Fantasy Baseball: The Game's Breakout Players for 2011
There is a saying in fantasy sports—Your league can’t be won in the first round but it can definitely be lost.
Think about this past football season for example. Drafting Maurice Jones-Drew in the first round allows you to keep pace but finding the Arian Fosters and Brandon Lloyds late allows you to outproduce your opponent’s later round picks which leads to victory.
Last week’s column focused on the importance of securing as much of the top-tier talent at scarce positions as possible. Unfortunately, draft plans rarely come to fruition and it’s important to have a backup plan.
When choosing later options, I like to stock my roster with players that have the potential to return greater value than their draft position. This is a slightly riskier strategy by not going with proven options, but you are in it to win it late in the draft.
Let me know in the comments or tell me on Twitter who you think will be the breakout fantasy players this season. Here are the players I think return the most bang for your buck on draft day:
Carlos Santana—Currently the fifth catcher off the boards in the seventh round, he has the best chance of breaking into the elite group of catchers. With catchers it’s all about lineup position and Santana is slated to be the Indian’s cleanup hitter.
Miguel Montero—Always a good source of catcher power the past few years, Montero is penciled in to bat fifth for the DBacks. It’s all about situation with catchers and he should do much better than his 15th round average.
Ike Davis—He’s being chosen in the 22nd round which is more a utility area than starting first baseman, but I would rather take a chance on his progression than options such as Derrick Lee, Ty Wigginton and Lyle Overbay that are being drafted at the same time.
Brian Roberts—A familiar name but going too late this year. His ADP is in the 11th round as the 11th second baseman. A healthy year will have him knocking on the door of the top five. He is my No. 1 target for second basemen after missing out on the top tier from last week.
Martin Prado—Position eligibility at second and third base which is nice, plus will bat leadoff atop a potent Atlanta offense. He scored over 100 runs last year and has the pop for at least 15 HRs.
Pedro Alvarez—Has the potential for major power numbers. He is my favorite target if I need a third baseman after the fifth round or so. The fact that he is going in the ninth round—two rounds later than Micheal Young—is a travesty.
Chipper Jones—Hear me out. If you wait on third baseman all the way past the top 10, you could do much worse than Mr. Jones. His price is cheap (20th round) and will be healthy and batting third in Atlanta in front of Dan Uggla, Brian McCann and Jason Heyward. His OBP has never been the problem. If you are desperate—take a potential difference maker and not Juan Uribe.
Elvis Andrus—Not a true sleeper but seen as a middle-of-the-pack shortstop. I think he ends the year in the top five. Just his steal potential alone makes him a breakout choice.
Yunel Escobar—Currently not being drafted among starting SS so this is more of a wait-and-see, but I like his position this year. Having a year to adjust to the AL and now batting in front of HR champion Jose Bautista, he has a chance to make some noise at a thin position.
Curtis Granderson—I think Granderson gets a bad rap. He is going off the draft boards around the time Nick Markakis and Grady Sizemore, I believe he will improve upon an underrated season from last year. He didn’t meet last year’s lofty draft status but that is no reason to hold it against him this year. Anywhere in the Yankee order is a good spot for fantasy.
Adam Lind—Similar to above, Lind burned a lot of owners last season. However, he didn’t fall off a cliff once it was all said and done. I like him to bounce back this year and his draft price of the 16th round is ripe for the picking.
Juan Pierre—I place Pierre here, but it could very well be Michael Bourn or Brett Gardner. Steals are plentiful at the end of your draft if you wait on outfielders. This is why last week I pushed taking infielders early because you can find speed later. These players are going real late and can win you steals in H2H leagues by themselves most weeks.
Nate McLouth—This is another wait-and-see probably since he is being drafted extremely late, if at all. New Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez showed a lot of faith in McLouth by batting him second so far for the Braves. He looks like the Nate from PIT so far this spring and if that comes back, he will be very productive at the top of that lineup.
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