouble advancing against Stephen F. Austin; five on one? He'll take those odds. He is a five-time award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his Cyberfriend