2023 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Intro From the Gut
Welcome to the 2023 FTN Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide!
You know the old saying: The early birds win their leagues. It’s never too early to start preparing for a new fantasy baseball season. We’re still three months away from Opening Day, and there’s so much that will transpire between now and then – free agents to be signed, trades to be made, spring training, pitcher velocity bumps and most certainly some inevitable injuries. Starting your prep now doesn’t exactly mean you have to start drafting. But these three months will fly by quickly and the more we dig into, the more confident and better equipped we’ll be.
I’m beyond thrilled to share with you the first wave of content now available at your fingertips. We’ve assembled a magnificent group of talented fantasy baseball writers and high stakes players – our core FTN baseball crew as well as some guest analysts who you’re likely familiar with – and have curated an eclectic blend of topics to whet your fantasy baseball appetite.
I’d like to first introduce you to our starting lineup for the 2023 fantasy baseball season:
Matthew Davis (@_mattywood_)
Mattywood is the longest-standing member of the FTN baseball crew and was instrumental to our product’s success over the last couple of seasons. Matty is an accomplished high-stakes NFBC player who has won leagues in all the national contests (Main Event, OC, DC, Auction, Cutline). He’s my co-host on the FTN Fantasy Baseball podcast and the heart and soul of our team. To kick things off, Matty drops a thorough overview on NFBC’s Best Ball Cutline contest as well as a breakdown of late-round pitchers we can profit from. During the season, Matty will manage our closers/bullpen charts and bless us with his weekly hitter rankings.
Eric Cross (@EricCross04)
Eric is a major addition to the FTN baseball team. It’s like when Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen. We brought Eric aboard not only because he’s one of the most knowledgeable dynasty analysts in the space, but also because of his relentless work ethic and commitment to the craft. He’s a content machine who eats, breathes and sleeps baseball 24-7. Eric will have a weekly dynasty column and will also be navigating the complex weekly starting pitcher rankings during the regular season. His first piece for FTN is a primer on dynasty strategies. He’ll be around to answer your questions on Discord as well.
Michael Govier (@mjgovier)
What you see is exactly what you get. You’ll occasionally hear someone ask, “Is this an act?” Nope. Govier is legit the most authentic and genuine person I know. He’s incredibly entertaining and hilarious – would most certainly be winning the FSWA Humor Writer of the Year award every year if that award was still in existence. Govier is also quite knowledgeable in the points/H2H space and brings his 20-plus years of expertise in this realm to the forefront at FTN. You’ll also be able to check out his musings, GIFs and old-school cultural references in the weekly Groovin’ with Govier column. His Draft Guide piece covers 2022 lessons in Points/H2H.
Alex Blickle (@AlexBlickle1)
Alex is a unicorn. A true multi-faceted threat in that he’s a professional golfer and multi-sport DFS wizard (MLB, NBA, NFL, PGA) who builds fantasy analytics models and writes about game theory in his spare time. He’s on that Rudy Gamble/Jeff Zimmerman savant level when it comes to baseball analytics, and I’m elated that he’ll be contributing to this pocket of the fantasy world throughout the preseason and regular season. Alex is the best kept secret in fantasy and it’s time for everyone to get familiar with his talents. His Draft Guide piece focuses on batted ball data and how to properly use it.
Jake Kucheck (@TheSFGiantsGuy)
Jake is a tried-and-true stud when it comes to prospect analysis and he’s back for his second year of his top-100 Prospects Vault for the FTN Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide – an ongoing series throughout the preseason. Jake works in finance/real estate by day and unearths minor league hitter and pitcher gems at night. He’s also a fabulous writer who’s an editors dream with near-perfect grammar and syntax. He’s also one of the only San Francisco Giants’ fans I know who doesn’t spend half his time on Twitter dropping deuces on the Dodgers.
Adam Young (@Adam15Young)
Adam is a breakout star in the making – a 29th-round Kyle Wright, if you will. Adam is a sports reporter and part of our FTN editing team but turns out he’s been quietly crushing NFBC auctions without telling any of us. He’s a talented writer who can clearly lay out strategic pathways to roster construction and game theory. His debut piece for the Draft Guide is a first look at NFBC’s new, popular format, The Gladiator. By the All-Star break, the industry will all know the name Adam Young.
In this Draft Guide, we have excellent contributions from three of our colleagues who are involved in different sports (MLB, NFL, NBA) and mediums (written content, in-studio broadcasts, podcasts) and sites (Fantasy, DFS, Bets) here at FTN Network.
Chris Meaney (@chrismeaney)
There are certainly thousands of hard-working and super nice people in Canada, but I’m not sure there’s a person harder working or nicer than Meaney. He’s an award-winning sportswriter, producer and show host and his the Head of Media at FTN. Meaney not only tirelessly covers multiple sports (MLB, NHL, NFL and more) with a variety of articles and videos every single day. But he’s a true expert in all of them – a talent that is rare in our industry these days. He covers all the offseason trades, free agent signings and related impact in Same Faces, New Places.
Not only is Dream a warm-hearted human, he’s also my personal go-to for all things related to MLB betting. We’ve worked together for several years but had the chance to really bond at the FTN company trip to see the White Sox play in Chicago this past summer. Dream is a MLB betting master who had absolutely insane results in 2022 (+76 units). He’s one of the most well-respected professional baseball bettors and graces us with his insight in the FTN Draft Guide on how to master pitching prop wagers.
Nick Shlain (@electricsnuff)
Shlain is an old colleague and friend from my RotoWire days. I’ve been a fan of his work since then and along the way when he was with Baseball Prospectus and The Athletic. So, I was ecstatic when he joined the FTN team last baseball season. Nick has slightly pivoted in that he’s an MLB DFS fanatic and is an integral part of our FTNDaily DFS product as writer and show host. I’m personally grateful he contributed to the Draft Guide yet again with a superb analysis on how the new MLB rule changes affect the fantasy landscape in 2023.
I’d also like to shout out some of our valued in-house staff who continue to grind behind the scenes. Our legendary editor and novelist Daniel Kelley and our master graphics artists George Zainoun and the man simply known as Fox. Also, our dedicated management team, Kevin Adams (CEO), Mike Randle (COO) and Stefano Vaccarino (CMO). Thank you for your support of the baseball product.
Alex Fast (@AlexFast8)
A man who needs no introduction. You may disagree but, to me, Alex is at the top of the list of most charming and witty folks in fantasy baseball. A retired child actor, Alex is the VP of PitcherList, an Emmy Award winner, two-time FSWA award winner and makes appearances on both ESPN and MLB Network. Alex helped introduce CSW% (called strikes + whiffs) to the world three years ago and I’m stoked to have him contribute to the FTN Draft Guide with a deep dive into which pitching metrics we need to dig into as well as ignore.
Shelly Verougstrate (@ShellyV_643)
Shelly is a highly respected analyst who specializes in dynasty leagues and prospects analysis. She’s written for over a dozen publications over the last decade and currently provides content for top notch sites such NBC Edge (formerly Rotoworld), Baseball HQ and is a manager PitcherList. Shelly is a huge Red Sox fan and is dog-mom to Soto, the cutest pup in the industry! Shelly is back for a second season as a guest analyst in the FTN Draft Guide with a piece on prospects we need to strongly consider drafting and/or FAAB’ing this season.
Phil Dussault (@PhilDussault27)
Speaking of nice Canadians a la Meaney, Phil (aka, The Robot) had the best season in fantasy baseball season in history in 2021 -- securing a whopping $324,000 in NFBC prizes. Phil won 19 of 22 NFBC leagues that season, finishing no lower than third in his other three leagues. He consistently blows me away with his unique approach against the highest level of competition in the NFBC. Phil contributes to the Draft Guide for the second consecutive December – this year’s piece a thorough breakdown on what constitutes a bold drop in roto formats.
Steve Weimer (@steveymer)
Steve is one of the best fantasy baseball players in the world, period point blank. He finished second overall in the 2021 NFBC Draft Champions. Last season, he finished second and sixth overall out of 705 teams in the NFBC Main Event. Those just happened to be his only two entries in the Main. He’s a quant, an incredibly superb analyst, a future NFBC Hall of Famer and one of the people who’s brains I want to pick most. In the FTN Draft Guide, Steve explains what the true scarce resources are in roto.
Jenny Butler (@JennyButler830)
Jenny is a chemist by trade but also a high-stakes NFBC afficionado, playing competitively since 2014 and live in Las Vegas in the Main Event since 2017, which is where I first had the pleasure of meeting and battling against her. She has finished in the top 50 overall of the Main Event in three of the last five years and has won in several other formats – specifically the Best Ball Cutline and the Draft Champions. An Ohio native, Jenny reprises her popular NFBC Roster Construction article from last season’s Draft Guide with a fresh spin for 2023. The piece I most look forward to reading every offseason.
Greg Jewett (@gjewett9)
Last but certainly not least is the Reliefmeister General himself, Mr. Jewett. Don’t think anyone can even argue it, Greg is the best analyst out there when it comes to closers, relievers and bullpens. His Reliever Recon product is stellar -- astutely detailed and updated daily. Greg is also a regular contributor to The Athletic. Greg bestows his in-depth knowledge and analysis with a spectacular overview of 2022 bullpens and how to strategize for them this draft season.
This first set of 18 articles are just the beginning. We’ll continue to pump out weekly content throughout the preseason:
- VDP Rankings (Vlad’s Draft Positions)
- ADP Market Reports
- Draft Strategy
- Position Tiers
- Dynasty/Prospects updates
- Juice Worth the Squeeze (player comparisons)
- Spring training roster analysis
- NFBC Cutline and Underdog rankings
- FTN Fantasy Baseball podcast with Mattywood and me
I’ll also have a special announcement forthcoming of a new member of the team – a seasoned veteran and columnist of NFBC strategy. Our in-season content will once again include my weekly FAAB Whisperer column, weekly hitter and pitcher rankings, bullpen updates as well as daily strategy and analytics columns from the FTN baseball crew. We remain your one-stop shop for all NFBC related content but will have so much more to offer with the addition of Eric Cross and the rest of the crew.
Whether you’re in my league or not, my pledge to you is full transparency with the goal of helping you learn to be a better fantasy player and to hopefully dominate your leagues. The competition in fantasy baseball leagues is sharper then ever before so it’s imperative that we stay one step ahead, continuing to innovate and find strategic new pathways to success. I urge you to perhaps consider our High Stakes package which provides a direct line to me for one-on-one draft and in-season assistance.
Hope you enjoy this initial wave of draft strategy and analysis and that your journey with FTN is a pleasant and profitable one.
Wishing everyone a Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas and joyous New Year.