Five NL players to avoid in your fantasy draft

All the buzz about Jose Reyes may not play out for fantasy owners in 2012. (MLB Network)

Last week, we touched on some NL players you should absolutely have on your radar come draft day. Today, we’ll explore players you should definitely stay away from. As with all fantasy leagues, value is relative. For example, I’m obviously not a fan of the first player on this list, however, if you told me I could draft him in the fifth round or pay $25 for him in a standard 5×5 or 4×4 auction league with a $260 cap, well, then I’d love him.

1. Jose Reyes. A number to think about before investing mega dollars or a high pick on Reyes: 98. It’s the average number of games he’s played in over the past three years. Yes, I know he was otherworldly last year, despite missing more than 30 games. However, his average was over 30 points higher than his previous career high. Additionally, there are so many other cheap options for speed, namely Cameron Maybin, Emilio Bonifacio and Jason Bourgeois. Don’t pay for Reyes’ 2011 season, it’s not coming back.

2. Chase Utley. Finished. He struggled to hit .259 with 11 home runs last season, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse. Utley has a chronic knee which undoubtedly will become arthritic. The more he plays on it, the worse it will get. Don’t get suckered in by the name, at this point that’s all he is.

3. Neil Walker. Much of Walker’s 2011 value was rooted in his 83 RBIs, a number that’s, frankly, unsustainable. Despite leading all NL second basemen with the aforementioned 83 RBIs, he only ranked seventh among them in home runs. With a still pathetic Pirate lineup surrounding him, 83 will look more like 55 in 2012. I know this position is scarce and Walker may be hard to pass up, but I’d look at Jose Altuve as a sleeper; and yes, I’d draft him over Walker.

4. Melky Cabrera. No, I’m not a believer. First of all, he’ll be playing most of his games at AT&T Park, PETCO and Dodger Stadium. Secondly, most of his 2011 success can be traced to a .332 BABIP. Again, this is highly unlikely to repeat itself, as his BABIP ranged from .271-.309 during the four prior years.

5. Stephen Drew. At this point, Drew is what he is … a very slightly above-average shortstop, with marginal power and almost no speed. He is also coming off a serious ankle injury that will probably curtail what little speed he had. Do not pay any kind of premium for Drew. More attractive alternatives are Jason Bartlett, and two speed demons, Dee Gordon and Tyler Pastornicky. Both players could easily steal north of 40 bags this year.

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