Fantasy baseball is a sport that is divided among itself. Unlike most other fantasy sports, there are seemingly endless amounts of variations to fantasy baseball leagues. There’s hundreds of types of roto leagues and then there are points leagues that have countless variations themselves. Beyond that, there are drafts versus auctions and keeper leagues versus yearly leagues. Needless to say, writing about fantasy baseball is a tricky business because nobody seems to play the same game. When in doubt, most writers lean towards writing about 5×5 roto. The points league owners don’t get much love so today let’s talk about who to target for points league drafts.
I’ve been playing fantasy baseball for a couple decades now and I only played in points leagues for most of my early years of this game. I grew up on them. They are an entirely different beast than roto leagues. In points leagues, you have to be aware of everything a hitter can do. Walks, strikeouts, doubles and triples matter in a way that they do not for roto leagues. You even care whether a player gets caught stealing too much.
When looking at fantasy baseball rankings, most rankings are done with roto leagues in mind so you should be aware of the players who are more valuable in points leagues than they are in roto leagues so you can be ahead of your league. Let’s take a look at players from each stage in the draft that should be worth targeting if you play in a points league.
5 Early Round Points League Gems
- Joey Votto (1B, CIN)
- Carlos Santana (1B, CLE)
- Jose Bautista (OF, TOR)
- Kyle Seager (3B, SEA)
- Jose Ramirez (3B, CLE)
All five of these hitters should already be going in the first 8 rounds of most points league drafts but they are all potential points league sleepers. Votto and Santana are perennial points league favorites because of their ability to generally draw 100+ walks while hitting 30+ doubles. Those two things don’t mean anything to roto owners but are a huge source of value for points leagues. Jose Ramirez may be a rising points league star. Last year, he hit an amazing 46 doubles with only 62 strikeouts.
5 Middle Round Points League Sleepers
- Adam Eaton (OF, WAS)
- Anthony Rendon (3B, WAS)
- Ben Zobrist (2B, CHC)
- Brandon Belt (1B, SF)
- Curtis Granderson (OF, NYM)
These are all guys who have decent walk numbers mixed with respectable strikeout numbers, which is a formula for points league success. On top of that, Rendon is a doubles machine as he nearly reached 40 doubles last year. Brandon Belt strikes out a bit more than you may like for points leagues but he had over 100 walks and over 40 doubles last year so that makes him valuable.
5 Late Round Points League Deep Sleepers
- Asdrubal Cabrera (SS, NYM)
- Melky Cabrera (OF, CHW)
- Didi Gregorious (SS, NYY)
- Joe Panik (2B, SF)
- Nick Markakis (OF, ATL)
Nick Markakis is a former points league stud after hitting 40+ doubles in four straight seasons early in his career. He fell off the map for a while but seems to have found a nice spot in Atlanta to continue his doubles-hitting ways. Joe Panik meanwhile is a different type of points league sleeper. He rarely strikes out and he hits a good number of triples and doubles as part of his game. If he can get hit hitting back on track, he may be a nice points league player. Meanwhile, Melky Cabrera seems like he’s been on my points league teams for decades but he’s only 32 and coming off a year with 40+ doubles and his continual low strikeout totals, once again making him a nice value play.
It’s easy to see a trend here: doubles, walks and strikeouts are important in points leagues. Given that so many rankings and analysis is geared towards roto leagues, you can find value in these specialty players when planning your points league draft.
However, every points league has a different scoring system so be aware of the quirks of your league and if it heavily values or devalues a certain stat beyond these. To get the most accurate projections and rankings for your league, feel free to hop over and check out my customizable Excel cheatsheets for Windows and Mac where you can input your own settings to see unique rankings.
Luke is better known as Mr. Cheatsheet despite his last name not being Cheatsheet. He makes spreadsheets, writes blog posts and his rankings were in the top 10 accuracy among FantasyPros experts in 2014, 2016 and 2017. When he's not doing fantasy baseball things, he can be found playing board games or rating beer.