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Michael Florio's Later-Round Draft Values and Sleepers for Fantasy Baseball

tanner houck fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers waiver wire pickups

The early rounds in fantasy drafts get the bulk of the attention. People stress how to start their drafts all the time and there is a ton of time spent discussing these rounds on the radio, podcast and in articles. It makes sense since that is when you are building the core of your team and early round picks are much harder to replace if you get it wrong. 

But the later rounds of the draft are where you should be searching for fantasy baseball sleepers, values and upside. The middle-to-later rounds are where you round out your starting lineups and add depth. But the later you get in the draft, the higher the likelihood that you will cut the player you are drafting. That is why you should try to swing for the fences with at least some of those picks. You will always be able to find boring vets on the waiver wire, but the upside players that hit are the ones that win leagues. 

This article will focus on players going outside the top 200 players in ADP that you should be targeting in your drafts! 

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best MLB Series, NFL Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Later Draft Values to Target

Noah Syndergaard is going just outside the top 200 at 202 overall in the latest ADP. We have not seen Syndergaard in two years, but he had consistently been a source of strikeouts with a strong ERA and pretty good WHIP. Syndergaard will probably never live up the hype he had when he first came up to the big leagues, but the big hurler still throws hard and will be getting a fresh start in Los Angeles with the Angels. He has always averaged over a strikeout per inning in his MLB career and routinely would post a low or below three ERA. Even in 2019 when he had a 4.28 ERA, he sported a 3.40 xERA and 3.83 xFIP. Projections all have him taking a serious reduction in strikeouts and a jump in ERA. That, paired with the fact that we have not seen him in years, is enough to explain the ADP. But at this cost, all the risk in baked in and there is room for a lot of return on investment. That is a change for how Thor has been valued in the past, when everyone paid up for the upside. 

Tanner Houck goes right after Syndergaard with an ADP of 204 overall. The young hurler jumped between the bullpen and rotation last season, making 13 starts in 18 appearances. He pitched to a 3.52 ERA with a 3.22 xERA and 3.20 xFIP with a 1.13 WHIP. He did so while putting up a 31 percent strikeout rate and a seven percent walk rate. Batters hit just .221 against him and that is with a .317 BABIP. Also, his strand rate was very low at just 66 percent. Houck showed breakout stuff last year, but there is even more room for improvement. Additionally, Houck has a guaranteed spot in the Red Sox rotation this season. He is a massive breakout candidate but for some reason gets a little overlooked. Take advantage of that and grab him at his ADP or a round earlier. 

Michael Conforto is currently going off the board at pick 232 overall according to recent ADP. He is coming off of a down year, but he has shown in the past that he has the ability to hit between 25 and 30 homers, with 80 to 90 runs and RBI, to go along with an average in the .250 or .260s. He did that playing in a pitchers park. Those numbers are not going to blow you away, but this is the lowest Conforto has gone in drafts in quite some time. It is largely because he is unsigned, which he claims is because he injured his shoulder in January and wants to be 100 percent. He is in jeopardy of missing some time early on, but that has been causing his ADP to continue to plummet. If he signs we could see his ADP shoot up a couple rounds immediately. Buy the dip while you can. 

Hyun Jin Ryu is coming off of a down year where his ERA jumped to 4.37 and the strikeout rate plummeted. Perhaps at 34 years old Ryu is simply just declining. In each of the three seasons prior to last year Ryu posted a sub-three ERA, while averaging over a strikeout per inning twice. A big thing that hurt Ryu last season was his strand rate dropped to 71 percent after being 81 percent or higher the previous four seasons. It was not all bad luck though as batters did square up Ryu better last year than ever before. The question now becomes was last year the beginning of the end for Ryu or just an anomaly. At 35 years old this season, both outcomes remain possible. But with him still being in Toronto, the new place that fixes pitchers, and his ADP being outside the top 200, he is worth taking a gamble on at pick 208 overall. 

Charlie Blackmon is another player coming off of a down year where he hit just 13 homers while hitting .270. He had hit at least 29 homers in his previous four full seasons (not including 2020) and hit over .290 in each of those season. He will be 35 entering this season so expecting those numbers could be too much, but ATC projection currently has him for 16 homers, 74 runs, 68 RBI and a .278 average. That is solid numbers for a player going at pick 230 in current ADP. But do not discount him outperforming those projections because his hard hit rate and barrel rate were both on par in 2021 with his recent full seasons. Playing in Coors Field with an upgraded Rockies lineup doesn’t hurt either. He is worth taking a shot on at his cost. 

Huascar Ynoa pitched last year to a 4.05 ERA with a 4.30 xERA and a 3.40 xFIP, with a 27 percent strikeout rate, seven percent walk rate and a 1.11 WHIP. Ynoa has absolutely filthy stuff but his season was cut short when he punched a dugout bench and fractured his right hand. It stunk for anyone who was rostering him (like myself), but it has led to a suppressed ADP this year of just 248 overall. That means you can grab him with one of your last round picks, despite the high upside he showed when he was on the field last year. Take advantage of the market discrepancy! 

Carlos Carrasco is going with pick 276 overall after a lost 2021 season. In his first year in New York, Carrasco was injured early on and ended up missing the first three months of the season. He struggled once he returned, pitching to a 6.04 ERA with a 4.73 xERA, 4.32 xFIP and a 1.43 WHIP. It was a complete lost season for Carrasco, but he did pitch to a 2.91 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 29 percent strikeout rate in 2020. The gamble here is that the 35-year-old is not washed and can return to close to his 2020 form. He will not be the ace he used to be, but he still has a shot at being a very useful fantasy pitcher and it costs nothing more than a late round pick to find out.  

Zack Greinke is currently going off the board at pick 313 overall after a down 2021 season. That was after he sported a 4.16 ERA with a 4.39 xERA, 4.21 xFIP with a 1.17 WHIP and a 17 percent strikeout rate. His strikeout rate took a huge hit in 2021, but he averaged a strikeout per inning in 2020. The bet here is on the talent of Greinke, who up until recently would always limit contact and post strong ERA and WHIP. He is not what he used to be, but he can still be a reliable back of the fantasy rotation kind of pitcher. And he is the cheapest he has ever been in fantasy baseball drafts.

Keston Hiura is going off the board with the 430th pick overall. That means in most drafts he in undrafted and even in deeper leagues, he is a reserve pick. But, there is a lot of reasons to get excited for Hiura. First, he has changed his swing and not only does his new one looks super pretty, but it has been effective. This year in 22 spring training at bats he has hit .409 with four homers and 10 RBI. This is for a former top prospect who had success as a rookie before struggling the past two years. But he deserves a pass for those down years, as his mother has been battling cancer - but is in remission now. It is easy to view players as stats for our fantasy teams, but its important to remember they are humans and something like that can derail them too, just like us. It cost nothing to take an upside shot on Hiura and its one that I have done in all of my baseball drafts. 

Mitch Keller deserves to go right after Hiura, as the two have been my biggest targets in the late rounds of drafts. I am talking real late, as Keller currently has an ADP of 456 overall. The former top prospect has never lived up to the hype at the major league level, but he does throw pretty hard sitting in the mid 90s, and mixes in four pitches. Keller has also pitched extremely well this spring training. In his three spring starts he has not allowed a run, has a 0.92 WHIP and struck out seven batters in 8.2 innings. He pitches in a pitcher friendly park and perhaps the best division for a pitcher. Keller is a post hype sleeper that is overlooked due to his early career struggles. He is easily a pitcher worth taking a gamble on. 

Patrick Corbin is going off the board with pick 454 on average as of late. Corbin is coming off the worst year of his career but entering his age 32 season, but there is reason to be optimistic. Corbin saw increased velocity on his pitches across the board last season. Corbin is also just a couple years removed from being a highly sought after fantasy piece. Perhaps he is washed, but it cost nothing to take a gamble on him and his increased velocity bouncing back in 2022. 

Michael Fulmer picked up 14 saves for the Tigers while pitching to a 2.97 ERA with a 25 percent strikeout rate and 1.28 WHIP. Right now Gregory Soto is the projected closer for the Tigers, but we saw Fulmer steal plenty of save chances away from Soto last year. Plus, the ADP discrepancy is huge. Soto currently goes with pick 204, while Fulmer goes with pick 459. Not only is that over a 250 pick difference, but it means Fulmer often goes undrafted. Despite that, he remains one of my favorite late round speculative add for saves. 

Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio



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