If you are a fantasy baseball guy and were forced to only watch and draft from one division, you could do much worse than the NL East.
The division has, in my opinion, the best fantasy baseball player in the league, the most hyped—and some say the most talented—rookies in all of baseball, and a slew of potential upside value picks.
This is the first of our divisional previews from a fantasy perspective.
Philadelphia Phillies: Makes sense that the cream of the NL East crop would also be the most loaded with obvious fantasy value—Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, and a bunch of others to consider.
Out of their fantasy crop, I see Rollins and Hamels outproducing their current fantasy values. Out of a loaded crop of hard-hitting first basemen at the top of most drafts, I think Ryan Howard is the most likely to not live up this season to his draft day value.
Atlanta Braves: A team that continues to find ways to win with the talent at hand, the Braves are always a source of fantasy value in one form or another. Their A-liner is Brian McCann at catcher, but there are plenty of young up-shoot guys. I'm a fan of Martin Prado, who is eligible in most leagues at 2B, 3B, and 1B.
Jason Heyward is a true rookie talent with massive power potential. Like most rookie hitters, I think he'll go through some rough patches this year, but I'm still stashing him away in the later rounds of most of my drafts.
New York Mets: As a team last year, they were a fantasy bust. From Johan Santana and David Wright to Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, the team underperformed across the board, and many, including myself in most cases, are leery of investing much in any of these players unless they show a collective rebound.
That being said, as owners become more and more gun-shy of these talented yet under-performing players, they could become sneaky values on draft day. If Reyes can rise above his thyroid issues, for example, he could easily surpass some current draft-day projections. Same for David Wright and numerous others—just tread cautiously.
Florida Marlins: There is no player I want more in all of baseball on my fantasy team than Hanley Ramirez—even more than Albert Pujols. Young talent abounds here, with guys such as Chris Coghlan and Ricky Nolasco, among others.
Washington Nationals: Those who look past bad MLB teams in terms of fantasy value are not the brightest bulbs in the box. The Nationals offer plenty of drafting material if values are met during the draft. Ryan Zimmerman is my personal third baseman to target this year considering his potential and his current draft-day standing.
Stephen Strasburg can be lights-out, as his recent nine-strikeout spring performance illustrated, but he'll start the season in the minors. Expect an early-season call-up, however. Even rookie Drew Storen has upside as a potential closer at some point for Washington once he is called up from Double-A Harrisburg.
Best fantasy hitter: Hanley Ramirez
Best fantasy pitcher: Roy Halladay
Pitching fantasy MVP: Ricky Nolasco
Hitting fantasy MVP: Ryan Zimmerman
Fantasy rookie: Stephen Strasburg
Division sleeper: Martin Prado
Division bust: Ryan Howard
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