Last-minute draft targets are quite possibly my favorite players to discuss. They have the ability to separate good fantasy teams from great ones and bring home championships.
It’s all about upside with these players, who should qualify for one of the following criteria: They should either have long-term upside or round out your team by filling in the missing holes.
I will define these potential targets as going in Rounds 15-21 of 14-team leagues, based on FantasyPros’ consensus Average Draft Position (ADP). These ADPs are reflective as of March 3,
Let’s take a look, round by round, at some late-round targets in your fantasy baseball drafts.
Jameson Taillon (SP – NYY): 203 ADP
The Yankees acquired the former second overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft from the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason. Expectations have been high for Taillon his entire career, and he hasn’t quite lived up to them. Although Taillon has a respectable career 3.67 ERA, 3.55 FIP, and 3.58 K/BB ratio, he hasn’t been the ace many predicted.
Having dealt with a plethora of injuries, Taillon has pitched over 190 innings in a season just once. But perhaps a change of scenery could jolt him to peak form. The Pirates dealt Taillon for a relatively low cost, so it appeared they were done waiting for the righty to mold into a potential ace. Taillon’s past (injuries, inconsistency) is incorporated into his current ADP, so he could be had at a discount.
If healthy, Taillon can win many games for one of the best teams in baseball. Just beware of the downside, as Yankee Stadium is a hitter’s ballpark. At his current cost, it’s still worth taking a chance on Taillon.
Nick Madrigal (2B – CHW): 209 ADP
Madrigal, the fourth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, was having a tremendous debut until a shoulder injury cut his season short. In 29 games, Madrigal slashed .340/.376/.369.
The comparisons to an early-career Jose Altuve are evident, and the slugging percentage should increase as time goes on. As he enters his first full season, Madrigal should be ready to go for Opening Day. Second base is such a shallow position, but I’m comfortable waiting on Madrigal as my starter. I believe his ADP will continue to rise with positive news on his rehab. As of now, his current cost makes him impossible to pass up. He should be an excellent source of runs, stolen bases, and batting average.
Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA): 219 ADP
Kelenic, MLB.com’s No. 4 prospect, recently made headlines (partially out of his own control) when then team president Kevin Mather admitted that the Mariners plan to keep him in the minors to manipulate his service time. Kelenic’s talent is undeniable. He has a tremendous swing, and his ability to play multiple positions in the outfield — to go along with his above-average speed — should make him a big leaguer for a long time.
The premier prospect should make his long-awaited debut this season, and he should get every opportunity to display his talent. If he gets enough at-bats, we’ll be talking about Kelenic as a player to select in earlier rounds next year.
Nate Pearson (SP – TOR): 228 ADP
Pearson, the Blue Jays’ top prospect, made his major league debut last season. He has some of the nastiest stuff you will see out of a starting pitcher. Pearson is able to hit triple digits on his fastball with ease and can throw a disgusting wipeout slider to get hitters to consistently whiff.
However, his highly electric repertoire did not translate well to the majors last year. Pearson really struggled in 18 innings, giving up 12 earned runs, five home runs, 14 hits, and 13 walks. Rookies often experience ups and downs, but Pearson’s ceiling remains high so long as the Blue Jays give him enough innings in 2021. Keep an eye on Pearson, as he could be a great choice to round out your starting pitching.
Hunter Dozier (1B/3B/OF – KC): 234 ADP
Dozier recently signed an extension with the Kansas City Royals, something the club rarely does. This shows a level of trust not often displayed by the organization. Dozier struggled in 2020 following a breakout season in 2019, posting a barely above-average 101 OPS+. However, he should bounce back and find some happy medium between those two campaigns.
His ADP and Expert Consensus Ranking (232) are low, and the Royals have a sneaky good lineup that could put up runs. Look for Dozier to round more into his 2019 form rather than his 2020 version. The ability to play multiple positions only increases his value as well.
Mark Canha (1B/OF – OAK): 250 ADP
The fantasy baseball community continues to sleep on Canha, hence his ADP and ECR (213) outside the top 200. Over the past three seasons, Canha has posted a 128 OPS+, making him a more than capable hitter.
He simply produces, but those results come from all sorts of different categories. Canha could be Oakland’s new leadoff hitter, an intriguing position for fantasy purposes. If he holds that spot all season, he could flirt with 100 runs scored. I wouldn’t be surprised if Canha posted George Springer-type numbers this season. Target him to round out your team and outfield.
Lorenzo Cain (OF – MIL): 257 ADP
After struggling mightily in 2019 and playing only five games in 2020 before opting out, Cain is a bit of an afterthought now. That said, hr is just two seasons removed from finishing seventh in the NL MVP race. Although his sprint speed has decreased, there’s still a good chance Cain teases with a 20-HR and 20-SB season. His last two seasons are incorporated in his price, and he could be had at a great discount, even though he is at the tail end of his career. As a potential 18th-round pick, Cain is worth the risk in hopes of molding back into his 2018 form.
Joc Pederson (1B/OF – CHC): 265 ADP
I love the idea of Pederson as a buy-low option this year. Much like many players on this list, the fantasy baseball community is forgetting about him because of what he has (or hasn’t) done recently.
The change of scenery should only bolster his fantasy value. As we’ve seen in the past with Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, and many other Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field plays well to power-hitting lefties. As is often forgotten, Pederson had 36 home runs just two seasons ago. He should get tons of playing time with Schwarber’s departure to the Nation’s Capital, so expect him to return much more value than his current ranking suggests.
Rowdy Tellez (1B – TOR): 267 ADP
Tellez finds himself in a potentially great spot, batting in the middle of a suddenly loaded Toronto Blue Jays lineup. He is a bit slept on because of all the shine (and rightfully so) that Springer, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and others get, but Tellez can produce. In 35 games last season, he posted a 139 OPS+ to go with a 6.3% HR rate and 47.3% hard-hit rate. Tellez has all the tools to be a major run producer, and he could find himself in prime position for a career year if given playing time in this stacked lineup. Reaching the 30-HR and 100-RBI marks is not out of his realm of possibilities.
Amed Rosario (SS – CLE): 293 ADP
The New York Mets’ former top prospect has never truly put it all together at the major league level. Outside of his 2019 season, Rosario has posted below-average hitting numbers. He has only posted an OPS of over .700 once and has a career 91 OPS+. But Cleveland is a great place for a player to get back on track.
Much like the Rays and Athletics, Cleveland tends to overachieve and get the most out of its talent. A new home could help Rosario round into the hitter that many scouts believed he could be. He should get every chance to fill the role at shortstop after trading Francisco Lindor in the same deal. Cleveland will have to find production somewhere, and Rosario turning into a solid hitter is not as far-fetched as many may think.
Griffin Canning (SP – LAA): 298 ADP
Canning has been inconsistent. In 28 career starts, he has posted a modest 4.35 FIP with a 105 ERA+ to go along with 9.3 K/9. These numbers are decent, but most people initially expected more. Now entering his third season, Canning could be in a prime position to take his game to the next level.
Much like his teammate, Dylan Bundy, Canning could be in line for a breakout year. If the Angels have any shot of claiming the AL West title, they’ll need Canning to be great. He is a great buy-low option, as this may be the last year fantasy managers can select the young pitcher this late.
Round 21 or Later
Wander Franco (SS – TB): 320 ADP
The top prospect in all of baseball, Franco should finally make his major league debut this season. Franco is a tremendous switch-hitter who should transition seamlessly to the majors. Selecting him comes with virtually no risk, and he could deliver Rookie of the Year-caliber numbers. Keep an eye out for any updates on his eventual call-up.
A.J. Puk (RP – OAK): 343 ADP
Before the Athletics signed Trevor Rosenthal, I was targeting A.J. Puk in all of my drafts. However, the Rosenthal signing makes things a bit murky in the Bay Area. Puk is a wild card since no one truly knows what role he will play this season. He could be in line to start games, or he could potentially close games for the Athletics. Nevertheless, Puk is a powerful lefty who should find some consistent role. Selecting Puk is banking on nothing but upside, and I think the lefty will deliver in some capacity. Fantasy managers will be happy they took him.
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