2021 Fantasy Baseball Busts: 6 Overvalued Players To Avoid Drafting At ADP

Busts and overvalued players can ruin a fantasy baseball season. To be a bust instead of a player who merely falls short of expectations, a disappointing player must be selected early. Here’s our list of 2021 Fantasy Baseball Busts and Overvalued Players, which spotlights MLB hitters and pitchers to avoid drafting at their Average Draft Position (ADP).

All of the featured fantasy baseball players have an (ADP) within the first five rounds of 12-team fantasy baseball league drafts, according to the consensus ADP at FantasyPros.


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2021 Fantasy Baseball Busts: Hitters

Nolan Arenado, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals (ADP: 27.5, Round 3 in 12-Team Leagues)

I’m flabbergasted by Nolan Arenado retaining a spot in the first three rounds of fantasy drafts in the wake of being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s a clear example of a 2021 fantasy baseball overvalued player.

I declared a pick in the 80-to-90 range is reasonable when analyzing Arenado’s fantasy baseball outlook for 2021 at the beginning of February. Suffice to say, a selection inside the top 30 is a recipe for disaster. 

Sure, players have succeeded after being traded away from the Colorado Rockies, but any new home ballpark represents a downgrade from Coors Field. Busch Stadium provides an extreme park-factor swing, though. Coors Field leads the way in park factor for runs (1.362) and ranks second in homers (1.257), and Busch Stadium sits 23rd in runs (0.930) and 26th in homers (0.865), according to the three-year park factor average used at FantasyPros

It’s unfair to count Arenado’s down season at the plate against him when accounting for him playing through inflammation in the AC joint in his shoulder and a bone bruise. He should bounce back this year, but recalibrating expectations is in order with his new club.

A batting average in the .270s and 30-to-35 homers this year is an attainable outcome, but he doesn’t move the needle in stolen bases, and his runs and RBIs will take a step back. Ultimately, the total package falls considerably short of his ADP.


Alex Bregman, 3B/SS, Houston Astros (ADP: 36.5, Round 3-4)

It feels like ages since the Houston Astros were in the headlines for a sign-stealing scandal. Alex Bregman was among their hitters who performed poorly in the aftermath. 

He hit an underwhelming .242, slugged six homers, and stole zero bases. Handwaving away Bregman’s bad average as a product of bad BABIP luck (.254 BABIP last year and .296 before 2020, per FanGraphs) is a mistake. The infielder’s batted-ball data resulted in a .256 xBA and, more alarmingly, a .400 xSLG, according to Baseball Savant.

Bregman’s profile is eerily similar to Arenado’s. I’d slightly rather have Bregman than Arenado, but both are easy fades at their respective draft costs.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Busts: 6 Overvalued Players To Avoid Drafting At ADP include Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who's probably not reaching his peak this season. (USA TODAY Sports)

2021 Fantasy Baseball Busts: 6 Overvalued Players To Avoid Drafting At ADP include Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who’s probably not reaching his peak this season. (USA TODAY Sports)


Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B/3B, Toronto Blue Jays (ADP: 55.8, Round 5)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. raked his way through the minors, and he has hit at an above-average level in the majors. However, fantasy baseball drafters are reaching, hoping he makes huge strides this year that aren’t supported by his underlying stats.

He’s a .269 career hitter with a .262 average last year with xBAs of .262 and .263, respectively. Guerrero’s ability to barrel the ball and avoid punchouts bodes well for improving his average, but he’s taken a step in the wrong direction for tapping into his plus power. 

The youngster’s launch angle has dropped from 6.7 degrees to 4.6 degrees, per Statcast, and he hit the ball on the ground at a 54.6% clip. He can’t reach the seats hitting worm-burners.

Vladito’s future is bright, but I can’t advocate spending a top-60 pick in re-draft leagues wantonly hoping for a breakout in the 2021 season.


Cavan Biggio, 2B/3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays (ADP: 57.0, Round 5)

The sum of Cavan Biggio’s contributions is greater than the parts, but it still doesn’t fit the bill of a top-60 pick. He’s a batting-average liability as a .240 hitter for his young career and a .250 hitter last season. Further, his xBAs are uglier at .232 for his career and .215 in 2020.

Biggio’s power regressed last year, dropping from 16 homers and a .195 ISO in 430 plate appearances in 2019 to eight homers and a .182 ISO in 265 plate appearances last season. The power dip coincided with reductions to his launch angle, barrels percentage, and exit velocity. 

Biggio’s a perfect base-stealer in the majors with 20 in 20 attempts, but his attempts slid from 14 in 100 games in 2019 to six in 59 games last year. Biggio’s checkered efficiency in the minors provides a reason for caution projecting him to steal more than 10-to-15 bases.

Also, the additions of George Springer and Marcus Semien bolsters the lineup, which, in theory, could disincentive attempting stolen bases. Also, more importantly, this duo likely would claim the top two spots in the batting order, forcing the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2020 leadoff hitter down lower in the lineup.

It’s not a given Biggio will be knocked from a table-setter spot in the order, especially since his on-base skills (.368 OBP for his career) provide his greatest offensive attribute. However, it’s in the range of outcomes and adds risk to selecting him with that heavy of an investment.

There’s too much downside and not enough upside to warrant spending a top-60 selection on Biggio.


Fantasy Baseball Busts: Pitchers

Trevor Bauer, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (ADP: 14.8, Round 2)

Trevor Bauer is the easiest fade — ADP considered — in this piece. We’ve seen this act before, dominating to the tune of a 2.21 ERA, 3.21 SIERA, 1.09 WHIP, 7.9 BB%, and 30.8 K% in 175.1 innings pitched in 2018. He flopped in 2019.

Bauer was admittedly better last year than in his brilliant 2018 campaign, but it was also a pandemic-shortened season. The righty’s most notable improvement is his batted-ball data, but his strikeout percentage surge to 36.0% doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Bauer faced fewer swings on pitches in the strike zone and had a higher swinging-strike percentage when he struck out 30.8% of the batters he faced in 2018. His strikeout rate is likely to regress closer to his 2017-2019 marks than approach his gaudy level from last year.

He’s also not going to continue to strand runners at the prolific 90.9% rate he did last year. The 75.2 LOB% he netted from 2017 through 2019 is a more reasonable expectation.

His ADP makes him SP4 off the board, but I have him ranked much lower at SP10.


Jack Flaherty, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (ADP: 28.3, Round 3)

Jack Flaherty was limited to only nine starts last year, and one nine-run dud skewed his overall numbers significantly. Regardless, 2021 fantasy baseball players are drafting him at a level commensurate with his 2019 surface stats and ignoring some red flags.

Flaherty’s .248 BABIP in 2018 and 2019 combined was much lower than his .278 BABIP in 180.1 innings in the upper minors (Double-A and Triple-A). He also exceeded reasonable expectations with an 81.4 LOB%. Both marks deteriorated to a .281 BABIP and 68.8 LOB% in 2020.

Flaherty avoided barrels, but hitters recorded a jaw-dropping 31.7 LD% on batted balls against him last year.

Lefties also look like a potential pitfall for him going forward. He’s reduced the usage of his changeup every year in the majors, leaving him without a traditional off-speed option for neutralizing hitters of the opposite-handedness and forcing him to lean on his curve and slider instead. Left-handed hitters amassed a .327 wOBA against Flaherty in 2020, and they totaled a .250 ISO on the curveball and a .280 ISO on the slider, according to Brooks Baseball.

Flaherty’s selected as a fantasy-staff anchor as the SP10, but he has too many blemishes to headline a fantasy staff. I have him ranked as a mid-tier SP2.


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