Most fantasy baseball leagues have at least one DL spot. Many have two, three or even more. While certainly useful during the season when players inevitably get hurt, they can also be part of your draft strategy.
Not as widely used and relatively new to Yahoo leagues, NA slots allow you to stockpile difference-makers for the second half and H2H playoffs. In dynasty formats with large rosters, these guys have been owned for years. Now, you won't have to wait for September call-ups to add these prospects in re-draft leagues.
Here are some players that would make valuable late-round targets for 2017 fantasy baseball drafts if you know how to efficiently use your DL and NA roster slots.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Disabled List Targets
Wilson Ramos had a career year for the Nationals — .850 OPS and 22 HR — until a torn ACL in September. The injury cost him millions in free agency. The cost-conscious Rays scooped him up on an incentive-laden two-year deal.
Tampa signed Derek Norris to catch until Ramos is ready, but the Venezuelan’s bat plays at DH in that lineup, so he could start paying fantasy dividends sometime in May. Punting catcher in your draft? Draft Ramos late, stash him and fill with a free agent.
Didi Gregorius could miss about a month after injuring his shoulder playing for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. His value, like that of every player, depends on your league settings. In his prime at age 27, off his best offensive season, Didi could be a late-round bargain MI.
Jorge Soler (oblique) will be plummeting down draft boards. The Cuban slugger is only 25 and the Royals love him. This former Cubs prospect has fallen down the ladder a bit, but the power potential is still there. There are plenty of outfielders to stream until he returns.
The Rockies have a fearsome lineup even without Ian Desmond (hand) and David Dahl (ribs.) The latter has options and could open the season on the minor-league DL, but Desmond — who will add 1B to his OF eligibility — is worth stashing if he falls far enough in your draft.
Luis Valbuena (hamstring) made my original list as a late-round bargain, the larger half of a 1B platoon for the Angels. Again, depending on how many DL spots you have and the depth of your league, he’s still in play.
J.D. Martinez missed a lot of time last year after colliding with the outfield wall. This spring, he has a potentially more serious foot injury (sprained Lisfranc ligament) that makes walking painful. There's value if he falls far enough and heals fast.
David Price tops the DL options among pitchers. However, he’ll require an earlier pick than most of the above, and an elbow injury is extremely risky.
NA (Not Active) Designation
Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects include those already going north as stars (Andrew Benintendi, Dansby Swanson) or useful contributors (Jharel Cotton, Josh Bell, Hunter Renfroe) along with guys not expected to get a callup until September.
Super-2 players were mentioned in my previous article and several will be promoted in early June. (The exact date each team stops pretending these prospects aren’t ready for the Show varies each year.) For our purposes, call it nine fantasy weeks.
Seattle’s Dan Vogelbach is draftable. Where depends on your format. In a 12-team AL-Only, four months of production is well worth “wasting” a roster spot until the first week of June. Even in a 16-team mixed league with CI or Util, the former Cub was one of my sleepers before his surprise demotion .
Lewis Brinson (MIL) is a solid NA sleeper. While spring stats are meaningless, especially from the Cactus League, 23-year-old looks more mature in every phase of his game, and we can’t hold a .588 SLG against him.
Talent isn’t the only factor to consider. Opportunity matters nearly as much to fantasy value.
Many experts consider the Yankees' farm system as the best, but real-life depth can be a mixed blessing in fantasy. If Aaron Judge doesn’t beat out Aaron Hicks, Judge is an excellent late-round NA stash in a deep league. Clint Frazier may have to wait his turn. 20-year-old Gleyber Torres looks ready and has tremendous upside but won’t be rushed.
The White Sox also rebuilt in the Chris Sale trade. Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech have tremendous arms but even when they do arrive, there will be growing pains on a losing ballclub. Don't overlook Reynaldo Lopez, who should also get an audition.
Jose De Leon is worth stashing, though the Rays generally invest a lot in developing time. If they trade a starter, or if one disappoints, Brent Honeywell also moves up the pecking order.
Sometimes a “blocked” prospect can benefit from someone else’s bad luck. Cody Bellinger might spend the whole year in Triple-A if Adrian Gonzalez stays healthy and the Dodgers’ corner OF perform as expected.
Remember, if your league has DL or NA spots, you don’t have to wait until after the draft to fill them. Making do with a FA for a few weeks to gain talent depth later in the season can really pay off.