2024 Fantasy Baseball: The star we're most worried about this season

Whether it's due to injury, regression or ecosystem, not every big star comes with the clear security their individual talent and skill provides. Here are the big names entering the 2024 fantasy baseball season with some asterisks next to them.

A case for fading the 2022 AL MVP

Aaron Judge was a top 10 player in Yahoo ADP for most of the summer; that price has slipped about three picks over the last week. I think the market correction is merited.

[Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for the 2024 MLB season]

Judge has a big frame and is a high-attrition player; he's played a partial season in four of the last six years. The Yankees don't really want to use him in center field, but the current roster demands it. I don't like to see that extra strain go on Judge, and we have to take note of the abdomen injury he's dealt with this month.

And just how good is the Yankees lineup around Judge? New York traded for Juan Soto in his prime, a juicy move, and I expect Anthony Volpe to take a year-two leap. Gleyber Torres is a bankable hitter, sure. And then we're looking at back-nine guys like Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton, perennial tease Alex Verdugo and no-hit liabilities like Oswaldo Cabrera and Jose Trevino. Hopefully, DJ LeMahieu can return soon, but he's in his mid-30s, too.

Your early picks should excite you, but also offer a little bit of floor. The overall depth of this offense doesn't move me, and Judge's body type and medical file are also cause for concern. It's scary to fade a power hitter of this magnitude, but there's enough red ink to justify it. — Scott Pianowski

A talented young pitcher with a risky profile

There’s an argument George Kirby has a wider margin of error given his immaculate control, but there’s a counter that things could go south given his inability to miss bats should his historical walk rate regress; Kirby’s 2.5 BB% last season was the best by a starter since 2014.

He’s being drafted as a top-10 fantasy SP despite ranking 30th in K% and 29th in CSW last season. THE BAT projects an 8.07 K/9 with a 3.74 ERA. There’s a real chance Kirby finishes as Seattle’s third or fourth-best starter in 2024.

I’m worried Kirby’s ratios take a hit in 2024, and I can’t condone drafting him ahead of Tarik Skubal and Blake Snell among many others. — Dalton Del Don

Is the veteran ace the right call at ADP?

Nola may have signed a seven-year contract extension to stay in Philadelphia, but things have been trending in the wrong direction for him the past few years. At 1,422 career pitching innings, Nola has thrown more than twice as many innings as Max Fried, who is about seven months younger than Nola. Those innings might be catching up to him.

In 2023, Nola allowed the highest home run total of his career (32), and his K9 rate went under 10 for the first time in his career (9.39). His ERA climbed over 4 to 4.46 for the second time in three years, and his batting average against also rose to .240. His control has always been good — 45 or fewer walks in the last three seasons — but he may be around the plate too much and not missing bats. Add to it Citizens Bank Park being one of the best hitter’s parks, and Nola should give people pause.

Nola is going off draft boards with an ADP of 51.3, which is just behind that of Fried and barely ahead of Logan Webb. Given the choice between those three, the other two are better bets to deliver on that ADP than Nola. — Jorge Martin

The big-name rookie pitcher with massive boom-or-bust potential

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

I’m sure that everyone has some level of concern about Yoshinobu Yamamoto at this point. After all, there was incredible risk throughout draft season of anointing someone who had never made a major league start as a fantasy ace. And Yamamoto’s stature at 5-foot-10 is unusual at a position where most of the dominant players are much taller. But the effects of helium are a real thing in this industry, and drafters continued to look the other way during spring training when the 25-year-old produced an 8.38 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP across three Cactus League starts.

Of course, the exclamation point in terms of reasons for concern came when Yamamoto allowed five runs in one inning of work in his regular-season debut last week. The right-hander is still being drafted in the range of low-end aces and will likely be a make-or-break pick for those who select him. — Fred Zinkie