Fantasy Sports with Eric Karabell
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com Insider Eric Karabell will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest sports news from a fantasy perspective.
Karabell contributes to ESPN's fantasy sports coverage across all of the company's platforms, from TV to radio, podcasts to blogs and even in ESPN The Magazine. He is a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. He is the author of "The Best Philadelphia Sports Arguments."
Send your questions now and join Karabell Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET!
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Eric Karabell (11:01 AM)
Hello all and welcome to another fantasy sports chat session! I am Eric, and hopefully the power will stay on for the next hour - well, all day! - so we can take baseball and if you desire football questions as well... yeah, the weather is a bit ridiculous! Anyway, welcome to February, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training soon and I'm excited for baseball...let's get going!
James (Philly) [via mobile]
When can we expect a 2014 draft kit? Nice having a Philly guy on the podcast, keep up the good work.
Eric Karabell (11:02 AM)
Thanks, James! Word is a few more weeks for the kit, which should as always be comprehensive and awesome. And I'm having a blast hosting the fantasy focus podcast. Thanks for listening!
Clarence (Sioux City)
Have the chance to keep Avisail Garcia for $1. Worth the value, or am I better off keeping someone like Mauer for $20 (I already have Perez at catcher)?
Eric Karabell (11:03 AM)
If you can start two catchers at once, then Mauer for that price is worth it. He's not catching anymore, so I expect he'll hit .325 and produce more power than normal. I really do. Just about anyone for a dollar is also the best value possible. I'd still keep Mauer. Not many catchers can win a batting title. Just know that in a year, Mauer will likely lose catcher eligibility.
Is Matt Harvey a top 5 pitcher and top 25 overall player in Dynasty leagues? How many pitchers have better pure stuff?
Eric Karabell (11:06 AM)
Well, "pure stuff," whatever that is, is irrelevant. He misses my top 5 pitchers mainly because even a TJ surgery that has become somewhat standard at this point brings some risk. After all, the Padres' Cory Luebke is having another TJ surgery and will miss another year. Not every procedure is a success. I'd say Harvey is borderline top 10 pitcher. There's lots of pitching out there, and in a dynasty format to take him over other young and healthy fellows like Jose Fernandez, even Chris Sale, Strasburg... I can't go there.
Billy Hamilton [via mobile]
What round is acceptable to draft Billy Hamliton in a keeper league?
Eric Karabell (11:08 AM)
Take him in the first round if you really believe he'll steal 100 bases. After all, if Hamilton does this he'd win you steals and be a top-10 guy on the Rater. I don't think he can hit enough to steal that many bags or even keep the job. This is Dee Gordon. The Reds might keep playing him when the Dodgers farmed out Gordon, and Hamilton should be fine defensively in center field, but ...I'm not choosing Hamilton in the first 7 rounds. I see trouble coming. He couldn't get on base at Triple-A... big league pitchers will get him out a lot.
justin(florida) [via mobile]
Are we going to see Javier Baez up this year? If so what month are we looking?
Eric Karabell (11:09 AM)
He's 21, so I doubt it. But if Starlin Castro plays poorly again and doesn't seem to care, sure, the Cubs could promote Baez midseason and see what he does. I just don't see a fantasy impact this season.
last keeper, 22 rounds: Beachy (20th), Archer (22nd), Kazmir (22nd)
Eric Karabell (11:11 AM)
Whenever you're dealing with a late-round bargain like that, I tend to just ignore the actual round. No real difference in round 20 or 22. I'd keep Beachy. I just think he'll have the best season of the three, mainly due to being in the NL, in a division with questionable offenses, and due to the strikeout potential.
Danny (Long Island)
Who has more keeper value in a 12 team 2 RB/3WR/Flex league, Leveon Bell in the 9th or Percy Harvin in the 12th?
Eric Karabell (11:12 AM)
Definitely Bell. I can make the case for Bell, the Steelers RB, early in round 2. Great future. With Harvin, we obviously saw his upside in the Super Bowl, but it's tough to depend on him in a fantasy league due to lack of durability. Plus, RB versus WR... no contest when comparing depth at those spots.
I play in an obp league. How much does this improve Chris Carters fantasy stock? A realistic shot at 35 homeuns and a 320 obp would make him top 12 at first base wouldnt it?
Eric Karabell (11:13 AM)
That's not exactly a Boggs-like OBP, but yeah, the value of Adam Dunn, Carter and other batting average killers automatically goes up when it changes to OBP. When our rankings are posted you'll see very little love for Carter... but if you need power, he's legit.
John (New Hampshire) [via mobile]
Love the new podcast! I get two keepers in 12 team points league. Keeping Hanley, should I keep votto or throw him back to open up my second rd pick?
Eric Karabell (11:14 AM)
Thanks! Having a blast on the show! I'd say just keep Votto, since you might end up drafting him anyway in the second round. Depends on how many good players you feel will be let go. Votto is safe and I frankly don't buy the notion that he's incapable of knocking in runs. He certainly is. He was very patient at the plate in 2013 but he's certainly capable of 100 RBI and 25 HR.
Mike (San Diego)
Carter and Pedro Alvarez to me are very similar. They're both very ownable just on power potential alone.
Eric Karabell (11:15 AM)
Of course. But Alvarez goes in the top 100 and Carter goes undrafted. Third base isn't deep. No position offensively is. But people also view Alvarez as capable of hitting .250. Not so much with Carter. Your point is valid, though. Carter is underrated.
Rus (peoria, il)
RE: Matt Adams from 2 podcasts agoJust wanted to clear up some things about Adams. While teams employ the shift on him, and a lot of his ground balls are to the pull side, this isn't unique to him or even to lefties. In fact, his batted ball profile suggests that he actually hits FEWER balls to the pull side than the average MLB LHB and more balls to center.Also, in reference to his walk rate, it wasn't great, but 7-8% puts him in the range of Hosmer, Gonzalez, and his teammate Allen Craig. As was often described of him as a prospect, he's not a 'power hitter', but a 'hitter with power'. I would be confident in stating that his batting average won't dip to Trumbo levels (Adams hit 318/364/563 in the minors).Playing time will still be an issue for him, though.
Eric Karabell (11:18 AM)
Adams has definitely been a topic of discussion in the fantasy group. I felt, along with others, that we ranked him a bit too generously. Can't hit lefties, was inconsistent at the plate, playing time is hardly a lock if Taveras is ready and playing well. But I do concede this is a guy that could hit 30 home runs. Adam Lind did it once. I like Adams but don't view him as a borderline top-10 1B. I never compared him to Trumbo... I see a .270 batting average. Just not 500 at-bats.
Just traded for Freeman in a keeper league - see big things given his new contract?
Eric Karabell (11:19 AM)
Nothing changes. One could argue that with his contract secured he won't try as hard. I never make that argument. I just don't like trying to guess what a guy is thinking whether he's in a contract year or signed for a decade. It rarely works. Freeman's good. Should develop more power, knock in runs, safe in average. Some growth potential. But I would have said the same 2 days ago.
Jason [via mobile]
Does Sano get to the bigs this season?
Eric Karabell (11:20 AM)
I doubt it. Not sure why the Twins would rush him unless they're contending. Sano has huge power upside and he's 20. Twins should be patient.
Mike (San Diego)
I feel like ANY Cardinal besides Molina, Carpenter, and maybe Peralta should be drafted with caution. This may be putting the cart before the horse, but if Matheny is smart, nobody in that lineup should crack 600 plate appearances so they can be fresh for October.
Eric Karabell (11:22 AM)
I think Peralta should be drafted with caution, too! But I also don't believe a manager can take it easy during the year because then if you miss the playoffs by a game or two you open to second-guessing. Everyone does it. And managers do pay attention. I can see occasionally resting a guy nursing injury, but this offense has better upside than last year. And Allen Craig is being underrated. He CAN hit for power.
Do you see Jason Heyward as a good value pick this year? He was overrated pre-season as a fantasy commodity last season, but I could see him being underrated this season.
Eric Karabell (11:23 AM)
Agreed. Had 27 homers and 21 steals two seasons ago. Certainly capable of a repeat. And again, him signing a 2-year contract this week has no bearing on his numbers to me. Don't guess at someone's mindset. I can easily see Heyward blossoming into a star. We all expected it. Top 20 outfielder for me.
rus (peoria, il)
RE: Adams vs LHPHe hit .297/.357/.520 vs left handed pitching in the minors. I don't think his 50ish ABs vs lefties last year should hold much weight.
Eric Karabell (11:26 AM)
Fair enough, but I'd argue neither of those hold much weight, the minors or 2013. I saw enough of his at-bats against lefties to believe he needs work. But many lefty hitters initially struggle that way, and some become proficient enough. Others are Ryan Howard and Pedro Alvarez. If the Cards announce Taveras is not an option to make the team then sure, I feel different here about Adams getting 500 PA. But Taveras is a top prospect. Monster hitter. Nobody views Adams this way.
I say take T rich next year he will be a force for the colts
Eric Karabell (11:26 AM)
Richardson will likely be so underrated that if you get him after the 6th or 7th round, I think that's terrific value. Maybe he was hurt this past year and nobody knew. Hard to believe he went from competent to this bad in a year.
Clarence (Sioux City)
Keeping Scherzer at $11... should I give ANY consideration to also keeping Verlander at $34?
Eric Karabell (11:28 AM)
Depends on the makeup of your team. Keeping Max at $11 has no bearing on others. Can always use rotation depth. The $34 price is high, though. In a vacuum I wouldn't keep any pitcher for that, even Kershaw.
i think Gronk is done to many injuries what do you think
Eric Karabell (11:28 AM)
I wouldn't say done, but Gronkowski was certainly productive when he was active. Just be wary when drafting him that you're not getting 16 games.
does rendon have any real competition from espinos barring injury
Eric Karabell (11:29 AM)
Rendon is clearly Washington's second baseman but he has to hit. He was competent defensively. What I'm watching is to see if LaRoche hits... the Nats could move Zimmerman to first base and Rendon to his more natural third base. Doesn't mean he'll hit better, but there's a 20-homer bat lurking. I am investing in Rendon. With Danny Espinosa, he probably needs a change of scenery.
Do you think Brady will continue to be a bad down field passer and what round will he go.
Eric Karabell (11:30 AM)
I don't have Brady among my top-5 quarterbacks, but let's see if the Patriots get him some WR help. He had slot guys and rookies to throw to when Gronk was out. I suspect the team will make moves to help Brady. Still not in top 5 though.
john.chas [via mobile]
Where do you see m.vick going? Starter...backup?
Eric Karabell (11:31 AM)
If an NFL team views him as a starter, someone capable of playing in 16 games, they're simply not paying attention. Not aiming to be mean, but watch him play. Check the stats. He's not durable. To me he's a backup, but I don't know where. Not worth the risk anymore.
Randy [via mobile]
Traded B Harper 4 W Myers, S Castro, and P Corbin in dynasty league, what's your thoughts?
Eric Karabell (11:33 AM)
Harper has the most upside there. Can make the case that in a year he's a first-rounder in a one-year and dynasty format. I personally would take the best player in a deal, but I do think Myers will be good for a decade and Castro will get back to what made him successful. As for pitching...eh, I don't generally focus on non-top 20 starters in a dynasty format. Play year to year with rotation.
Do you see Prince having a big season in TEX?
Eric Karabell (11:34 AM)
I've got him in the second round, so yeah, I'm a believer, to a degree. He's durable and consistent, but 35 homers, 120 RBI, I'll take the under on each. Sometimes we all pay for safety.
Our league is switching to an auction league this year, any tips? Thanks.
Eric Karabell (11:35 AM)
Good for you. Lots of fun. Can get anyone you desire... Aim for balance. Don't worry about spending the extra buck or two if you really like the player. I generally look for bargains and build an auction team that way. Like if Alfonso Soriano comes in at $5, when other 25-homer guys cost $15. Value. Depth.
Do you think A. Soriano is good for 500 ABs or does he lose more to Jeter, etc. w/ a full OF?
Eric Karabell (11:37 AM)
Timing! I think Soriano plays every day. Not sure why Yankees wouldn't. And I made a board bet on the Tuesday Fantasy Focus with colleague and Yankees fan Tristan Cockcroft on Jeter... I admit there's risk and from a fantasy aspect he's not likely to hit for power or run, but he's going to play and hit top of order. So I took the over on 120 games, 70 runs and something else. I doubt Soriano sits for Jeter.
Would you risk keeping Gronk this year in a 10 team keeper league? I' get him for the 9th or 11th round pick, but am concerned about his constant injuries. No one else with exceptional value on my roster to keep, sans maybe Lacy, but even he'd be a 1st-3rd rounder (forget where I drafted him). Thanks!
Eric Karabell (11:38 AM)
I would keep Gronk if the cost is simply a ninth round pick. That's still nice value, even if Gronk plays half a season. He's so productive when he plays. Would I risk losing a 3rd round pick to keep him? No. And I've got Lacy in my top 10 overall, so I would def keep him.
Peyton (Back in Denver)
Man, that escalated quickly!
Eric Karabell (11:39 AM)
It's a shame, because he's such a nice guy and arguably the most productive QB ever statistically, but things happen when it's one game and one game only. Would have loved to see a best of 5... but obv can't do that in football. I have no concerns about Peyton in 2014. I do rank Brees ahead of him, but the top 3 or 4 QBs for come in late-round 2 anyway.
Brett Gardner put up near identical stats last year to Desmond Jennings, yet Jennings is ranked 15 spots higher in OF. There is a ceiling difference between the two, but should I be seeing value in Gardner or is Jennings overrated?
Eric Karabell (11:41 AM)
I think Jennings is capable of big numbers, more power and much speed and he's still young. So yeah, one could make the case in terms of value, something looks amiss. But I think there's some risk the Yankees don't give Gardner 500 at-bats. Especially since he's not playing CF.
Better keeper...Profar or Xander?
Eric Karabell (11:43 AM)
Great question. I think each is underrated this year. It's odd but I see people giving the argument against liking Bogaerts because Profar didn't have a great 2013. That's ridiculous! What one guy does or doesn't do has no bearing on another young player! I think both will be stars this season. I'd take Profar in 2014, because he's not as raw and guaranteed playing time, and it appears the Red Sox want Stephen Drew at short over Bogaerts. But Bogaerts will hit. Just don't know if he plays a ton in 2014. Long-term I would take Bogaerts. If Middlebrooks doesn't hit in April, Bogaerts takes over 3B for a decade. That's what I see.
I get your argument about keeping RB over WR, but you would still keep Josh Gordon in the 8th over Zac Stacy in the 12th right?
Eric Karabell (11:44 AM)
Yeah, that's different. Gordon was literally the highest scoring WR in fantasy this past season! But with someone like TY Hilton, I'd keep the RB in general. And I like Stacy... just outside my top 10 RB.
What do you think of Austin Jackson? Is he ready to produce or is the average and other rates just too low? I can keep him for $10 and a on the fence. we have a max of 8 keepers
Eric Karabell (11:45 AM)
So inconsistent from year to year that it's tough to rely on him. Will he steal 20? Will he hit .275? Impossible to know. I think that price is right and depending on your other options, it's worth it. But if he bats ninth this season I could also see underwhelming numbers.
Do you see any room for growth with kyle seager? The early projections I see make him identicle to josh donaldson.
Eric Karabell (11:46 AM)
I don't see the batting average upside, but Seager makes up for it with some speed. I like that Seager walked more and yes, I see growth potential for power... you know, you could be on to something. But I still see .260 versus .280.
I remember TY Hilton burning Sherman for to td's and 145 yards why couldn't Denver do that
Eric Karabell (11:47 AM)
On any given day, anything can happen. Not to say Sherman is bad or would have been burned, but I didn't get Denver's game plan. It's like the safety just changed everything.
Thoughts on Samardzjia this season? Are the Cubs attempts to trade him a bad sign?
Eric Karabell (11:48 AM)
No, that's financial, not performance based. When the Cardinals or Braves or Rays try to trade a starting pitcher, I get worried. I think they know something. The Cubs... not the same yet. But Samardzija can be wild. I will take the 200 Ks even if it comes with a 1.35 WHIP.
Hey Eric, Can Scooter Gennett continue to hit the way he did last season? Would you rather him or Rutledge?
Eric Karabell (11:49 AM)
I doubt Gennett hits like that over 500 at-bats. And the Brewers still have Rickie Weeks. Of course, Rutledge is allergic to taking walks and is awful defensively. I'll still take Rutledge though. If the Rockies play him, he could hit 15 homers and steal 15 bases. Gennett really isn't capable of that, even if he plays a lot.
Thoughts on Alex Wood this season?
Eric Karabell (11:50 AM)
I actually like him, but I have heard from people I respect that he's a major injury risk due to the way he throws, and that worries me. Plus, the Braves might not put him in the rotation. I'm investing in one important league because I think there is upside. But it wouldn't shock me if Wood is a 7th inning guy.
Am I an uber homer or is brad miller criminally undervalued. This guy raked throughout the minors and has 20 20 upside. He has a lot of pedroia in him. Why is he not a slam dunk top 10 ss?
Eric Karabell (11:51 AM)
I think 20/20 is a bit much, but I do see double digits in power and speed. Pedroia? I don't really see that. I see a guy that might hit .250. But if he's undervalued and you like him then it should be easy for you to secure him in your leagues!
Eric Denver's Wr's to me were afraid of the Seattle Cb's that was the difference.
Eric Karabell (11:52 AM)
I just didn't like all the short passes. They rarely tried to go deep. But the Seattle corners are awesome in single coverage, too.
Keep Gyorko for $1, kind of all over the map last year
Eric Karabell (11:53 AM)
Definitely. Seems to me he's a bit undervalued. If one regards JJ Hardy as a top-10 shortstop then wouldn't Gyorko deserve similar standing considering his offensive profile is similar at second base? I think Gyorko could lead all second basemen in home runs. For a buck, sign me up!
When can we expect the leagues to be up and running?
Eric Karabell (11:54 AM)
Very soon. Trust me, it's for the best. The game will be terrific.
Is Adam Eaton underrated? Could provide 12-15 HR and 25-30 SB's...
Eric Karabell (11:54 AM)
You know I agree. I pegged that a year ago. A fluke elbow injury shouldn't change it. I'm investing in Eaton.
When are tristan's keeper rankings coming out?
Eric Karabell (11:55 AM)
With the draft kit. And we will be discussing on the podcast. We did Tuesday. Interesting how we differ.
Pick two: Mauer, Freeman, Machado.
Eric Karabell (11:56 AM)
Well, personally I think Machado is a tad overrated statistically. I can't argue his overall value, since defensively he's awesome. But is he hitting 20 homers this year or next? Hitting .300? Running? I doubt it. The other two are safer initially. Mauer is obviously older and likely losing first base eligibility, so the easy answer is drop him. And I probably would. But I think Machado is not what we think and he's an injury risk this season.
Eric, How did ESPN rank Phillips over Carpenter at 2B? Phillips is literally league average at 2B and won't get as many RBIs without Choo leading off. Surely you don't agree with this ranking do you?
Eric Karabell (11:57 AM)
Nope. I think it's wrong. Phillips is nearing the edge statistically. Not running, certainly can't expect those RBI again. I'll take Carpenter over him for sure. Love OBP guys like that, even if they don't hit for power or run. Is Phillips going to hit 18 home runs every year? One of these years it falls to 8. I'm clearly not going to get Phillips in my leagues this year!
Mike (San Diego)
Gronk:Football::Tulo:Baseball. They even both have boosted value because of position scarcity.
Eric Karabell (11:59 AM)
I see your point, but don't really agree. There is no position scarcity anymore in baseball. All offensive spots are weak. But Tulo was a top-5 SS despite missing games. He overcomes being brittle. Gronk wasn't a top-5 TE. And Gronk's injuries are more serious, I think. Plus, you only need one tight end in football. Baseball is a six-month season...
is bryce harper a top 5 dynasty keeper
Eric Karabell (11:59 AM)
I can definitely make that argument, yes.
What do you make of Kipnis? I tend to throw away first half vs. second half numbers unless there's an injury or mechanical change.
Eric Karabell (12:00 PM)
I'm thisclose to ranking him my top second baseman. But settled on Cano at like 12th overall and Kipnis 13th or 14th. But even that would surprise people... In season roto streakiness isn't an issue.
Eric Karabell (12:03 PM)
Thanks to all for the great questions and get ready for baseball season! Stay safe in the nasty weather and have a great day!