Many fantasy projections don't require owners to go out on a limb. Predicting Jose Altuve will hit .329 in 2018 isn't exactly a radical forecast.But sometimes, it pays to be bold. Although the following 10 predictions may go against conventional wisdom, fantasy owners should keep them in mind when drafting.•
Many fantasy projections don't require owners to go out on a limb. Predicting Jose Altuve will hit .329 in 2018 isn't exactly a radical forecast.
But sometimes, it pays to be bold. Although the following 10 predictions may go against conventional wisdom, fantasy owners should keep them in mind when drafting.
• MLB.com's player rankings
1. Gary Sanchez will drive in 100-plus runs.
Posting a triple-digit RBI total is a rare feat for a catcher. In fact, only one player (Buster Posey in '12) in the past eight seasons has reached the century mark while logging at least half of his games behind the plate. But Sanchez is poised for a memorable year after collecting 33 homers and 90 RBIs during a '17 campaign in which he spent nearly one month on the disabled list. With the benefit of a hitter-friendly home park and a star-studded supporting cast, the 25-year-old is going to provide first-round production for those who grab him in Round 2.
2. Justin Upton will lead the Majors in RBIs.
Hitting behind Michael Trout is one of the best spots in baseball, as the superstar outfielder possesses the perfect blend of on-base skills and speed on the basepaths. By virtue of his proximity to Trout, Jose Pujols has averaged 105 RBIs in the past four seasons despite posting a sub-.800 OPS in each of those campaigns. With a lifetime .828 OPS (.901 last year), Upton could top the RBI leaderboard while following new leadoff man Ian Kinsler and Trout in the batting order.
3. Adam Eaton will lead the National League in runs scored.
Although he's topped out at 98 runs scored during his six-year career, Eaton could cross home plate 120 times this year as the leadoff man in a lineup that includes Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman. Before he suffered a season-ending knee injury last April, the outfielder had scored 24 times in 23 games.
4. Delino DeShields will lead the American League in stolen bases.
Mariners outfielder Dee Gordon may be the popular pick to lead the American League in steals this season, but DeShields shouldn't be counted out. The Rangers speedster swiped 29 bags across 440 plate appearances last year, and he's now in possession of a full-time role.
5. Carlos Carrasco will lead the Majors with 20 wins and win the American League Cy Young Award.
Carrasco posted his first 200-inning season in '17, going 18-6 with 226 whiffs and a 3.29 ERA. In a division with three rebuilding clubs, Carrasco will enjoy many favorable matchups and should battle teammate Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Justin Verlander and Luis Severino for AL Cy Young honors.
6. Felipe Rivero will lead the Majors in saves.
At first glance, owners will look at a retooling Pirates roster and assume that Rivero is destined to post a middling saves total this year. But being on a Rays club with a losing record (80-82) didn't stop Alex Colome from leading the Majors in that department last season. Among the most effective relievers in baseball (1.67 ERA, 0.89 WHIP in '17), Rivero could compile more than 40 saves in '18.
7. C.J. Edwards will lead the Cubs in saves.
Although Brandon Morrow clearly has the skills to be a successful stopper, he is prone to injuries and last logged more than 54 1/3 regular season innings in '12. Moreover, the veteran endured a taxing workload in the '17 postseason, appearing in 14 of the Dodgers' 15 playoff games. If Morrow misses significant time this year, Edwards -- who has held opposing hitters to a minuscule .132 average during his career -- has the stuff to excel in the ninth inning.
8. Andrew McCutchen will hit fewer than 20 home runs.
After hitting 28 home runs last year, McCutchen was likely headed for regression in that department even if he had stayed the Pirates. The veteran averaged 23 round-trippers per season from '13-16, and last year's total was inflated by several big performances -- including a trio of two-homer games and one three-homer effort. San Francisco's home park suppresses power to an even greater degree than Pittsburgh's, so McCutchen could have trouble eclipsing 20 big flies in '18.
9. Ian Kinsler will be a top five fantasy second baseman.
After easily qualifying as a top 10 player at the keystone in '16, Kinsler fell outside the top 20 last year. But a .244 BABIP and an underachieving Tigers lineup were major factors behind the decline. With better batted-ball luck and a spot atop an improved Angels order, the veteran -- who has averaged 25 homers and 14 steals across the past two seasons -- will score 110 runs and make a substantial impact in shallow leagues.
10. The Blue Jays will score 100 more runs than they did in '17.
Toronto led the Majors with 891 runs scored in '15 and ranked ninth the following year (759). But the club plummeted all the way to 26th last season (693), as a rash of injuries -- Josh Donaldson, Devon Travis, Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki all missed significant time -- led to players such as Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney and Ezequiel Carrera each appearing in more than 125 games. With improved health and the added depth from the acquisitions of Randal Grichuk, Curtis Granderson and Yangervis Solarte, the Blue Jays will produce some bounceback performances for fantasy owners this year.