6 smart picks for the final rounds of your fantasy draft

March 18th, 2024

Fantasy baseball is certainly a game in which you will need to land on the correct answer to many small decisions over the course of the season in order to win a competitive league. In fantasy football, you really just need to nail one or two big things and you will cruise into the playoffs. For this reason, we’re always urging you to take big swings on high-upside players in your football drafts. But if you take the all-or-nothing approach with every pick in a hardcore baseball league, you have no realistic shot at success.

  • Check out the Yahoo Sports 2024 fantasy baseball draft kit

Basically, the only point in a baseball draft when you shouldn’t consider a player’s downside is in the absolute endgame. When we reach the final round or two, you’re allowed to set aside worst-case scenarios and only think about what it might look like if a player succeeds.

We don’t need to develop deep attachments to the guys we take in the 20th round — if they faceplant, it’s fine. We can move on.

With that philosophy in mind, here are six late-round fliers for your consideration, all with Yahoo average draft positions (ADPs) in the 220s or beyond …

, OF, Tigers
ADP: 242.6

Meadows has feasted as much as anyone in early spring action, entering the week with an OPS of .986 in exhibition play. He split his time last season between Triple-A and the Majors, delivering 22 homers and swiping 27 bags. His sprint speed is exceptional, the swing is pretty and the power is easy:

He’s looking like a top-of-the-order hitter and Detroit’s Opening Day center fielder. Meadows has a multi-category fantasy profile and a friendly draft price.

, SP, Guardians
ADP: 225.2

Just a friendly reminder that McKenzie is only one season removed from delivering elite ratios — 2.95 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 4.3 K/BB — over 191 1/3 innings for Cleveland. An elbow issue limited him to only four appearances last year, but he’s perfectly healthy at the moment and his first spring outing went well enough (2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K). It’s fair to fret about the health of this sometimes-ace if you’re a fan of the Guardians, but he’s clearly a no-risk fantasy option when his ADP is in the 225-230 range. If he returns to form (or gets anywhere close), he’ll be one of the best value picks in our game.

, OF, Rays
ADP: 251.9

Siri is another case in which the player doesn’t actually have to accomplish anything he hasn’t already done in order to turn a massive profit. He’s buried in terms of ADP despite coming off a year in which he hit 25 home runs and stole a dozen bases in 101 games for the Rays. Every projection system likes him to produce a 20/20-ish season, for what it’s worth. Siri himself says he’s eyeing a 30-steal campaign, and he has the wheels necessary to get there. A few of last season’s homers might become doubles in 2024, but the power isn’t simply going to evaporate. Siri barreled plenty of pitches last year (13.2%). He’s an excellent defensive center fielder, too, so he’s not likely to slump his way out of his team’s lineup.

, OF, Brewers
ADP: 248.4

Frelick is a former first-round MLB Draft pick, still only 23 years old, having an excellent spring for Milwaukee while also getting a look at third base. The Brewers have a talent logjam in the outfield, so a little defensive versatility should go a long way for Frelick. He has a traditional leadoff hitter's profile, with significant on-base ability (.393 Minor League OBP) and dangerous speed. Frelick is a potential multi-category contributor who should acquire new position eligibility early in the season. He won't be an asset in terms of power, but he also won't be a zero.

, SP, Giants
ADP: 234.7

Harrison was thoroughly hyped entering the 2023 season, and, when he finally arrived, he was reasonably impressive. He struck out 35 batters over 34.2 big league innings, delivering a WHIP of 1.15. Harrison has enhanced his arsenal in the offseason and the early results are encouraging:

He’s a lefty with excellent velocity, four quality pitches and a friendly home environment. If command is simply less of an issue in the year ahead, Harrison has star potential.

, OF, Royals
ADP: 251.3

Velázquez offers mythic power upside as well as similarly mythic strikeout potential. He banged out 17 homers in the Majors last season in just 179 plate appearances, though he also struck out 51 times. The batted-ball data was top-tier, even if the sample was small. His 21.4% barrel rate was ludicrous. If Kansas City can find 400-plus at-bats for Velazquez, he’ll produce something north of 30 homers. We will make no promises about his batting average, except to say you probably won't find it useful.

A version of this story first appeared on Yahoo.com.