Any list of overvalued players needs to begin with this disclaimer: These are not bad players. Most of the players on this list are very good players that are simply being drafted far too early or costing too much on the auction block.
Another very important omission from many similar lists is the lack of an alternative.
This list will attempt to provide an adequate replacement available later in the draft. Ultimately, fantasy owners must remember they are collecting stats (or points, as the case may be) and not players.
Lastly, do not completely ignore these players. If enough people in your league see them as overvalued, then they may fall far enough to become bargains, and you can scoop them up guilt-free.
Buster Posey is the top catcher in fantasy, as he is in real baseball. The reigning National League MVP and batting champ is coming off a career year, hitting .336 with a 172 OPS+.
So why does that still make him overvalued as a regular second-round pick?
Five full-time catchers had 500 at bats in 2012 (Jesus Montero played most of his games at DH). Just two of them did that in 2011, Carlos Santana and Matt Wieters. Also, no catchers had 550 at-bats, a number 70 batters reached.
In short, Posey is not going to play everyday.
Now, the Giants will move Posey to first base at times to rest his legs, but he will still need more days off than the average hitter. As a second-round pick, you might have the choice between Posey and Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Hamilton or Evan Longoria. Those players will all provide more over the course of the season than even the top catcher in the game.
Alternative: Matt Wieters, sixth round (in 10-team standard leagues, won't match Posey's production but I would rather have Wieters and Upton than Posey and a sixth-round outfielder like Allen Craig)
Albert Pujols was not as bad as people think last season.
He still reached 30 HR, 105 RBI and 85 R. Those stats just came with a .285 average.
At 33-years-old, Pujols may still be a 30/100/80 hitter for years, but without the .320 average, is he a top-10 pick?
According to ESPN Live Draft Results, Pujols is going seventh overall, ahead of first basemen Prince Fielder and Joey Votto.
Pujols is currently battling plantar fasciitis in his foot. While he says he feels good, that is just one more tick of risk. In the early rounds, it is unnecessary risk.
Meanwhile, over the last two years, Paul Konerko has averaged .299, 28 HR, 90 RBI and is going outside the top 100 in average drafts. Again, I would rather have, say, Carlos Gonzalez and Konerko than Pujols and an 11th-round outfielder like Nelson Cruz.
Alternative: Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox
Jurickson Profar is going to be a star someday, but the success of generational talents Mike Trout and Bryce Harper has helped people forget the normal path 20-year-olds take to superstardom.
There is no shame in starting the year in the minors.
But fantasy owners are in love with the "next big thing," and Profar is being drafted as if he is being handed the starting job immediately and will be a 20/20 threat right away.
Instead, owners should prepare for a May or June call-up and some early struggles.
A fair projection for Profar, in my estimation, is around .265, 10 HR and 15 SB. Those are not bad numbers, especially from a weak position, but there is no reason to burn a bench spot in seasonal leagues on him.
Alternative: Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
Fantasy owners draft Elvis Andrus thinking they just locked up a high average, hoping for 40 steals and 100 runs. Unfortunately, he has never scored 100 runs (topping 90 only once), and his steals dropped from 37 in 2011 to 21 in 2011.
While Andrus set a career high in slugging percentage, he may have traded some speed away for a little more power, mashing 43 extra-base hits, only three of which left the park.
If you draft Andrus, then there is risk your "speed guy" is only good for 25 stolen bases. Those steals can be had much later.
As a matter of fact, Andrus only batted .286 with three homers and 21 SB in 2011, yet he is currently the sixth shortstop being drafted. Meanwhile, Alcides Esobar of the Royals is the 10th shortstop being taken, and he batted. 293 with five home runs and 35 SB in 2012.
Even if Escobar's average regresses a little, the maturation of that Royals lineup will surely lead to more scoring chances. If you want a .280 hitter to steal you 30-40 bases, then wait 60 spots and take Escobar.
Alternative: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
Even as a pick currently going in Round 22, Alex Rodriguez is overvalued in fantasy baseball.
If everything breaks right for Rodriguez, then he will be back sometime in August; however, there is a chance he misses the entire season.
Rodriguez, who will make $28 million this season, has not played in a 140-plus games since his last MVP award in 2007. He has not reached even 20 HR or 65 RBI since 2010, but he is being drafted ahead of Jeff Keppinger, who hit .325 with nine home runs in 2012, and Trevor Plouffe, who smacked 24 HR for Minnesota.
If your league has a DL spot and you believe Rodriguez will return to even half of what he once was, then feel free to stash him, but in standard leagues, there are too many useful players to waste a pick on a possible zero for the season.
Alternative: Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota Twins
Jose Bautista hit 27 HR in 92 games for Toronto in 2012, well on his way to another 40-plus performance, but a wrist injury prematurely ended his season.
While Bautista looks healthy now, the problem with his second-round draft slot is not so much his production as it is the names going later.
Bautista is being drafted ahead of Josh Hamilton, Jason Heyward, Adam Jones and Jay Bruce. While Hamilton comes with his own injury risks, the others are younger than Bautista and as healthy as well. Heyward and Jones add a higher average and 15-20 steals, steals you will not get from Bautista.
If he returns to 45-HR form, then Bautista is absolutely worth his draft slot because not many men are capable of those kind of numbers today. But in a rotisserie format, where he does not help batting average or steals, owners should be willing to sacrifice 10 HR for an extra 20 steals and 30 points in batting average.
And if you must have your .260, 40 HR bat, then Bruce is capable two rounds later.
Alternative: Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves; Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles; Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds
Watching Chris Sale pitch makes fans cringe and grab their own elbows.
The torque of his delivery on his 6'6'', 180-pound frame is unimaginable, and while he dodged injuries in 2012, there is no question his fantasy owners will check the news report after every start.
There is simply no reason to take on such risk at the pitcher position.
There is a litany of ace-quality arms being drafted later that do not come with the same danger. There is also the worry that after a season-ending elbow injury, Sale would need to change his mechanics to better protect the arm from injury, a process that could limit his effectiveness.
Sale is healthy now, and he is dominant when healthy, but for someone being drafted in the sixth or seventh round in many drafts, the risk outweighs the reward.
Alternative: Jordan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals; Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds
Brandon Morrow has a career 9.6 K/9, and through 21 starts of 2012, he had a 2.96 ERA and may have garnered some Cy Young votes, but injury struck again.
Unfortunately, Morrow has reached 150 innings just once in his career, 2011, his worst season.
Among those being drafted after Morrow in fantasy drafts are Ian Kennedy and Jon Lester.
Kennedy has three-straight seasons with over 190 innings and a combined 3.55 ERA and 8 K/9. Lester has five straight seasons with over 190 and a combined 3.63 ERA and 8.4 K/9.
Risk is necessary in fantasy sports, but there are places to take risks (Troy Tulowitzki is one example) and starting pitching is not the place.
Be patient and good pitchers will fall into your lap.
Alternative: Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks; Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox
Last year was the first time since 2006 in which Sabathia fell short of 230 regular season innings. Of course, he still threw 200 innings, plus another 21.1 postseason innings.
More troubling than the workload itself was an August disabled list trip for elbow problems.
Before 2012, Sabathia had won an average of 19 games per season. Even last year, despite two DL trips, he won 15. But now he will pitch on opening day without Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher or Curtis Granderson.
For fantasy owners, the wins provided a cushion for his non-elite ERA (career 3.50) or K/9 (career 7.8)
Sabathia is going among the top 15 starting pitchers in fantasy drafts, but there are just too many players that can provide similar numbers to take him so high. Especially, now that 17-20 wins are no longer guaranteed.
Alternative: Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays; Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
Zack Greinke has already had elbow discomfort this preseason, and that cannot be encouraging for a team that just gave him a new six-year deal.
Furthermore, Greinke has been overrated in fantasy since his Cy Young year of 2009.
In the three years since he won the Cy Young, Greinke has pitched 604 innings with a 3.83 ERA, 1.215 WHIP and 8.7 K/9. Compared to the 2012's overall stats, that ERA would be tied for No. 49 among starting pitchers. The WHIP would be tied for No. 25 and K/9 would have been No. 18.
Like Sabathia, Greinke is being taken among the top-20 starters in fantasy leagues, but owners would be wise to pass on Greinke in favor of comparable arms available much later.
Alternative: Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs; Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox
The two-time Cy Young award winner, Tim Lincecum, lost 15 games in 2012, finishing with a 5.18 ERA and 1.468 WHIP. Giants fans flocked to spring training hoping to see a revitalized Lincecum, ready to reestablish himself as the ace of a very impressive staff. Instead, Lincecum pitched 15.1 innings, allowing 22 hits and 18 earned runs, posting a 1.957 WHIP. T
The time may be coming when the Giants are forced to move Lincecum to the bullpen, where he proved very effective in the 2012 postseason.
Lincecum is being drafted outside the first 100 picks in drafts, which is still not late enough, as he is being taken ahead of many much safer options with equally high upside.
Alternatives: Matt Harvey, New York Mets; CJ Wilson, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Derek Holland, Texas Rangers; Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees
John Axford was 5-8 with a 4.67 ERA in 2012. He allowed 1.3 HR per nine innings and 5.1 BB/9 as well.
While owners would be wise to ignore most closers after Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman, there is certainly no reason to draft one coming off such a season in round 13 or 14. Those picks would be best used to strengthen offense or take a high upside starting pitcher.
Axford an impressive 2011, saving 46 with a 1.95 ERA, so perhaps he can regain that level of dominance, but there are so many closers that emerge during the season, At the end of the season, history tells us about half of opening day closers will lose their jobs. Instead of spending a mid pick on Axford, load up on lower-ranked closers or high-strikeout setup men and you will be just fine.
Alternative: Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates; Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins; Rafael Betancourt, Colorado Rockies