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Early draft data from RTSports drafts has been added to FantasyPros, making the latter's composite ADP data a little more reliable. Your host site's ADP data is worth looking into, especially if any absentee owners are auto-selecting based on the site's default rankings. However, FantasyPros' composite ADP is the best way to feel an unbiased feel for any player's perceived value.

Perceived value has little to do with actual or even expected value. For example, Ian Desmond has an ADP placing him just outside the top 100, but his indicators may not support a selection in the top 200. Meanwhile, Jonathan Villar is struggling to go in the first 200 picks after being a consensus first-rounder last season.

Needless to say, you should pass on Desmond and roll the dice on Villar. Here's why.

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Ian Desmond (1B/OF, COL) ADP: 109.7

Desmond was a valuable fantasy commodity for many years because he offered a blend of power and speed at a premium defensive position. The 32-year old had a tough time staying on the field last season, slashing .274/.326/.375 with seven big flies and 15 steals in 373 PAs. Those numbers are fine on the surface, but pretty mediocre for someone calling Coors Field home. Name recognition alone seems to be driving his current price tag.

Let's start with the power component of Desmond's game. Quite frankly, it no longer exists. Both his average airborne exit velocity (93.1 mph vs. 94.3 mph in 2016) and rate of Brls/BBE (2.7% vs. 7.5% in 2016) declined dramatically last year, so Desmond's airborne batted balls don't have the same value they used to.

His FB% has also been trending downward since 2012, falling all the way to 20.8% last year. A fair portion of Desmond's flies have historically been pop-ups (9.8% career IFFB%), a trend that continued last year (9.4% IFFB%). Not even Coors Field can make up for the complete absence of fly balls in a batter's profile, so he'll be lucky to crack double digit HR in 2018.

Statcast also predicts that Desmond will not be the force on the base paths he once was. After consistent Statcast Sprint Speeds of 28.5 ft./sec in 2015 and 2016, Desmond lost a full foot per second with a mark of 27.5 ft./sec last year. That's still above average, but Desmond is at the age where wheels tend to decline quickly. Banking on 20 or more bags in 2018 is unwise.

That leaves us a .274 batting average to consider, and it was propped up by a .345 BABIP. Desmond has a career BABIP of .328, so some regression is likely. Coors Field inflates BABIP, but Desmond's aversion to fly balls and line drives (16.5% LD% last year, 18.1% career) prevents him from truly capitalizing on the stadium's thin air and expansive outfield.

Desmond's .306 BABIP on ground balls last season seems especially unsustainable considering his loss of speed and exit velocity (84.7 mph vs. 89 mph in 2016, 86.8 in 2015). His career mark is .279, but that's predicated on speed and contact quality that Desmond may no longer possess. It wouldn't be surprising for his BABIP on the ground to fall to .260 or less, a fact that would combine with his 23.3% K% and 12.2% SwStr% to drag his batting average into the unacceptable range.

Roster Resource projects Desmond to hit sixth in Colorado's batting order, a position with little counting stat value. They also have Raimel Tapia and David Dahl projected for bench roles, but each has the youth and upside to supplant Desmond in LF. There is a very real chance that Desmond finishes the season in a utility role, but his ADP fails to account for this risk at all.

Position scarcity used to be a reason to roster Desmond, but his numbers are weak for both a first baseman (27 games) and corner outfielder (66). With no premium position, power, speed, batting average, or upside, Desmond should be a guy that sits unwanted on waivers all season long. Paying his current price is nothing short of insanity.

Verdict: Chump

 

Jonathan Villar (2B, MIL) ADP: 199.3

Villar burned many fantasy owners with a .241/.293/.372 line with 11 HR and 23 SB over 436 PAs last season. However, this is somebody who swiped 62 bags and hit 19 homers just a year prior. It's way too early to completely give up on this 26-year old.

Speed is Villar's signature skill, so let's start there. His Statcast Sprint Speed was virtually unchanged from his stellar 2016 (27.6 ft./sec vs. 27.7 ft.sec), so his decline in steals had nothing to do with physical deterioration. Instead, a batting average that fell from .285 to .241 is the most likely culprit.

While losing 40 points of batting average is never a good thing, there is hope for a rebound. Villar's .330 BABIP fell short of his career .343 mark, mostly thanks to less productive fly balls (.106 BABIP vs. career .175). His 13.8% IFFB% (9.8% career) was a little higher than you'd like to see, and his average airborne exit velocity fell a tick (93.4 mph vs. 94.4 mph in 2016). Still, these differences are not enough to support a 70-point BABIP swing. Positive regression seems likely.

Villar's K% also skyrocketed last season (25.6% in 2016, 30.3% last year), but his peripherals do not support a 30% K%. His SwStr% increased last year (10.6% in 2016, 13.7% in 2017), but a more aggressive approach at the plate (47.4% Swing% vs. career 44.3%) should have mitigated this. Instead, it seemed to create a funk that Villar just couldn't get out of. An offseason of rest may be just what he needed to get back on track.

Villar also possesses a reasonable batting eye. His 29.5% chase rate didn't quite measure up to his 2016 mark (24.1%), but it's still roughly league average. Walking Villar is the last thing most pitchers want to do, so the fact that he put up a 6.9% BB% despite his struggles last year is reason for optimism.

Villar's speed and batting average were largely considered legitimate following his breakout 2016, with skeptics focusing on his 19.6% HR/FB. Surprisingly, Villar maintained that rate with a 19% HR/FB last year. His rate of Brls/BBE fell (6.6% in 2016, 5.5% last year), but he makes up for it by pulling a lot of his flies (22.4% last year).

Villar barely hits any fly balls (21.9% FB% last year, 23.2% career), so he won't contribute too many homers even with an elevated HR/FB. However, any swing adjustment to produce more lift could have a loud impact as long as Villar calls hitter-friendly Miller Park home. He shouldn't be counted on for power, but there is some upside here.

There are a lot of ifs and maybes in this analysis. Villar could well spend another season as nothing more than a short-term SB play off of waivers in the fantasy game. He has the upside for more though, and his price point is low enough that it's worth speculating that he can achieve it.

Verdict: Champ

 

MoreĀ 2018 Player Outlooks





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