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Mike Maher’s Draft Cheat Sheet (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Greetings, friends. We’re back. The start of the MLB season is upon us. For many, these last few days are when they squeeze in their last-minute drafts as they attempt to wait long enough to avoid as many post-draft injuries as possible. I’ve been drafting for a few months now, and I’ve been tweaking and updating this Draft Cheat Sheet. Here are the players I’m targeting and avoiding by round and some strategies to utilize this season.

Here at FantasyPros, we’ve been publishing draft cheat sheets from some excellent fantasy baseball analysts for you to have as resources before and during your drafts. Today, it’s my turn to share my draft cheat sheet with you.

Review and save this cheat sheet along with these other great cheat sheets:

Have questions or just want to talk baseball? Feel free to reach out on Twitter @mikeMaher with questions or feedback anytime.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Cheat Sheet

*NOTE: These are listed in order of my rankings and, more often than not, their current ADP. That means the players at the end of each section are ones you can typically get in later rounds.

Targets By Position

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, Daulton Varsho, Salvador Perez, Will Smith, Adley Rutschman, Willson Contreras, Alejandro Kirk, Gabriel Moreno Christian Vazquez, Logan O’Hoppe, Eric Haase, Tom Murphy

First Base: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Olson, Nathaniel Lowe, Vinnie Pasquantino, Ryan Mountcastle, Andrew Vaughn, Ty France, Joey Meneses, Brandon Drury, Triston Casas

Second Base: Ozzie Albies, Andres Gimenez, Tommy Edman, Thairo Estrada, Jonathan India, Jeff McNeil, Ryan McMahon, Brandon Drury, Luis Urias, Chris Taylor

Third Base: Jose Ramirez, Manny Machado, Bobby Witt Jr., Rafael Devers, Austin Riley, Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman, Gunnar Henderson, Max Muncy, Ryan McMahon, Justin Turner, Brandon Drury, Luis Urias

Shortstop: Trea Turner, Bo Bichette, Bobby Witt Jr., Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Tim Anderson, Andres Gimenez, Tommy Edman, Nico Hoerner, Carlos Correa, Willy Adames, Thairo Estrada

Outfield: Julio Rodriguez, Kyle Tucker, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Michael Harris, Kyle Schwarber, Cedric Mullins, George Springer, Corbin Carroll, Christian Yelich, Anthony Santander, Thairo Estrada, Andrew Vaughn, Hunter Renfroe, Giancarlo Stanton, Brandon Nimmo, Joey Meneses, Joc Pederson (daily leagues), Charlie Blackmon, Masataka Yoshida (especially OBP leagues), Garrett Mitchell (deeper leagues)

Utility: Shohei Ohtani (he’s probably the only UT player I’m targeting this season)

Starting Pitcher: Corbin Burnes, Jacob deGrom, Spencer Strider, Shohei Ohtani, Shane McLanahan, Brandon Woodruff, Shane Bieber, Julio Urias, Kevin Gausman, Alek Manoah, Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Joe Ryan, Freddy Peralta, Charlie Morton, Lucas Giolito, Chris Bassitt, Jeffrey Springs (especially in SP vs. RP leagues), Justin Steele, Michael Kopech, Zach Eflin, Ross Stripling, Kodai Senga, Sean Manaea, Mike Clevinger

Closer: Emmanuel Clase, Jordan Romano, Devin Williams, Ryan Pressley, Ryan Helsley, David Bednar, Clay Holmes, Alexis Diaz, Pete Fairbanks

Targets By Round (12-Team League)

1st: Julio Rodriguez, Trea Turner, Jose Ramirez, Shohei Ohtani, Kyle Tucker, Mookie Betts

2nd: Corbin Burnes, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Manny Machado, Bobby Witt Jr., Bo Bichette, Mike Trout, Rafael Devers

3rd: Nolan Arenado, Jacob deGrom, Michael Harris, Spencer Strider, J.T. Realmuto (late 3rd or two-catcher leagues)

4th: Brandon Woodruff, Kyle Schwarber, Ozzie Albies, Cedric Mullins

5th: Daulton Varsho, Julio Urias, Alek Manoah

6th: Luis Castillo, Kevin Gausman, Alex Bregman, Cristian Javier, Framber Valdez

7th: Zac Gallen, Corbin Carroll, Raisel Iglesias, Tommy Edman, Andres Gimenez

8th: Robbie Ray, Ryan Helsley, Tim Anderson, Vinnie Pasquantino

9th: Nathaniel Lowe, Carlos Correa, Willson Contreras

10th: Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, Jake McCarthy

11th-15th: Clay Holmes, Sean Murphy, Lance Lynn, Nico Hoerner, Max Muncy, Andrew Vaughn, David Bednar, Chris Bassitt, Lucas Giolito, Freddy Peralta, Hunter Renfroe, Joe Ryan, Jeffrey Springs (in leagues where SP vs. RP slots matter), Thairo Estrada, Ty France, Jordan Montgomery, Masataka Yoshida (OBP leagues)

16th-20th: Brandon Drury, Ryan McMahon, Jordan Walker, Joey Meneses, Triston Casas, Lance McCullers (injury concern, but ADP is late enough for a dart throw at this point), Joc Pederson (daily lineups), Justin Turner

21st-25th: Luis Urias, Kolten Wong (daily lineups), Michael Kopech, Zach Eflin, Ross Stripling, Sean Manaea, Jarred Kelenic, Charlie Blackmon, Kodai Senga, Garrett Mitchell

Post-300 ADP: Brandon Marsh, Edward Olivares, Kenta Maeda, Lane Thomas, Corey Kluber, Eduardo Escobar, Adam Duvall, Mike Clevinger, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Alex Wood, Matthew Boyd, Jeimer Candelario, Myles Straw, Joey Wendle, Anthony DeSclafani

Players To Avoid Near ADP

Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Strategy/Advice

Pay attention to the format. This is perhaps the simplest advice I have, but it’s often overlooked despite being arguably the most important factor. If you’re in an OBP league, take a look at some projections and adjust your rankings. You’ll be amazed at how many fantasy managers in OBP and OPS leagues draft using the same rankings as their AVG leagues.

Have a plan. Regardless of the format, you should arrive at your draft with at least a general plan. You can be flexible depending on how your draft goes, but take a look at the player pool and your roster setup and identify some targets based on the cheat sheet I provided above or your own rankings. Third base is especially shallow this season, so you should keep an eye on that position.

For points leagues, throw projections into a spreadsheet and calculate projected points. This also works for categories leagues, but it’s incredibly simple and useful for points leagues. Export your favorite fantasy baseball projections, put them in a Google Sheet, and use the =SUM formula to add up all of the points from the relevant columns. That’s it. It’s that simple. You’ll be surprised how useful this is and how different those points might be (depending on your format) from your initial rankings. This is the easiest way to win points leagues.

Pay attention to position scarcity but don’t overreact to it. The dropoff at 3B is real this season. 1B isn’t much better. SS is deep. OF is OK, but with every team having to start 3-5 of them in most leagues, even that dries up fairly quickly. Don’t force picks in the first few rounds just because one player is a 3B and the other isn’t, but pay attention to your queue and the remaining players available. The FantasyPros Draft Wizard is great for this because you can view real-time cheat sheets and a full list of everyone available at each position.

Draft your guys. Do your research, form your opinions and then see where you can find value. Don’t feel like you have to adhere to where ADP says guys should be drafted. If you do that, you’ll frequently find yourself a round late on players you want. That’s also a great way to draft a team that finishes in the middle of the pack. You shouldn’t be taking guys four or five rounds early, but be aggressive on players you know you really want. Shoot your shot, and draft your guys.

Don’t panic about steals. There are only so many players who are reliable contributors who also provide a bunch of steals. If you don’t land someone like Trea Turner early, it’s ok. Don’t panic. You can build a team with enough steals by grabbing several players who will chip in a few here and there. You shouldn’t reach for a “steals-only” player who won’t contribute in many/any other categories because you’re worried about steals. It will be ok. I promise. For 2023, I will say that I would try to target guys who do tend to steal at least a little bit. With the rule changes, guys who typically steal 8-12 bases could very well steal 20+ bases this season. If a guy steals zero bases most years, the rule changes are unlikely to propel him to the double digits.

Boring Production > Boom-or-Bust. Every year, there are at least a handful of prospects who jump up the draft boards because of their potential. Some of them end up being solid fantasy contributors right away. Most of them either spend half of the year in the minors or struggle once they come up (remember Jarred Kelenic last year?). Normally, the fantasy managers who take multiple swings on these prospects in their drafts are the ones scrambling for production on the waiver wire early in the season. In his draft cheat sheet, Chris Clegg said winning leagues is about drafting boring veterans. He’s right. Boring is ok. Boring wins championships.

And don’t forget to connect your league to FantasyPros Draft Assistant. The Draft Assistant will sync with your league and update on its own in real-time to show you the best available players, and you can even import your own custom cheat sheets from your favorite experts or your own rankings or just use the current FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings.

Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.


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Mike Maher is an editor and content manager at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, and follow him on Twitter @MikeMaher.

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