While the top fantasy baseball players provide the floor for your team, finding sleepers in the later rounds is key to determining your ceiling.
Hunting for fantasy baseball sleeper picks, by definition, is a volatile task. For every sleeper that does turn into a great pick, there are two or three that go nowhere. However, this process is can be the difference between a first-place finish and stumbling to a losing season. That makes it crucial to hit on your sleeper picks.
Without further ado, here are five sleeper starting pitchers that can make a big impact for your 2021 fantasy baseball team.
Fantasy Baseball SP Sleepers
5. Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers
Looking at the top-15 pitchers in swinging-strike rate from 2020, 14 have an average draft position (ADP) of 110.0 or earlier, according to FantasyPros. The 15th is Matthew Boyd, at 327.0. Opposing hitters were whiffing at a 12.5% rate against Boyd in 2020, which is still a terrific mark even though it was a drop-off from his 14.0% in 2019. His ERA ballooned to 6.71, but a one-year blip (especially in 2020's unprecedented circumstances) should not have sent his draft stock tumbling this far. It's strange to think of Boyd as a sleeper after he received so much hype last offseason, but here we are.
4. Sixto Sanchez, Miami Marlins
In the shortened 2020 season, there were 166 pitchers that threw at least 500 pitches. Only one (Jacob deGrom) had a higher average velocity on those fastballs than Sixto Sanchez. The sky is the limit for a 22-year-old that can throw that kind of heat, making Sanchez a nice high-upside gamble in 2021 drafts.
3. Frankie Montas, Oakland Athletics
With an ERA skyrocketing from 2.63 in 2019 to 5.60 in 2020, Frankie Montas burned a lot of fantasy baseball managers. It wasn't all bad, though, and the step back he took was far less extreme than that jump in ERA might suggest. Both his batting average on balls in play (BABIP; 3.29) and home run-to-fly-ball ratio (HR/FB; 17.5%) were way up, and both of those stats tend to be pretty variance-heavy. He actually cut his hard-hit rate down from 37.9% to 35.9% and increased his soft-hit rate from 14.8% to 18.3%, while also increasing his strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) to 10.19.
2. Zack Greinke, Houston Astros
The 37-year-old Zack Greinke isn't the sexiest option in fantasy baseball, but he can still get it done. His 4.03 ERA from 2020 seems to be scaring some drafters off, as they worry he's over the hill now. But his 3.72 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) was actually better than the 3.96 he had posted in 2019 (his xFIP improved as well, from 3.74 to 3.51). He also upped his strikeout rate and dropped his walk rate from 2019 to 2020. Greinke is not finished just yet.
1. German Marquez, Colorado Rockies
Colorado Rockies pitchers always get dinged for the Coors Field effect, but German Marquez is the right type of pitcher to succeed in the altitude. He forced a career-high 50.6% ground-ball rate in 2020, bringing his career-average up to 47.9%, compared to just a 26.1% fly-ball rate. FantasyPros' average draft position (ADP) data has him barely going off the board as a top-50 starting pitcher, even though he finished in the top-20 from a fantasy standpoint last season.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.