Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy – Players Worth Reaching Early For
About the FanDuel MLB 2014 Preview Series
We’ve long professed our love for one day fantasy sports, and our stance on fantasy baseball is no different. Instead of playing in just one season-long fantasy baseball league, FanDuel offers the chance to play in a new league every single day of the 2014 fantasy baseball season– for real money! We’ll be paying out a staggering $1,000,000 per day during the 2014 fantasy baseball season (yea, that’s a lot of zeros) and you can play for as much or as little as you like from $1 to $10,000. Click here to deposit on-site and use the promo code MLBPREVIEW14. We’ll match 100% of your deposit up to $200…That’s free money, people!
With all that being said, we know a lot of you will sign-up for season-long leagues and actually care for the first 3-4 weeks. We’ve decided to help all of you out by putting together the FanDuel MLB 2014 Preview Series. We surveyed 32 of the best MLB bloggers out there and compiled the information into 9 parts to give you the finest 2014 fantasy baseball preview the internet can provide.
Part 2 of our series (did you miss Part 1? No worries, it’s right here.) takes a look at what players are worth reaching for a bit early and should help setup your 2014 fantasy baseball draft strategy. Let’s do this:
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OF to Draft Early
A young crop of new and exciting outfielders is expected to dominate during the 2014 fantasy baseball season, and this was reflected heavily during our voting. The biggest name of the group is last year’s breakout star Yasiel Puig, and it’s no surprise that he led the way in an incredibly diverse voting pool of 36 players to receive votes. As long as Puig stays focused on playing solid, fundamental baseball, he’ll be worthy of any high draft pick you spend on him.
Other youngsters include Bryce Harper, Billy Hamilton, Wil Myers, Oscar Taveras, and Starling Marte. Each player is 25 years old or younger and has shown phenomenal potential in mostly limited exposure. Drafting the guys that take advantage of their opportunity will go a long ways to having success with whatever fantasy baseball draft strategy you decide to take.
While the young guns are looking to make a name for themselves, established vets are trying to fend them off. At 34 years old, Matt Holliday was the oldest outfielder to receive a vote. He’s shown great consistency over the past few years and will look to bat .300 for a 2nd straight year. Carlos Gonzalez will continue to enjoy playing in the Mile-High city and people that reach for him hope he can replicate his breakout 2010 season.
Finally, two Milwaukee Brewers outfielders popped up on our list- likely for very different reasons. Ryan Braun will look to put his PED suspension behind him, and if he can produce numbers anything near his 2011 and 2012 campaigns he’ll offer great value even as a 2nd round pick. Carlos Gomez will likely benefit from Braun’s return and should see more pitches to hit than last season with Braun out of the lineup.
SP to Draft Early
Starting Pitcher is a position that received a bunch of votes, but zero continuity within the voting. Not one of the 8 players picked received more than one vote. Adam Wainwright is the highest-ranked pitcher of the group, and silenced any questions about his recovery from Tommy-John surgery during his second full-season removed from the injury. He looks worthy of being an ace on any fantasy baseball staff and certain folks will draft him like one. Stephen Strasburg will go into his 2nd season removed from Tommy-John surgery hoping to follow Wainwright’s footsteps and regain the top form that made him a house-hold name.
James Shields is a quality starts machine, leading the majors with 27 qualifying outings in 2013. He’s worth a reach if consistency is what you build your fantasy baseball draft strategy around. If Madison Bumgarner can continue improving—and the Giants give him some run support– he’ll be worthy of being drafted like an ace even though Matt Cain retains the #1 status in San Francisco.
Young guys like Taijuan Walker, Jose Fernandez, and Michael Wacha are all out to prove they belong in the top-tier of fantasy baseball pitchers going forward. This may be the last year you can snag one of them without a top-end draft pick, but the potential is there for all of them to produce beyond their years and projected draft status.
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Catcher to Draft Early
Our voters are awfully bullish on the catcher market, as all four players to receive votes are in the upper-echelon of their position. That means each guy listed is likely to take a 2nd or 3rd round pick if you’re going to lock him up. Buster Posey is the consensus top catcher on the board. Joe Mauer likely won’t qualify as a catcher next season, so enjoy his eligibility here while it lasts.
Yadier Molina may not have the name recognition as everyone else on the list, but he’s worth a top pick given his great consistency–a common theme in many people’s fantasy baseball draft strategy. Brian McCann should benefit by playing in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium for 81 games a year and many people expect a bounce back year from the former Atlanta catcher. If you’re one of those people, you better plan ahead and scoop him up early.
1B to Draft Early
Six players received votes at the first base position, but again, no player received more than one vote. Jose Abreu is the biggest unknown, as the former Cuban National Team player joined the Chicago White Sox after the 2013 season. Many people will be watching his rookie season in the MLB to see what type of success he can have at the major-league level. If looking for a boom or bust candidate fits your fantasy baseball draft strategy, Abreu has some of the highest upside available.
Paul Goldschmidt (the top-ranked first baseman in our player rankings by position piece) enters his 4th MLB season right on the cusp of being a household name. He offers production across more categories (including stolen bases) than any other player at the position and is worth a reach for that reason alone.
Both Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols are hoping to bounce back from down seasons in 2013. Pujols’ first year in an Angels uniform was a disaster as he only suited up for 99 games, and also posted career lows in batting average, HRs, and RBIs. Fielder is hoping his move to Texas will go better than his move to Detroit, while owners hope his power numbers will return after a career low in HRs in 2013.
With Brian McCann leaving for New York this offseason, Freddie Freeman will be relied upon in Atlanta to put up big numbers. Couple that with his new contract and the factors are there for a possible jump to being the consensus best first baseman in fantasy baseball by the end of the season.
Finally, Joey Votto probably has the least downside of any player at the first base position. His consistent production makes him a great play on FanDuel and season-long leagues alike. It’s not a sexy pick, but you can pencil Votto into your lineup all year long. Nobody will blame you for reaching for him.
2B to Draft Early
Depending on your fantasy baseball draft strategy, the second base position is a bit of a toss-up behind clear leader Robsinson Cano. A lot of people like Jason Kipnis, the Cleveland Indian who cemented his status as a big-league star during his 2013 season. While he tailed off a bit in the second half of the season, Kipnis looks like a player ready to take the next step in 2014. If he does that he’s well worth an early round pick at a position without a lot of early round prospects.
Dustin Pedroia enjoyed more than just fantasy baseball success in 2014, as his Boston Red Sox took home the World Series for the 3rd time in 10 years. People like to reach for success and big names, and Pedroia provides plenty of each.
Ben Zobrist won’t blow anyone way in any one specific category, but don’t be surprised to see someone take an earlier-than-usual flier on him. He’s settled into a consistent .270 hitter and depending on your fantasy baseball draft strategy that might be more than enough out of the 2nd base position.
The last player to receive a vote was San Diego Padre Jedd Gyorko. Gyorko was a pleasant surprise for San Diego as a rookie last season, and produced an impressive 23 HRs (good for 2nd best out of all 2nd baseman) at HR-averse Petco Park. He won’t be a top pick, but Gyorko could provide a ton of value in the lower rounds if you’re searching for someone to take a flier on.
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3B to Draft Early
Only two players received votes at 3rd base, which makes sense given the glutton of talent that will be drafted early at the position. Martin Prado is consistently under-valued every season. Despite a down season during his first year with Arizona, Prado should be given another chance to produce steady numbers on a day-to-day basis.
The only reason Manny Machado won’t be a top-tier pick in fantasy baseball drafts is the concern over season-ending knee injury last year. If you can survive a few down months while he fully recovers, his end-of-year production should be worth a high-upside early-round flier.
SS to Draft Early
If Troy Tulowitzki can ever stay healthy for a full year, he’ll be worthy of a 1st round draft pick. Unfortunately, that’s a big if. If someone reaches for Tulo and he plays 150 games, you’ll be jealous it wasn’t you.
The other players to receive votes are all full of question marks as well. Can Jean Segura keep up production at the plate for a full season? Will Jurickson Profar finally produce given a full-time opportunity? Is Xander Bogaerts as good as his playoff performance suggested? If you answer “yes” to any of those questions, then that’s the guy to reach for.
So, which of these guys will you be reaching for? Let us know in the comments and point out anyone that our voters might’ve missed on. See below for the entire voting breakdown. Don’t forget to sign up with the MLBPREVIEW14 promo code and get your 100% deposit match bonus!
|i70 Baseball||Jason Kipnis||Adam Wainwright||SF Giants Baseball||Miguel Cabrera||Mike Trout|
|Draft America||Clay Buchholz||Michael Wacha||Through the Fence Baseball||Martin Prado||Albert Pujols|
|BrokeMets||Matt Holliday||Ben Zobrist||The Best Sports Blog||Jason Kipnis||Jean Segura|
|NY Mets Life||Prince Fielder||Madison Bumgarner||Sox Addict||Mike Trout||Clayton Kershaw|
|Advanced Fantasy Baseball||Jose Abreu||Brian McCann||Fenway Nation||Dustin Pedroia||Mike Trout|
|Seattle Mariners Musings||Bryce harper||Billy Hamilton||Tenth Inning Stretch||Carlos Gomez||Joe Mauer|
|Around Citi||Mike Trout||Clayton Kershaw||More Hard Ball||Ryan Braun||Jedd Gyorko|
|Cheap Seats Please||Jason Kipnis||Jose Fernandez||Fantasy Six Pack||Yasiel Puig||Xander Bogaerts|
|Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks||Bryce Harper||Dustin Pedroia||Diamond Hoggers||Bryce Harper||Yasiel Puig|
|Red Sox Nation Alberta||Buster Posey||Troy Tulowitzki||Call to the Pen||Oscar Taveras||Taijuan Walker|
|SeamHeads||Mike Trout||Miguel Cabrera||Philip Oliveri (FanDuel Insider)||Starling Marte||Wil Myers|
|Mets Chronicle||Miguel Cabrera||Mike Trout||Blood Sox||Stephen Strasburg||Yasiel Puig|
|Owen O’Brien (FanDuel Insider)||Yasiel Puig||Billy Hamilton||Detroit Tiger Tales||Mike Trout||Miguel Cabrera|
|Reading Between the Seams||Joey Votto||Wil Myers||Matthew Musico||Yadier Molina||Paul Goldschmidt|
|500 Level Fan||Carlos Gonzalez||james shields||Off the Bench Baseball||Manny Machado||Jurickson Profar|
|Buzz on Broad||Carlos Gonzalez||Freddie Freeman||Red Legs Review||Miguel Cabrera||Mike Trout|
FanDuel’s MLB 2014 Preview Series
Part 1- Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings
Part 2- Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy
Part 3- Fantasy Baseball BustsPart 4- Fantasy Baseball Sleepers Part 5- Surprise MLB Teams Part 6- Fantasy Baseball Bounce Back Players Part 7- Fantasy Baseball Breakout Players Part 8- World Series Predictions
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