You have read, digested and regurgitated countless pages and hours of our preaseson Draft Prep content. Now it is time to put it all to work for you. The waning days of spring training is also the most popular draft time. Here we try to put it all together for you.
We have given you a set of tools you can find here, if you hadn't flipped through it already. This writer, specifically, has tried to give you ways to find players who can outperform their draft position:
- 27-year-olds -- our choice age for the start of a player's prime.
- Third-year starting pitchers -- the time a young arm can become a Fantasy ace.
- Overlooked sophomores -- players who didn't quite show us everything as a rookie.
- Top rookies and prospects -- players whom the masses have no idea what to expect.
- Contract years -- players who are in an option year or could be motivated before free agency.
- Injury-risk sleepers -- players who fall to you on Draft Day due to an injury stigma.
Listing a set of sleepers and breakouts is all fine and good, but once a sleeper is hyped, it could make him overrated and get picked multiple rounds too early.
Looking for reliable and entertaining Fantasy advice all season long? Our staff of Fantasy writers gets you ready each and every week, addressing pitching matchups, injuries and more.
Below we list the current CBSSports.com Draft Averages and outline it as if this is how your 12-team, 23-man (seven reserve slots), 5x5 Rotisserie draft might go in the coming days. We used this format as our example because there are just too many variations in Head-to-Head scoring systems to trust those Draft Averages. Knowing how the masses will pick is a useful tool for targeting the sleepers and breakouts you don't want to miss on.
As a bonus, here are the 30 names to know, specifically, one per round.
Round 1 -- Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers
He is going to go in Round 1 of some Rotisserie drafts and could be an NL MVP candidate, despite not yet being a household name. It is interesting to note, of the top 12 below, only Kemp and reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer haven't been first-round, mixed-league Fantasy picks in the past.
Round 2 -- Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers
While many are going to reach for Kemp in Round 1, last year's lone 30-30 player will be slotted in the middle of Round 2. Because Kinsler can get his average back up to .300 -- thanks to an outstanding strikeout-to-walk rate -- this writer has a feeling he is going to challenge Chase Utley to be the No. 1 second baseman in Fantasy.
Round 3 -- Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks
Everyone has gushed uncontrollably about the likes of 2010 NL Rookie of the Year favorite Jason Heyward, but Upton is the cautionary tale. This should be Upton's year to explode, along with all of the Diamondbacks' burgeoning young hitters. It should be a great year in Arizona, where everyone in the Diamondbacks' starting lineup could have a career season.
Round 4 -- Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
|Melchior (5/23) | White (5/16) | Melchior (5/12)|
You have to love Votto's potential to put it all together at age 27. He is capable of going .300-30-100-100. He is also being picked, on average, before Kendry Morales, Adam Dunn and banged-up Lance Berkman. It is much cooler to get a breakout later rather than having to pick him this high in anticipation of him breaking out. Morales, Dunn and Berkman have already had the years, and Fantasy owners are hoping to see the same from Votto.
Round 5 -- B.J. Upton, OF, Rays
As much as Fantasy owners are loving the younger Upton coming off his breakthrough year in 2009, they are overlooking the elder Upton this season. Sure, B.J. is erratic in his young career, but he is still just 25 years old. He can still be the .300-30-100-100-50 outfielder many once believed.
Round 6 -- Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox
It wasn't too long ago Peavy was getting consideration as the No. 1 pitcher in Fantasy -- and that was when he was with the lowly Padres. Sure, Chicago has a hitter-friendly park and the AL is sure to be tougher, but Peavy hasn't pitched for a contender this good in his career. It is also important to note he is being downgraded due to an ankle injury. A shoulder or an elbow issue should be the ones people are worried about with pitchers, not an ankle injury that is eight months healed.
Round 7 -- Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers
Ah, yes, another player some avoid like the plague. That allows a potential first-round caliber talent to fall to you. Hamilton even had injury concerns this spring, but he is playing now and hitting well. A year of health will make him a huge factor in countless Fantasy championships.
Round 8 -- Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox
Speaking of derided 2009 busts, Quentin has the .300-30-100-100 potential that could help make the outfield position dominant again in Fantasy. All told, the position was disappointing last year due to Hamilton and Quentin. It is a good bet the outfield position will rebound to challenge first base as Fantasy's gold mine.
Round 9 -- Billy Butler, 1B, Royals
It is time to make a Fantasy poster semi-famous: Mr. Matt Lee, who criticized us heavily for saying Butler could be a Miguel Cabrera-like run producer and a future Fantasy first-rounder. We said that back years ago when Butler was getting started in low Class A as a pick out of high school. Now, Bulter could be ready to make that next huge step toward the elite. Perhaps because he plays for the lowly Royals, despite being about Votto-good, he is getting picked five rounds later than his 1B-breakout counterpart.
Round 10 -- Roy Oswalt, SP, Astros
Low expectations for the Astros and a news item that had Oswalt considering career-threatening surgery that could compromise his ability to walk, have allowed the two-time 20-game winner to slip past the top 30 starting pitchers in the Draft Averages. That is far too much of a fall. He should be picked among the top 25, perhaps even the top 20.
Round 11 -- Ian Stewart, 3B, Rockies
The player we once called the next Chase Utley except with more power is finally an unquestioned everyday player out of spring training. Sure, he had an awful average last year, but he has that .300-30-100-100 potential we all drool over. He has it as a 2B- and 3B-eligible option, too.
Round 12 -- Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers
Somehow, unproven rookie shortstop and middle-infield mate Alcides Escobar is getting picked before Weeks. Weeks has never reached 500 at-bats due to injury woes and general inconsistency, but he was a monster out of the gate last year and can be a big-time catalyst as a leadoff man for a potent Brewers lineup. The potential reward far outweighs the injury risk after the top 10 Fantasy second basemen are off the board.
Round 13 -- Jay Bruce, OF, Reds
Not to continually dog Votto, a player this writer really, really likes, but Bruce came up through the Reds' system as the better long-term prospect. Bruce is younger and has scuffled, while Votto broke through last year. This is Bruce's turn. He could be Adam Lind good. Remember how many years it took Lind to put it together? The draft position makes Bruce a bargain.
Round 14 -- Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
Prospect hype is usually heaped more on pitchers than it is hitters, but Heyward is a special case. There is talk he could be the best position-player prospect since Albert Pujols -- Joe Mauer notwithstanding. The problem with that high praise is Heyward could be too young, as in Delmon Young. Remember the hype placed on that prospect? Unfortunately, Young has yet to break out.
Round 15 -- Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins
The mid-90s fastball is back and the reports are the bite on his slider is as well. Liriano could be RP-eligible in your league, too, which could prove invaluable like J.A. Happ was in 2009. Liriano is too young to consider washed up, so pick him among the top 40 starters for some potentially high rewards.
Round 16 -- Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals
The "best pitching prospect ever" hype doesn't go down along with Strasburg to the minors in mid-March. He can be this year's Tommy Hanson -- if not better -- and should be drafted and stashed in all Fantasy leagues for a potential June 1 call-up.
Round 17 -- Kevin Slowey, SP, Twins
The Twins lost Joe Nathan (Tommy John surgery) for the season, but we still fully expect them to be a top contender in the AL Central. Mauer and Justin Morneau are just that good. The pitching staff will have the benefit of outdoors baseball in the upper midwest -- cold! -- until mid-May and in the crucial closing weeks of September. That could make Slowey a quicker starter and a great finisher for Fantasy owners, and a 15-plus game winner.
Round 18 -- Kyle Blanks, OF, Padres
Blanks is perhaps the best slugger most households cannot name. The sophomore has immense power potential and is so intriguing that the Padres are willing to part with 27-year-old superstar Adrian Gonzalez. Blanks is built like an NFL defensive end and slots better as a first baseman than a corner outfielder. While Gonzalez might not spend the year in San Diego, Blanks will and should surprise the masses.
Round 19 -- Aroldis Chapman, SP, Reds
Heyward and Strasburg has been huge rookie stories this spring, but Chapman might be the prospect most ready to dominate in Fantasy. His 102-mph stuff can be unhittable, if the Reds choose to open him in the major leagues. Even if they don't, the Cuban hurler won't take long to arrive and conquer.
Round 20 -- Brandon Wood, 3B, Angels
If you follow this writer's prospect reports the past four years, then you will know about the unhealthy love for Wood's massive power potential. He is a bit too aggressive for some stuffy Fantasy analysts, but didn't people say the same about Ryan Howard and Mark Reynolds? Yes, Wood can hit bombs like them.
Round 21 -- Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees
After being named the Yankees' fifth starter Thursday, Hughes will be perhaps the highest riser in all of Fantasy for the next week. He warrants getting picked among the top 40 starting pitchers. That slots him where? Around Round 12 in a standard mixed league. Unfortunately for Joba Chamberlain, it means a downgrade off most mixed-league radars.
Round 22 -- Homer Bailey, SP, Reds
Wood is to hitting as Bailey is to pitching for this writer. A guy stuck by through thick and thin -- mostly thin. Something clicked for Bailey down the stretch last year. The arrival of Chapman and the expected third-year breakthrough on Johnny Cueto mean Bailey won't have all that ridiculous hype to deal with. He can go out and pitch every five days like a normal rotation member and perform like a top 50 starter in his first full season in the majors.
Round 23 -- Jeff Francoeur, OF, Mets
Just a few years ago, Francoeur was one of the emerging sluggers of baseball, much less outfielders. Atlanta seemed to lead him to ruin, but he found himself again with the Mets down the stretch last year and that was with a torn thumb ligament. He is healthy this spring and a nice value relative to his draft position.
Round 24 -- Sean Rodriguez, 2B, Rays
Rodriguez looks to us like the Rays' starting second baseman or right fielder, depending on where Ben Zobrist plays. Rodriguez has serious power potential and is a great sleeper for all leagues, if he gets the full-time at-bats we are expecting. He could be Zobrist- or Aaron Hill-good.
Round 25 -- Alex Gordon, 3B, Royals
Yes, we are completely stubborn and cannot give up on this talent, even if he starts the season on the DL. Gordon's career has gotten off to a slower start than Ryan J. Braun's or Evan Longoria's, but lefties historically are a bit off. Gordon can find his rhythm and surprise you still. As soon as you give up, the slugging will come. ... Well, in that case, give up on him for us, if you haven't already.
Round 26 -- Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays
We love to tell the tale of Snider's woe and Lind's woah of 2009. Now, it could be Snider's turn to hit the big-time. It took Lind three years, but the chance Snider picks it up in Year 2 makes him worth a pick at this late stage of a draft.
Round 27 -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Rangers
He is coming off a serious shoulder injury that doesn't seem completely healed, but his Draft Day price is so low relative to his potential, he is well worth the risk in Round 27. That is six rounds after CBSSports.com's standard mixed leagues end. Salty's offensive potential at a weak position is just too great to completely ignore.
Round 28 -- Ian Desmond, SS, Nationals
His speed-and-power potential have come through in a great spring and earned him a starting job. We cannot guarantee he will be mixed-league worthy, but the fact he has so much potential at such a weak position makes him a great roster filler. Heck, you could ignore the whole shortstop position and just pick this guy as your last starter in deeper formats.
Round 29 -- Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Blue Jays
He hasn't lived up to the hype and a wrist issue that plagued him all of last year has kept his value basement-low. He is another Desmond-like roster-filler option worth snatching up late. It he stays banged up, you can merely cut him. Picks made this late in mixed leagues tend to wind up on the waiver wire anyway.
Round 30 -- Mike Aviles, SS, Royals
He has come back nicely from Tommy John surgery and has hit like it's 2008. Remember how valuable of an offensive shortstop he was in Fantasy that year? He could be back to that top-10 shortstop status, as a player picked beyond the top 20 at his position.
Here is a mock draft produced solely by CBSSports.com's Draft Averages. If you are going to sit at your draft with just one piece of content, make it this one.
Key: Order -- overall rank; POS -- primary position; P-RK -- ranking at primary position; TM -- team; ADP -- average draft position; RD -- anticipated round; PK -- pick number in that round.
|Order||Player||POS||P-RK||TM||ADP||RD||PK||Emack sleeper category|
|1||Albert Pujols||1B||1||STL||1.15||1||1||Contract year|
|4||Ryan J. Braun||OF||1||MIL||4.91||1||4|
|14||Carl Crawford||OF||3||TB||15.66||2||2||Contract year|
|17||Ian Kinsler||2B||2||TEX||17.51||2||5||27-year-old, Injury-risk|
|21||Victor Martinez||C||2||BOS||23.39||2||9||Contract year|
|29||Grady Sizemore||OF||6||CLE||30.52||3||5||27-year-old, Injury-risk|
|30||Derek Jeter||SS||4||NYY||31.1||3||6||Contract year|
|36||Jose B. Reyes||SS||5||NYM||35.88||3||12||27-year-old, Injury-risk|
|46||Joey Votto||1B||9||CIN||48.75||4||10||27-year-old, Injury-risk|
|52||Josh Beckett||SP||12||BOS||54.26||5||4||Contract year|
|54||Manny Ramirez||OF||13||LAD||54.83||5||6||Contract year|
|61||Mariano Rivera||RP||3||NYY||61.4||6||1||Contract year|
|62||Cliff Lee||SP||14||SEA||61.41||6||2||Injury-risk, Contract year|
|65||Javier Vazquez||SP||16||NYY||66.53||6||5||Contract year|
|66||Jayson Werth||OF||16||PHI||66.75||6||6||Contract year|
|67||Yovani Gallardo||SP||17||MIL||67.67||6||7||Third-year SP|
|71||Adam Dunn||1B||11||WAS||72.21||6||11||Contract year|
|75||Francisco J. Rodriguez||RP||4||NYM||75.57||7||3|
|78||Clayton Kershaw||SP||21||LAD||78.68||7||6||Third-year SP|
|80||Carlos N. Lee||OF||19||HOU||80.8||7||8||Injury-risk|
|83||Nelson R. Cruz||OF||20||TEX||84.61||7||11|
|86||Carlos Quentin||OF||21||CHW||90.01||8||2||27-year-old, Injury-risk|
|87||Lance Berkman||1B||12||HOU||90.71||8||3||Injury-risk, Contract year|
|88||Brian Fuentes||RP||5||LAA||91.04||8||4||Contract year|
|89||Derrek Lee||1B||13||CHC||92.12||8||5||Injury-risk, Contract year|
|99||Carlos Pena||1B||14||TB||104.54||9||3||Contract year|
|127||Howard Kendrick||2B||10||LAA||129.45||11||7||27-year-old, Injury-risk|
|134||Michael Cuddyer||OF||33||MIN||135.55||12||2||Contract year|
|136||Rafael Soriano||RP||16||TB||138.3||12||4||Contract year|
|138||Jose Lopez||2B||11||SEA||138.77||12||6||Contract year|
|141||Brandon Webb||SP||37||ARI||140.13||12||9||Injury-risk, Contract year|
|144||Rickie Weeks||2B||12||MIL||142.34||12||12||27-year-old, Injury-risk|
|150||Max Scherzer||SP||39||DET||149.35||13||6||Third-year SP|
|160||Brad Hawpe||OF||41||COL||156.22||14||4||Contract year|
|161||Johnny Damon||OF||42||DET||157.21||14||5||Contract year|
|163||Jason Kubel||OF||43||MIN||160.06||14||7||27-year-old, Contract year|
|170||Chad Qualls||RP||21||ARI||167.23||15||2||Contract year|
|171||Bengie Molina||C||11||SF||168.85||15||3||Contract year|
|173||Vladimir Guerrero||DH||1||TEX||173.53||15||5||Contract year|
|179||Francisco Liriano||SP||46||MIN||177.11||15||11||Third-year SP|
|181||David Ortiz||DH||2||BOS||178||16||1||Contract year, Injury-risk|
|184||Ben Sheets||SP||47||OAK||183.85||16||4||Contract year|
|189||Jorge De La Rosa||SP||49||COL||186.8||16||9|
|193||Kevin Slowey||SP||53||MIN||196.24||17||1||Third-year SP|
|194||Ervin Santana||SP||54||LAA||196.55||17||2||27-year-old, Injury-risk|
|206||Johnny Cueto||SP||57||CIN||201.99||18||2||Third-year SP|
|209||Corey C. Hart||OF||55||MIL||204.29||18||5||Injury-risk|
|211||Hiroki Kuroda||SP||59||LAD||209.06||18||7||Third-year SP|
|213||A.J. Pierzynski||C||15||CHW||210.59||18||9||Contract year|
|217||Magglio Ordonez||OF||56||DET||212.54||19||1||Injury-risk, Contract year|
|219||Kerry Wood||RP||26||CLE||213.17||19||3||Injury-risk, Contract year|
|221||Juan L. Rivera||OF||57||LAA||216.35||19||5|
|225||Jonathan O. Sanchez||SP||63||SF||218.7||19||9||27-year-old, Third-year SP|
|232||J.J. Hardy||SS||14||MIN||222.84||20||4||27-year-old, Contract year|
|233||Jason Frasor||RP||28||TOR||223.53||20||5||Contract year|
|239||Paul Konerko||1B||22||CHW||229.58||20||11||Contract year|
|242||Brett Gardner||OF||61||NYY||230.23||21||2||27-year-old, Sophomore|
|245||Jeff Niemann||SP||68||TB||232.23||21||5||27-year-old, Sophomore|
|250||Matt Guerrier||RP||32||MIN||236.82||21||10||Contract year|
|252||Joba Chamberlain||SP||72||NYY||237.44||21||12||Third-year SP|
|256||Jon Rauch||RP||33||MIN||238.65||22||4||Contract year|
|258||Homer Bailey||SP||73||CIN||239.74||22||6||Third-year SP|
|259||Shaun Marcum||SP||74||TOR||241.64||22||7||Third-year SP|
|260||Chris B. Young||OF||64||ARI||245.07||22||8||27-year-old|
|263||Scott Feldman||SP||76||TEX||248.01||22||11||27-year-old, Third-year SP|
|275||Matt Thornton||RP||35||CHW||254.01||23||11||Contract year|
|279||Conor Jackson||OF||67||ARI||255.16||24||3||27-year-old, Injury-risk|
|284||Chris R. Young||SP||80||SD||256.98||24||8||Injury-risk|
|290||Miguel Olivo||C||19||COL||259.38||25||2||Contract year|
|294||Garrett Atkins||3B||20||BAL||259.89||25||6||Contract year|
|297||David Freese||3B||22||STL||260.88||25||9||Rookie, Injury-risk|
|299||Matt LaPorta||OF||71||CLE||261.29||25||11||Sophomore, Injury-risk|
|300||Rod Barajas||C||20||NYM||261.45||25||12||Contract year|
|307||Maicer Izturis||2B||20||LAA||265.77||26||7||Contract year|
|320||Jeff Clement||C||23||PIT||270.23||27||8||Sophomore, Injury-risk|
|323||J.J. Putz||RP||45||CHW||270.72||27||11||Contract year|
|325||Coco Crisp||OF||79||OAK||272.66||28||1||Contract year|
|329||John Buck||C||24||TOR||273.19||28||5||Contract year|
|337||Anibal Sanchez||SP||93||FLA||275.24||29||1||Third-year SP|
|341||Edwin Encarnacion||3B||25||TOR||276.8||29||5||27-year-old, Injury-risk|
|343||Brandon Inge||3B||26||DET||277.91||29||7||Contract year, Injury-risk|
|347||Jim R. Johnson||RP||50||BAL||278.53||29||11|
|348||Luis Castillo||2B||21||NYM||278.59||29||12||Contract year|
|352||Scott Downs||RP||52||TOR||279.58||30||4||Contract year|
|356||Jason Hammel||SP||97||COL||281.68||30||8||Third-year SP|
You can e-mail Emack your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put 30 names to know 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.