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10 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers in 2018

Mar 13, 2018

Dinelson Lamet offers exactly what you’d want when looking for sleepers

There’s a reason to be excited as the season is just about two weeks away from starting. We won’t waste your time here, as undoubtedly, you want to know who the top sleepers are for the 2018 season. To help with the list, we asked five experts to each name their favorite hitter and pitcher that should be on your sleeper radars.

Using our consensus average draft positions (ADP), here’s who they selected.

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Q1. What starting pitcher outside the top 85 in our ADP Composite do you like as a late round sleeper?

Dinelson Lamet (SP – SD)
“Lamet has a great foundation with a mid 90’s fastball, an effective slider, a healthy arm with no innings cap, and a pitcher-friendly home park in San Diego. His K-rate of 10.2 Ks per 9 IP last year was very impressive. The reason he is going this late is that he’s missing two ingredients necessary to be an ace: 1) Better control (4+ BB/9) and 2) A third pitch. I have him as SP46 / P64.”
– Rudy Gamble (Razzball)

Dinelson Lamet is currently the 90th pitcher coming off draft boards and could return value far higher than that for those sensible enough to invest in him. Lamet didn’t fully break out last year thanks to an inflated ERA and less-than-stellar walk-rate (4.25 BB/9), but there is a ton to love about his skill set. Lamet has legitimate put-away stuff, backing up a 95-mph heater with an 86-mph slider and an occasional change-up that still hovers near 90. He rode this to an electric 10.94 K/9 rate in 2017 across 114.1 innings. Lamet shouldn’t have any pitch counts to deal with in 2018, meaning that he should start at least 30 games (assuming he stays healthy), half of which will come at the cavernous, pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Lamet has big-time upside and his current ADP makes him a bargain in the late rounds.”
– Bill Dubiel (RotoBaller)

Amir Garrett (SP/RP – CIN)
“If you asked me this question a few weeks ago, the answer would have been Dinelson Lamet. However right now, it’s Amir Garrett, and it’s not really close. He’s worked himself back in the discussion for a rotation spot, as it was really only Bryan Price standing in his way. Anthony DeSclafani’s oblique injury only helps Garrett, who has been lights out this spring. Remember, he was regarded as a top pitching prospect in Cincinnati’s system when he got called up last year, with a plus-fastball and plus-slider. He had a hip injury that slowed him down. If there’s a true sleeper this year, which we all know are hard to find, it’s Garrett going as the 278th pitcher off the board.”
– Michael Waterloo (RotoExperts)

Tanner Roark (SP – WSH)
“Roark is a guy who I find myself targeting late in most drafts. Roark has pitched at least 180 innings in three of his last four seasons and came in with a sub-2.90 ERA in two of those three years. The one season he did struggle in ERA was last year (4.67), but his performance was much worse in the first half, which I think is fair to (mostly) write off because he pitched in the World Baseball Classic. In the second half, he was much closer to his typical self, allowing much less hard contact, increasing his strikeout rate, and improving in nearly every statistical category. Roark lacks the upside of many late round flyers, but his combination of a proven track record and reliability, along with his much too low ADP, makes him a great late sleeper in my book.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

German Marquez (SP – COL)
“As young pitchers generally receive more love than they deserve in drafts, German Marquez actually surprised me by qualifying for this answer. The 23-year-old is coming off a rookie season in Colorado with serviceable numbers highlighted by a 3.00 K/BB. The third time through the order was rough for him in 2017, but he’s been working on a changeup in the offseason that can compliment his nice fastball-curveball combo. Despite the Coors Field effect, the floor here is a 4.25 ERA with nice K/BB ratios and the ceiling for the youngster is certainly worth the late round flier.”
– Tyler Thompson (Fantasy Six Pack)

2. What hitter outside the top 115 in our ADP Composite do you like as a late round sleeper?

Maikel Franco (3B – PHI) | Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX)
“I have been drafting both on several teams. They both have plus power and solid contact rates (the latter is key to avoid being an AVG liability). Franco is working on a new swing this spring training and I am hopeful a new approach nets more fly balls and, more importantly, HRs. Calhoun just needs an opportunity to play (his glove does him no favors) and the Rangers options are thin at corner OF/DH. Both players have .280/30 HR potential and that is great value for hitters with their ADP.”
– Rudy Gamble (Razzball)

“Delino DeShields is the obvious answer to me, but because I expect his ADP to rise with recent news, I’ll list another one of my favorite late round sleepers: Maikel Franco. Franco just should be so much better than he is. He is an excellent contact hitter and has a ton of raw power, but unfortunately he hits far too many ground balls and has a mediocre hard contact rate. What always pushes me towards drafting Franco with one of my last picks is his youth (he’s just 25 years old despite seemingly having been around forever) and his pedigree, which always makes me feel like there’s an explosion waiting to happen. His incredibly low price, and the tantalizing possibility that he’s just a late bloomer who will put it together one season, makes me want plenty of shares of him, even if the signs of a breakout aren’t quite there yet.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Delino DeShields (OF – TEX) |Randal Grichuk (OF – TOR)
“DeShields’ ADP is outside the top 115 right now, but expect it to climb soon. For now, at 124 overall among hitters, he is hard not to like. He’s going to be leading off for the Rangers, and with speed the way it is in drafts, DeShields allows owners to address speed late in the draft with a player with a good walk-rate and a good source of runs. If we want to go deeper, let’s look at Randal Grichuk at 220 overall. Last year, he ranked sixth in baseball with 10 Barrels per Plate Appearance for players with at least 50 batted ball events. Since the start of the 2015 season, Grichuk is tied for the 11th highest hard-hit rate (39.2 percent) in baseball. He’s getting everyday at-bats in a wonderful home environment. He could have a Khris Davis-light season.”
– Michael Waterloo (RotoExperts)

Bradley Zimmer (OF – CLE)
“Zimmer showed flashes of fantasy potential last year, but this could be the year he breaks out into a legitimate top-50 fantasy outfielder. Zimmer’s debut season is unimpressive when viewed from above–he hit just .241 across 101 games, and didn’t do much as far as OBP (.307) and SLG are concerned either (.385). However, he’s currently slated to be the Indians everyday center fielder, and with most of a season under his belt, I expect him to take a big leap forward. Zimmer will likely hit at the bottom of the lineup, but that functions more as “second lead-off” in 2018. He swiped 18 bags in his limited time last season, and if he’s able to stay healthy for 140+ games he should have no problem swiping 30 bags. He also slugged eight homers in that time frame, and if given a full season I think it’s fair to hope for 20 big flies in addition to the 30 steals. Finding a potential 20/30 player at his current ADP (OF125, 207 overall) can make your roster, and I’ll be taking as many shots at Zimmer as I can in drafts this year.”
– Bill Dubiel (RotoBaller)

Jose Pirela (OF – SD)
“I’m going to go rogue here and take Jose Pirela. The post-hype outfielder has a 2017 Tommy Pham-feeling to him for 2018 with a mid-teens power-speed combo. He quietly wrecked shop for the Padres last season, slashing .288/.347/.490 in 83 games. Not that spring training is the best evaluating tool, but he’s been absolutely raking there too. He’s even got 2B-eligibility on some sites, giving you a cheap MI option as a flier. Was last year a one-off fluke? He’s too cheap in drafts not to find out.”
– Tyler Thompson (Fantasy Six Pack)

Thank you to the experts for naming their sleepers. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and listen/subscribe to our podcast below for all the latest discussions this season including more sleepers with Eno Sarris!

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