With that out-of-the-way let’s turn our attention to the final installment of my fantasy draft strategy. So far we’ve looked at 5 guys I will go all out for in the first 5 rounds. Then we looked at the all important middle rounds and six guys to target there (remember: the middle rounds are where the game is won and lost, so do your research and choose well).
Today let’s look at the tricky final rounds. I do not think that rounds 18-23 (or whatever that looks like in your format) are make or break, but you can get a serious leg up here as well. Let’s be honest: most of the guys you grab here will be dropped by the time May rolls around, so don’t get too stressed. However, it is possible though to find some real gems here (and make the rest of your league look foolish). Last year I grabbed Clay Buchholz and Martin Prado in this stage of the draft and they turned in to gold. So, who will fill that role this year?
My approach to the final rounds is three-fold:
- Who will go undrafted, but cause owners to wish they had on their rosters three weeks in to the season (i.e. the bona fide sleeper pick)?
- What do I need to fill out my team (power, a steals guy, one more closer, etc)?
- Who is still the on the board that surprises me?
Here are my five late round targets:
1) John Buck/J. P. Arencibia/John Jaso C: These guys fall squarely under criteria number 2. A vital aspect of my fantasy strategy is to always carry two catchers. Even the best catchers play only about 130 games, so getting max volume out of the position is a big advantage. In my mocks, I’ve been taking Posey or McCann and all three of these guys are available late and sometimes even undrafted. Jaso should hit lead off a lot for the Rays so expect good average, runs, and even a few steals. Arencibia is all potential and should provide great power out of this spot. Buck probably won’t be as good this year as last, but is another good power source late in the draft at a tough position.
2) Jed Lowrie SS: Jed is a category one pick. No one else has drafted him in my mocks and I end up taking him with the last pick every time. He had a great August and September, and it is my opinion that he will work his way into significant playing time either via injury or Scutaro sucking. The second half of the season he should be the Red Sox starting SS (also eligible at 2B in Yahoo!). He is my 2011 version of Martin Prado.
3) Brandon League CL: this is a little bit of a gamble, but that is often what the late rounds are all about. I think there is a very good chance Aardsma will not be ready for the start of the season and League will take the closer position and not let it go. Just a hunch, but a hunch that could pay off in 30+ saves. Worth it in rounds 20-23.
4) James Shields SP: I have never been a huge fan of Shields in real baseball or fantasy. But his value has dropped a ton and he can be had with a 20th round pick. I smell value. The guy had some terrible luck last year (almost a .350 BABIP) and he missed bats (187 Ks). He’s not an ace, but could be a solid number 3 fantasy starter, and he’s nearly free going in rounds 19-22. If you need another SP late, think hard about this guy.
5) Magglio Ordonez OF: There is an eternal soft spot in my heart for Mags. He’s been a part of almost every championship squad I’ve put together. Gone are the days of being taken in the first 10 rounds as a solid everyday lineup kind of guy. However, he is supposed to bat 3rd for the Tigers, which is not a bad spot to be in (after Austin Jackson and the underrated Ryan Raburn, and before Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez). If he stays healthy 100 runs, 100 RBI, and .300 AVG are attainable. Big IF, but again he’s not going until very late if he gets drafted at all (a classic category 3 pick).
There you go. Fantasy preview complete. Thoughts?