What is a sleeper in Fantasy? Well, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s hard to find true sleepers with all of the information that is available now. But the words “Fantasy sleeper” in a headline is great for SEO purposes, so you’ll find them everywhere still.
But the issue with these sleeper columns are that the players really aren’t sleepers. If a guy is going in the early-teen rounds of a standard 10- or 12-team draft, sorry, but they aren’t a sleeper.
When talking about sleepers, you have to take into account that all leagues are formatted differently and all are different sizes. What classifies as a sleeper in a 12-team league won’t qualify in a 15-team league. Those in 20-team leagues will laugh at the sleepers suggested for 15-team leagues. Large dynasty leagues? Forget about it. There are high school students owned in some of those leagues; so yeah, you aren’t telling those owners anything they don’t already know.
But for the purposes of this sleeper article, the decision was made that anyone with an ADP in the Top 300 on FantasyPros.com isn’t eligible to be a sleeper. Some names in here are surprising given the Spring Training hype or past performance, but they fit the qualifications.
As we did with our Bold Predictions for Each Team article, we’ll provide one sleeper for each team outside of the Top 300.
National League East
Braves – Mike Foltynewicz (ADP 381): Even with the additions of Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia and R.A. Dickey, Folty is projected to be in the rotation for the improved Braves. Still just 25 years old, he has the raw stuff to take a step forward and get the strikeout rate to climb over a batter per inning.
Mets – Robert Gsellman (ADP 316): Surprised he hasn’t cracked the Top 300 yet? Yeah, same here. Gsellman had a 17.9 percent whiff rate on his slider, and allowed just five hits off it, after throwing it 145 times. With injury risks throughout the Mets rotation, Gsellman will return plenty of value at his price.
Nationals – Koda Glover (ADP, undrafted): Unfortunately, Dusty Baker is still the manager of the Nationals, which means Shawn Kelley will be likely be closing for Washington. But if Baker comes to his senses, or Kelley blows a couple of opportunities early, grab Glover right away off the waiver wire. He’s the best closing option they have.
Marlins – Kyle Barraclough (ADP, 398): The Marlins don’t like A.J. Ramos and have been looking for any reason to remove him from the closer’s role. This year, that reason is Barraclough. While his control leaves much to be desired, his 14.0 K/9 more than makes up for it.
Phillies – Aaron Altherr (ADP, undrafted): Altherr was a trendy sleeper entering 2016, but a wrist injury shelved him for the majority of the year. Altherr has 20/20 upside, but the young Phillies decided it was in their best interest to block him with Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders. Altherr has a higher ceiling than either of them, so in deep leagues, he’s worth a speculative stash.
National League Central
Pirates – Drew Hutchison (ADP, undrafted): Tyler Glasnow is likely starting the season in Triple-A, meaning that Hutchison will be in the Pirates’ rotation. Hutchison always pitched better at home in Toronto than on the road with weird reverse splits, but now he’s in the National League in a pitcher’s park. You could do worse with a last-round pick than taking a chance on upside with Ray Searage as his pitching coach.
Brewers – Zach Davies (ADP 349): If your friends ask you who this year’s Kyle Hendricks could be, sound smart by offering up Davies. As Eno Sarris of FanGraphs highlighted, the groundball rates and the difference between the strikeout and walk rates line up between the two.
Cubs – Brett Anderson (ADP, undrafted): The Mike Montgomery hype train was picking up speed all offseason, but it appears that Anderson could grab that final rotation spot. Considering the Cubs’ elite defense, anyone starting for them deserves to be mentioned.
Cardinals – Trevor Rosenthal (ADP, 424): We aren’t looking at him to close, we’re looking at him in the deepest of leagues as a dart throw to start. If he gets stretched out and shows he can handle a rotation spot, look out.
Reds – Brandon Finnegan (ADP 386): From Aug. 20 to Sept. 25, Finnegan had a 1.93 ERA and a .197 average against in 37.1 innings pitched, yet no one is talking about him.
National League West
Dodgers – Andrew Toles (ADP, 376): If he wins the starting left field job out of Spring Training, he’s going to return value in that lineup.
Giants – Denard Span (ADP, 411): Health is the concern with him, but if he’s healthy, his floor is 15 steals with OK power.
Diamondbacks – Patrick Corbin (ADP, undrafted): Pretty long fall for someone who was being talked about as a Top 50 pitcher heading into last season. He has a rotation spot, and it seemed like moving to the bullpen helped him out last year.
Rockies – Tyler Anderson (ADP, undrafted): Yeah, Coors Field is scary, but Anderson can provide late-round strikeouts for you. Jon Gray has shown that he is worth owning despite his home park, and Anderson and Tyler Chatwood aren’t far behind.
Padres – Alex Dickerson (ADP, undrafted): The talk is surrounding Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot, but Dickerson could win the left field job, leaving Margot to fight with Travis Jankowski for the job in center. He can be a low-floor contributor across the board if he gets the job.
American League East
Blue Jays – Rowdy Tellez (ADP, undrafted): He’s going to be in Triple-A to start the season, but right now, his competition at first base is Justin Smoak. If you have an NA spot, the power-hitting Tellez is worth stashing.
Rays – Corey Dickerson (ADP, 337): Don’t write him off despite his terrible 2016 season after moving on from Colorado. There’s a chance for a bounce back here.
Yankees – Luis Severino (ADP, 362): Severino is especially valuable in points leagues in which you can use him as a starting pitcher in your relief slot.
Red Sox – Eduardo Rodriguez (ADP, 347): The David Price elbow scare only raises his value. From August on, he had a respectable 3.30 ERA.
Orioles – Seth Smith (ADP, undrafted): This is for those in leagues with daily lineups only. He’s in a great Orioles lineup, and he will play anytime there is a righty on the mound. Take advantage of it.
American League Central
Tigers – Jordan Zimmermann (ADP, 309): Oh, hey, there’s a name we recognize. Why is he going so low and Sonny Gray (pre-injury news) and Gerrit Cole are going so much higher?
Twins – Adalberto Mejia (ADP, undrafted): The Twins rotation is awful. Jose Berrios will take a step forward, and Stephen Gonsalves is a year away, meaning Mejia is an injury or poor pitching performance away from a role in the rotation.
White Sox – Zack Collins (ADP, undrafted): If you’re looking for someone to take the Alex Bregman path this year, it could be Collins. He was just drafted last year, but catcher is a mess for the White Sox. He’s a big power bat, but he strikes out a lot and has work to do defensively. But hey, since when do they care about a catcher’s defense?
Royals – Brandon Moss (ADP, 372): The ballpark factor doesn’t scare me much. It’s not like St. Louis was a wonderful place to hit and he still hit 28 homers there last year. On the strong side of a platoon, he’s a very cheap source of power.
Indians – Bradley Zimmer (ADP, undrafted): If (when?) the Indians suffer injuries in the outfield and realize Tyler Naquin is no good, look for top prospect Zimmer to get the call. The toolsy prospect is major-league ready.
American League West
Mariners – Mitch Haniger (ADP, 394): Haniger is the most surprising player on this list in that he’s still available after pick 300 with the hype surrounding him all offseason. Hell, he’s basically available at pick 400. As more drafts take place, this should change. He’s a guy that can give you 25/20 on the cheap.
A’s – Andrew Triggs (ADP, 315): With the news that Sonny Gray is likely starting the season on the disabled list, it all but guarantees a rotation spot for Triggs. He was a reliever for his career, but the A’s tried him out as a starter last year and the results were positive.
Rangers – Delino DeShields Jr. (ADP, undrafted): Yup, it’s 2017, not 2016 when he was a big deal heading into drafts. Still, as a $2 player in AL-only leagues, he’ll return value to the price if he can swipe 15 bags.
Angels – Ben Revere (ADP, undrafted): Is speed hard to find, or do you just have to know where to look? Last year was the career outlier for Revere. Let’s bet on a rebound back to his former self.
Astros – Yuli Gurriel (ADP, 312): One hundred thirty-seven. It was that many plate appearances ago that we were touting Gurriel as being a player that you must grab off waivers. Sure he’s older, but he’s starting at first in a great lineup with a lot of power upside. Twenty homers isn’t out of the question for him.
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