To win your Fantasy Baseball league, you really have to catch lightning in a bottle.
In a standard 12-team league -- assuming an equal amount of knowledge, time spent and luck -- your single odds of winning your league are around 8 percent (12-to-1, of course). To put it bluntly, not very good. You have about the same chance of winning your league as a No. 15 seed knocking off a No. 2 in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament, which has been done only four times in the past 25 years.
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Playing Fantasy is a bad investment in risk. You're better off going to a casino and dropping your league fee on black at the roulette wheel. It saves you a lot of time and angst.
The question is how do you increase your chances, because we know you're like us: too stubborn to quit against bad odds. You improve your lot by assuming some risk and winding up with the most players who outperform their draft position. We have already outlined these ways to spot breakouts and sleepers before they happen: 27-year-olds, third-year starting pitchers, overlooked sophomores, contract years, rookies and prospects.
No category of players slip more on Draft Day than the injury risks, though.
Pujols, coming off elbow surgery, was mostly passed up as a No. 1 overall candidate and wound up outscoring every other player in CBSSports.com's standard points system by almost 100. Mauer had a kidney/back ailment last spring, slipping into Round 7 or later, missing the month of April, and wound up being a huge breakthrough player of the year. And Carpenter was coming off a series of more elbow surgeries, fell into the late rounds and his Fantasy owners wound up winning a higher percentage of games than any other player's owners. See our review of CBSSports.com's winningest players here.
Of the top 15 in winning percentage last year, almost half had some kind of injury stigma attached to them that potentially dragged down their draft position.
We said you have to find those players that can outperform their draft position. Virtually every player who has an injury to work past is going to be more talented than where they get drafted. That makes targeting some injury risks a crucial piece to the championship puzzle.
Here are our Top 10 choices for players that can win you your league by proving healthier and more productive than anticipated. If they don't pan out, and you're not the lucky one of your league's 12 to win the title, you have your excuse.
|RK||Player||POS||TM||ADP 5x5||ADP H2H||Currently|
|1||Jose B. Reyes||SS||NYM||31||45||Falling|
|Not technically injured. If he can get over the mysterious thyroid issue, he could perform among elite.|
|An injury-plagued career and spring keep Hammer a long way from his actual first-round potential.|
|His injury was with his ankle, not his elbow or shoulder; and he has never had a contender this good.|
|DH is more available to keep him healthy; he was an AL MVP favorite in the middle of the '08 season.|
|He is targeting a late April return at this point, which could make him this year's Carpenter rebound.|
|The 27-year-old breakout candidate has Ian Kinsler-like potential ... seriously, don't give up now.|
|He could miss all of April, but if you can get by while on the DL, he is going to be a mid-round steal.|
|We are very wary of his knee at his age, but his bat isn't finished, so he could be this year's Derrek Lee.|
|Before his quad injury, he had the potential to rebound and be the fourth-best catcher in Fantasy.|
|He has gotten the Tommy John rehab out of the way and should be full go as a closer on a contender.|
Top injury-risk sleepers by position
There are hundreds of players who can, and will, fall to you later than usual because of injury risk dragging down their value. We cannot go in depth on all of them here, but you should follow them closely as spring training winds down. Here are some of the top injury risks to watch, broken down by their position they are eligible at on Draft Day and listed in order of their CBSSports.com Average Draft Position in a mixed Rotisserie league:
Outfielders: Grady Sizemore, CLE; B.J. Upton, TB; Josh Hamilton, TEX; Carlos N. Lee, HOU; Carlos Quentin, CHW; Alfonso Soriano, CHC; Carlos Beltran, NYM; Vernon Wells, TOR; Corey C. Hart, MIL; Magglio Ordonez, DET; Conor Jackson, ARI and Matt LaPorta, CLE
Starting pitchers: Johan Santana, NYM; Chris Carpenter, STL; Jake Peavy, CHW; Scott Kazmir, LAA; Jair Jurrjens, ATL; Brandon Webb, ARI; Roy Oswalt, HOU; Rich Harden, TEX; Francisco Liriano, MIN; Ben Sheets, OAK; Tim Hudson, ATL; Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS; Kevin Slowey, MIN; Hiroki Kuroda, LAD; Ted Lilly, CHC; Aaron Harang, CIN; Brandon Morrow, SEA; Shaun Marcum, TOR; Erik Bedard, SEA; John Maine, NYM; Chris R. Young, SD; Brett Myers, HOU; Justin Duchscherer, OAK; Gil Meche, KC; Ian Kennedy, ARI; and many, many more pertinent in AL- and NL-only leagues.
You can e-mail Emack your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Injury risks in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state. Be aware, due to the large volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee personal responses to all questions.