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10 players to target in your fantasy draft

March 21, 2016

Via Twitter, chat sessions, articles, videos and podcasts, I have already dished out plenty of advice in 2016. But have you wondered which players I am targeting in my own drafts? These are the 10 players that are most likely to decide if I take a Yoo-hoo shower in early

Via Twitter, chat sessions, articles, videos and podcasts, I have already dished out plenty of advice in 2016. But have you wondered which players I am targeting in my own drafts? These are the 10 players that are most likely to decide if I take a Yoo-hoo shower in early October.
1. Buster Posey, catcher, Giants
Posey has lowered his strikeout rate for four consecutive seasons, and he accumulated more walks than whiffs in 2015. He is a virtual lock to hit .300, and a .320 mark should not surprise anyone. One of the few catchers who is the central figure in his team's lineup, Posey is also likely to compile 20 homers and 90 RBIs. He can be drafted as high as pick No. 14 in two-catcher leagues, and he is an excellent addition near the end of Round 2 in one-backstop formats.
2. Mookie Betts, outfielder, Red Sox
Betts had an impressive 2015 campaign overall, and it looks even better if you throw out his mediocre start. After June 1, the five-category standout hit .315 with 13 homers, 13 steals and 70 runs across 429 plate appearances. With the necessary wheels to be more aggressive on the basepaths this year, Betts could post a 30-steal season that complements a 20-homer campaign. And as a power-speed threat who hits .300 atop a strong lineup, he should score 100 runs. Accordingly, Betts is a terrific target late in Round 1 or early in Round 2.

3. Lorenzo Cain, outfielder, Royals
Those who expect Cain to regress in 2016 are missing their mark. Coming off two straight seasons with an average better than .300, the speedster should continue to find success in that department by keeping many of his batted balls on a low trajectory. Cain also showed in 2015 that he has the power to hover around the 15-homer mark despite his lack of fly balls. Moreover, he should continue to get the green light to run after exceeding 25 steals in 2014 and '15. And as the No. 3 hitter in a talented Royals lineup, Cain will have the chance to exceed the 72 RBIs he compiled in 2015. Cain is worth a third-round pick, and he would be a steal in the fourth round of mixed-league drafts.
4. Hunter Pence, outfielder, Giants
Wise fantasy owners will ignore Pence's injury-plagued 2015 season and continue to treat the outfielder as a durable, reliable performer. After all, the native Texan averaged 159 games per season from 2008-14. Most players struggle to manage that workload at any point in their careers, but Pence handled it for seven straight seasons. The righty slugger should compile 20 homers, 85 runs, 85 RBIs and a double-digit steals total as part of a deep Giants lineup, making him a fine selection in Round 6 and a steal in Round 7 in standard leagues.

5. Daniel Murphy, second baseman, Nationals
Murphy's inclusion on this list has little to do with his postseason power surge. The second baseman -- who also possesses third-base eligibility this year -- is a lifetime .288 hitter, which makes him valuable in this era of swing-and-miss sluggers. In fact, Murphy produced the best at-bat-per-strikeout rate among qualified Major Leaguers last season and would have recorded a higher average than .281 if not for a career-low .278 BABIP. The native Floridian also hit a personal-best 14 homers, even though he spent most of June on the disabled list, and he had three consecutive double-digit-steal seasons from 2012-14. With that diverse skill set, Murphy is a top-10 second-base option.
6. Justin Turner, third baseman, Dodgers
Turner is a career .284 hitter who has batted .314 since joining the Dodgers at the outset of 2014. A line-drive machine during his time with Los Angeles, the native Californian also flashed enhanced power by ripping 16 roundtrippers across 385 at-bats last season. Though fantasy owners should have a small level of concern about his offseason knee surgery, Turner could be a top-15 third baseman for the price of a late-round pick.
7. Eugenio Suarez, shortstop, Reds
Suarez -- who will add third-base eligibility to his existing shortstop standing shortly after Opening Day in most leagues -- is a great source of late-round power at a premium position. Likely to compile 550 at-bats, the native Venezuelan should exceed the 15-homer mark and mix in a respectable batting average and several swipes. Available at the tail end of mixed-league drafts, Suarez will be a top-12 shortstop this season.

8. Jake Arrieta, starting pitcher, Cubs
While Arrieta will likely never match the 0.41 ERA and 0.62 WHIP that he posted after Aug. 1 last season, he is not going to regress as much as most fantasy owners expect. Prior to his late-season surge, Arrieta posted a 2.62 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP across his initial 21 starts of the campaign. And when he was not yet considered to be a mixed-league ace in 2014, he still logged a 2.53 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. In short, Arrieta is special. He could register a 2.50 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP this season, so he should be the second pitcher off the board in all drafts.
9. Yu Darvish, starting pitcher, Rangers
Darvish struck out 277 batters in 2013, which is the second-highest single-season total of any pitcher since the outset of '05. In 2014, he was on pace to post a similarly impressive total before being shut down after 22 starts. Even if the Rangers keep Darvish on a tight leash this season, he can strike out more than 150 batters after a late-May return. Add in the 40-50 whiffs that a replacement-level starter can amass across seven weeks of work, and fantasy owners can get 200 punchouts without surrendering a pick in the initial 10 rounds.

10. Jeurys Familia, reliever, Mets
Coming off a 2015 season in which he registered a 1.85 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 43 saves, Familia belongs in the top tier of fantasy closers. The right-hander is not being drafted as early as Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel, but he will produce more saves than either of those closers. With a stellar rotation and a respectable lineup, the Mets could provide Familia with 50-plus save chances in 2016.

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB.