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Fantasy Baseball Draft Cheat Sheet: Targets & Advice (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Draft Cheat Sheet: Targets & Advice (2024)

Greetings, friends. We are so back. And yours truly is coming off a second consecutive Top 5 finish in the Fantasy Baseball Accuracy Contest. That bumps me up to No. 3 overall year-over-year. :::Pause here for applause::: Ok, anyway, the MLB season is upon us. We are getting real baseball games in South Korea already, and this upcoming weekend is the biggest draft weekend of the offseason. So, it’s time to lock in. 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.

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. If I don’t list a player you think is very good, it’s probably because I don’t anticipate drafting them at their current ADP or salary cap / auction league price.

Targets By Position

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith, Salvador Perez, Willson Contreras, Sean Murphy, Francisco Alvarez, Henry Davis (not eligible to start the year), Tyler Soderstrom

First Base: Freddie Freeman, Matt Olson, Bryce Harper, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Nolan Jones, Paul Goldschmidt, Triston Casas, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Vinnie Pasquantino, Rhys Hoskins, Ty France — 1B is SHALLOW, so pay attention to who is available.

Second Base: Mookie Betts, Ozzie Albies, Marcus Semien, Xander Bogaerts (not eligible to start the season), Nico Hoerner, Ha-Seong Kim, Spencer Steer (not eligible at 2B in some formats), Andres Gimenez, Jackson Holliday, Nolan Gorman, Edouard Julien, Ryan McMahon, Tommy Edman (only if he falls, which he has been), Jeff McNeil (boring but decent floor again this year), Miguel Vargas (only very late and in leagues where I have the space to stash him).

Third Base: Jose Ramirez, Austin Riley, Rafael Devers, Elly De La Cruz, Gunnar Henderson, Ha-Seong Kim, Spencer Steer, Nolan Arenado, Josh Jung, Isaac Paredes, Alec Bohm, Jeimer Candelario, Ryan McMahon — 3B is gross again this year, so I try to grab one before the cliff.

Shortstop: Bobby Witt Jr., Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Elly De La Cruz, Gunnar Henderson, CJ Abrams, Bo Bichette, Oneil Cruz, Nico Hoerner, Matt McLain, Ha-Seong Kim, Xander Bogaerts, Jackson Holliday, Trevor Story (only late and preferably as a bench or utility), Tommy Edman, Jackson Merrill

Outfield: Ronald Acuna Jr., Julio Rodriguez, Corbin Carroll, Mookie Betts, Kyle Tucker, Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Yordan Alvarez, Luis Robert Jr., Adolis Garcia, Nolan Jones, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, Wyatt Langford, Seiya Suzuki, Bryan Reynolds, Spencer Steer, Evan Carter, Teoscar Hernandez, George Springer, Jackson Chourio, Jarren Duran, Jorge Soler, Tyler O’Neill, Tommy Edman, Ceddanne Rafaela, Leody Taveras, Jake Fraley, Lars Nootbaar, Victor Scott, Alex Verdugo, TJ Friedl (if you can stash on IL), Luke Raley (only in daily lineup leagues)

Utility: Shohei Ohtani, Marcell Ozuna, Eloy Jimenez

Starting Pitcher: Spencer Strider (duh), Corbin Burnes, Zack Wheeler, Luis Castillo, Tyler Glasnow, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Zac Gallen, Kevin Gausman, Freddy Peralta, Aaron Nola, Max Fried, Framber Valdez, Bobby Miller, Zach Eflin, Blake Snell, Dylan Cease, Joe Musgrove, Justin Steele, Chris Sale, Shane Bieber, Michael King, Hunter Greene, Cristian Javier, Justin Verlander, Nick Pivetta, Brayan Bello, Yu Darvish, Aaron Civale, Nestor Cortes Jr., Charlie Morton, Kenta Maeda, Kodai Senga (he’s going late enough now to risk it), James Paxton, Gavin Stone, Braxton Garrett, Paul Skenes, Garrett Whitlock, Max Scherzer (going late if you can stash him)

Reliever / Closer: Edwin Diaz, Josh Hader, Emmanuel Clase, Camilo Doval, Raisel Iglesias, Jordan Romano, Evan Phillips, Ryan Helsley, Clay Holmes, Adbert Alzolay, Jose Alvarado, Alex Lange, Robert Suarez, Carlos Estevez, Hunter Harvey, Yuki Matsui, Devin Williams (only if you have plenty of room to stash), Erik Swanson, Joel Payamps, Ryan Pressly, A.J. Minter, Scott Barlow, Chris Martin, Gregory Soto

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice

Targets By Round (12-Team League)

1st: Ronald Acuna Jr., Bobby Witt Jr., Julio Rodriguez, Mookie Betts, Corbin Carroll, Kyle Tucker, Freddie Freeman, Spencer Strider

2nd: Matt Olson, Trea Turner, Jose Ramirez, Austin Riley, Bryce Harper, Rafael Devers, Corbin Burnes, Ozzie Albies

3rd: Marcus Semien, Zack Wheeler, Elly De La Cruz, Gunnar Henderson, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

4th: Zac Gallen, Tyler Glasnow, Adolis Garcia, CJ Abrams, Logan Webb, Aaron Nola

5th: Max Fried, Mike Trout, Josh Hader, Nolan Jones, Framber Valdez, Paul Goldschmidt, Nico Hoerner

6th: Emmanuel Clase, Matt McLain, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Oneil Cruz, Christian Yelich

7th: J.T. Realmuto, Bryan Reynolds, Bobby Miller, Spencer Steer, Will Smith, Zach Eflin, Nolan Arenado, Jordan Romano, Raisel Iglesias

8th: Ha-Seong Kim, Justin Steele, Triston Casas, Xander Bogaerts, Dylan Cease, Joe Musgrove

9th: George Springer, Evan Carter, Seiya Suzuki, Teoscar Hernandez

10th: Evan Phillips, Josh Jung, Andres Gimenez, Ryan Helsley, Chris Bassitt

11th-15th: Jackson Holliday, Devin Williams, Hunter Greene, Esteury Ruiz, Shane Bieber, Clay Holmes, Chris Sale, Jackson Chourio, Salvador Perez, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cedric Mullins, Michael King, Adbert Alzolay, Jorge Soler, Kodai Senga, Wyatt Langford, Jake Burger, Willson Contreras, Cristian Javier, Vinnie Pasquantino, Isaac Paredes, Carlos Rodon, Francisco Alvarez, Nolan Gorman, Yu Darvish, Jarren Duran

16th-20th: TJ Friedl, Eloy Jimenez, Brayan Bello, Nick Pivetta, Rhys Hoskins, Shota Imanaga, Tommy Edman, Trevor Story, Bryce Miller, Charlie Morton, Edouard Julien, Jeimer Candelario, Braxton Garrett, Starling Marte, Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar, Kenta Maeda, Ryan McMahon, Nestor Cortes Jr., Jorge Polanco

21st-25th: Nick Lodolo, Ryan Mountcastle, Andrew Vaughn, Mason Miller, Andrew Abbott, Alex Verdugo, A.J. Puk, Paul Skenes, Henry Davis, Jackson Merrill, Tyler Stephenson, Brendan Donovan, Jeff McNeil

Post-300 ADP: Sean Manaea, Joel Payamps, Zach Neto, Parker Meadows, Clayton Kershaw, Ranger Suarez, Leody Taveras, Ty France, Jose Siri, Hunter Harvey, Frankie Montas, Jake Fraley, Ceddanne Rafaela, Jacob deGrom, James Paxton, Gavin Stone

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Players To Avoid Near ADP

Those players are all in the Top 200, according to Fantasy Baseball ADP. After that point, it’s hard to say to avoid someone because they’re going that late for a reason.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy/Advice

Don’t panic about steals. Last year, we talked about the new landscape for stolen bases and how things could change and, hoo boy, were we right. I don’t think we realized how much the landscape would change, but the overall advice about not panicking was still pretty much on the nose. Last year, the advice was not to stress about the league’s rule changes that could lead to more stolen bases and reach for guys early but embrace the wave and target players who typically steal something like 8-12 bases because we could see them jump into the 20+ range. Bingo, bongo. Did we predict Ronald Acuna would steal 70 bases? No. And did things work out OK if you reached for Esteury Ruiz and his 67 SBs? Yeah, you were probably OK. We saw such an explosion of SBs last year that pretty much every player who usually steals some bases stole a lot of bases, except for Bo Bichette. So for 2024, the advice is very similar. Don’t panic about steals if you don’t get any of the top guys. And don’t reach for steals-only guys, especially in the current landscape. Track your categories as you go (I recommend syncing your league to the FantasyPros Draft Assistant so you can see categories projections for your entire league in real-time), and just make sure you aren’t drafting too many players who steal zero bases, especially in the later rounds.

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. Same thing for points leagues or QS leagues. Seemingly small differences in formats and league settings can drastically alter players’ values. If you sync your league, the Draft Assistant will adjust those values for you.

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 and first base are 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. Then sync your league to the FantasyPros Draft Assistant so you can track everything in real time during your draft and adjust your strategy and targets as you go based on how your draft is playing out.

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.

Limit your risks. I mean this in two ways. And when I say risks, I mean risky players (volatile production and/or injury history) and risky strategies or roster construction. In Justin Mason’s Cheat Sheet, he mentions drafting smart early and risky later. I think that’s a good way to put it. I love taking late-round risks on players with high upside. But if you take early risks and some late risks, the probability of your team cratering is much greater. You also don’t want to take too many risks, even if they’re mostly later picks, for the same reason. Fantasy championships are won with safe, boring players combined with high-upside players who hit their ceilings. So roll the dice on a couple of players in the middle or later rounds, but make sure you build a strong roster around them so you can survive those risks if they don’t pan out.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Cheat Sheets

Expert Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice

Ok, friends, let’s take all of this and put it to practice by using the FantasyPros Draft Wizard. Sync your league and start practicing against your league settings. You can also sign up for premium and get some amazing help using the Draft Assistant.

Sync your fantasy baseball leagues for FREE and perform realistic mock drafts in minutes!


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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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