Players to Target in NL-Only Leagues (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
One of the more unique formats for fantasy baseball is an NL/AL-only league, and if you are looking for a way to challenge yourself, these leagues will certainly do that. For this article, I will give you some targets for the middle and late rounds of an NL-only draft. These names are far outside of your typical mixed-league targets and, for the late-round names, are guys you would likely leave on your waiver wire.
What we are looking for with these hitter targets is a combination of floor, positional flexibility, and cross-categorical relevance. For pitchers, the opportunity to have a regular turn in the rotation or someone who is a legitimate swingman is desirable because innings can be at a premium in this format. Here is a breakdown of some guys to draft after the obvious names are off the board.
Chris Taylor (OF/2B/SS – LAD)
Taylor has two things NL-only managers are looking for: Multi-positional eligibility and cross-category production. Long one of the most undervalued players in fantasy, Taylor’s versatility ensures he will play five or six games in a week. He carries a solid average (.263 career hitter) to go along with reasonable power and speed numbers. He’s had a great spring (.393 average, five double, three home runs), and the Dodgers have the best lineup in the National League, meaning Taylor will have plenty of chances to score runs. He will be popular, but he is a great mid-round target.
Nick Senzel (OF – CIN)
You could write up Senzel for NL-only formats, breakout candidates, and bounce-back players, but the bottom line is that he will be a solid fantasy performer with a ceiling for more. Senzel has enough speed to get double-digit steals which gives him some deep league appeal on that alone. When you add that you can also get 10+ home runs, you can see how valuable Senzel can be. The only question here is whether or not he will get regular playing time, but this year, that shouldn’t be an issue. Draft Senzel with confidence in NL-only.
David Peralta (OF – ARZ)
Peralta is one of the safer players to target as he is a near-lock to hit .280, and he can contribute across at least four categories. Assuming he stays healthy, he should get at least 500 at-bats and would be a nice run-producer hitting towards the top of the Arizona lineup. Outfield is the deepest position in the National League, but Peralta has had a really nice spring and will go overlooked because he lacks flash.
Jorge Alfaro (C – MIA)
I typically recommend waiting on catcher, but the position can dry up quickly, making Alfaro someone I like to target towards the latter part of the middle rounds. Alfaro has two things that we like to see from our catcher in fantasy: A batting average that won’t sink your team and reasonable power numbers. Alfaro offers a nice floor at fantasy’s weakest position and is one of the safer picks among all NL catchers.
Tejay Antone (P – CIN)
Antone is a middle reliever who gets some spot starts which is insanely valuable in NL-only leagues. He enjoyed a breakout of sorts in 2020 with 11.46 K/9 and an ERA of 2.80 across 35 Major League innings. Now the question is whether or not he can sustain the success over the course of 162 games. I am buying the increase in velocity and ability to throw five pitches for strikes, making Antone another target towards the back half of the middle-rounds. If you are looking for a multi-inning guy who won’t eat up starts during the week, Antone is your man.
C.J. Cron (COL – 1B)
Cron was added to the Rockies big league roster over the weekend, meaning he now has a shot at regular playing time in the league’s most hitter-friendly ballpark. Cron hit 55 home runs across the 2018 and 2019 seasons, so there is an outside shot at 30+ home runs this season, with somewhere in the 22-25 neighborhood being more realistic. Cron won’t kill your batting average, and he should chip in plenty of RBI’s. He will be increasingly popular throughout the next two weeks, but scoop him up if you can get him cheap.
Adam Frazier (2B/OF – PIT)
Frazier is coming off a dismal 2020 season in which he hit a career-worst .230, but he has bounced back nicely this spring. After making some tweaks to his hands in the offseason, he looks like he should get back to hitting closer to .275 while being atop the Pirates’ order. Frazier has a solid approach at the plate and doesn’t strike out much, so while he probably won’t hit more than 10-12 home runs, he will chip in with a solid average, some runs scored, and even a reasonable number of RBI’s. In an NL-only format where the second base position is thin, Frazier makes a nice sleeper pick.
Trevor Rogers (SP – MIA)
Rogers is less than 2% owned in most fantasy platforms, but that shouldn’t stop you from targeting him. His fastball is reportedly up over 96 MPH this spring, and after a strong outing against Washington, he looks like a good bet to make the Marlins rotation. Rogers has a brief cameo last summer, throwing 28 innings and striking out 39, so he can miss bats despite his bloated era (6.43). With the bump in velocity, Rogers is one of my favorite late-round sleepers, and he should be cheap even in NL-only formats.
J.T. Brubaker (SP – PIT)
We go back to Pittsburgh for another late-round target in Brubaker, who had a surprisingly solid 2020 campaign. With a four-pitch mix and the ability to miss bats, Brubaker represents the perfect late-round target in an NL-only league. Barring injury, he is a near-lock to make 25+ starts, and if he can push for 150 innings, he would be a nice source of strikeouts despite the inherent lack of wins. Pittsburgh’s lackluster defense will cost him some runs, and he isn’t going to get much in the way of run support, but you can do worse in the later rounds.
Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Trade Analyzer – which allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.