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!
More Fantasy: Fantasy Home Page
Eric Karabell (11:01 AM)
Hello there and welcome to the latest fantasy chat session... I am Eric, and the comprehensive ESPN Fantasy draft kit has launched, so check it out! It might answer some of the questions you have, but regardless, let's have some fun for the next hour! Thanks so much for your support and for showing up and here we go...
George DD (Philly)
Which Philly can make the biggest comeback? Rollins, Utley, Howard? I am betting big on the birds this year.
Eric Karabell (11:02 AM)
Not sure that's such a great idea, but I think Utley is the safest of that bunch. Really was effective in 2013. Rollins has a shot for more relevance - real and fantasy - if he can continue to draw walks like he did after Sandberg took over as manager. And Howard... honestly, who knows? I think he can hit 25 homers and play 140 games, but it's certainly no lock.
Can the Mets have the BEST rotation in baseball next year? Harvey, Wheeler, Snydergaard, Montero, Niese, Colon... need I go on?
Eric Karabell (11:03 AM)
I don't think you need to go on, but I wouldn't say the best rotation. It is nice, though. Harvey should be the ace and back to his normal self in 2015 but after Wheeler, no guarantees. And betting on Colon... I understand why people like him, but at some point the magic has to end.
Alex C (Short Hills NJ)
So my league (without my permission) just expanded to 7x7 H2H. Our offensive categories now include OBP and SLG. Who are your top 5 draft targets (bats only) in this format?
Eric Karabell (11:04 AM)
I wouldn't say anything really changes. The top overall hitters remain the top options even with those catagories. I will say adding OBP in your format makes Joey Votto a first-rounder for sure, and perhaps better. But over CarGo and Goldschmidt, the generally viewed Nos. 4 and 5 options... he might be sixth.
Jonathan (Winner's Circle)
How many HR's will Chris Davis have this year? Most in baseball?
Eric Karabell (11:05 AM)
I rarely project anyone, and this includes the Bonds/steroids era, to hit more than 45 home runs. I think a year ago I projected Cabrera and Stanton to hit 40. This year I think Davis is the only one I expect to top 40 home runs.
Austin (FL) [via mobile]
Better year: Hanley or Braun? Does position scarcity play into that pick at all?
Eric Karabell (11:07 AM)
I don't buy into position scarcity, so to me, no it does not. There are other factors that play into it, of course. I've got Hanley in my top 10, but not Braun. There's risk with each. Is it nice to have a middle infielder that is so good? Absolutely. But don't overrate it.
James (Minneapolis) [via mobile]
Strategy on pitchers this year?
Eric Karabell (11:07 AM)
The same as always, really, with so much depth that I'd like to see everyone add at least one pitching spot to natural roster construction. Take hitters early and find your sleeper pitchers later.
TJ Chase. Kingsport Tn [via mobile]
Do you think R.A. Dickey is a reliable pitcher for a fantasy team since his best ball he throws can be unpredictable at times?
Eric Karabell (11:09 AM)
I don't think that has much to do with it, really. Dickey should throw 200 innings and I think he will improve on last season because he's healthy now. Even the slightest tweak to a muscle can affect a pitcher, and Dickey spoke of this during the season. The knuckleball remains tough to hit, and probably always will be.
Pete (Titletown, USA )
Any idea why Mr. Cockcroft has Pedro Alvarez so high on his keeper rank? Ahead of players such as Longoria, Machado, Puig and Felix?
Eric Karabell (11:11 AM)
You'd have to ask Tristan, but I would assume he expects Alvarez to continue to hit for big power for the next 5 years. I see little reason why that would be a problem. I think he might .220 one of these seasons, but in this era a fantasy owner can overcome this. The standard for winning batting average is lower than ever. Personally I would take those hitters over Pedro.
If Machado were fully healthy, where would you have him ranked in a keeper league?
Eric Karabell (11:12 AM)
In a keeper league I have few concerns. I think for 2014 he probably misses April at the least and that's my main issue. Also, he's not projected to hit for major power yet, but in 3 years I could see an annual 30-homer guy. Rank? Top 10 third baseman for keeper formats, but perhaps a bit overrated based on the actual numbers. Tristan has him 43rd overall, seems about right.
Drew (Chattanooga) [via mobile]
What are your thoughts on SS Jean Segura this year? Seems like the ESPN fantasy staff, as a whole, is lower on him than other fantasy analysts.
Eric Karabell (11:14 AM)
I think we're concerned about his second half last season, and for good reason. He didn't hit at all. Yes, he was probably tired but let's remember Segura wasn't exactly expected to be a monster player, especially for power. He was a runner, decent shortstop. So it wouldn't surprise me if he's 10 homers and 30 steals, which would not make him a top-50 player for fantasy. Could he be awesome? Of course, but minor league trends are important as well.
Profar finishes as a top ___ 2b?
Eric Karabell (11:15 AM)
I would say I'm starting to get a bit concerned about his sore shoulder, but he's still a borderline top 10 option at the position for me. Probably just misses for now. I don't think second base is a problem position. I like Gyorko and several others that missed our top 10. So Profar is around 12-14.
Brent (Baltimore, MD)
Who has the best fantasy season in the Braves outfield? Who is the best value?
Eric Karabell (11:16 AM)
The best season is Heyward, in my opinion. The best value is BJ Upton. Nobody seems to want him, but he was a really valuable fantasy option even while hitting .240 all those years for the Rays. And he can do this again. I'm buying him in the later rounds and he's always out there. Justin Upton is fine, but I think Heyward is right with him due to the speed and he goes later in drafts.
President of the Tone Rangers (Boston, MA)
What's Puig's upside for this season? 30/30 seems like a solid bet to me.
Eric Karabell (11:17 AM)
That upside seems legit, but I doubt he is permitted to run that much. He's not a good percentage base stealer. He's just all over the place. I'd say 30 home runs are a lot more likely than 30 steals. I project roughly 25 homers and 15 steals. Still a very good player.
Clarence (Sioux City)
How worried would be you be as a Profar owner? I can keep him for $2 but could instead retain Gyorko ($11) or Sal Perez ($1, already have Mauer).
Eric Karabell (11:17 AM)
I would still keep Profar at that price rather than spend 9 more bucks for Gyorko. But ask in two weeks if Profar isn't on the field.
What is the ceiling for Austin Jackson?
Eric Karabell (11:19 AM)
I think we've already seen it, but he can get back to that level of 15 home runs and 20 steals. It seems few expect him to do this, but he's one of my sleepers. A bit forgotten. He's 27, not exactly old.
I have to decide whether to keep Verlander this year. Do you seea return to his 2012 season, or are we expecting this decline to continue?
Eric Karabell (11:19 AM)
I rank him just outside the top 10 starting pitchers, so I'm not particularly concerned. I don't think that was decline. I think he was just tired and lost his way mechanically.
What is your opinion on keeping closers in a ten team keep 10 league? What would be your cut off for keeping a closer? Is it Chapman and Kimbrel or would you include Jansen, Holland and Rosenthal?
Eric Karabell (11:20 AM)
I'd say that's about it for what I would consider a good keeper for that shallow of a format. There are always saves available late in drafts and in-season, so keep a top hitter instead.
Chris (California) [via mobile]
How high are you on Tanaka and Abreu ? In our 10 keeper dynasty league, we use an auction for international free agents and they're currently going for a 1st/2nd and 7th (picks) respectively. Worth jumping in?
Eric Karabell (11:21 AM)
Yeah, I think they're both really worth it. Tanaka can be a top-20 starting pitcher, so for comparison think about what you would pay for a Mat Latos or James Shields. And Abreu...good power, might hit only .260. But might not. Who knows? I think each is gonna be good right away.
Jon (Billings, MT)
EK, in standard ESPN leagues, when do you start worrying about filling specific positions rather than choosing best guy for your team?
Eric Karabell (11:23 AM)
I rarely worry about filling spots now that all the offensive spots are a bit, well, offensive. I've been waiting in 10-team mocks at catcher until the last round, since Wilson Ramos and Jason Castro are right there and worth drafting. I've been seeing plenty of middle infield speed late, so no concerns there. I don't worry about getting a second baseman early. It's about total team construction, not being strong at certain spots.
Higgy [via mobile]
Does Yelich continue to do as well as he did late last year?
Eric Karabell (11:24 AM)
I think he projects as a 15-homer, 25-steal guy perhaps as early as this season, but he will strike out a lot, so keep that in mind. Shouldn't hit better than .270. Might hit third for the Fish, so that could be interesting ahead of Giancarlo.
chris (eugene or)
What round of the draft makes sense to start considering Matt Harvey this year in a keeper league?
Eric Karabell (11:24 AM)
I'd want to make sure I had at least 3 or 4 starting pitchers for 2014 secured.
You think Stanton can EVER play a full season?? I just wanna see him hit 45 bombs! Or at least be in the HR derby
Eric Karabell (11:29 AM)
Stanton is still an elite power hitter and I have few concerns about him moving forward. The Miami lineup doesn't concern me. This is a guy that should be among the leaders in home runs.
Think Kemp bounces back to top 20?
Eric Karabell (11:34 AM)
Not really. I think his problem is health, really, and he's likely to miss at least April. Will he run? I think the power is more likely to be there than the steals, but honestly, not even close to my top 20 outfielders. A risk not worth taking.
You mentioned Braun being projected outside of the first round this year. Why is that? Do you really think the PED's made him the player he was? I wouldn't be surprised at all if he returns to his 2012 form.
Eric Karabell (11:36 AM)
No, that is not really my concern. I think it's asking a lot for him to run again, and I think assuming a full season is also asking a lot. A 30-100-20 season seems doable, but there is some risk. I rarely worry about the after affects of PEDs because we still do not know the exact affect they have on the player during and after the process. So it's guesswork. But I have Braun in round 2 and feel good about it.
Speaking of guys who could bounce back this year, what about Starlin Castro? I traded Kemp for him in a keeper league (I already have Braun, Trout, and Ellsbury).
Eric Karabell (11:37 AM)
Definitely. I think Castro will be reenergized this season and will pile on the hits, maybe 12-15 home runs and 20-plus steals. I'm not necessarily targeting him, but would expect a bounceback.
At what point can we say Heyward is what he is. An above average player, nothing more. I've been there for 2 years but I still keep hearing pundits saying he'll break out. I don't see it.
Eric Karabell (11:39 AM)
I don't think he's going to really break out, but he's certainly capable of a full season - his injuries have been fluky - and hitting 25 homers with 20 steals. The skills are clearly there. Your point is valid, but he's also 24. So I can't worry yet. Not everyone can star right away. Like Alex Gordon for others consistency is tougher.
EK, Grady Sizemore. Any reason for optimism there?
Eric Karabell (11:42 AM)
ESPN Sweet Spot blogger Dave Schoenfield and I discussed this on a video this morning, and it's been a really long time since Sizemore was relevant. What a shame, right? He was so good. I don't think Jackie Bradley is a lock for stardom, but at least he should be healthy. At this point Sizemore is nothing more than a really late flyer.
Jay (The Bay)
In a H-2-H Points league, is it still a year or two too early to go Trout over Miggy?
Eric Karabell (11:43 AM)
I think it's more likely to go Cabrera over Trout in a points format than a standard roto one. But either way, all drafts have 2 dominant players.
Now that the wrist is healed, though he says it's stiff, what are you expecting from Tex in 2014?
Eric Karabell (11:44 AM)
Teixeira wasn't hitting for average before he was injured, so it's tough to expect it now. I think there is considerably more downside expected than upside at this point, but it would not surprise me if a 30-homer season happens. It would surprise me if he hits better than .275 though. Not a top-10 first baseman, but could be close.
Dimitrios M (Staten Island)
Am I an idiot for keeping Longoria in the first round? Is it a bad idea to keep both him AND Wil Myers? Thanks, boss.
Eric Karabell (11:45 AM)
Not a problem at all taking Longoria in the first round. Top-end power, good player but obviously durability hasn't been a strong point. Was borderline first round option a season ago, so why should now be vastly different? He's in my second round.
Jimmy (Miami Beach)
Keeper League, rate the following: Sale, Cole, Zimmerman & Cain.
Eric Karabell (11:46 AM)
Assuming that's Jordan Zim from Washington, I'd stay in that order. Sale is always expected to get hurt, but it has not happened yet.
Am I the only one who thinks Carlos Gomez looks an awful lot like BJ Upton before he imploded last season?
Eric Karabell (11:47 AM)
No, you are not. I've noted in blogs and on TV/video several times that if anyone is likely to "go all Upton" on us it's Gomez. I do not expect it, but let's just say there is batting average downside here. Could hit .240 with that power and speed...just like Upton will. But one of them goes in the second round and the other probably does not get drafted because of "what he did to owners in 2013." That's ridiculous. It was just one year.
Mike (San Diego)
Formulate the scenario that where the Cardinals don't win their division.
Eric Karabell (11:48 AM)
There are some question marks there, I suppose. Not all the pitching is proven, for example. The 1B/RF scenarios aren't a lock with Craig's health, Adams' performance and who knows with Taveras. But I think the Cards are a playoff team.
Will you be taking Matt harvey in the 8-10th rd in dynasty leagues as tristan suggests or not worth the picK?
Eric Karabell (11:49 AM)
I will personally not do this, but I tend to play for now even in keeper formats and not build around any pitchers to start with, especially ones that just missed an entire season. Not that everyone needs to do this.
Samardzija or Danny Salazar as a last round keeper in a 12-team keeper league?
Eric Karabell (11:51 AM)
Good one! I think Salazar has a bit more upside at this point, as most people think Samardiza has already shown his best. I don't really believe that, but I do like Salazar's upside.
Andrew S (Desperate)
Can I trade Freddie Freeman to you?
Eric Karabell (11:52 AM)
Um yeah, I suppose if you must! I have no concerns about Freeman. Solid first baseman and you'd be surprised how few guarantees there are even at that position. We'd like a few more home runs but he's safe. Probably in the 4th or 5th round.
Will R. Davis get enough playing time to warrant keeping in the 19th round in a 16 team 5x5?
Eric Karabell (11:53 AM)
Rajai always finds a way to steal many bases and the Tigers don't exactly have left field stocked with Bonds. Rajai should steal 25 bags even if it's only 300 at-bats.
Expecting Jeter to pull off some magic in his final season?
Eric Karabell (11:54 AM)
I believe Tristan and I have a board bet on the podcast debating this ... I think he will be motivated to play every day and while he still won't hit for much power or speed or be worth much in fantasy, yeah, I do expect some magic.
Can I win a league with Profar and Abreu manning 1st/2nd for me?
Eric Karabell (11:55 AM)
I think you can. They should produce, but obviously they're not being discussed as top-100 players yet.
Who do you favor more at 3B in a dynasty league - Lawrie or Arenado?
Eric Karabell (11:55 AM)
I still like Lawrie more. But Arenado is due to hit for more power this season and he's got Coors Field. I think Lawrie will run and who knows, at some point he could move to second base, whether he's good at it or not.
Mean Gene (Buffalo, NY)
EK, can you explain to me how Matt Adams is rated ahead of a player with as much upside as Jose Abreu? I know Abreu's an unknown, but Adams isnt exactly either and might eventually lose AB's to young Oscar.
Eric Karabell (11:56 AM)
Read my mind. People think I don't like Adams; not the case. He's exactly the player I target when I know he's getting a full season of at-bats. In this case, that's far from secure.
Who do you prefer at SS this year: Simmons or Lowrie? Thanks.
Eric Karabell (11:57 AM)
I think Andrelton is going to be a star, a perennial All-Star option that hits for power and wins Gold Gloves that he deserves. I expect closer to 20 home runs this season. So I pick him.
M. Carpenter = a 'no brainer' as a 13th round keeper in a deep 5x5, correct? You like him over D. Jennings(14) or L. Martin(10)?
Eric Karabell (11:57 AM)
Yes. I like Carpenter, who has eligibility at two infield spots, over those others. He won't run, but runs scored are pretty important, too.
Any chance Wieters lives up to the hype? I've had him in a long term keeper, but I'm thinking of cutting bait.
Eric Karabell (11:58 AM)
He is what he is at this point, no? Still borderline top 10 catcher but yeah, I'm not expecting a .275 batting average or 30 home runs any more. He's fine, though. I can wait 5 rounds later for Wilson Ramos.
Dimmy the Greek (Confused)
Thoughts on revoking a trade offer AFTER its been accepted?
Eric Karabell (11:58 AM)
Not a fan of that.
Matt (Twin Cities)
We start so many hitters in standard ESPN leagues, but still not enough depth. How can this be combatted?
Eric Karabell (11:59 AM)
Make all but 2 or 3 of your first 15 picks hitters?
Eric Karabell (12:00 PM)
OK, our time is up for this fine day. Thanks so much for tuning in either live or later and check out our cool draft kit. We will keep adding to it as well. Hit me up on Twitter at karabellespn for more questions and enjoy Spring Training! I will! Have a great day!