The word “sleeper” doesn’t mean what it used to in fantasy terms. With so much information available, it’s difficult to find players that most people don’t know about. However, you can try to identify underappreciated players, whether they’re on the verge of breakouts or just not respected enough for what they already do. If you did so last season with Jean Segura (above), his power and speed might have carried you to a fantasy title.
The Brewers attempted 237 stolen bases last season – 47 more than any other team. Broxton – the team’s probable everyday center fielder – swiped 23 bags in 75 games for the Brew Crew last season, and had 17 homers with 41 steals between the minors and majors. This seems like a match made in heaven, right?
The downside to Broxton is that he whiffs so much he could eventually lose playing time. If he doesn’t, a 12-homer, 30-steal (at least) season seems likely.
TNS via Getty ImagesChris Lee
Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees
NFBC ADP: 1B19, 235 overall
After bursting onto the scene with 11 homers in 46 games as a rookie, Bird missed the entire 2016 season due to a shoulder injury. If Bird wins the everyday first-base job for the Yanks – and he should – he’ll reclaim a role in a home park where pop files to second base occasionally clear the right-field fence.
(OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. A bit.)
Tyler Austin is injured, but the Yankees signed slugging Chris Carter, who could force a platoon. However, IF Bird plays 140 games, he’ll probably bat .260-270 with 25 homers. That’ll be a bargain at this ADP.
Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers
NFBC ADP: SS18, 256 overall
Hey, it’s another fast Brewer! Arcia’s calling card is his solid defense, but there’s reason for fantasy optimism here, as he had 12 homers with 23 stolen bases between Triple A and the majors last season. The projection systems (Steamer, ZiPS) have him pegged for 10-15 homers and 15-20 steals, with a sub-.250 batting average. In the final round of a 12-team mixed league draft, take a chance on Arcia’s power/speed combo if your roster can take the BA hit.
APRick Scuteri/Associated Press
David Peralta, OF, Diamondbacks
NFBC ADP: OF64, 274 overall
If you have your outfield speed taken care of at this point of your draft, check out the overlooked Peralta, who played just 48 games last season due to a wrist injury that led to surgery in August. Peralta is a .292 career hitter who had 17 homers, 78 RBI and nine steals in 2015. Bad BA players abound near the end of fantasy baseball drafts, but Peralta doesn’t come with that baggage.
The righty-mashing Peralta (.873 career OPS vs. RHP, .624 vs. LHP) could end up in a platoon with Chris Owings, according to AZCentral.com. Part-time players aren’t usually good enough for 12-team mixed league rosters, so keep an eye on this situation during spring training. A platoon could hurt Peralta’s counting stats a bit, but owning him in a daily lineup league can still pay dividends if you’re willing to manage your roster aggressively enough to account for opposing pitchers. Peralta's upside isn't huge, but he's a solid player.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
Jose Reyes, 3B, Mets
SS20, 301 overall
Reyes is being drafted as a shortstop in NFBC leagues, but since he played just 13 games there last season, he’ll be 3B-only in many leagues. The 33-year-old is no longer a special player, but he batted a respectable .267 with eight homers, nine steals and .769 OPS in 60 games with the Mets.
Playing time is the issue with Reyes: He’s currently slated to back up at second, third and short, and has been taking outfield reps during the offseason. All it’ll take is one injury – sorry, David Wright – to make Reyes a productive fantasy commodity, and he’s likely to gain eligibility at multiple positions along the way. In leagues deeper than 12 teams, he can be a corner infielder for you.
Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds
NFBC ADP: C22, 310 overall
Do you want to spend a draft pick on a catcher who has missed most of the last two seasons due to shoulder and hip issues that have required three surgeries? Considering the other available backstops likely to be available at the same point of your drafts, why not?
My goodwill toward Mesoraco is solely based on his 25-homer breakout in 2014. Maybe he’s a longshot, but so are similar ADP guys like Travis d’Arnaud and Austin Hedges. Mesoraco’s upside is worth rostering in your second catcher slot. C’mon, it’s not like you can’t cut him if things don’t work out. I promise that Tyler Flowers and James McCann will still be available if you do.