Everyone wants to gamble on finding the next big thing in the later rounds of fantasy baseball drafts this year but you’d be wise to ignore that and draft reliable undervalued players instead. The Special Blend projections that I publish on this site provide a safe estimate of what to expect out of players in 2016. The projections weight and combine a variety of projection sources so there typically aren’t many very bold predictions within them. Even if one of the six sources used in the Special Blend makes a bold projection, that is neutralized by having so many sources involved in the creation of my projections. Despite the projections not being very bold, they still disagree with public perception at times and let us know who might be undervalued in drafts.
By comparing rankings within the Special Blend projections to the Average Draft Position data from FantasyPros, I can get an idea of some of the more undervalued players this season. I’m able to calculate a player’s expected roto value based on his draft position and I can compare that to his projected roto value from my Special Blend projections. Seeing the difference between those numbers will gives us an example of just how undervalued a player may be in 2016. Finding the most undervalued players based on these projections are the type of safer plays that you may want to make in the late rounds to maximize value for your deeper roster spots.
At 1B, there are about twelve reliable options and then an instant drop in value. After Albert Pujols goes off the board in the 6th round, you typically have to wait another 5 rounds before you even see another 1B drafted. At that point, about five more first basemen go off the board that offer reasonable value before there’s another big wait where a whole crop of below average 1B are left for the later rounds. If you’re in a league that uses a Corner Infielder spot, this leaves you scrambling through the scrap heap for some depth at 1B later on. There are some nice power options in those late rounds though which is tough to find late in a draft typically.
- Justin Bour (282 ADP) – I talked about Bour a while back as a player that I projected to see an increase in HR. Even without that breakout, my Special Blend projection still has him conservatively projected to hit .260 with 21 HR’s over only over a projected 526 PA. I see him being able to actually approach 30 HR and that’s incredible value in the late rounds of drafts.
- C.J. Cron (309 ADP) – Cron is projected for a similar stat line to Bour. While he may not have the potential upside of 30 HR, he’s still going to offer you decent pop towards the tail end of drafts.
- Chris Carter (324 ADP) – Chris Carter is similar to the above players in that he offers late round power but he offers even more power at the expense of a low batting average. He’s projected to hit 28 HR in only 535 PA and I think he has the potential to show even more power than that, as I also mentioned in my HR post. Even if there’s the slightest chance of a 35-40 HR output, you’d be crazy not to grab that in the late rounds.
One of the more interesting positions this year is the 2B position. It offers elite talent in Altuve and Gordon and then a lot of great middle-tier options and then some mixed options in the late rounds. In my drafts, I think it is best to target 2B in the middle rounds though as there are some really great values to be found there.
- Rougned Odor (89 ADP) – It’s hard to be undervalued while being drafted in the 7th round but Odor is a youngster that is projected for a beautiful .276 AVG, 20 HR, 10 SB, 77 RBI, 75 R season. If that holds true, it would give him a positive contribution across the board in 5×5 roto and make him possibly one of the top 2B in the game.
- Daniel Murphy (159 ADP) – I don’t think anybody is really buying into the postseason power that Murphy showed last year but he’s still got more value than people are giving him credit for. Where Murphy will actually help you in roto leagues is with his projected .299 AVG. Batting average is very hard to find after the early rounds and Murphy is a great later round option for that.
- Dustin Pedroia (170 ADP) – Pedroia is a shell of his former fantasy self and he is certainly not going to give you elite production in any category any longer but he does help you with AVG much like Murphy. His projected .287 AVG is actually quite valuable in the later rounds and makes him a nice depth piece for any lineup.
After the top four 3B go off the board, there’s still plenty of decent 3B to be had but nobody aside from Maikel Franco really feels like a huge value play. You really have to wait until the later rounds until you find some potential for value to add to your team but there are some decent options there to give you some decent AVG with a little bit of power.
- Nick Castellanos (271 ADP) – Honestly, there’s no reason not to draft Castellanos at the 271st draft spot. He’s only 24 so he is still has plenty of room to grow but even my conservative projections have him safely projected at a respectable .268 AVG with 17 HR. His minor league numbers as well as his batted ball numbers from his career so far indicate that he has the potential to exceed both of those numbers too.
- Trevor Plouffe (285 ADP) – Finding a player projected to hit 20 HR after the 20th round of a draft is nothing to sneeze at. Plouffe is not going to break out and single-handedly win you your fantasy league but fantasy baseball championships are won with boring players sometimes too. This is one such boring player.
- Martin Prado (354 ADP) – We loved Prado’s crazy position eligibility over the years but that’s likely gone. Regardless, he’s shown you what he is by now and that’s a guy who reliably hits somewhere from .280 to .300 with about 10 to 15 HR and not much else. There’s actually value in such numbers though, especially as late as he is going in drafts.
SS is such a nasty position this year. You’ve got Carlos Correa and then a dozen players who don’t offer value related to their draft position. It’s hard to feel overly excited about nearly all of the options at SS that would grace most starting rosters this year so you may find yourself filling the position fairly late in drafts. If so, there are some old steady names out there that could still provide you good value.
- Alcides Escobar (240 ADP) – You know who Alcides Escobar is by now. He’s boring but reliable. Boring players get passed over in drafts in favor of boom-or-bust players and that makes Escobar a fairly undervalued piece. Getting a player who can get you 20 SB at a scarce position 20 rounds into a draft is very nice.
- Alexei Ramirez (294 ADP) and Erick Aybar (330 ADP) – Much of what I said about Escobar could be said about Alexei Ramirez or Erick Aybar. Ramirez gets you a boring old 9 HR, 19 SB stat line 25 rounds into your draft. That’s hard to pass up. Meanwhile, Aybar gets you a decent AVG with double-digit steals as well. Once again, these are guys everyone knows and they’re not going to win you a title on their own but they’ll provide you with decent value late in a draft at a scarce position.
Finding great value at the catcher position? Ha! Yeah, it’s not really going to happen based off the projections but there are still some decent options to be had in the late rounds. It might be a year to punt catcher and just take the late-round options because most of the middle-round options don’t give much bang for the buck.
- Nick Hundley (262 ADP) – Hundley is projected to have a decent AVG by the Special Blend projections and that’s rare for a late round catcher. While his other numbers don’t project to give great value, hitting in Colorado always has the potential to deliver additional offense.
- Robinson Chirinos (331 ADP) and Jason Castro (355 ADP) – You’re not going to get elite production from any catcher and getting a catcher projected to hit nearly 15 HR late is about as undervalued as you can get when you’re in the very late rounds of drafts. In two-catcher leagues, these are the type of valuable second catchers that you want to grab late.
Outfield is a position that typically offers some decent value all throughout the draft but the best value players can be found 20 rounds into your draft this year. This offers a great chance for a chance to fill up your roster in 5 OF leagues where you may need to dig a bit deeper at this position
- Wil Myers (258 ADP) – Myers is beyond even being a post-hype sleeper any longer. He’s far from the young phenom that we once that of him as. Regardless of that, he’s safely projected for a 20/10 at the very least. Sign me up for that once we’re past the 20th round of a draft.
- Marcell Ozuna (279 ADP) – Ozuna still has that 30 HR potential but he doesn’t have to deliver on that potential to be valuable as late as he is going in drafts. He’s conservatively projected in my Special Blend for a 19 HR, 73 RBI season which would still be valuable at the 279th pick. Draft him for that while also rolling the dice on his potential.
- Domingo Santana (311 ADP) – Even later than Ozuna goes off the board, Santana offers some sneaky value. He’s projected for 24 HR, 8 SB which is something you’d be happy with from an early round pick. While he has the potential to hurt your AVG, he’s shown the ability in the minors to hit for high AVG and he’s only 23 so he might find his way still. He’s an intriguing play to be found way too late in drafts.