Fantasy Baseball Sleepers – 2014 Value Picks

March 11 5:44pm
Nick Sharp
By Nicholas Sharp

When it comes to fantasy baseball, trying to get value out of your draft picks is rule #1 -regardless of whether it’s your 1st round or last round selection. Identifying the best fantasy baseball sleepers before going into your draft will go a long ways to securing great value.  Don’t sleep on these sleepers! Also, don’t sleep on Parts 1-3 of our MLB 2014 Preview – we’ve already covered player rankings, draft strategy, and busts.

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Breakdown

Top Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

Our survey resulted in 59 different players being named sleepers for the 2014 fantasy baseball season. Out of those 59, only 6 players received more than 2 votes. Xander Bogaerts was far and away the high-vote-getter, ending up with 3 more votes than our 2nd place finisher. The Aruban prospect has long been on the receiving end of high praise, ending up on countless “top prospect” lists over the past few years.

 

We finally got a taste of what Boston’s newest “X-Factor” can produce during the 2013 MLB Playoffs. Bogaerts hit .296 and looked every bit the part of a budding Major League star. With an ADP in the 150-200 range, Bogaerts can offer some great value if he continues that October hot streak into his first full year in the Major Leagues.

 

Billy Hamilton’s speed has got people salivating over the number of stolen bases he can record during the 2014 season. While he’s not an unknown prospect anymore, Hamilton can still be a successful sleeper if he can contribute in a variety of categories and not kill your batting average.  With Ian Kinsler shipped off to Detroit (and none too happy about it), Jurickson Profar finally will have an every-day opportunity in Texas alongside Elvis Andrus. Given his status as one of the premier prospects in baseball, we expect an improvement on his career .231 batting average. Consider him a high-upside option at SS, but be careful to rely on him before he proves he can consistently hit MLB-level pitching. As is the case with most fantasy baseball sleepers, there’s a ton of boom-or-bust potential there. [UPDATE: Profar will be out the first 10-12 weeks of the 2014 MLB Season due to a torn shoulder muscle]

 

Christian Yelich is an interesting candidate as a sleeper down in Miami. He plays on a team that gets almost no recognition, which allows him to retain a lower profile than guys like Profar and Bogaerts. Yelich is expected to lead-off for the young Marlins, but it’ll be tough for Yelich to accumulate peripheral stats due to the lack of talent behind him. If you’re high on the likes of Giancarlo Stanton and others in that lineup, it makes sense to take a flier on Yelich as well.

 

Two pitchers finish off our top group, and will be on a lot of people’s radars after making brief but effective cameos last season. Michael Wacha’s cameo nearly became a starring role in the MLB Playoffs, as the rookie SP went 4-1 in October (the one loss being the World-Series-clinching loss to Boston). If he can continue to develop his curveball on top of his lethal changeup, hitters will be hoping for an off-day during his starts.  Taijuan Walker is the more celebrated of the prospects, but his surrounding cast is much more suspect. If Walker can pick up a few tricks of the trade from former AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez, Seattle may have two aces atop their rotation.

 

Starting Pitcher Sleepers

It seems as though our SP sleepers all fall into one of two categories; either it’s a mid-tier guy looking to take the next step to stardom, or it’s a fringe starter looking to make the jump to reliable rotation starter.

 

First things first, the player must be in the Major Leagues to validate a draft pick (unless you’re in a dynasty/keeper format). We’ve seen guys like Jameson Taillon already get cut from their Major League clubs, while others like Rafael Montero and Mark Appel are not expected to start the season at the Major League level. Keep an eye on when these guys finally do hit the big leagues – especially as spot starters on FanDuel. They’ll offer great value once we can rely on them for weekly starts.

 

The more-established group of players includes guys like Gerrit Cole, the Pittsburgh Pirate that burst onto the scene with great success in 2013. Cole won’t be drafted highly, but if you listen closely to the rumbles in Pittsburgh it sounds like he may be in for a huge season. Others such as Zack Wheeler and Rick Porcello will be relied upon to step into bigger roles for their teams this season. Figuring out which Ace-in-waiting will develop quickest in the key to drafting an effective fantasy baseball sleeper at the SP position.

 

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C Sleepers

Last season, Yan Gomes was the starting catcher for the AAA Columbus Clippers on Opening Day and an afterthought of the Mike Aviles trade in Cleveland. This season, he’s considered a budding star and the unquestioned Opening Day Catcher for the Indians. Despite Carlos Santana being the better hitter, Gomes has usurped him and his every-day production is worth taking a chance on.

 

Evan Gattis will likely start the year as Atlanta’s catcher, but Christian Bethancourt gives Gattis little room for error. If Atlanta decides to make a switch, make him a priority on your waiver wire and be sure to get him into your daily lineups on FanDuel.

 

With Prince Fielder out of town, Alex Avila looks like the guy that will get the first crack at filling his spot in the batting order behind Miguel Cabrera. That alone is reason enough to take a shot on Avila, especially considering the lack of quality options at the position.

 

1B Sleepers

The Chicago Cubs believe in Anthony Rizzo, which is great considering the ups and downs the young prospect is expected to endure this year. Despite only hitting .233 in 160 games last year (including a putrid .189 against leftys), Rizzo will get another chance to show he can be the 1B of the future in north side Chicago. He’s looked hot this spring; don’t be so quick to name Jose Abreu the best first baseman in Chicago just yet.

 

Brandon Belt and Eric Hosmer were both FanDuel fixtures last year, with each player consistently out-producing his price tag. Both will have prices more reflective of their performances’ this season, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be useful as strong-upside picks at 1B.

 

Jonathan Singleton hopes a more sober approach at the plate this season will finally translate to success. Laying off the “high cheese” should elevate his statistics nicely. Matt Adams is a prospect for the St. Louis Cardinals, which should tell you all you need to know about him. St. Louis develops prospects better than anyone else in the league. Also, every fantasy baseball team could use a guy nicknamed “Big City”.

 

2B Sleepers

Kolten Wong is best known for getting picked-off at first base to end Game 4 of the World Series last year. This year, he hopes he’ll be remembered for putting up solid numbers and anchoring a young and exciting St. Louis infield that should feature 3 of the games most promising young prospects (Wong, Matt Carpenter, and Matt Adams).

 

Jason Kipnis may be the 2nd best 2nd baseman in baseball, but he’s rarely drafted like it. Kipnis looks primed to make a jump to true stardom in 2014. He’s not a conventional fantasy baseball sleeper, but Kipnis might hold more value than any other second baseman in the MLB.

 

Jedd Gyorko proved last year he’s more than just a cool name. Behind Robinson Cano, Gyorko led all 2nd baseman in HRs despite playing in quite possibly the worst hitters park in all of baseball. Many pundits think it was a bit of an aberration, but if Gyorko can match those numbers again this season he’ll provide great value as a deep-round sleeper.

 

SS Sleepers

With Bogaerts and Profar being listed as top vote-getters, the rest of the shortstop pickins’ get pretty slim. Chase d’Arnaud has already been listed for assignment in the minors, while Josh Rutledge and Anthony Rendon are locked into spring training position battles. Either player would be worth a shot in the dark if they can find a way to put a firm grasp on a starting role. Alcides Escobar won’t blow anyone away with his production, but if he can find a way to level out his batting average (in 2012, it was .293. Last season, it was .234) he can offer decent production on the cheap.

 

3B Sleepers

Nick Castellanos is the biggest name of the group, and deserves the biggest look. Detroit has shown great faith in the young stud, proclaiming him the team’s future at 3B after moving on from the Prince Fielder experiment and sliding Miguel Cabrera over to 1B. Depending on where he lands in the batting order, he may even get the chance to bat behind Cabrera at some point this season. He’s one of the ALs most intriguing rookie prospects.

 

Others at the position include Cody Asche (the elder statesman of the group at 23 years old), Matt Davidson, and Nolan Arenado. None of them jump off the page as big-time sleepers, but any of them could produce solid numbers. We’ll give the nod to Arenado due to his getting to play in Denver 81 times a year.

 

Outfield Sleepers

We’ve already outlined Hamilton and Yelich in the top group, but there are plenty of other options to consider when picking a fantasy baseball sleeper at the outfield position. Oscar Taveras is the 4th St. Louis Cardinal on our list, and may be in line for the best season. Wil Myers is also setup with a great opportunity in Tampa Bay. Jackie Bradley Jr. has been trending downward this spring, and his starting CF position has come into doubt within the Boston media. At only 23 years old, Bradley Jr. will be given every opportunity to retain his spot against the 31 year-old Grady Sizemore.

 

We’ve been hearing about George Springer for years, and this finally looks like the year that Houston will unleash their prized prospect. Will he live up to the hype? Carlos Gomez is by far the highest-rated player on this entire list, so for him to be a sleeper he’ll need to produce 1st round value. With Ryan Braun finally back in the lineup, Gomez will get his chances.

 

Melky Cabrera and Will Venable are a couple of veterans that don’t get the same hype as the sexy, high-upside prospects, but their numbers may just end up being better. Last time we checked, numbers hold more weight in fantasy baseball than how much hype a guy has.

 

Everybody has their pet fantasy baseball sleepers that they covet going into their drafts. Are you usually right about your sleepers? Do you consider yourself better than average at fantasy baseball? If so, you’re going to love playing 50/50s on FanDuel. Beat half of the field and you’ll almost double your entry fee! Deposit now with promo code MLBPREVIEW14 and we’ll match you first deposit 100%. Time to put your money where your mouth is — and then double it!

 

FanDuel’s MLB 2014 Preview Series

Part 1- Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings

Part 2- Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy

Part 3- Fantasy Baseball Busts

Part 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

 **Exclusive Special**Sign up today with the promo code MLBPREVIEW14 and we’ll match your first deposit 100% up to $200. Sign up today!

 

 

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