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Sleepers Outside the Top 300 (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

Sleepers Outside the Top 300 (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

My favorite type of fantasy league involves at least 14 teams with deep rosters. Ideally, a solid 16-team daily league, with six available bench spots fit my preference. In this format, including IL and NA spots (not active – usually saved for prospects), there is an upwards of 500 players or more rostered at any given time. Therefore, to me, a sleeper is someone more like Anthony Alford (OF – PIT) at 587, because at 300, we’re barely scratching the surface! Okay, maybe not barely, but we are just getting beyond the middle rounds and entering into the nitty-gritty.

For those in more standard leagues though, these eight guys/sleepers should still be considered for your late-round selections. Any one of them, if not all of them, could finish in the top 200 overall and have a significant impact on your team’s success. It’s the late-round picks where you can take a chance on those you strongly believe in, even if others view them as a heavy overpay.

After 250, it’s usually better to go with your gut than rely on the rankings because that late in the draft, it’s anyone’s guess who will produce. Plus, the projections are usually all over the place. That said, here is a list of guys I’m targeting this year well before their current ADP.

To qualify for this list I’m looking at players who are outside both the top 300 ADP as well as the top 300 rankings according to FantasyPros ECR.

(Order based on the average between ADP and ECR)

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Lane Thomas (OF – WAS): ADP 344, ECR 310

Thomas is my favorite player on this list. Batting atop the Nationals lineup in front of the best hitter on earth, Thomas is going to score a ton of runs, hit for a decent average, get on base for those in OBP leagues, and hit for decent power, while adding in a few steals. What more could you ask for out of someone not being drafted in the top 300?!

Many don’t believe in the kid from Knoxville because he lacks a track record, but Thomas looked great in Washington last year and did produce some nice numbers in the Cards’ Minor League system. He doesn’t have a whole lot of competition for playing time either and is someone the Nats will rely on to set the table on a nightly basis. Buy Lane Thomas!

Luis Patino (SP – TB): ADP 353, ECR 323

It’s surprising to see Patino fall this late in drafts after all the hype that originally surrounded him. His drop works to your advantage though, as he’s now going for a much more reasonable price tag. It’s always a great strategy to be wary of the overhyped players and then pounce when their buzz wears off.

Patino undoubtedly had his fair share of struggles last year, but his arsenal and athleticism coupled with the Rays’ coaching staff scream future stardom. He was lights-out coming up through the Padres’ system and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Tampa tap into some of that former magic.

With a slight tinker, Patino (still only 22 years old) could turn into a near ace, and going around 350, he is more than worth the late gamble. Plus, if he starts hot, he’ll earn you a nice return on the trade market.

James Kaprielian (SP – OAK): ADP 368, ECR 312

Kaprielian is a no-brainer to add to this list and should be going before 300th overall. The former first-round pick by the Yankees already looks the part and checks all the boxes of a successful major leaguer. Lost among Oakland’s impressive staff, Kaprielian quietly struck out better than a batter per inning while limiting base runners.

He’s a power arm with two plus breaking pitches, and at 6’3″, 225 pounds, has no problem pitching into the sixth or seventh inning. He was able to garner eight wins last year despite only starting 21 games and being limited by an innings cap late in the season.

There’s a good chance the A’s trade away an arm or two before the season even starts, but look for Kap to stay right where he is and be a large part of Oakland’s future success.

LaMonte Wade Jr. (1B/OF – SF): ADP 362, ECR 324

Wade Jr. came out of nowhere last year, and before you knew it he was leading off for the Giants and batting cleanup. In over 336 at-bats the lefty masher crushed 18 homers, 17 doubles, three triples, knocked in 56, scored 52 runs, and stole six bases. His average hovered around .250, but that was mainly due to his struggles against lefties.

When playing in deeper leagues, especially daily ones, platoon players can work towards your advantage because you only play them when they’re at their best. Wade Jr. will continue to start against righties and from what he’s shown, could easily be a productive player on your roster.

Rafael Ortega (OF – CHC): ADP 354, ECR 335

Ortega and Frank Schwindel (1B – CHC) were a surprise power duo down the stretch last year for the Cubs, yet only the first baseman is being shown any love in fantasy leagues. While Shwindy was posting an OPS on par with Bryce Harper (RF – PHI), Ortega was quietly producing like Ozzie Albies (2B – ATL).

Over the final two months of the season (after being given full-time at-bats), the 30-year-old outfielder hit nine home runs, stole eight bases, scored 34 times, and maintained nearly a .290 average. He also accepts his fair share of walks and plays a relatively decent center field. The Cubs don’t have a ton of big names, but they should put up a decent amount of runs this year and Ortega could lead the team.

His biggest knock is that he’ll probably sit against lefties, so he is someone to bench in weekly leagues with a heavy dose of southpaws on tap. His fantastic production against righties, however, makes him more than viable going later than 350th overall. And in daily leagues, he’s a steal.

Elieser Hernandez (SP – MIA): ADP 364, ECR 326

The Marlins have a ton of up-and-coming pitching talent, but that shouldn’t scare you off of Elieser Hernandez. The Venezuelan has dealt with injuries over the past couple of seasons but when he is right, he can produce like a solid sixth or seventh pitcher for your staff.

Hernandez shows great command of the strike zone, averaging better than a 20 percent K/BB rate over the past three years. He also strikes out better than a batter per inning and keeps his WHIP at or below league average.

His advanced numbers say he’s gotten a bit lucky, but when I watch him pitch, the 26-year-old passes every bit of the eye test when fully healthy. He spots up the fastball and throws his wipeout slider to either righties or lefties, getting a ton of swing-throughs while also working in an above-average changeup.

Miami has a better roster this year and should offer more support, helping Hernandez earn more than a few wins. His innings may be kept in check and he’s no guarantee to start the season in the rotation, but his upside is high, and at 364th Hernandez is extremely valuable.

Connor Joe (1B/OF – COL): ADP 367, ECR 328

Joe is another player who will likely act as a catalyst for his team but is getting very little recognition. Similar to others on this list, a lack of an MLB track record is causing him to fall. But if you look at his Statcast numbers, along with what he was able to accomplish in the Minor Leagues, Joe’s solid production last year lines up with what should be expected.

The dude hits the ball hard and punishes fastballs. He also takes his walks. The 29-year-old outfielder/first baseman doesn’t possess a ton of speed but did hit nearly .300 every season on the farm since 2018 with the Dodgers while producing an OPS close to 1.000.

The Rockies will mix and match their lineup, but I have trouble seeing Joe, outside of injury, garnering less than 500 plate appearances. He may not leadoff for the Rock’s, but he’ll continue to rake wherever they put him.

Tylor Megill (SP – NYM): ADP 369, ECR 330

Megill was a godsend last year for the Mets as the staff dealt with some devastating injuries. Over his first seven starts, the 6’7″ righty allowed a total of eight runs while striking out better than a batter per inning. The league eventually caught up with him as he gave up a few too many long balls down the stretch, but his metrics still show he got a bit unlucky. Megill may have ended the season with a 4.52 ERA, but his xERA was 3.84 and his xFIP was 3.92.

The power righty has always been a strikeout pitcher, reaching some astronomical ratios early in his professional career. Last year, he continued that trend by striking out 59 batters in just 40 high-Minors innings. Megill then earned his call-up to the Bigs, where he struck out 99 hitters in 89.2 innings.

While Megill’s strikeouts are enticing, his other numbers should be respected as well. He keeps his walks in check and with the added run support (he should be given), 11+ wins should be in the cards.

If the So Cal native earns a spot in the rotation to start the season, he could further his development and produce like a quality pitcher across the board. As a power arm entering his sophomore campaign with more than a few ace-like starts under his belt, you have to like Megill as a deep sleeper in larger leagues.

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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.

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