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February 6, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy Sports with Eric Karabell

Eric Karabell
  (11:02 AM)

Hello all and welcome to the latest fantasy sports chat session. I am Eric, and we can talk baseball or football today, whatever you like. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon, so it's an exciting time of the year. And congrats to the Baltimore Ravens, though Joe Flacco still won't infiltrate my top 10 quarterbacks... anyway, let's go!

Jim (Albany)

Hi Eric, I am in a baseball league that I have been in for years that I did very well in until we changed to a head to head format. Now I can't seem to even make the playoffs. Any tips for playing in a head to head league?

Eric Karabell
  (11:04 AM)

Head to head can be tougher, more volatile to luck. If it's all about winning the week, don't be afraid to punt categories. Win all offense, stream starting pitchers for matchups and two-start options. I'd focus mainly on offense and rotation depth, but not necessarily stud pitchers.

Paul (Denver)

Keeper question- Tulo or Castro? Should I give the former another chance at staying healthy?

Eric Karabell
  (11:05 AM)

I have Tulowitzki in my top 10, so clearly I'm not worried about him. Sure, he won't play all 162 games, but he went 30-100-.300 in 140 games two years ago, so he can do it again. I also think Castro will develop power, and he's durable, but Tulo is just special.

Ben (Annapolis)

Supposing Profar makes the opening day roster, what are your projections for him?

Eric Karabell
  (11:06 AM)

With 400 at-bats should be able to hit .280 with 12-15 home runs and 20 steals. He's got incredible upside, certainly more for fantasy than Elvis Andrus.

Brian (NY)

Keep Adam Laroche or Ryan Vogelsong, both $4?

Eric Karabell
  (11:07 AM)

I almost always side with the hitter. Vogelsong continues to prove skeptics wrong, but there are a lot of guys like him. LaRoche is a 30-100 option, and even at deep first base, that's more valuable.

Boone (Madison WI)

AGon is getting drafted 8rnds apart from Swisher. I don't see a big dif between the two. Am I missing something

Eric Karabell
  (11:08 AM)

Gonzalez has 30-100 upside still, and with Swisher that seems unlikely. But ultimately Swisher is undervalued, yes.

Yu (Minn)

Hey EK in a keeper league would you prefer Myers or Taveras? Projections for next season??

Eric Karabell
  (11:09 AM)

Myers is closer to the majors but I'd go Tavares. Should hit for better average, run more, has elite upside. Myers should be a major power hitter, but at some batting average cost. For now it appears neither will see 400 at-bats, but that could always change.

Paul (Denver)

AP or Foster first overall in next season's draft?

Eric Karabell
  (11:10 AM)

I have more concerns about Foster hitting a career rushing attempts wall than Peterson at this point. Foster was a bit abused this past season and last. Peterson was not.

Nuke LaLoosh (Durham)

Keeper ?--Mixed H2H Lg.--I can keep 5 from this group. HanRam (2nd Rd value), Ellsbury(7), Yadi(17), C.Sale(19), ACraig(20), Medlen(21), Chapman (22), & Machado (23). Who would you go with from this crew? Thanks EK!

Eric Karabell
  (11:12 AM)

In order, I'd prob go Machado, Craig, Ellsbury, Ramirez and Molina. Yeah, I like the hitters, but you can always find arms, and really, Sale is an injury risk, Chapman's role is problematic. If anything, Medlen would be my pitcher choice there against Molina...but still, go hitter.

Brian (NY)

Was Rickie Weeks' BABIP really low last year? Think he returns to being a .260 hitter?

Eric Karabell
  (11:13 AM)

I think he does. He was a bit unlucky, but then again, when you whiff that much, it's inevitable your batting average could go in the tank.

easy (e)

Is Niese worth $6 in a 12 team mixed 260?

Eric Karabell
  (11:14 AM)

Yes, I think so. He's one of my sleeper strikeout options with upside, and he continues to make strides.

jim (kc)

How many years would you sign YU in a 12 team mixed 260 - if 4 years from now he tops out at $16?

Eric Karabell
  (11:14 AM)

Definitely four years at the least, that's for sure, because $16 for a high-end starter that could lead the bigs in strikeouts is not outrageous.

Nick (Chicago)

All things being equal as far as cost to keep, would you keep Jimmy Graham over Dez Bryant if you are already keeping AJ Green?

Eric Karabell
  (11:16 AM)

No, I would keep Bryant. Nothing against Graham, but I think there's nice tight end depth, and I'd rather keep a wide receiver that could be a top-5 guy for years.

JJ (LV,NV) [via mobile]

Eric, could you give us any reason why the Baseball Today is done? A ton of us love it and use it for our daily baseball fix.

Eric Karabell
  (11:17 AM)

Well, I will really miss it as well. I can tell you the new show, led by the great Buster Olney and starting next week, will also be terrific, and I guess it was just time for a change. You'll still get a daily baseball fix. Thanks for listening! One more show on Thursday!

Cliff (Buxton County)

Mr. Karabel, in a keeper league would would you rather reach to grab guys like Profar, Myers, Taveras and Bundy? Or take the more stable known commodities such as Choo, Phillips, Sheilds and A.Jackson in say the top 10 rounds?

Eric Karabell
  (11:18 AM)

It's a middle ground thing, where you want to win now and those players aren't exactly old and gray. I'd grab a young hitter but not too early. I generally bypass the young pitching, since injuries and adjusting are so common.

Ronnie Baker (Thomson, Ga)

would you have alex smith as a starter on your team

Eric Karabell
  (11:19 AM)

In fantasy, no. In real life, I suppose one could do worse. I think the team I root for, the Eagles, will go with Nick Foles, and send Vick elsewhere.

Evan (Iowa)

Any of this Braun stuff in the news affecting his draft status?

Eric Karabell
  (11:19 AM)

It shouldn't. If anything, Braun proved last season he's still among, if not the, best. I have him at No. 2, but could easily switch him and Trout.

Beep Beep (Washington)

Would you rather have King Felix or Hanley in a keeper league?

Eric Karabell
  (11:20 AM)

Hanley. People think he was so awful in 2012, but a 20/20 middle infielder still young enough to continue making adjustments, I'll take that.

Jon (Bozeman, MT)

EK, standard ESPN roto league, trying to decide on my last keeper: Mauer, A. Jackson, or Weaver?

Eric Karabell
  (11:21 AM)

I'd go Jackson there. Potential for more power and more steals, and in general in a standard league with one catcher and much rotation depth, you want to be patient there.

Rick (Pa)

Tell these fantasy football players that fantasy baseball is worth playing. If they are that into football that they are asking questions a year away, they would love the everyday aspect and constant managing of fantasy baseball.

Eric Karabell
  (11:22 AM)

I don't see why people can't love both, as I do. There's no worry about talking football in February! Like talking baseball in November!

Otto (CA)

Do you expect a full season of Nick Punto will put the Dodgers over the top? They have all the talent in the world and now they just need Punto's leadership and intangibles to put it all together.

Eric Karabell
  (11:22 AM)

Ha! Absolutely!

Jason (Worcester MA)

Hi Eric, are you a fan of QS's or W's for pitching scoring ?

Eric Karabell
  (11:23 AM)

Both are flawed, but I think quality starts is a better indicator of performance. If a guy gives you seven innings of three-run ball, he had a decent game. Not great, not awful. Too many pitchers go five innings and allow five runs and still win, and when relief pitchers vulture wins and it affects fantasy - totally lucky - then that's not ideal.

Pat (Trumbull CT)

Value in HOU aside from Altuve in an AL only 12teamer?

Eric Karabell
  (11:29 AM)

Prob not for standard leagues, but certainly someone will close games (Jose Veras) and for deeper formats I kinda like shortstop Tyler Greene, Chris Carter and I want to see what Jarred Cosart does. Every MLB team has some fantasy value...

Andrew (SF)

Do you not play fantasy basketball?

Eric Karabell
  (11:31 AM)

I play it, but I'm certainly better versed in baseball and football.

MeisterNJ (Mendham)

Think Hardy gets traded and Machado slides over to short?

Eric Karabell
  (11:32 AM)

It's not like Baltimore has a great option at third base if it moves Machado, so I don't think the team is in a great hurry. And Hardy really is a nice player... but I'd draft Machado for the upside, and worry about eligibility later.

Bertil (Sweden)

Any other podcasts in the future for you?

Eric Karabell
  (11:35 AM)

I sure hope so! What did you have in mind?

Loghan (NYC)

do you play in leagues where it is auto draft? if so, do you have any tips on how to blance out your team while getting the guys that you want? 250 players are hard to pre-rank!

Eric Karabell
  (11:36 AM)

Not a big fan of NOT drafting my teams, because there are so many variables. Some teams end up with 6 closers or 4 catchers. But prerank your players, dropping down some of the depth at weaker positions. Chances are you can easily get a closer, middle infielder, last outfielder or starter on free agency.

Steve (Cleveland)

Appreciate the H2H league advice, though my league has a 40-move limit (including playoffs) to prevent streaming pitchers. How would that change your strategy?

Eric Karabell
  (11:39 AM)

Not much, actually. I'd still load up on offense, hope for health and performance there, and get 12 usable starting pitchers for 6 active spots, to go with the closers.

Kenny (Philly)

My league switching from Batting Avg to OBP this year. Who are some players that experience a bump in OBP lagues?

Eric Karabell
  (11:40 AM)

Well, let's just say one Adam Dunn goes from barely draftable to very much in demand. Same with Dan Uggla types that kill a batting average. Just look at the league leaders in walks for options...

Drew (Work)

Friends and I are entering the 3rd year of a keeper league and usually around the halfway point of the season the bottom tier teams stop paying attention. Is disbanding the league the way to go? Or do we need to give some members the boot?

Eric Karabell
  (11:43 AM)

Nah, I think it's more about motivation. One of my leagues uses a lottery system to decide the following season draft order, so tanking doesn't help at all. Another league has payouts as deep as 10th. And while I don't have a league like this, I've seen some with relegation, where like Euro soccer the last place team is booted or punished in some way.

Andrew (WI)

I think we need a moment of silence in the chat for the end of the Bias Cat era on Thursday. Seriously though, good work over the years, I'll miss hearing you say how awesome baseball is.

Eric Karabell
  (11:44 AM)

Thank you, and thanks to everyone that made the show so much fun for the past four years. End of an era, but I'm sure good things await as well...and baseball will always be awesome!

MeisterNJ (Mendham)

Haven't heard much news on Pineda. Is he healthy?

Eric Karabell
  (11:45 AM)

Last I heard the Yankees are hoping he will be back at full strength around midseason. It's a big league arm for sure, but the shoulder was hurting. I wouldn't expect much in 2013.

Steve (Detroit)

Keeper question. In 12 team H2H with OPS as a sixth category, would you keep David Wright for $30 or VMart for $8?

Eric Karabell
  (11:46 AM)

Probably neither, because that's too much money for Wright, as great as he is. I guess the Martinez price is nice for the value, but he's not a great keeper and frankly I'd be surprised if he played 20 games at catcher in 2013, making him DH-only in 2014.

Andrew (SF)

How do you see Halladay faring? Undervalued or name-only trap?

Eric Karabell
  (11:49 AM)

A bit of both, really. I think he's healthy now but it's premature to assume 200 innings and a major K rate. If you can get him outside the top 20 starting pitchers, I love it. If he's top 10 I don't.

Andrew (SF)

Lazy question, but what's V-Mart's deal?

Eric Karabell
  (11:49 AM)

Coming back from interesting knee woes, but regular DH, and he has always hit. Career .300 guy. Eligible at catcher in 2013, and hitting behind Cabrera and Fielder should knock in many runs.

Scott (Chicago)

Any tips on pitchers with SP eligibility who could end up getting a closer job?

Eric Karabell
  (11:52 AM)

Well, Cosart in Houston jumps out to me, but other than that, I don't see any. Myers is starting in Cleveland. Could Lincecum close in San Fran...that would be a bit crazy, no? Perhaps Villanueva in Chicago, but he should start and Fujikawa is next.

Nathan (NYC)

please choose two to keep: foster, luck, kap, dez, graham, harvin

Eric Karabell
  (11:53 AM)

I'd go with Foster and Bryant. You can always get a QB in the draft, and same with tight end.

Loghan (NYC)

please rank these potential keepers: j upton, heyward, hamilton, lawrie

Eric Karabell
  (11:53 AM)

I'd keep the Braves outfielders there. Both potential second rounders, young, stolen base threats, etc. So rank them in the order you did.

Matt (FL)

Could you please help me pick my last keeper in a 12 team H2H? Swish-13th Rd; Bumgarner-3rd; Addison Reed-12th; M Harrison-12th. I'm already keeping 2 SPs, 1 OF, and 1 C if that makes a difference. Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (11:54 AM)

Swisher for me. Safe numbers, good value there. Can always find closers and Bumgarner is too early.

Jim (Albany)

Any chance DJ LeMahieu starts at second base and plays everyday for the Rockies? If so what kind of production can be expected from him?

Eric Karabell
  (11:56 AM)

Very little power or speed from him. I'd focus more on Josh Rutledge, who might not hit for average, but is a potential 20/20 guy and would seem to have a leg up for the No. 2 batting lineup spot as well.

Jon (Tampa)

Pick 2 to keep: Posey, Pujols, Hanley

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

Well, I'm sure I'm in the minority on this one, but I'd throw the catcher back. No way he hits .383 with a .425 BABIP again like he did after the break in 2012. Catchers are poor investments. Hanley is safer.

Nolan Arenado (Colorado)

Speaking of young Rockies players--Do you think I get it together and make the big league club here in 2013? Outlook?

Eric Karabell
  (12:00 PM)

Mr. Keith Law seems down on him, and I have to agree things aren't looking as great for Arenado's upside.

KJ (KC)

In a keeper can only have one, Manny or Profar?

Eric Karabell
  (12:00 PM)

Wow. Profar, but love both.

Eric Karabell
  (12:01 PM)

Thanks to all for the excellent questions and for your support of our work at ESPN Fantasy games and for the Baseball Today podcast as well. Baseball season is here! Our rankings are posted, and the draft kit is coming soon... so have a great day!