What's up RotoBallers. Welcome back to another article in our series of early ADP value analysis for fantasy baseball.
Today, we'll cover some undervalued and overvalued relief pitchers, to try and help identify draft targets and avoids based on ADP.
Opening Day is still over a month away, but it's never too soon for draft prep. ADP data from early NFBC rankings can give us a glimpse into what other owners are thinking heading into a new campaign.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Undervalued Relief Pitchers
Jim Johnson, Atlanta Braves (ADP: 219)
Last year, Jim Johnson showed that he may have turned back to a better time in his 11-year career. Recording 20 saves on a 3.06 ERA while striking out just over a batter per inning; Johnson appears to have found success as closer of the Atlanta Braves. Is he a top-10 closer? No, but his recent success paired with the inexperienced relievers he shares the bullpen with provide stability for the 33-year-old veteran as a higher viable selection in fantasy.
Shawn Kelley, Washington Nationals (ADP: 211)
The contending Nationals have an experienced reliever as their closer in Shawn Kelley. An explanation for his appeal at a low 200's ADP stems from Kelley reducing his hits and walks while increasing his strikeouts. Setup relievers Blake Treinen and Koda Glover are talented but likely won't compete with Kelley for the closer job. Veteran former closer Joe Nathan was signed but at 42 years old, he likely will not contend for the closer spot, if he manages to make the major league roster.
Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 285)
The Minnesota Twins are slowly developing pieces for the future. A secure spot on the roster appears to be closer Brandon Kintzler. While he pitched to a 3.15 ERA with just 17 saves, his job appears to be secure. Former closer Glen Perkins is recovering from a significant injury so his likelihood to be ready for the start of the season is slim. Until Perkins proves he's healthy and capable of progressing to high leverage situations, Kintzler is the go-to closer for the Twins. Currently, Kintzler is being drafted after setup relievers. While he does not strike out as many batters as fantasy owners will desire, (5.8 K/9) he will have a stable position as the Twins closer.
Neftali Feliz, Milwaukee Brewers (ADP: 286)
The former closer has had an up-and-down career since 2014 so he will look for consistency in 2017 as the best candidate to close down wins for the Milwaukee Brewers. Entering the season under a rebuilding phase, the Brewers may trade Feliz if his value warrants a desire by other teams over the course of the season. Feliz is a reliable pick for a 3rd closer as long as he stays on the Brewers.
Overvalued Relief Pitchers
Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs (ADP: 89)
Statistically, the World Series champion Chicago Cubs have added an elite closer, in Wade Davis, as they look to repeat in 2017. Recent arm-related injuries could keep him from being a top-tier fantasy option. If he can live up to his recent numbers, including a 1.87 ERA with 27 saves and just over a strikeout per inning, Davis will be an outstanding closer for the Cubs and in fantasy. If his injuries present themselves again, Hector Rondon will slide back into the closer's role and owners of Davis will have to search for a replacement. Proceed with caution and backup options if Davis is a top-10 closer in your personal rankings.
If you're thinking about drafting these guys early, check out Nick Mariano's primer on why you should avoid paying for saves. The three elite closers of the league are standing out in the game and in fantasy. All with ADPs in the first 6 rounds, these three closers are being selected minimum 12 picks ahead of the next best closer available, Mark Melancon. Are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Zach Britton in a class of their own? Yes, but strictly for their MLB teams. The easiest explanation is the fear of missing out. As fantasy owners are drafting and notice Chapman comes off the board, Jansen is highly sought for and is taken soon after because owners fear they will not have a great closer. These three relievers will put numbers up that stand out among their peers but for fantasy, valuable players who will contribute in more ways will be missed out as fantasy teams are put together without maximizing the value at each pick. Draft these three later, fill other higher contributing positions then find a successful closer that will add enough value to your fantasy team.
More Undervalued & Overvalued Picks
Check out RotoBaller's entire 2017 fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and sleepers list, updated daily!