Mixed League Lottery Tickets (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
Fantasy baseball drafts are typically fraught with a deeper player pool than other fantasy sports leagues. Some drafts can include 400 players or more, which means we have to look for late-round values to boost our roster. Hitting on some of these picks can make a huge difference for your team, so shooting for upside late in drafts is a league-winning strategy.
These late-round lottery tickets use the ADP from the FantasyPros Expert Consensus ADP tool, which comes in handy when looking at players relative to their value around the industry. When you weigh your own thoughts on a player against some of the top fantasy minds out there, you will often find that you are higher or lower on a given player. It is important as part of our growth process to consider why that might be so.
When looking for lottery tickets, I value positional eligibility, power potential, strikeouts for pitchers, and opportunity. Someone like Tommy Edman, who will hit at the top of the St. Louis order, offers a lot for an ADP in the 140s. The same goes for Lorenzo Cain, who is often available for free in some leagues.
As we dive into this list, understand that some of these players may ultimately miss, but they offer considerable upside.
After the 12th Round, Draft…
Tommy Edman (2B/3B/SS/OF – STL) – ADP: 146
No matter the format, I covet positional eligibility in the later rounds. Edman is eligible all over the diamond to plug-and-play in leagues with daily lineup changes. He offered a nice blend of speed (15 SBs) and pop (11 HRs) to go along with a .304 average in a terrific 2019 debut. Although he dipped a bit in 2020, try to keep the uniqueness of last season in perspective. If Edman hits leadoff for St. Louis, he should be in a prime position to contribute. While he doesn’t walk much, he can still set the table for a much-improved Cardinals lineup.
Shohei Ohtani (SP/DH – LAA) – ADP: 168
I don’t have nearly enough shares of Ohtani, which is one of my biggest regrets of this year’s draft season. Finally healthy and looking like the budding superstar he was touted to be, Ohtani could steal 20 bases and hit 20 home runs while also contributing on the mound. The range of outcomes here is still relatively wide because we can’t be sure how the Angels will deploy him.
His value is probably highest as a starting pitcher, but that would cut into his at-bats, lowering his ceiling considerably. As a hitter, he only has DH-eligibility. Despite that cold water, his ADP should skyrocket over the next week or so. Getting him any time after the 12th round is stealing at this point.
Josh Donaldson (3B – MIN) – ADP: 179
Health is the only thing standing in the way of Donaldson hitting 30 home runs this year. In six seasons where he has played in more than 100 games, he’s averaged 33.5 home runs per season. The problem is that he always seems good for at least one IL stint per season, and the 35-year-old’s recurring calf issues could keep him out for an elongated period of time. That said, Donaldson is a cheap source of power, runs scored, and RBIs at this stage of the draft. He also gets a nice bump in OBP leagues because of how often he walks.
After the 15th Round, Draft…
Andrés Giménez (2B/3B/SS – CLE) – ADP: 182
Considering Giménez was not a sure thing to even make Cleveland’s roster out of spring training, it should come as no surprise that his ADP is on the rise. Another player with multi-position eligibility, Giménez is also a cheap source of steals. If he hits towards the top of the lineup, Giménez could be a top-20 middle infielder. Although that isn’t a sure thing, his speed upside alone is worth the investment at this stage of the draft.
Andrew Heaney (SP – LAA) – ADP: 198
I’ve got so much Heaney on my teams this year, and I’m thrilled about it at this price. He’s missing a ton of bats this spring, most recently tossing five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts against the Brewers. When Heaney gets all three pitches working, he has the potential to be a solid SP2. At this price tag, you are probably drafting him as an SP4/SP5, which makes him one of the best values on the board. Heaney can still be somewhat inconsistent, but he has strong career strikeout numbers. He will have a career year if can stay healthy and miss bats.
Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA) – ADP: 200
Kelenic can’t possibly live up to the hype from the get-go. However, since we are talking lottery tickets, let’s say he does have a season close to his ceiling. Hitting 30-plus home runs while batting .290 and stealing 15 bases would put him in an elite stratosphere. While that is fun to dream on, let me throw some cold water on that outlook. A more realistic outcome for Kelenic this season is probably closer to 15 home runs and 10-12 steals with an average hovering around .250 or .260. Still, at a pick No. 200 ADO, you could do worse. If he surpasses my modest expectations, you are getting a steal.
After the 18th Round, Draft…
Hunter Dozier (1B/3B – KC) – ADP: 222
Dozier signed an extension earlier this month, locking the versatile corner infielder into a potential five-year deal with Kansas City. He had a rough 2020 season, slashing .228/.344/.392 in just 44 games, but a lot of that was due to an early-season bout with COVID. A healthy Dozier should return closer to his 2019 numbers of 26 home runs and an .870 OPS. Some stability with regards to his defensive positioning will also help at the plate. Dozier will be left on the waiver wire in some shallow mixed leagues. Don’t let that happen in yours.
Andrew Benintendi (OF – KC) – ADP: 226
Benintendi going this late would have been unheard of two years ago. Yet after two straight sluggish seasons, he is now late-round fodder. A change of scenery to Kansas City should help him get back on track to the 20/20 we saw in his first two seasons. It’s important to remember Benintendi is just 26. Although this is already his sixth year in MLB, his best baseball could still be in front of him.
After the 20th Round, Draft…
Lorenzo Cain (OF – MIL) – ADP: 265
Cain opted out last year and had a down year in 2019, but I think he has something left in the tank even though he turns 35 in April. At this point in a draft, Cain represents a cheap speed option who shouldn’t kill your average. If he brings his OBP back to his customary neighborhood of .350, he will chip in plenty of runs scored as well. He is worth a flier.
Chris Sale (SP – BOS) – ADP: 254
Noah Syndergaard (SP – NYM): 265
You want late-round lottery tickets? Syndergaard and Sale are both coming back from Tommy John surgery, but they could provide fantasy teams with 12 starts that are better than what you’ll get from everyone else in this range. You risk another setback to their respective rehab programs, causing them to miss more time or even the entire season. But with an ADP beyond pick 250, you can draft and stash them on your IL to wait and see.
Robbie Ray (SP – TOR) – ADP: 284
Ray has had a terrific spring, generating plenty of swings and misses and touching 97 with his fastball. He’s been much more consistent around the zone, which he struggled with in recent seasons. While Ray typically has excellent strikeout numbers, he’s had trouble with walks, particularly in the last two seasons. If he can harness his stuff enough to throw consistent strikes, he will offer huge strikeout upside without killing your ratios.
I have him on my team in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and I just took him in my big money re-draft league over the weekend. He suffered an elbow bruise in a freak accident after falling down a set of stairs, putting his Opening Day status up in the air, so you shouldn’t have to reach for him in upcoming drafts despite the spring buzz.
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