Consensus Sleepers from 25+ Experts (2019 Fantasy Baseball)

Mar 11, 2019

Ross Stripling’s strong start last year bodes well for his potential to produce in 2019

The main goal of every fantasy draft is to find players who can return a profit on their average draft position (ADP). Simply put, you can win the draft by identifying which players have the best chance of providing the most value every time you’re on the clock. This becomes more paramount once you’ve gone deep into the draft, as late-round players will either be duds who you’ll drop within a few weeks, decent contributors who outperform expectations and stick around on your roster for a while, or studs who can help you solidify a playoff run. Mitch Haniger, Jose Peraza, and Michael Brantley were taken outside of the top 115 hitters last year, but ended up finishing within the top 45 among all hitters. Miles Mikolas, Mike Foltynewicz, and German Marquez were taken outside of the top 85 pitchers, but finished inside the top 30.

To help you dominate your league and identify 2019’s Brantley or Mikolas, we have polled 26 experts on which hitters and starting pitchers they thought had the highest chance of breaking out and asked them to each explain who their favorite sleeper is. Every expert’s choices can be seen here.

Note: Hitter and pitcher ADP values are as of March 10.

Top Consensus Sleepers (Poll of 26 Experts)

Ross Stripling SP LAD 3 P79 P85
Ramon Laureano OF OAK 2 H124 H139
Ryan Braun 1B/OF MIL 2 H97 H183
Kenta Maeda SP LAD 2 P66 P75
Max Kepler OF MIN 2 H131 H147
Tyler Skaggs SP LAA 2 P72 P89
Franmil Reyes OF SD 2 H134 H150
Joey Lucchesi SP SD 2 P73 P81
Domingo Santana OF SEA 2 H121 H160

Players who received one vote were: Matthew Boyd, Jesse Winker, Brad Peacock, Danny Jansen, Jimmy Nelson, Josh Bell, Aaron Sanchez, Miguel Sano, Steven Matz, Byron Buxton, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Sean Newcomb, Jorge Polanco, Joe Musgrove, Odubel Herrera, Drew Pomeranz, Franchy Cordero, Caleb Smith, Maikel Franco, Matt Strahm, Steven Souza Jr., Julio Urias, Jake Bauers, Kyle Gibson, Austin Barnes, Chris Paddack, Randal Grichuk, Julio Teheran, Hunter Renfroe, Michael Pineda, Mike Minor 

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Q. Which one of the players you chose do you like the most as a late round sleeper and why?

Ross Stripling (SP – LAD) 
“Stripling takes over as my favorite sleeper now that Josh James is shelved to open the season. Stripling may have tailed off to close 2018, but his start was so tremendous that he still managed to finish top five in xFIP among starting pitchers with at least 120 innings. Like Mike Clevinger this time last year, Stripling’s sample size is large enough that we can figure he will finish as a top-25 starting pitcher if he is afforded enough innings.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Franmil Reyes (OF – SD) 
“Reyes is a hulking 6’5” and 275-pound hitter with a legit power stroke. He showed off his power with six home runs in his first 18 games as a rookie. However, Reyes was very poor with his plate discipline prior to the All-Star break, hitting only .222. Since it happened in August when many teams are on the outside of the playoffs looking in, it appears many may have missed him make a major adjustment. After the break, he kept up his HR/AB pace and skyrocketed his average to .315. Reyes sported the fourth-highest HR/FB rate, and his 16.31 HR/AB rate placed him right behind Mookie Betts’s 16.25 for 18th in the league. Reyes is my favorite sleeper and breakout candidate and should be good for at least .275 and 36+ home runs.”
– Raju Byfield (Win My Fantasy League)

Franmil Reyes is in a crowded outfield after the trade of Manny Machado to the Padres, but I think there is no way they take his bat out of the lineup on a regular basis. The power potential alone makes me drool, but he is a solid hitter all-around too. This is proven by the .318/.385/.548, 10 home runs, and 24 RBIs he amassed over his final 49 games in 2018. The average is sure to drop (.280 on the season), but even if it drops to somewhere in the .250-.260 range, he is worth more than this draft price.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Domingo Santana (OF – SEA) 
“Santana fell victim to the Milwaukee Brewers’s offseason additions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain entering the 2018 season. Let others recall the lackluster ’18 numbers Santana posted due to time in the minors and inconsistent MLB opportunities, while you keep in mind the ’17 effort Santana put forth with a full complement of ABs: .278/.371/.505 with 30 home runs, 88 runs scored, 85 runs batted in, and 15 stolen bases. Folks will continue to push Santana down boards in favor of the new flavor this draft season, but Santana has a new home in Seattle and is expected to earn full-time reps in left field and at the dish. Don’t let recency bias fool you. Santana’s ceiling is too high to pass on beyond the 20th round in 15-teamers.”
– Alan Harrison (The Fantasy Fix)

Domingo Santana was in a bad spot last season once the Brewers acquired Yelich and Cain. He will get the chance to play every day in Seattle, and while the park in Seattle isn’t as favorable as Miller Park, it was just two years ago Santana had 30 home runs, 15 stolen bases, and an .875 OPS. He’s 26, consistently hits the ball hard and can contribute in each category. It’s rare you can get this skill set this late in a draft.”
– Adam Ronis (ScoutFantasySports)

Tyler Glasnow (SP – TB) 
“Glasnow checks in as my SP30, and the sky’s the limit for the 25-year-old righty. The long-levered hurler struggled with control on the Pirates, but he cut his walk rate to a palatable 8.4% while striking out an eye-popping 28.4% of the batters he faced. A whopping 20.8% HR/FB in his 11 starts for the Rays is the primary reason for the discrepancy in his ERA (4.20) and xFIP (3.47), and with regression, he has very attainable SP2 potential.”
– Josh Shepardson (FantasyPros)

Joey Lucchesi (SP – SD) 
“San Diego is trying to make a splash on the offensive side of things with Manny Machado, Wil Myers, and Eric Hosmer at the heart of their order, but their pitching staff is largely unknown. Second-year starter Lucchesi could emerge as the team’s ace if he can build off last year. He struck out 26.5% of batters faced and walked just under three batters per nine innings. He was a bit unlucky with the home run ball, so if he even takes a small step forward command-wise, he will be a good contributor across four categories, assuming the Padres can muster a winning record. I much prefer the upside of Lucchesi ahead of less-appealing options ranked above him such as Julio Teheran, Zack Godley, or Tyler Skaggs.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Jake Bauers (1B/OF – CLE) 
“Bauers had a rough MLB debut last year, but it looks to be a result of him loving his early success with the home-run ball (he hit eight in his first 200 plate appearances before slumping). He pulled the ball at a 51.1% clip in the majors (as compared to a low-40% mark in the minors) and went to the opposite field only 18.9% of the time (more than 30% in the minors). His approach resulted in a terrible .252 BABIP and a greatly-inflated 26.8% strikeout rate, both of which are way out of line with his minor-league profile. Now penciled in for an everyday role with Cleveland, I expect Bauers to relax and get back to what made him an excellent prospect with the Rays.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Ryan Braun (1B/OF – MIL) 
“Yes, Braun is no longer the dominant fantasy outfielder he once was, but he looks to be criminally underrated at this stage of his career. You can’t expect him to play more than 120-140 games, but Braun has proven over the last couple seasons that he’s capable of producing 20+ HRs and 10+ SBs even while missing a quarter of a season, and his batting average could even pop back up into the .280+ range after two straight low-BABIP seasons. Hitting in a terrific lineup and a favorable home ballpark, Braun (ADP 203.7) should be able to again produce numbers that resemble those of OFs going much earlier in drafts like George Springer (ADP 54.3), Mitch Haniger (ADP 81.0), and Justin Upton (ADP 85.7).”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Austin Meadows (OF – TB) 
“I’m a bit surprised to see Meadows qualify, as he’s a 23-year-old with power, speed, and a past prospect pedigree. He more than held his own (.287/.325/.461, six HRs, five SBs) in 197 Major League plate appearances, and playing time should no longer be an issue with the Rays. Although he lost some buzz entering 2018, he proved ready for a regular MLB role by smashing 10 homers with a .496 wOBA for Tampa Bay’s Triple-A affiliate after getting traded from Pittsburgh. It’s not far-fetched to envision a 20/15 campaign.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Julio Teheran (SP – ATL) 
“I’m generally a fan of high upside in the later rounds of a draft, and this is usually limited to unproven prospects. But what about the rare example of a veteran who has fallen way too far in the fantasy ranks? Such is the case for Teheran, who remains a beacon of consistency, despite his own inherent risks. An ERA of 3.61 and a WHIP of 1.191 over the last six years — with most seasons leaning on the lower end of the scale — gives Teheran a solid baseline to outperform other options in his draft range. As a bonus, it might seem like Teheran has been around forever — this will be his ninth season — but he will pitch the entire 2019 campaign at age 28.”
– Mario Mergola (Sporfolio)

Matthew Boyd (SP – DET) 
“I’ve been getting Boyd quite often late in drafts. The lefty might not get many wins on the Tigers, but he upped his strikeout rate (22.4%) and lowered his walk rate (7.2%) last season, thanks in large part to increased slider usage. He was particularly good in the second half, striking out a batter per inning while experiencing a velocity bump.”
– Ryan Boyer (Rotoworld)

Max Kepler (OF – MIN) 
“I’m looking for Kepler to take that next step. In 2018, he increased his BB% from 8.3 to 11.6 while decreasing his K% from 20.1 to 15.7. Already possessing a 20-home run season, that progression could just be the beginning.”
– Jonathan Stulberg (FFLockerRoom)

Thank you to all the experts for naming their consensus sleepers. You can view each expert’s picks below and be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice. Also, please check out our podcast, which is also available below.

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