Stable production can only carry a fantasy squad so far. Championship teams usually hit on at least a couple sleeper selections during the middle or late rounds of drafts. The following 10 players possess the potential to make a massive impact on 2018 mixed-league rosters without requiring a substantial expenditure.Austin
Stable production can only carry a fantasy squad so far. Championship teams usually hit on at least a couple sleeper selections during the middle or late rounds of drafts. The following 10 players possess the potential to make a massive impact on 2018 mixed-league rosters without requiring a substantial expenditure.
Austin Barnes, C/2B (Dodgers): The Dodgers currently enjoy an embarrassment of riches at the catcher position, with power-hitting Yasmani Grandal in danger of losing his No. 1 status to the younger Barnes. After posting an impressive .289/.408/.486 slash line without the benefit of stellar batted-ball luck last season, Barnes could be ready to combine a high batting mark with more than 12-15 homers and 8-10 steals this year.
Yahoo ADP: 229
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Brandon Belt, 1B/OF (Giants): With 18 homers across 104 games, Belt was on his way to a career-best power season before a concussion knocked him out for the year on Aug. 4. A career .268 hitter who dealt with poor batted-ball luck last year (.284 BABIP), the 29-year-old could ride better luck and improved health to post a solid batting mark and 25 long balls.
Yahoo ADP: 256
Ozzie Albies, second baseman (Braves): Although overshadowed by top middle infield prospects Yoan Moncada and Amed Rosario last summer, Albies enjoyed the best stretch run of the trio by slashing .286/.354/.456 with eight steals across 244 plate appearances. Now set for his first full year in the bigs, the 21-year-old could be a premium lineup spot away from producing 85 runs, 15 homers and 25 swipes.
Yahoo ADP: 192
J.P. Crawford, 3B/SS (Phillies): To be fair, the odds of Crawford achieving mixed-league relevance are lower than the other members of this list. However, wise owners will be willing to give some late-round consideration to a top prospect who slashed .282/.382/.520 with 13 homers across his final 72 games in Triple-A. With premium plate patience and improving power, the youngster could compile 20 homers and 75 runs in his first full season.
Yahoo ADP: 235
Chris Owings, SS/2B/OF (D-backs): Owings would be generating more fantasy buzz at this time if not for a fractured right middle finger that caused him to miss the final two months of the 2017 season. And while the utility man could certainly stand to improve his lifetime 4.7 percent walk rate, he possesses plus speed (21 steals in 2016), can post a helpful batting mark (.273 average across '16-17) and went deep 12 times in 97 games last year while posting career-best rates of fly balls (35.6 percent) and hard contact (31.7 percent).
Yahoo ADP: 256
Mitch Haniger, outfielder (Mariners): Although a pair of DL stints limited Haniger to 96 games, he showed exciting potential at the beginning (1.054 OPS in April) and end (1.021 OPS in September) of last season. Having produced 43 extra-base hits across 410 plate appearances in 2017, the slugger possesses enough power to allow optimistic owners to dream on a 30-homer, 85-RBI campaign.
Yahoo ADP: 250
Randal Grichuk, outfielder (Blue Jays): Although Grichuk rarely draws free passes (career 5.8 percent walk rate), he owns a respectable lifetime .249 average and went deep 22 times across 412 at-bats with the Cardinals last year. Now on a team that can provide a regular role and a homer-happy venue, the 26-year-old could use his booming bat (40.2 percent hard-hit rate in 2017) to compile over 30 long balls.
Yahoo ADP: 244
Dinelson Lamet, starter (Padres): While he posted an unimpressive 4.57 ERA in 2017, Lamet showed exciting skills by logging an elite 10.9 K/9 rate with an 11.8 percent swinging-strike rate across 21 rookie-season starts. And while he needs to improve his control (4.3 BB/9 rate), the 25-year-old could strike out 190 batters this season while using the benefits of his pitcher-friendly home park to hold opposing lineups in check.
Yahoo ADP: 223
Tyler Chatwood, starter (Cubs): Chatwood was as venue-dependent as any pitcher in baseball as a member of the Rockies from 2012-17, posting a 5.17 ERA at Coors Field and a 3.18 mark on the road. Now set to enjoy normal home surroundings, the right-hander with a lifetime 54.7 percent ground-ball rate could become a shallow league lineup-fixture for the first time in his career.
Yahoo ADP: 233
Archie Bradley, reliever, (D-backs): Although Arizona manager Torey Lovullo has yet to settle on a closer, he likely knows that Bradley (1.73 ERA, 1.04 WHIP in 2017) is the most skilled member of his bullpen. Ideally, Lovullo soon hands Bradley the keys to the ninth inning and the right-hander quickly emerges as a top 10 fantasy stopper. But even in a worst-case scenario, Bradley opens the year by providing some fantasy value as a low-ratio setup man before eventually sliding into the closer's role.
Yahoo ADP: 190
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB.