There is never a more fun time in fantasy sports then draft time. Fantasy football players are certainly gearing up for their drafts right now. It’s easy to place all of your eggs in that draft basket, but any good fantasy player knows that how you navigate the waiver wire and trades determines how you end up doing during the season. Every draft participant has that fish story about the sleeper they found late in the draft, but they also have just as many stories about the big name player that went bust.
So, what we are doing here is looking at the preseason top twelve (most fantasy leagues have twelve players) players at each position and looking at where they currently rank. You’d be surprised how many rank outside the top twelve at this point in the season. Of course, there are two months of action left and anything can happen. So, we will look at what each player can do to redeem themselves if possible. We will focus on six category leagues for the time being and all rankings are based on those formats. Statistics are accurate through August 2.
Gary Sanchez– New York Yankees
Preseason Rank: 1
Current Rank: 6
Sanchez has actually had a pretty good bounce back campaign. He has an OPS over .800 in spite of a low batting average and low OBP. The biggest issue has been health. He has only played in 77 games and likely will not be back until sometime in August. If he remains healthy from that point forward he should easily surpass 30 home runs and 80 RBI. When someone is number one on the board it is hard to justify that selection unless they are the very best, but if he produces in September then Sanchez owners will be very happy.
J.T. Realmuto– Philadelphia Phillies
Preseason Rank: 2
Current Rank: 3
Realmuto is on the other end of the spectrum. He’s played in a ridiculous 103 games so far this year. That puts him on pace to play in over 140 games. Some of those games come at first base, so he isn’t catching all of those games. Still, his durability has enabled him to put up good numbers even if he isn’t producing quite like the Phillies thought he would. He is at a point though where an extended hot streak would get him back to where he was last year offensively. I think Realmuto owners would take that.
Buster Posey– San Francisco Giants
Preseason Rank: 3
Current Rank: 19
Father Time is undefeated. The actuary table for catchers is pretty dramatic and as it turns out, Posey is just another in a long line of guys that have fallen off the table once they got into their early thirties. He has shown signs of life recently and that probably has to do with the Giants sudden entrance into the wildcard race. Maybe he can scrape together enough here and there to enter the top 15. Either way, this will be the last season he will be drafted as a frontline catcher.
Yasmani Grandal– Milwaukee Brewers
Preseason Rank: 4
Current Rank: 1
The Brewers brilliantly signed Grandal to a one year deal. Grandal also might get a long-term deal out of it this offseason. However, this is his age 30 season and as we just saw with Posey, catchers have a tendancy to fall off the map. Of course, he doesn’t have near the number of games caught as Posey did at that point. So, maybe he last another season or two longer than Posey has. In Grandal’s case it is the walks that vault him to the top. In five category leagues he probably settles in around fifth or sixth.
Willson Contreras– Chicago Cubs
Preseason Rank: 5
Current Rank: 2
Contreras got off to a brilliant start and was the number one catcher in baseball through June. July was not nearly as kind as injuries and regression started settling in. With almost every player, there is a tendancy for their numbers to start resembling the back of their baseball card. Sometimes guys get off to fast starts and sometimes they get off to slow ones, but they almost always wind up where they normally have been.
Yadier Molina– St. Louis Cardinals
Preseason Rank: 6
Current Rank: 22
Molina is the same guy he always has been. Age affects guys differently. Some see their performance dip considerably. Others perform the same, but see their durability affected. I don’t know if 2019 is the beginning of the end or just a speed bump on the way to Cooperstown, but he has been out for a considerable time now. He might get back and get to 100 games caught for the 15th season in a row. He is narrowing in on 2000 games caught, so that alone might get him into the Hall of Fame.
Wilson Ramos– New York Mets
Preseason Rank: 7
Current Rank: 11
It is cruel to say Ramos embodies the 2019 Mets, but there are so many cases like his. They brought him in to solidify their lineup and he’s done okay, but just not quite up to expectations. When a larger group of players underperform even by a little it ends up having a ripple effect on the entire team. He could get hot as the team has recently, but no one really expects them to compete for a wild card, so the hot streak would be cosmetic.
Francisco Mejia– San Diego Padres
Preseason Rank: 8
Current Rank: 47
The overall numbers and current rank really don’t tell the whole story. Mejia struggled mightily in April and May and even was demoted for a time. Since he has come back he has been much better. Betting on young players is a bit of a crapshoot. You never know when and if it will click. He had 66 plate appearances in July and during that time he put up a .242/.288/.355 slash line. That followed a June that saw him hit over .300 with an OPS over 1.000. That’s how it goes with young players. Eventually they start evening things out.
Danny Jansen– Toronto Blue Jays
Current Rank: 25
I got burned by Jansen once or twice this draft season, but it wasn’t like anyone invested significant draft capital in him. He was one of the guys you picked if you punted catcher. This is where the waiver wire comes in. The Jays have stuck by him and let him work through his problems, but you didn’t have to. Jansen is a distant memory for most of us and could become a decent waiver wire option again if he shows signs of life.
Welington Castillo– Chicago White Sox
Preseason Rank: 10
Current Rank: 55
Castillo signed a two year contract with an option for a third season. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the White Sox will decline the option. Teams in the White Sox situation make moves like this all the time. No one really cares that it doesn’t work out. If it did the Sox wouldn’t be considerably better anyway. Similarly, Castillo is a guy you take a flyer on at the end of your draft. If you kept him beyond April you were a fool.
Mike Zunino– Tampa Bay Rays
Preseason Rank: 11
Current Rank: 51
The Rays are known for being a smart organization and that reputation has been well earned. Even smart organizations have duds every now and then. Just like them, fantasy owners bet on Zunino in six category leagues because of his pop and patience. Just like smart fantasy owners, the Rays settled on Travis d’arnaud fairly early on when it became apparent Zunino was going to be a dud.
Francisco Cervelli– Pittsburgh Pirates
Preseason Rank: 12
Current Rank: 63
Cervelli’s case is a particularly sad one. He is currently on the 60 day disabled list with a concussion and he may never catch again. He had some concussion issues prior to this season, but 2018 was the best season of his career at the plate. He looked good in Spring Training, so everyone assumed he would produce again. Still, he has had only three seasons where he has caught 100 or more games, so we probably should have known durability would be a concern.