Lottery Tickets to Target Late in Drafts (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
Merriam-Webster defines lottery as “a drawing of lots in which prizes are distributed to the winners among persons buying a chance.”
When applying this to fantasy baseball, the players you pick toward the end of the draft have a chance to pay in a big way, just like if you were to hit the lottery. But like buying a lottery ticket in real life, there’s a greater chance that you won’t reap the benefits.
Lottery tickets, or fliers, all typically have something about their peripherals or pedigrees that show significant upside, making them worth grabbing in the later points of your draft. If they don’t hit that upside, you aren’t losing anything by dropping them since the investment was minimal.
Here are some late-round lottery tickets that you should look to grab in the late rounds of your drafts or off the waiver wire.
Lewis Brinson (OF – MIA)
When the Marlins traded Christian Yelich to the Brewers last year, the return was viewed as pretty weak. The one piece that could make it look decent for Miami is Brinson. After all, Brinson was a top-20 five-tool prospect who was also the key piece in the Jonathan Lucroy trade between Milwaukee and Texas. Last season wasn’t great for Brinson, but at only 24, there’s still time for him to live up to his pedigree. There isn’t a lot of competition, so he’s going to get every opportunity this year. If it breaks right, you’re looking at a 20/20 guy who can hit .270. He’s worth taking in the last couple of rounds in five-outfielder leagues.
Pablo Lopez (SP – MIA)
Lopez’s teammate Trevor Richards is the real fantasy asset in the Marlins’ rotation, but don’t sleep on Lopez. Like Richards, Lopez has a plus-changeup and curveball as swing-and-miss pitches, and his sinker induces ground balls. He’s more of a target in 15-team leagues with a big bench or NL-only leagues, but Lopez becoming a top-70 fantasy pitcher this year wouldn’t at all be surprising. He’s getting more helium as spring training rolls along.
Luke Weaver (SP – ARI)
Weaver was a top-60 pick in last year’s draft, and now he’s going well after pick 300. There’s no dancing around it — 2018 was a bad year for Weaver. However, peripherally, not much changed. The third pitch is still key for Weaver, and he’s worked extensively in the offseason on mastering his curveball.
We don’t have enough data yet to know whether or not Arizona is a better ballpark for a pitcher yet, but Weaver is getting drafted way too late given his minor league pedigree and 2017 showing/ There’s still top-50 pitcher potential.
Scott Kingery (3B/SS – PHI)
The positive for Kingery is that the Phillies didn’t sign Manny Machado. Now, he only has to beat out Maikel Franco for the majority of his playing time. The most likely scenario is Kingery not returning major value this year, but rather in 2020. However, at this time last year, Kingery was everyone’s favorite breakout player, and his ADP climbed to just outside the top 100.
The Phillies locked him up long term last season, so the potential is there. He’s worth a flier with a last-round pick if you can afford to wait and stash him on your bench.
Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B – COL)
Poor McMahon. He was another guy who, seemingly in the driver’s seat for regular at-bats, had late-round hype in 2018. Now he’s blocked … or is he? He has a shot at beating out Garrett Hampson at second base, which would be huge for McMahon’s value. If not, with Daniel Murphy at first and Nolan Arenado locked up to a long-term deal at third, McMahon would be the odd-man out again. But Murphy has an extensive injury history, which could seemingly open the door for McMahon to step in for regular at-bats.
McMahon’s ceiling is through the roof if given playing time. You’re looking at a .270 guy with 20-25 homers and six-eight steals. Like Kingery, he’s worth grabbing in the last round if you have room on your bench.
Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX)
Calhoun has trimmed down and looks to be in — say it with me, folks — the best shape of his life. That’s great and all, but is his defense improved? Until that happens, it’s going to be hard to see where Calhoun fits in on the Rangers. He is best suited to be a designated hitter, but Shin-Soo Choo can’t handle the outfield every day. Hunter Pence could prove to be a roadblock, too.
Calhoun failed to impress last year in his cup of coffee with the Rangers, but he needs to play regularly. If he shows he can’t perform at this level, that’s fine. At least the Rangers will know for sure. He has an interesting profile, as he’s a power bat who doesn’t strike out at all. He had a lot of helium heading into 2018 drafts, but is a forgotten piece this year. He’s an OF4 with OF3 potential if he can find the at-bats.
Zach Eflin (SP – PHI)
It’s understandable why Nick Pivetta has all of the attention on him this year. As the industry’s favorite sleeper, many teams are targeting him as an SP3. It’s fair, too, since his peripherals all screamed top-20 pitcher last year. But if the price is too high, just wait until one of your final two rounds to take Eflin.
Brad Peacock (SP/RP – HOU)
It’s a shame, really, that Josh James hurt his quad and was pulled from Houston’s rotation race in spring training. Enter Peacock, who had an exceptional run as a starter in 2017 with a 3.00 ERA and 11.0 K/9.
The Astros have a lot of competition for the final two rotation spots, but Peacock looks to have a hold on the final one. When James or Forrest Whitley are ready, Peacock could be the most likely option to move to the bullpen with the past experience and success he’s had there for Houston. Yet as long as he’s in the rotation, he can give you SP3 value, and he’s even more valuable in points leagues, where he can be deployed as a reliever but provide you with a starter’s value.