Fantasy baseball drafts and auctions place owners in difficult situations at various times throughout each day. When should we draft the best player on the board? When should we fill out our roster? Quite a few owners would say that they choose the best player available in the first seven-eight rounds before they start filling needs. We will explore some options that are available on positions that we can wait to fill at pick #200, which correlates to the 14th round in a 15-team league and the 17th-18th round in a 12-team league. Most of these players are worth $6-8 in an auction league.
Pick #200 - Second Base
If we prefer to wait on talent at second base, there is a solid option in the 14th round. He is an NL-second baseman that also qualifies at OF, and NFBC owners are selecting him at #200 ADP. His 88% contact rate and 12% bb% provides a solid foundation for success, especially if we take risks with our earlier picks. As he is aging, his SB success rate has dropped from 67% in 2014 to 43% last year. His consistency to hit double-digit homers as a middle infielder will help roto owners, but he has hit 49% GB the last two seasons. His .288 BABIP last season falls in line with his .292 career BABIP, and he provides strong value in 61% of his weeks for H2H owners. He provides close to league-average production at 2B in deeper points-leagues with -1% value. As a switch-hitter last year, he hit .252 as a LHB against RHP with 19 doubles and 40 RBI's as a LHB against RHP. He smacked ten of his twelve homers as a LHB, but he hits for a higher average, .329 last year and .290 career, as a RHB against LHP. While we know the SB's will not return to double-digits, his ability to make contact and take walks will help his BA and runs, especially on a loaded offensive team. He has a good chance to provide $10-15 worth of value in an auction league, and he will be an average 2B in an 18-team league.
There is another NL-option at the OF position that would fill our #3 OF slot. His 77% contact rate and 8% bb% gives hope for the future, especially after he hit .305 with 7 homers in 233 MLB AB's in 2015. Luck aided his BA with a .372 BABIP, and he only stole two bases last summer. He dominated 50% of his 12 MLB weeks for H2H owners, and he will could provide close to league-average production as a #3 OF in points leagues. Auction owners will want to spend $8-10 for his $14 projection to hit .267 with 16 HR's and 58 RBI's in 2016. At 25 years old, there is more risk in this selection, but he could also turn into a deep-league keeper if he continues to lower his 33.5% of swings outside of the zone when he adjusts to NL pitching.
Middle of the Rotation
We can wait on SP, if we take this AL-SP after pick #200. This SP's 9.0 k/9 the last two seasons and 60% FpK shows his consistency, and his skills should not regress in 2016. Although his 4.04 xFIP hovered above his 3.69 ERA, his .283 BABIP almost mirrors his career .285 BABIP. His AL West team should provide decent run support to allow this SP to reach double-digit wins. His skills improved in the second half, especially when he dominated 69% of his 13 starts. His oOPS rose from .531 in 2014 to .713 last year, but his Fly Ball rate dropped from 47% in 2014 to 42% in 2015. Even though we can wait to draft this SP, he will provide league-average value as a SP in an 18-team league, and he is 6% more valuable than the average #4 SP. Auction-league owners can hope to spend $7-8 on him and hope that he can earn $11-12 in 2015 if he can win 10-11 games with a 3.70 ERA. He has health on his side, but his bb/9 moved from 2.13 bb/9 in 2014 to 3.19 bb/9 last season.
Middle Reliever to Lower WHIP and ERA
In shallow leagues, we can turn to an AL-RP around pick #200. He can provide $6 of value for our fantasy teams in 2016. H2H owners can draft him in the 14th round and quickly raise their team's strikeout totals. His 14.0 k/9 last year built on his 13.5 k/9 in 2014, and he has induced 46% GB the last two seasons. His FpK slipped from 66% in 2014 to 59% last year, which resulted in 4.3 bb/9 instead of 2.4 bb/9. While we should not count on any saves this year, this MR saved 9 games last year, and he threw in 6 wins. His 2.41 xFIP shows that his ERA could rise some this year, especially if his .257 BABIP moves closer to his career .260-.270 BABIP. LHB's hit .134 against him last year, and RHB's hit .174 against him. Draft him and hope that he walks fewer batters in 2016, but we can count on 120-130 K's with a 1.0-1.1 WHIP, which will help most of our teams move up in the standings.
If we wait to fill saves, we can take an NL-Closer option near pick #200. We should know that his closer requires has warning signs, especially after his K/9 dropped from 7.3 k/9 in 2014 to a dreadful 4.8 k/9 last season. His 3.48 xFIP towered above his 1.85 ERA, and his .218 BABIP was much higher than his career .277 BABIP, but he has consistently outperformed xFIP most years. On the positive side, he saved 94% of his games in 2015, and his 73% GB rate keeps the ball in the park with only three homers surrendered and a 14% FB rate. His 2.25 bb/9 helps keep runners off of the bases, and his 79.3% LOB% falls in line with his career 78% LOB%. Several services predict that he will save 30 games this year, which makes him 30% more valuable than the average RP #2 in an 18-team league, even though he loses -16% of value if we compare him to a #1 average Closer. His team spent more on their SP this winter so he could see more save chances in 2016 if he can keep his role.
We can find decent value with some of these players, even in the 14th round in a 15-team league. While the 2B may return the most value this year, the OF may turn into a keeper, and the closer provides 30 valuable saves at this point in the draft. If we choose to wait on SP, then we can find our #3-4 SP, and we can also find pay for an elite MR that will lower our team's WHIP and ERA.