As promised two weeks ago, here are the six guys (3 hitters, 3 pitchers) I would love to grab in the middle rounds of this years’ fantasy draft (picks 6-15). These are the rounds where championships are won. In my experience everyone gets at least three studs, one dud, and one injury in rounds 1-5. But the winners separate themselves with their picks after the top five. So be wise and do your research on the middle of the pack, not on the cream of the crop!
1) Pablo Sandoval: my Zimmerman fantasy has not been working out in any of the mock drafts I’ve done so far. As a result, I’ve found myself getting as far the 10th round without a third baseman. Almost every time Pablo has been there. This is a guy who was often drafted in the second round last year! We all know about his crappy year and his weight loss, and I am not alone in thinking this will be a nice bounce back year, but I’ve been able to pick up the Panda in rounds 8-10, which should turn a nice profit and prove to be a steal.
2) Drew Stubbs: here’s a great example of knowing your draft/league. I’ve seen Drew go as early as round five and as late as round 9. Some are wary of his propensity to strike out (and to end up in Dusty Baker’s doghouse) and others are salivating over his 30-30 potential. I think 25 home runs, 40+ stolen bases, and a better overall batting average are in line. I’m not a big steals guy, and when I draft for steals it almost always is for guys with power (bj upton over jose reyes, for example). As a result, I’ve been trying to get him in the 7th round, but have picked him in the 6th as well. Classic boutry fantasy pick.
3) David Ortiz: last year Big Papi hit 32 home runs, drove in 102 runs, and had an OPS of .899. His ADP (average draft position) has him going in the 12th or 13 rounds. Yes please. Ortiz is a cheap way to pick up power and if you can get him there you take it. Never really been a fan of Papi in fantasy, but his value is low right now and so I’m a buyer. Red Sox hitters will produce a lot of fantasy value this year!
1) Yovani Gallardo: The Brewers added two studs this year in Greinke and Marcum but Gallardo is the best play on their staff in my estimation. Plus you can get him 2-3 rounds after Greinke is off the boards! My general strategy is to take 7-8 postion players with the top ten picks, so getting Gallardo as my number two guy in every draft (usually in the 7th or 8th rounds) is awesome. I expect him to be a top 10 pitcher this year.
2) Daniel Hudson: I’ve noticed his value creeping up as the spring has gone along. In my first mock I drafted him in round 17. Now I’m stoked if I can grab him at 13 or 14. That’s fine. I think this guy will be among the best 20 fantasy pitchers this year (a slightly better/more expensive version of what Clay Buchholz was for me last year). He’s nasty and he’s going to be my fourth starter!
3) Joel Hanrahan: Closers are a crapshoot. I usually try to get one guy I’m sure will be in the position all year and get a lot of saves (the last two years this was Brian Wilson, but he is not longer a secret…he’s going in rounds 4-6 which is mariano rivera territory and too rich for my blood). I try to fill my other two closer spots with someone from a team I think will get a lot of wins/save opportunities (Brian Fuentes was this for me when he closed for Anaheim), and then someone from a crappy team who will strike out a bunch of dudes. Last year this was Carlos Marmol, this year it is Joel Hanrahan. Hopefully he keeps the walks down and stays the stopper for the full season. You can get him later than 15 but I’ve taken him there just to be safe. Side note: Joe Nathan has also been going late (rounds 11-14), not a bad gamble there at all!
There you go. Who are your middle round gems?