Fantasy Baseball 2021 Rankings: Deep Sleepers, Hidden Gems to Target

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 26, 2021

Fantasy Baseball 2021 Rankings: Deep Sleepers, Hidden Gems to Target

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    Bryan Woolston/Associated Press

    Smart drafting means two things in fantasy baseball.

    One is guessing right on your early-round selections. Your season probably isn't getting off the ground if you flop there.

    The other is extracting maximum value from the latter rounds. Assuming health, every manager in your league will likely roster a few stars, so hitting on a few sleeper selections could be the key to separate from the competition.

    We're here to help you on both fronts. First, we're laying out our top 30 rankings for dynasty leagues. Then, we're spotlighting three sleeper targets—being drafted outside of the top 200, according to average draft position (ADP) data from FantasyPros—worth adding to your roster.

Top 30 Dynasty Rankings for 2021

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    1. Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves

    2. Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals

    3. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres

    4. Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

    5. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

    6. Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals

    7. Shane Bieber, SP, Cleveland

    8. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies

    9. Francisco Lindor, SS, New York Mets

    10. Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

    11. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland

    12. Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets

    13. Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees

    14. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

    15. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

    16. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays

    17. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves

    18. Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays

    19. Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox

    20. Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox

    21. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B/3B, Toronto Blue Jays

    22. Alex Bregman, SS/3B, Houston Astros

    23. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

    24. Walker Buehler, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    25. Ozzie Albies, 2B, Atlanta Braves

    26. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros

    27. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox

    28. Jack Flaherty, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

    29. Lucas Giolito, SP, Chicago White Sox

    30. Manny Machado, SS/3B, San Diego Padres

Ty France, 2B/3B, Seattle Mariners (ADP: 285.6)

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    You know what sounds like a solid fantasy strategy? Drafting a batting champion with a near-300 pick.

    OK, there's no guarantee Ty France actually wins the AL batting title, but he has the hit tool to do it. In 2019, he nearly went Ted Williams on AAA pitching, hitting .399 across 76 games. He followed that up by batting .305 in 43 big league games last season. This spring, his average is sitting at .357 through 16 games.

    "He has a lot of adjustability in his swing, he can handle multiple pitches no matter where they're at in the strike zone, and that's what allows him to be consistent," Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters. "... His bat stays on plane for a long time and he's able to handle different velocities."

    France is a professional hitter. He's not a speedster, and he might not club 30 homers, so he doesn't have the widest margin for error in fantasy. But his bat feels far more trustworthy than his ADP suggests. And if he adds power to the mix, he might have fantasy MVP upside.

Elieser Hernandez, SP/RP, Miami Marlins (ADP: 253.4)

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The volatility at the pitching positions can be good and bad.

    On one hand, it makes all but the elite of elites tough to rank because there aren't many consistent contributors from year to year. On the other, the opportunity for overnight fantasy stardom is undeniably present. Two years ago, you might've been able to get Shane Bieber with a post-200 pick. Now, he's no worse than the third starting pitcher off the board.

    We're not projecting that kind of growth for Elieser Hernandez, but if you wanted a late flier with huge upside, he has the stuff to skyrocket his fantasy stock. His slider is one of the better pitches in baseball, and his fastball keeps hitters off balance. He has been fine-tuning his changeup this spring, which could be his key to being more effective and pitching deeper into games.

    Injuries limited him to just six outings last season, but those six games wowed with everything other than volume (25.2 total innings). He had a 3.16 ERA, a 1.013 WHIP, 11.9 K/9 and a whopping 6.80 strikeouts-per-walk. Again, that's what he was doing as a mostly two-pitch pitcher. If he has a legitimate third pitch in his arsenal, the sky is the limit for how far he can go—and how high he can elevate your fantasy staff.

Nick Senzel, OF, Cincinnati Reds (ADP: 244)

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    In a day and age in which no takes are bellowed out too quickly, it's no surprise we often rush to judgment in the fantasy world.

    Just look at Nick Senzel. Not even two years back, he was the fifth-ranked prospect in baseball and a possible fantasy juggernaut offering both size and speed. Now, he's barely on the fantasy radar and isn't even going among the first 200 picks.

    So, what changed? His first season started with an ankle injury and ended with shoulder surgery, but in between he tallied 12 homers and 14 stolen bases in 104 games. In 2020, he made just 23 appearances due to illness and hit a miserable .186 when he saw the field.

    Some stock slippage is warranted given his rough 2020, but shrewd fantasy managers should see the obvious bargain potential here. Senzel is healthy now, locked into a starting spot and perhaps on the verge of putting everything together. He could be on the doorstep of a 20-homer, 20-steal season, and yet his upside is not at all being reflected in his draft price.