Fantasy Baseball: Early Returns on Stars with Bargain Prices

Written by Kevin Jackman, follow me on Twitter- @kjackmansports

It’s been a while since many of you have last seen a post from Jackman Sports. But, with a new fantasy baseball season around the corner, let’s jump right in to it, shall we?

Mock drafts opened about a week ago, which means it’s time to start looking at some familiar faces who have dropped considerably lower than their last year’s placement among the ranks. This is the year of ‘high risk-high reward’ types of players, and if you can navigate your way successfully, fantasy greatness is inevitable. But it’s easier said than done. So here are, in order of projected draft position, some names that you should seriously consider a few weeks from now:

  • Hanley Ramirez, SS Marlins– This time last year, it was being debated whether to take Han-Ram or Pujols with the first overall pick. Now, the decision is whether or not to draft him inside the top 20. A player with the potential to give returns in every category now has a high-energy player in front of him in Jose Reyes, and a bona fide slugger in Mike Stanton, hitting behind him. Look for a mega bounce back year IF he is fully healthy.
  • Mark Teixeira, 1B Yankees– It’s the same story every year, gets off to a cold start, rebounds to a respectable level, and accumulates loads of runs and rbi’s along the way. However, his average dipped last year, leading to speculation that he could be on the downward slope. That’s when you come in and grab him in the third round after everyone else has spent a first or second round pick on Pujols, A-Gon and Fielder.
  • Ryan Zimmerman, 3B Nationals– I’m excited to see what this guy is going to do this year. Now that he has a formidable surrounding cast, Zimmerman will have plenty of rbi opportunities, and he rarely lets those slip away. Health is an issue, but don’t let one year of injuries let him slip too far in the draft. Go for him in the mid- to late fourth round and he’ll prove to be a bargain.
  • Ryan Braun, OF Brewers– This is where a heated debate among fantasy experts arise: should you draft a guy and just stash him away or will that prove detrimental to your team? The answer: draft him, dummy! He is the reigning MVP, and regardless of whether he juiced, this guy is a hell of a talent. Plus, I have heard rumblings that he may just have the 50 game ban reduced or lifted, but don’t put all your stock in that. Afterall, rumors are highly inconsistent.
  • Carl Crawford, OF Red Sox– Predicting where he goes is like trying to hit a bullseye blind folded, from across the room, after being spun around one to many times. I have him going in the late sixth round of a standard 10-team league, but I’ve seen him drop all the way to the ninth. So here is my advice, if he is there in the late seventh-early eighth round, take him ASAP! It’s Carl-fricken-Crawford!
  • Joe Mauer, C/1B Twins– Yes, he is a risky pick due to his habitual trips to the DL and unwillingness to play through pain. But, BUT, the more time he sees at first base or DH, the healthier he will be. The Twins will be careful with Mauer, not to overwork him behind the plate, which may mean fantasy gold for owners with some weight between their legs. Don’t reach for him, but if you see Posey and Santana and McCann all off the board and you want to choose a catcher in the seventh round, go for it.
  • Shin-Soo Choo, OF Indians– The best name in baseball will hopefully be one that you call out during your draft. One of the most consistent hitters in baseball, Choo struggled last year after his DUI incident. Luckily, a new year means a new beginning, and Shin-Soo could reap the benefits from a fresh start. Expect a 20-20 bounce back season in Cleveland.
  • Chase Utley, 2B/DL, Phillies– No, that’s not a typo, he is an official member of the ‘I heart DL’ club and has been for a few years. But don’t let that keep you from drafting a player who I expect to be the biggest high-risk, high reward type player there is. We all know what he can do once healthy, and we have seen guys come back to have a huge season after a couple injury-plagued campaigns. So if you still see in on your list without a line through his name in the 10th+ round, do the Herm Edwards- Why Not?
  • Jayson Werth, OF Nationals– I know this is the second Nationals player on the list, but come on, the guy is a potential 30-30 player and may be accompanied by Zimmerman, Morse and… HARPER. So go ahead and take him in the 11th round, it’s not going to destroy your chances, but it could significantly improve them.
  • Andre Ethier, OF Dodgers– How I have him in the 18th round is beyond my comprehension. He hit 31 homers in 2009 and followed that up by hitting upwards of .370 before taking a pitch to the wrist in 2010. So what if he had a down year power-wise, the guy is still relatively young, and last time I check, had the most dynamic hitter in baseball, Matt Kemp, in the lineup with him. Please, I beg you, don’t let him fall to the 18th round. Take him in the 15th or 16th for your sake and mine.

That’s the list so far. Check back in to get more fantasy help as the season draws closer and we have more time to tell whose healthy and whose not.

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