Not all positions are created equal in fantasy baseball, and it is a smart idea to look at the depth of each position before your draft to give you a better idea of when you can afford to wait and when you cannot. People will tell you that the shortstop position becomes scarcer than the job market for History majors after the first few rounds, but it is not like there is a set amount of fantasy value allotted to each position every year.
Here are three positions you can wait on come draft day.
The days of the light-hitting, defense-first shortstop are quickly receding (do not tell Andrelton Simmons), and there is no need to panic if you have not snagged one in the first ten rounds. It is a shame to draft a guy like Jose Reyes (43.8 ADP) in the third round when surefire bats like Adrian Gonzalez (43.2 ADP), Corey Dickerson (43 ADP), and Todd Frazier (48.4 ADP) are still on the board.
Wait until the 16th round for a guy like Jean Segura (180.4 ADP) instead. Segura is projected to steal more bases than Reyes and score almost as many runs, and you will more than make up the difference in average and power with a guy like Gonzalez’s dependable .280/25/100 line. With guys like Segura, Ben Zobrist (140.1 ADP), Jimmy Rollins (143.3 ADP), Xander Bogaerts (175.7 ADP), Jhonny Peralta (199.3 ADP), and Erick Aybar (215 ADP) all going below pick 140, don’t waste a second or third round pick on Ian Desmond.
Catchers often get a free pass of offense due to the everyday grind of their position, but this is fantasy baseball, not the Majors. Everyone on your team should be stuffing the stat sheet on a nightly basis. In 2009, Joe Mauer and his .365/28/96 line carried my team to first place, and with the absurd amount of slugging backstops this season, there is no need to draft early to find your Mauer.
Travis d’Arnaud, Mike Zunino, and Yasmani Grandal are all youngsters going below pick 200 who can mash, but will come at a discount due to their unproven potential. A little pricier are Wilin Rosario and Matt Wieters, the 10th and 11th catchers off the board, respectively. A lot of people have forgotten about Wieters after he spent last season on the DL, but do not be one of them.
The hot corner has never been more stacked, with guys like Miguel Cabrera, Anthony Rendon, and Josh Donaldson providing young Chipper Jones-level production in the infield. While it is tempting to pull the trigger in the early rounds, there’s a whole bunch of overlooked third basemen that will get the job done without the steep price tag. Billy Moy already wrote about Nolan Arenado‘s post-breakout potential, but the real value lies in guys like Evan Longoria (53.7 ADP), Chris Davis (80 ADP), and Pablo Sandoval (120.3 ADP) who have fallen too far down the draft board after disappointing 2014 campaigns.
Sandoval, who can be had in the 10th round, is projected by Steamer to slash .291/17/78, and I’ll take the over on his power stats given he’ll be hitting in the heart of a formidable Red Sox lineup and playing half of his games at Fenway. If you missed the boat on those guys, Pedro Alvarez is available in the 19th round, and has the power to hit over 40 bombs if you can stomach the average.
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When it comes to second base, things drop of pretty dramatically after the tenth round. It’s not a pretty scene once Neil Walker comes off the board, and you don’t want be the one betting on a bounce-back from Jedd Gyorko, or a post-post-hype breakout from Brett Lawrie.
Knowing that you can afford to wait until later in the draft to fill these positions will give you the peace of mind to load up on low-risk, multi-cat fantasy studs at the relatively scarce positions in the early rounds.