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January 29, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy Sports with Eric Karabell

Eric Karabell
  (11:01 AM)

Hello all and welcome to the latest fantasy sports chat session! January is winding down and the Super Bowl is this weekend, but I'm feelin' the baseball discussion if you are... and we can talk football as well. So thanks for checking in and reading and welcome to 2014 (a bit late), and here we go!

Ben(PA) [via mobile]

Commish of a group of 10 friends that play Fantasy Baseball yearly, we are contemplating doing a keeper league this year. I am all for it and so are others, but some are weary of "extra work" it may entail. Any advice for me to pass on to the guys?

Eric Karabell
  (11:02 AM)

Doesn't sound like extra work to me. Just set the rules well in advance of the draft so people can choose appropriately, but to start out with just say keep 5 per team and see if you like it. Lot of leagues set a keeper date as a week before the draft. Easy!

Dave (Iowa)

Will another forgotten former closer get steady saves this year like Kevin Gregg did last year? If so, who? (P.S. Love your work, never read the comments)

Eric Karabell
  (11:05 AM)

Thank you and don't worry, I DO read the comments but my skin is pretty thick. It makes me laugh reading comments that aren't so nice, and doesn't bother me one bit. And sometimes there are nice comments... hey, I try to entertain and inform and sometimes the comments do that as well... Anyway, yes, of course there are always surprise closers which is why spending a fifth-rounder on a closer - even an elite one - makes no sense to me. It's about the saves. I'll wait. And I'd say don't be surprised when the likes of J.J. Putz or Edward Mujica find their way to saves again. So many of the perceived top closers miss time or are ineffective... don't always patrol for saves on Houston. Cody Allen is one of my sleepers this year.

Jason (Greeley, CO)

Eric, great job hosting the podcast yesterday. 8 team H2H points league w/ 3 keepers. I'm keeping Trout and Goldschmidt - which of the following should be my third: HanRam, Braun, or Darvish? I'm learning towards Darvish.

Eric Karabell
  (11:06 AM)

Thank you! I was honored to be asked to be the new host of the Fantasy Focus Baseball and assure you I'm taking it seriously and have my own high expectations. And Tuesday's show was much fun. I enjoy working with Tristan Happy Cockcroft as well. Should be an awesome season! (Next month of shows should come on Tuesdays!) Anyway, Darvish is a wise keep, even though in general the more shallow the league the more pitching depth will be available. But Yu is less of an injury risk than Hanley and Braun, which is odd. And K pitchers pile on the h2h points...

Dave (Iowa)

Over/Under 65 stolen bases for Billy Hamilton in 2014?

Eric Karabell
  (11:08 AM)

Under. Not a believer that this kid, as nice and fast as he is, can hit enough to keep a regular job. Of course, the Reds might not care if he has an OBP above .290, but they should. Can you imagine a 1-2 in the order of Hamilton and Zach Cozart and neither approaches a .300 OPB? Ridiculous. It's why Joey Votto can't knock in runs. Anyway, Hamilton does have top-10 overall upside because of course he can steal a base every other game if he just gets the chance and gets on base. But if you can't get on base at Triple-A, I think it's a tough sell that a converted shortstop with no lick of power and poor on-base skills will thrive.

Peter (Atlanta, GA)

Who would be a better third keeper as a batter: Brett Lawrie or Dexter Fowler? And better second keeper as a pitcher: Dillon Gee or Jhoulys Chacin?

Eric Karabell
  (11:10 AM)

I'd keep Lawrie. I realize he hasn't been so awesome the past two seasons, but neither was Alex Gordon. Some guys take more time to develop. The skill set is clearly there for a 20/20 season. And while I don't see a deep offensive position, outfield might be it. And Fowler is no lock to hit outside of Coors. And Chacin over Gee. Just not a believer in Gee yet.

Finley (Maine) [via mobile]

Why no love for Villar this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:11 AM)

I have much love for the Houston shortstop. Called him the next Jimmy Rollins. Potential for 12 homers, 40 steals and a troublesome OBP for years. Both switch-hitters. I'll likely be getting Villar in leagues this year. Others, well, they tend to simply believe the ridiculously small sample size from his work in the bigs last year...which is not a good way to look at things.

Adam (Philly) [via mobile]

Lots of talk at the ranking meeting and on the podcast about the depth at SP, and taking 1 ace then waiting until the double digit rounds for more. If you see this happening in your own draft, any wisdom to zigging when others zag and piling up a stable of great SPs before Round 10? If so, who might be some late hitting values to target?

Eric Karabell
  (11:13 AM)

Yeah, if everyone elects the same strategy, then it's really no strategy at all, now is it? But there are always some that can't resist a Wainwright in round 3 or Greinke in the 6th, so I'd still wait. I see hitting sleepers late... Adam Eaton, Corey Hart, Villar, Wong, Davidson, yes, even Ryan Howard to some degree.

joe. Philadelphia [via mobile]

Great job at all you do!!! With all the gawdy numbers QB's are putting up is it more imperative then ever to get quality RB's early?

Eric Karabell
  (11:15 AM)

Thanks, and exactly! The fact that QBs keep getting better and more productive is precisely why the value of top running backs is stronger now. Get a safe one - and there are few - and it's a large advantage over the owner that takes Peyton Manning in the first round but his top running back is Donald Brown. I'd rather get the RB and wait a bit on QB. Or wait a lot a bit.

Mark (Milwaukee)

What kind of season do you expect out of Jean Segura this year? His first and second half splits were pretty drastic.

Eric Karabell
  (11:16 AM)

Sure were. His first half was so surprising and unlike his minor league numbers for power that I tend to believe he's awfully risky moving ahead. I could see a 10-homer, 40-steal season and he hits .275, and there's nothing at all wrong with that. That's top-100 for sure. Would be nice to see a bit of plate patience.

Dave (NH)

Please update three closer situations--CHW, COL, and TEX.Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (11:17 AM)

Hard to know for sure. I think Nate Jones, LaTroy Hawkins and Neftali Feliz are in the lead for those closer roles, but obviously those teams have other options as well. Everyone seems to assume that like the Dodgers last season when Brandon League was going to lose the job to Kenley Jansen the same happens with the Rockies and Rex Brothers nets the job. Well....Hawkins becomes a terrific sleeper. Lesser and older pitchers than him have found a way to 30 saves.

Tuna Vitale (10954)

Thanks for not wanting to be the Michael Young of fantasy hosts. My future championship thanks you. 12 TM keeper question. C. Gomez in the 9th or Machado in the 11th?

Eric Karabell
  (11:19 AM)

Thank you Tuna! And surprisingly I saw some feedback that being Michael Young - the first 10 years - would be awesome and yes, that is true. I meant the current one that is unusable and might need to retire. Anyway, I think Machado is awesome and a Gold Glove winner and ... I'd keep Gomez, even though I think he's being overdrafted. Look, Machado is not a big fantasy helper. No lock he hits .300. Hasn't developed power yet, and I doubt it happens this offseason with his major knee injury. Doesn't run. And probably misses April. Gomez could be this year's B.J. Upton in an extreme case but I see more like 15 homers, 35 steals and .260. Pretty nice for round 9.

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

Why is it harder to get interest from prospective owners to join a weekly baseball league than a football league? It is only a few weeks longer.

Eric Karabell
  (11:21 AM)

Well, it's more than a few weeks longer. And a lot more work. You win a football league, heck, it might take merely a great draft and luck. Winning a baseball luck takes more work. I think it's different. But I also think it's worthwhile. I've won both and always feel more proud in baseball. In football... well, it's just different. Both are great, of course.

Mike (Pittsburgh [via mobile]

Hey, Eric. Happy to hear you'll be the new podcast host! For a H2H points league, I don't draft backup position players, but load up on pitchers instead. Good idea? Also, draft Matt Harvey in last round of keeper league as value pick?

Eric Karabell
  (11:22 AM)

Thanks and yes, Harvey in the final round is wise. I generally don't have hitting benches in any leagues. I don't often make daily moves or look at matchups for hitters. Would prefer getting studs I never sit, and having extra pitchers to move in and out of lineups based on foes, who's hot and pitching through injury, etc.

Bryan (CT)

Would you keep Dez Bryant over Matt Forte next year? Already set on keeping Charles...

Eric Karabell
  (11:22 AM)

I would keep Forte. Definitely. Doesn't mean Forte will necessarily outscore Bryant, but I think he will and the difference in depth at RB and WR is stark.

Matt (Boise)

It seems like you (and the others in the summit) were pretty high on Jason Kipnis. What do you see as his floor and as his ceiling this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:24 AM)

Yeah, big fan. In fact, I really have considered making him the No. 1 second baseman over Cano. I realize Cano can hit anywhere but I have a few doubts about power potential in Seattle and let's face it, Kipnis runs a lot and it's no fluke. I think eventually Kipnis is a 25-homer guy that runs less. This year I'd say 20/20 is about right. And if Cano is 20/0 ... well, think about it. For now I have Cano 11th or 12th overall and Kipnis a spot or two later.

John (Va)

Is it just me or do i feel that drafting Cargo comes with a you have been warned sign?

Eric Karabell
  (11:25 AM)

Four consec years of 20/20, so I think the warning is a good thing. If the appendectomy had happened in March, I run away. But he's got so much time to heal, so not really worried at all. The guy was a monster away from Coors last season, too. Could this be the year it all falls apart? Sure, can say that about a lot of guys. I think he's pretty safe.

David (Boston)

Love that baseball is heating up and the podcast is back, any chance you could spend some more time on points league analysis this year? Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (11:26 AM)

I think we intend to. Tristan plays in a competitive points league. My analysis tends to be non-league specific, like I think this guy will be great and that guy will not, and then people can extrapolate for their style formats. But yes, in general, we will discuss several styles of play.

Tom (Boston)

George Springer...you excited??? I own him as a 4th Outfielder in my Dynasty league behind Adam Jones, Yasiel Puig and Carlos Gomez

Eric Karabell
  (11:28 AM)

Cautiously excited, yes. I think he might be like Mike Cameron in that the splendid power and steals numbers could come with so many strikeouts that he hits like .250. That said, he's likely in the big leagues by mid-season.

Eric (Chicago)

Billy Hamilton = Dee Gordon? Does either have a chance to be a difference maker in MLB?

Eric Karabell
  (11:29 AM)

Both have a great chance if they can simply get on base and keep a job. Hamilton is faster and has a big advantage in that the Reds have given him center field, but they have to know it's hardly a lock he hits enough. Gordon showed more ability to take a walk last season, but the Dodgers don't seem excited about using him. Might need a trade.

Greg (Holland)

Anthony Rizzo: are you a believer? Who puts up better #s at the major league level in 2014 - Rizzo or Sano?

Eric Karabell
  (11:30 AM)

Rizzo is certainly capable of hitting .275, which will make his eventual 30 home runs look plenty better. Might not make him Freddie Freeman, but there is upside. Let's not assume he's Ike Davis. I don't see Sano impacting this year. Eventually he's got major power potential, but I doubt the Twins rush him. In 3 years ... for now have to still say Rizzo. He has upside as well!

MeisterNJ (Mendham)

What do you make of young catchers like Zunino, Jesus Montero (elig.?) and Mesoraco? Do you see some growth after the typical early struggles that usually come with the position? Thanks.

Eric Karabell
  (11:32 AM)

In general, yes. But catchers are always a poor investment. For every Posey there are 10 guys like Ben Davis that can't handle the position, can't overcome the injury and fatigue that come with the spot. And then they don't hit. Mesoraco finally gets a chance to play but if he can't hit right-handed pitching then it won't matter. I can see 15 homers. Zunino more upside to me. Montero I've pretty much given up on. Cannot stay at catcher and with the PED suspension, well, I doubt he all of a sudden explodes at 1B or DH.

Tom (Boston)

Thanks for the Answer on Springer EK! Next one: What are your thoughts on Martin Prado....mediocre production at 3rd and OF but LOVE him at 2nd base. Input?

Eric Karabell
  (11:33 AM)

You know, second base is not a problem this year. It's not necessarily strong, but compare the No. 20-25 third basemen to second base or short and you'll find there is just no position scarcity. It's all pretty much scarce in my mind. Prado is nice and versatile but people overrate that. He has to hit .300 because the pop isn't there.

Mike (Temple)

Peyton or Forte...who would keep in a 14 team league. Peyton won it all for me, but RBs are tough to come by. Other keepers are Shady, Megatron, AJ Green

Eric Karabell
  (11:34 AM)

I'd keep Forte every time. Peyton's awesome and will be again, but Forte is a top-5 overall pick. I won't take a QB in the first round and probably not the second round either.

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

Which veterans do you expect to have bounce back years?

Eric Karabell
  (11:36 AM)

I always advise people to look at the previous season's ADP and see who everyone liked ... and then see how far they slip. Like Josh Hamilton. From top 20 overall in 2013 drafts to not even a top-40 outfielder in last week's fantasy summit. I couldn't believe it. Too many people think he's toast. I know he swings at everything and is trending terribly... but the skills are there for 40 homers, since he did this in 2012! If he falls out of the top 100 it's kinda silly to me. And there are many more. Just check last year's rankings...not saying building a team with 10 of those disappointments is wise, but some of them will bounce back. Hamilton, Cain, Teixeira, Moustakas... have some faith!

Tom (Boston)

Thanks again EK! On to Football - Please pick 5 keepers:Gore, Murray, Lacy, Cobb, Garcon, M. Floyd J. Cameron, L. Green, Romo, Ryan

Eric Karabell
  (11:38 AM)

I would keep the first 5 names mentioned. Assuming you can use a RB at flex...what a five-some there and you can still acquire a QB later. Or better yet take Gore and Murray and trade them for one better, safer, durable running back.

Jim (NYC)

Why is bryce harper rated so high? Has there ever been a guy drafted in the top 20 two years alone based on potential alone and not actual production

Eric Karabell
  (11:39 AM)

Point taken, but I also think he's going 30-100-20 this season. Has shown the skills, and no reason for me to think he's a major injury risk or will be platooned. I think he's a future MVP. Is he overrated? This is a big season for him. He's my No. 20 overall guy for right now but if in a draft I don't know, I might bypass him for a safer choice depending on who my first-rounder was or the tendencies of others in the league.

JJ (MPLS)

How big of an impact do you think O Taveras makes this year? a lost season last year where he didn't get minor league ABs scares me...

Eric Karabell
  (11:40 AM)

Me too. I could see the Cardinals assuming he starts in Triple-A out of March, playing Craig in RF and Adams at 1B. But I suspect Adams is not as great as everyone thinks and the Cardinals would prefer if Taveras is in the bigs and Craig handles first base. I'll say around 300 PA for Taveras in the majors, but not a great impact yet.

Matt (Boise)

Do you think this is the year that Hosmer breaks out and becomes the star analysis projected him to be starting a few years ago?

Eric Karabell
  (11:41 AM)

He's like the pre-Harper, eh? Although his numbers were fine for 2013. But if he didn't run then so many people would not like him. I think he gets to a 25-homer season, perhaps this year.

Keanu (Honolulu)

Which Angel for the bigger bounce back: Hamilton or Pujols?

Eric Karabell
  (11:42 AM)

Each WILL bounce back. If choosing I still say Pujols. Still brings a smart approach to the plate, still hit fine last year but had a debilitating foot injury which in theory should be healed now. Not saying he goes 40-120, but I think he will have the better season than Hamilton. But he'll be better as well. Angels are contenders.

Greg (San Francisco)

Baseball!! TWENTY team DYNASTY league (with 9 keepers!) -- who would you rather have (OBP, otherwise standard)? Xander Bogaerts or Jurickson Profar

Eric Karabell
  (11:44 AM)

Wow. I think Bogaerts has a bit more upside for top-10 overall numbers than Profar does. Doesn't mean I am giving up on Profar. He's had one big league season with inconsistent at-bats...foolish to give up on him. But I see Bogaerts as more of a power guy, more plate discipline. Position eligibility means nothing to me in this case. All the infield spots are similar now.

Frank (Glendale)

FOOTBALL! Keeper league with salary cap. Would you rather keep Charles for roughly 40% of your space, Dez at 25% or neither?

Eric Karabell
  (11:45 AM)

In a vacuum it's neither. Too much of the cap taken. But I would prefer Charles and build around him. Throw each back and perhaps you can get both.

JJ (MPLS)

RE: Taveras - that being said, would you prefer to keep Sano than Taveras in a dynasty points league as your one minor leaguer this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:46 AM)

I would keep Tavares still. And my pal Keith Law in today's prospect rankings did as well. Check them out. http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10361123/top-100-prospects-2014-including-byron-buxton-xander-bogaerts-more-mlb

Mike (NYC)

What are the chances Addison Russell gets 130 at-bats in MLB this year? worth rostering if he does?

Eric Karabell
  (11:47 AM)

Of course, but I think he needs another full year in the minors. He's 20. Depends on need for the A's and how he does in Triple-A, but what a mature hitter already.

Joe (Parts unknown)

Last keeper: Nelson Cruz or Michael Cuddyer?

Eric Karabell
  (11:48 AM)

I will assume that Cruz does find a big league job, but unless it's in a hitter's haven, and even if, I'd keep Cuddyer. Won a batting title at Coors, runs a bit, I think he can have another productive season. Cruz leaving Texas... what if he goes to Pittsburgh? What if nobody gets him!

Mike (San Diego)

I'm assuming your thoughts on Taveras are similar to Kolten Wong? I see Ellis starting the season at 2nd and staying there the first couple months.

Eric Karabell
  (11:49 AM)

Perhaps, but I don't see it the same way at second base. Wong makes the team and platoons with Mark Ellis, a right-handed hitter with extreme splits. I think Wong is a fantasy factor right away... but Taveras has far more statistical upside should he make the club.

Mike (San Diego)

Am I crazy to think Shelby Miller is a top 15-20 pitcher this year? Bourjos in center is about the best thing that could happen to a flyball guy.

Eric Karabell
  (11:51 AM)

It's why the Cardinals are pretty much the standard for decision making at this point. If they deal a young player, it's for a reason. And yes, Miller's upside is immense with a better defense around him. Just be aware not all of the defense is improved. It's not at short or first base...

Peter (Atlanta, GA)

Better keeper going forward: Russell Wilson or Cam Newton?

Eric Karabell
  (11:51 AM)

I'd stick with Cam, but would stick with running backs overall. Wilson is not a great statistical provider. But he wins in real life... I think it's working out nicely for him!

Mike (NYC)

Thoughts on Cingrani for this year? he seems to be a love-him or hate-him guy.

Eric Karabell
  (11:52 AM)

Yeah, it's odd. People are assuming the Reds won't let him make 30 starts, which I don't really buy into. Perhaps Cingrani can't stay healthy or avoid the walks, but I am in the love him camp. That said, it depends how far he falls in a draft. I'd take him as a No. 4 fantasy starter.

Scott (Westminster, CO)

2 keepers in a 1/2 PPR - Doug Mart for a 4th, Jeffrey or Keenan Allen for an 8th, Knowshon for a 13th, LeVeon Bell for a 12th..Leaning Doug and LeVeon, due to RB scarcity and liking Munchak hire in Pitt...

Eric Karabell
  (11:53 AM)

I would agree with those running backs. And yes, Bell in Pittsburgh has top-10 upside. It will be funny how many people disregard Doug Martin now because of his 2013 season. I don't see 2012 happening again, but come on...

Brad (Mobile, AL) [via mobile]

Eric, trade offered Braun for my Chris Davis. It's a 3 year keeper 5x5 with OPS instead of AVg. Thoughts?

Eric Karabell
  (11:55 AM)

If you are concerned about Braun recapturing his past numbers because of the PED scandal then you want Davis for sure. I don't have many concerns about either, but I did rank Davis in my first round and Braun in the second. I don't think it's any lock Braun steals more than 15 bases moving forward, and certainly with people in his situation - hint, hint - durability from the past is no lock. I'd actually choose Davis, which surprises me.

Jim (Dallas)

Better keeper option for the same price for the next 3 years: Cingrani or Syndergaard?

Eric Karabell
  (11:56 AM)

I almost always take the more proven guy over the one with seemingly more upside that hasn't proven it yet. I think Cingrani is pretty safe.

Mike (San Diego)

You said you were worried about Machado's fantasy contributions. Are you worried enough that you would keep Beltre in the 2nd over Machado in the 20th? I'm already keeping Trout in the 21st, Jose Fernandez in the 25th, and Matt Carpenter in the 18th.

Eric Karabell
  (11:57 AM)

I just don't think Machado is a great one-year keeper for 2014. In time he's going to hit for power, like 25-homers, but not in 2014. I rank Beltre in my top 10 for this year but ... tough to turn away Machado in the 20th round.

Dan (NYC)

Would you draft Matt Kemp this year or too risky? What do you expect from him?

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

I'd draft pretty much anyone if the price/value was right, but I imagine others will feel far more comfortable with Kemp than I will. I don't think he's going to be ready to play in April. His agent has pretty much said this. Will Kemp play 120 games? Who knows? The Dodgers have 4 full-time outfielders, so he will not be rushed. I'd project 120 games, 20 homers, 15 steals.

Peter (Atlanta, GA)

Following up on your RB advice: better Andre to keep-Ellington or Brown?

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

Probably Ellington, but neither is a wise keeper yet. Ellington not likely to be a full-time RB in 2014, and with Brown... the Giants will upgrade.

JJ (MPLS)

I know you generally say keep hitting over pitching... but as your last keeper would you run wth B Lawrie or M Moore? Points league, already keeping M Cain and J Zimmerman along with 5 other bats.

Eric Karabell
  (12:00 PM)

Lawrie in the last round is huge value. Same guy that people liked as a top-50 pick in 2012 but not as durable now. And Moore walks everyone, too scary for me. If he had won 12 games instead of 17, man, might not be draftable in standard leagues. Don't look at wins!

Brian (NYC)

Better bet for a big bounce back year: John Axford or B.J. Upton?

Eric Karabell
  (12:01 PM)

I'm expecting Upton to get back to roughly 18-20 home runs and more than 30 steals. And hit .240. Axford... it's different, because he could lose the one stat we all want if he struggles. Upton will play.

Eric Karabell
  (12:02 PM)

Well, our time has come to an end for today's chat, but I will be back next Wednesday at the same time! Thanks to all for the continued attention at ESPN Fantasy and on the new podcast as well. I certainly appreciate it. Have a great day, enjoy the offseason and stay safe... oh, and I have the Broncos winning on Sunday. Handily. Too much offense. Good luck in your pools!