In recent years, the amount of publicly available information about baseball has increased substantially in both quantity and quality. As a result, it’s become more difficult to identify fantasy sleepers, or even to agree on whether the term means much of anything anymore. If your league is competitive, chances are you’re not surprising anyone in the room with most of the names on your draft board.
Arguably better terms, going forward, are “value” or “bargain.” These are less subjective and don’t carry the same “element of surprise” connotation. Here are a few players who could turn a serious profit for your fantasy team in 2017 based on current NFBC average draft position (ADP) data.
Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves (ADP: 188)
Acquired in the Shelby Miller trade last season, the 2015 top overall pick jumped from High-A to the majors and immediately set about making that deal look even more like a complete fleecing for the Braves. Swanson hit .302/.361/.442 with three homers, three stolen bases, and 37 R+RBI in 38 games after being promoted to the big leagues. His .383 BABIP was a touch on the high side, but his speed and quality of contact did support an above-average mark. Even with some regression, Swanson should hit for a decent average and reach double digits in both HR and SB in his first full season.
Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies (ADP: 209)
In his first full big-league season, Nola maintained his solid walk rate while adding several percentage points to his K% and cutting down on home runs. Under normal circumstances, he’d be somebody for whom we were all paying an expectant price. Unfortunately, an elbow injury and one of the lowest strand rates of the last 25 years conspired to wreck his ERA and ultimately, the injury ended his season. Recent reports indicate that he’ll enter spring training with no restrictions. Nola was in the midst of a breakout before the injury, but he’s been the 56th pitcher off the board on average in drafts so far. It’s rare that you have the opportunity to buy a breakout for peanuts after it’s already happened. Don’t let it pass you by.
Jarrod Dyson, Seattle Mariners (ADP: 245)
Dyson was an excellent fourth outfielder with the Royals for most of this decade, his speed and defense making up for a lack of punch at the plate. He’s sixth in the majors in stolen bases since 2012, despite averaging fewer than 300 plate appearances per season during that time. He’s reportedly set to begin the seasons as the Mariners’ primary left fielder and leadoff man, making his current draft price a potentially major bargain. He may not run as often as he did as a part-time player, but 40 swipes seems like a reasonable expectation. With a quality lineup behind him, Dyson should score plenty of runs, as well. He’s a zero in the home run and RBI categories, but given the current environment, the veteran is one of the few cheap speed options available.
Kyle Bishop is a lead MLB columnist at RotoBaller.com. His articles and Fantasy Baseball Rankings are your secret weapon for winning fantasy leagues.