In general, rotisserie Fantasy Baseball owners are most concerned about positions when it comes to building their rosters. This is definitely important, but I think more time should be spent being concerned about creating a balanced team with respect to the roto categories.
Today, we are going to look for some roto sleepers that have a very real shot at exceeding certain statistical thresholds in one or more of the five major roto categories. I used the 100th place ranking from last year for each statistic as the threshold. This worked out to be 69 runs, 20 home runs, 69 RBIs, eight stolen bases, and a .259 batting average.
I will be adding two extra criteria to our list of roto sleepers. First, roto sleepers will be defined as players with an NFBC ADP greater than 400. Most of these players will likely be bench players in a standard (14 hitters and nine pitchers) 15-team mixed league since those leagues would start 345 players. Second, all of the roto sleepers are projected to have an everyday or near everyday role. I tried to avoid speed specialists or platoon type bats.
Now that we understand the framework, let’s take a look at some roto sleepers.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Roto Sleepers
Joe Mauer, 1B/DH, Minnesota Twins
Over the past two seasons, Joe Mauer has averaged 68.5 runs, thanks in large part to his solid on-base skills. His .363 OBP last year placed him 31st among qualified hitters. Mauer’s impressive batted ball profile should allow him to once again be Fantasy relevant despite his 402 ADP. In addition to expecting Mauer to challenge 70 runs, I would also expect double-digit home runs, 50-plus RBIs, and .265ish batting average.
Avisail Garcia, OF/DH, Chicago White Sox
Avisail Garcia has averaged 62.5 runs the past two years even though he was limited to just 120 games last year. He should play more this year with the rebuilding Sox as he is slated for an everyday role in the outfield or at DH. Along with flirting with the 70 runs mark, Garcia should also chip in with roughly 15 home runs, 55 RBIs, a .250 average and maybe even swipe five bags. Garcia will be a useful depth hitter, especially when you consider his ADP of 417.
Kennys Vargas, 1B/DH, Minnesota Twins
When the Twins designated Byung-ho Park for assignment, it opened up an everyday DH role for Kennys Vargas. Looking at Vargas’ career stat line makes it easy to see his 2017 potential, which is all the more enticing given his ADP of 451. Over three partial seasons, Vargas has compiled 158 games, 595 plate appearances, 71 runs, 24 home runs, 75 RBIs, and a .251 batting average. His power is not in question as his 41.7-percent hard hit rate ranked 18th among hitters with at least 150 plate appearances last year.
Colby Rasmus, OF, Tamp Bay Rays
Now that he is with the Rays, Rasmus looks to stay healthy and get back to his 20-homer ways. Last year, injuries limited him to just over 100 games and 15 long balls. In fact, it was the first time since 2011 that Rasmus failed to launch 20 home runs in a season where he had at least 400 plate appearances. You should also expect 50-plus runs and RBIs. However, do not expect much in terms of batting average as Rasmus has failed to hit .240 since 2013. That being said, it is hard to expect perfection from anyone with an ADP of 492.
Runs Batted In
Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Oakland Athletics
Injuries limited Trevor Plouffe to basically half a season last year but he still managed to knock in 47 runs. Now that he is in Oakland, park factors will not help, but it is easy to forget that prior to last year he was coming off back-to-back 80 RBI campaigns. Plouffe has a great shot to surpass 70 RBIs in 2017 manning the hot corner on an everyday basis. He should also hit around .250 with approximately 15 home runs and 60 runs. There is a lot of profit potential in this 446 ADP bat.
Jose Iglesias, SS, Detroit Tigers
Jose Iglesias is a career .275 hitter and he has averaged nine stolen bases over the past two campaigns as the everyday shortstop for the Tigers. However, the slick fielder will not be much benefit elsewhere as his career highs (posted last year) are four home runs, 57 runs, and 32 RBIs. With an ADP of 466, Iglesias is decent late-round middle infielder that should provide some depth in a couple of roto categories.
Yunel Escobar, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
Despite playing for two different teams, Yunel Escobar has recorded back-to-back .300 seasons. Escobar should also come close to the 70 run threshold as he has averaged 71.5 runs over past two campaigns. However, do not expect much help in the power department as he has not reached double-digit home runs since 2011 or more than 56 RBIs since 2009. With an ADP of 448, Escobar could help fill a need on your Fantasy team as long as expectations are realistic.
When it comes time to fill out your roto league roster with depth players, it is useful to think in terms of the roto categories along with positional depth. The above mentioned roto sleepers are definitely not five category studs, but they should each provide beneficial contributions in one or more of the five major roto statistics.
The other key is that these roto sleepers are not just lottery tickets or dart throws, they are players with everyday roles that should not have to fight, claw, and scratch for at-bats. Make sure you constantly check back with SCFE as we continue to get you ready for the upcoming Fantasy Baseball campaign.
Data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com
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