Matt Kemp spent a lot of last season sitting on the bench with injuries. Credit: Getty Images
We’ve all heard the fantasy baseball draft mantras. Don’t take a starting pitcher before Round 3. Don’t pay for saves. Don’t draft injured players.
Blanket statements like these have some validity on the surface, but the top percentage of owners are going to dig deeper — especially when it comes to variable situations like injuries, in which each circumstance is very different.
Here are players worth looking at because yellow flags have driven their average draft position down.
Matt Kemp’s 2012 season was crippled by a nasty hamstring injury. In 2013, he was pummeled by shoulder and ankle injuries. But when completely healthy for the whole 2011 season, he hit .324 with 39 homers, 126 RBIs and 40 steals. Although Kemp will start the year on the disabled list as he works his way back from ankle surgery, the sixth round is way too late for a player who has had so much time to recover since his last injury. He should be far closer to his 2011 physical condition than his 2013 debacle.
The easiest injuries to overcome are ones that don’t directly affect a player’s motions on the field. Aroldis Chapman falls into this category. The flame-throwing closer got hit in the head by a line drive last week and will miss six to eight weeks following surgery to stabilize fractures in his face. It’s a scary injury, but it won’t bother his unique arm that piles up saves in addition to helping us in three other categories.
Better Latos than never
Mat Latos’ track record can give us confidence. He’s made at least 31 starts in four straight years and has annually gotten better as the season goes on. Therefore, the surgically repaired knee that will keep him on the shelf for the first couple weeks is a very light concern. Latos is entering his prime at age 26 and will yield plenty of value in the seventh or eighth round.
Injuries to avoid ...
» Manny Machado was fading last season even before a serious knee injury bit him.
» Arm trouble and a bad team are huge red flags for Cole Hamels.
» A torn shoulder is awful for Jurickson Profar, who already projected as a power liability.
NBA pickups ...
1. Tiago Splitter, C, Spurs – As the playoffs approach, Tim Duncan will be resting more and more.
2. Ramon Sessions, PG, Bucks – Nate Wolters’ fractured hand opens the door for Sessions’ roto-friendly game.
3. Gorgui Dieng, C, Wolves – He is a double-double machine when starting. Nik Pekovic (ankle) may shut it down.
NFL losers ...
Players whose stock has dropped as a result of free agency:
1. Eric Decker, WR, Jets – Going from Peyton Manning to Michael Vick/Geno Smith means massive trouble.
2. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers – He lost his entire receiving corps in addition to stud LT Jordan Gross.
3. Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Colts – He would’ve been a sleeper, but Rogers has already lost his chance to Hakeem Nicks.
Follow Metro fantasy writer Adam Levitan on Twitter@adamlevitan.