Yahoo Sports’ Andy Behrens’ Fantasy Baseball Advice For 2015
Yahoo Sports’ Andy Behrens is a self-proclaimed fake sports guru, and, floor-slapper, among other things … However, his advice is anything but fake.
I had the chance to speak with the fantasy baseball expert about draft strategy this year for all of you who like to wait until the last week of Spring Training to choose your teams.
Whether you’re old or new to fantasy, this Tout Wars competitor watches more baseball than we could fathom and has plenty words of wisdom.
The great scam
Josh: As a fantasy expert, how many drafts to take part in every year?
Andy Behrens: I play in over 20 football leagues. But football is different because you can win by checking in once or twice a week, right? If you want to win a baseball league, especially with daily transactions, you have to be on it. So I’m not in as many leagues. I’ll end up doing six leagues that I take pretty seriously. I would need a staff of interns if I was going to manage as many baseball leagues as I do football.
Josh: At least you get paid for it, in a way.
Andy Behrens: I mean, it’s such a great scam to be a part of. I can be watching a game and have a Yahoo page open and my wife starts to give me instructions, and I’m like ‘ahh, I’m workin!.’ (laughs)
Best league in the country?
Josh: My buddy is in an NFBC league and I’ve known about Tout Wars for quite sometime. Which league determines who is the most badass fantasy champion? Is there one?
Andy Behrens: (laughs) There’s a bunch of platforms for that now. Tout is a highly competitive league made up of people who write fantasy baseball for a living. It’s got some of the best players… There’s a league called LABR, that drafts in Arizona, run by Steve Gardner of USA Today. That’s a great league too. Those are probably the two pre-eminent expert leagues. People who are power players in daily fantasy and make a good living there, those guys are great players… I don’t know there’s one platform that is recognized as ‘the biggest league.’
Roto vs. head-to-head
Josh: I think Roto is obviously more fair, in the way it determines a champion. I’ve always done head-to-head because it’s more fun.
Andy Behrens: I was gonna say, I would agree that Roto gives you… it crowns the champion that’s given you the best team over the full course of the season. But that’s not how sports works. That’s how it worked when we voted on a college football national champion and everyone hated that (laughs).
We like there to be an element of, two teams play each other at the end of the year and the team that was better that day or week is the champ. I prefer head-to-head because it’s always a really good team that wins, but it functions like real sports.
Josh: If you’re drafting for Roto, how do you draft differently as opposed to head-to-head?
Andy Behrens: For me, the key difference is, in head-to-head September is everything. You have to worry about qualifying for your fantasy league playoffs, but once you’re in the playoffs the whole thing resets. With roto, the stats you get in April are the same value you get in September.
Jose Fernandez is a good example of someone who is coming back by the middle of the season; no chance to have significant full-season Roto value… might get 70 or 80 innings out of him. But what if those innings are in September? He would be a huge head-to-head fantasy asset. Prospects are the same way. We’re probably going to see Kris Bryant (pic above) early in the season, but when you think about other guys, maybe Joey Gallo is up at the end of the year. Gallo could potentially be a difference maker.
In head-to-head I’m much more likely to stash a prospect or a guy coming off Tommy John.
Kris Bryant and the rookie class
Josh: Aside from Kris Bryant, because we all know the monster he is, give me a couple rookies who will make a big impact this year.
Andy Behrens: If it weren’t for the crazy spring Bryant has had, we would all be talking about Joc Pederson, who has won himself a job in the Dodgers outfield. This has been a crazy spring for him. He’s hitting .400; I think he’s up to 5 home runs; a couple steals. Numbers in the high minors over the last couple of years, over 50 home runs, 60 stolen bases. He could be a five category guy this year. He looks like he’s really gonna go off.
I don’t necessarily see a rookie pitcher who is going to do the DeGrom thing this year. That’s a much harder bet to place. I do like Taijuan Walker, who’s had a scoreless spring thus far. This kid Dalton Pompey, who will play outfield for Toronto… He sure looks like he could steal 40 bases.
Josh: Is there anyone being hyped this spring who you’re just not jumping on board with?
Andy Behrens: My Yahoo buddy Scott Pianowski ripped on Yoenis Cespedes the other day, and I could not agree more. He’s on a good team; good lineup; we’ve seen people rate him as a top ten outfielder. You see these flash plays he makes… Home Run Derby champ… there’s a lot there to like. At the end of the day, he hits .260 last year with a .301 on-base percentage and a career OPS around .750. He hits about 20 home runs and steals about 7 bases. That barely pays the fantasy bills for an outfielder. He, to me, is about as wildly overrated as it gets.
I’m also scared to death of Masahiro Tanaka. He’s had a great spring, but a guy who is so close from reconstructive elbow surgery last year, that could just drop at any time, I’m staying away from him.
Rocky Mountain high
Josh: Which players do you love who are at least going in the top 100? Who are you salivating over?
Andy Behrens: For me I guess I would day number one on that list is Nolan Arenado. It wouldn’t surprise me if he finished top 3, top 1 (laughs) third baseman this year. He’s in a perfect hitting environment; super friendly home park. He basically broke out last year but didn’t play a whole season. All we need from him is a 150-155 games; you’re probably going to get 30 home runs, a good batting average and just huge contributions from the counting stats.
Another guy I’ve been all over is Phil Hughes. It’s not that he’s in the greatest winning environment … but a fly ball pitcher in Minnesota — that plays really well. Nice strikeout rate there. He walked only 16 guys last year (laughs). His strikeout to walk ratio is like 16.1, which you never see. His draft position in Yahoo is just stupid — like 140-145.
Wait on pitching?
Josh: Should you wait on pitching this year, especially if drafting head-to-head?
Andy Behrens: Not always. I think the standard expert advice is to wait on pitching all day, but you can wait for anything. Every stat and every position is going to come into the league… I usually like to give myself at least one upper-tier starter, a guy who can give you 210 innings, 200 strikeouts. I don’t think you have to get Clayton Kershaw, but whether it’s Max Scherzer in the NL or… I’ve been taking Hisashi Iwakuma a lot … the upper-tier pitchers from three years ago are still the upper-tier pitchers today. The guys at the high-end tend to duplicate that performance.
Can’t get enough of Kris Bryant
Josh: What’s your prediction for Kris Bryant this year?
Andy Behrens: It’s all a crapshoot with Kris Bryant but I don’t think he’ll be in the minors any more than two or three weeks … I think he performs like a top ten fantasy outfielder. I’ll put it at 30 home runs, 77 runs scored, maybe 88 RBI, maybe 90, batting average around .275. This is not, probably, Mike Trout… But more like Ryan Braun. He is not someone I expect to fail.
Josh’s biggest debate
Josh: I’ve been debating this for weeks. CarGo or Corey Dickerson?
Andy Behrens: I’ve got Corey Dickerson a little bit ahead. The minor league numbers match his major league performance. I have very little questions about him. I mean it really comes down to your willingness to take on health risks with CarGo. I like him; certainly the price is better on CarGo, but it’s a little more injury risk than I would like.
New to fantasy?
Josh: What’s your best advice for those drafting this year, especially if they’re new to fantasy?
Andy Behrens: If they’re new to fantasy, don’t pay, and this goes for all sports, all years … you don’t want to pay an unexpected price for any player. It may sound silly after what I said about Kris Bryant. But you’re not taking Kris Bryant in one of the top rounds when you can get him around rounds 6-8 … One way to avoid a huge loss is to never pay for a level of production that a guy hasn’t already achieved.
Last place should have to…?
Josh; My last question is very serious. We’ve been trying to figure this out for a long time. I’m in a league called The League Of Champions. Unfortunately, not everyone is a ‘champion,’ (laughs). It’s a super deep 16-team league, 10×10. Whoever finishes dead last, what should we make the loser do?
Andy Behrens: There’s a couple solutions to this and the easiest is just to make the people who finish in last pay considerably more than the people who finish in, say, 6th or 7th place. Maybe that’s double or triple the league fee.
I also know leagues where my really good friend of mine, the loser — I’m not in this league, thank God — has to register and take the SAT.
Andy Behrens: (laughs) I think actually they have a choice of taking the SAT or getting a tattoo to commemorate their loss in the league.
Photo Credit: Getty