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Ask the Experts: Fantasy Mock Draft

Industry gurus complete 12-team, 23-round practice run
March 9, 2016

The annual fantasy baseball draft is a sign of spring, ingrained into the routine of millions each March.By now, you've bookmarked's Fantasy Player Preview and printed out the official Fantasy 411 cheat sheet. And, of course, you're following @Fantasy411 and @FredZinkieMLB on Twitter.

The annual fantasy baseball draft is a sign of spring, ingrained into the routine of millions each March.
By now, you've bookmarked's Fantasy Player Preview and printed out the official Fantasy 411 cheat sheet. And, of course, you're following @Fantasy411 and @FredZinkieMLB on Twitter.

But understanding the value of a second take, went out to solicit the opinions of fantasy experts around the industry. The best and the brightest. The crème-de-la-crème. The … you get the idea.
Over the past few weeks, hosted a 12-team, 23-round mock draft featuring the following fantasy tycoons:

  1. Lawr Michaels (from Mastersball)
  2. David Gonos (SoCalledFantasyExperts)
  3. Ray Flowers (SiriusXM/Fantasy Alarm)
  4. Fred Zinkie (
  5. Jeff Erickson (Rotowire)
  6. Paul Sporer (Fangraphs)
  7. Todd Zola (Mastersball)
  8. Cory Schwartz (
  9. Derek Van Riper (Rotowire)
  10. Tim Heaney (USA Today)
  11. Zach Steinhorn (
  12. Nando DiFino (FNTSY Sports Network)
    For a look at the entire mock, click right here and here:
    Want the highlights and most valuable info? Then keep readin' below.
    Lawr Michaels (Mastersball)
    Overall feeling about draft/your team: I did get a lot of the guys I wanted/coveted and was able to hold off on drafting a closer until near the end of the draft. (In a 12-team league, waiting still pulled Roberto Osuna and Hunter Strickland).
    Best pick: I was really happy with my Round 8 and Round 9 selections of Michael Brantley and Jonathan Lucroy. Both really slipped and several drafters lamented when I was able to grab both, noting they waited too long.

Worst pick: Brandon Maurer in Round 19. Not that I don't like him, but I was expecting him to close and now it appears the smoke thrower will get a shot at starting. I still think his future is closing, but suddenly that pick made waiting on closer a little more nebulous for me.
David Gonos -- SoCalledFantasyExperts
Overall feeling about draft/your team:  Like other industry mock drafts, this one was still pretty shy on taking starting pitchers, compared to ADP (Average Draft Position). We had 10 starting pitchers go off the board by the end of Round 4, whereas FantasyPros' ADP shows 16 SPs going in the first four rounds.
Best pick: Devin Mesoraco in Round 17. After hip surgery last season, people are cautious, but he's expected to be ready for Opening Day, and I'm looking forward to seeing him return to the .273-25-80 guy he was in 2014, which would make him a top-4 catcher in fantasy.
Ray Flowers -- SiriusXM/Fantasy Alarm
Best pick: Trumbo in the 15th round seems like a selection I won't be disappointed with. Trumbo qualifies at first and outfield, has legit 30-homer power and will be in a good ballpark surrounded by a solid group of hitters.
Worst pick: I guess you could say Chris Carter in Round 22 because of his batting average woes. Still, he is eighth in baseball in homers over the past three seasons.
Fred Zinkie --
Overall feeling about draft/your team: I like it, even though I didn't invest enough in the closer position. I would have to make a trade or find a closer on the waiver wire. Given my propensity for trading, I'm more likely to do the former than the latter.
Best pick:Yu Darvish in Round 15. With his ace potential, he should be drafted higher than that in a 12-team league. He is especially valuable in shallow formats, where pitching replacements should be readily available on the waiver wire.

Worst pick: Adam Lind in Round 20. I'm just not high on Lind for '16. To have him as my starting first baseman in a 12-team league is disappointing.
Paul Sporer -- Fangraphs
Overall feeling about draft/your team: Really pleased with how the crew came together, particularly on the offensive side with a strong mix of power/speed and youth/age. Some don't buy Carlos Carrasco as an ace, but even if you don't, I've backed him up well with Danny Salazar, Michael Wacha and Francisco Liriano -- all capable of being strong No. 2 starters. Plus, Taijuan Walker has big upside.
Best pick: Troy Tulowitzki in Round 4. I'm not comfortable pretending that he's done or anything close. He wasn't vintage Tulo last year, but he still put up a $17 season at shortstop. I understand the risk, but it's baked into the cost already. This is still very much a first-round potential profile.
Todd Zola -- Mastersball
Overall feeling about draft/your team: With the industry [taking pitching earlier than in past years], I feel it's time to back off a little and trust one's ability to grab very good arms a little later. Corey Kluber was my fifth pick, then I waited to take Carlos Martinez (Round 8) and Tyson Ross (Round 9) -- both are quite capable of jumping up a tier. This allowed an extra bat up top.
Best pick: I've been saying all offseason that I like Ketel Marte, even if he hits down in the order, and I love him if he's near the top. With the news that the Mariners intend to hit him second, well, let's just say I was pleased to get him in Round 20.
Cory Schwartz --
Best pick: I'm not one to spend much on starting pitchers, so getting Cole Hamels in Round 9 feels like a great discount. He's extremely durable, provides plenty of strikeouts, and has a high floor, exactly what I need for my "soft ace."

Worst pick: I like Lorenzo Cain (Round 4) a lot, but I won't argue with anyone who thinks I overpaid for him. A big chunk of his value comes from batting average and steals, both of which can be volatile. So while I think he's a solid player, I probably paid a premium for his career year in 2015 that he's unlikely to repeat this year.
Derek Van Riper -- Rotowire
Overall feeling about draft/your team: I think it turned out great. My initial fear was that I might end up falling short at some of the thinner positions [after taking starting pitchers in Rounds 3-5]. It's reasonable to think that this strategy (aggressive with pitching) has considerably more margin for error in a 12-team league than in a 15-team format.
Best pick: Kenley Jansen, Round 7 -- why did he fall this far? Wade Davis and Jansen should be the first two closers off the board consistently, and I often see them go around Picks 60-65. Jansen has as much job security as any closer and the elite strikeout rate necessary to rack up 100 strikeouts if the workload holds up.

Tim Heaney -- USA TODAY
Overall feeling about draft/your team: My first four picks of Anthony Rizzo, Mookie Betts, Todd Frazier and Adam Jones provided a strong power and speed base and also controlled the player pool to my liking. I was able to land two fringe No. 1 starters after that -- one of my tried and true strategies in a 12-teamer.
Best pick: Ian Kinsler in Round 8. Almost guaranteed 100 runs in the Tigers offense, with double digits in homers and stolen bases. Plus, he has a strong chance to produce a top batting average at the position. I know he'll turn 34 this season, but to land this asset in Round 8 was a boon that set my other wheels in motion.
Zach Steinhorn --
Overall feeling about draft/your team: I like the mix of younger players with room to grow, established players who posted elite numbers in 2015 and players who were disappointing last year. This affords me a solid foundation in addition to some profit potential.
Best pick: Jon Lester in Round 7. There seems to be this feeling that Lester let down his fantasy owners last season, and I just don't understand it. His numbers were borderline ace worthy and he has a proven track record, yet 20 starting pitchers were taken before him in this draft. I was thrilled to get him as my SP2 late in Round 7. I'd even consider him to be a viable ace for owners choosing to load up on hitters early.
Nando DiFino -- FNTSY Sports Network
Overall feeling about draft/your team: I love this team, and it took shape specifically because I was picking at the ends of each round. This was the first time I went out and purposefully made bang-bang picks of players with similar hooks (two catchers, two closers, two power guys, etc.) and it was far more fulfilling at the end than just picking best value or addressing shallow positions. In fact, using this strategy at the ends allowed me to cause some of the scarcity in the draft.
Best pick:Carlos Rodon in the 15th round. He was the third overall pick in the 2014 Draft and got his control issues figured out by the end of last season, with a 2.28 ERA and 1.13 WHIP from Aug. 1 forward. He also put up a 9.0 K/9, which is elite for a starter, and it's not crazy to think he'll improve on that number in his second season.
Worst pick: I'll say Steven Souza Jr. in Round 19. I like him a good amount, but the more I dig around Tampa Bay's outfield and philosophy as an organization, the more I worry that if he gets off to a cold start, it could doom him for that 450-at-bat mark.

Zachary Finkelstein is an editor for