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2024 fantasy baseball strategy mega roundtable

'Sky is the limit' for Rangers' prospect Langford
There's plenty of reason to believe top outfield prospect Wyatt Langford can become a "20-20 guy" right away if he earns a spot on the Texas Rangers Opening Day roster.

As we enter one of the biggest fantasy baseball draft weekends of the year, the Rotoworld staff is giving you as much information as possible to help you crush your drafts.

The staff Mock Draft will air on YouTube tonight (Thursday night) at 8 P.M. ET, which you can check out here, and D.J. Short and Eric Samulski will be doing a Live Q&A on Thursday the 14th at 1 P.M ET., which you can visit here. We’ll also have all of our usual preseason and draft prep articles and content, so make sure you keep coming back to the site daily for that.

Lastly, we tasked our staff with answering some of the most important questions when it comes to draft prep. Below you’ll see all of their answers for everything from strategy questions, draft day values, and which spring training news stands out. Check out all their tips and tricks, and if any questions arise, make sure to head to the Live Q&A with D.J. and Eric to ask any follow-ups.

Knock your draft out of the park with the 2024 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide, featuring rankings, projections, expert analysis, mock drafts and much more. Click here to buy now and use code BASEBALL24 for 10% off.

What is your biggest takeaway from the early drafts you’ve done?

George Bissell: Nobody knows anything. Be confident in your projections and valuations. The biggest strategy takeaway this spring is that there’s so much risk aversion going on that fantasy managers are terrified to select players with injury concerns coming into the year, which is leading to massive discounts. Embrace the risk.

Shelly Verougstraete: Some drafters have been following older ADP a bit too closely. If you are an ADP drafter and don’t make your own overall player list then make sure you upload a recent ADP list to your draft software to reflect recent spring news, both good and bad.

Eric Samulski: Every year we see people deviate from ADP in big ways when it comes to young talent, and I think that’s happening even more this year with drafters really going up to get their guy, whether it’s Noelvi Marte (pre-suspension), Jackson Chourio, Wyatt Langford or others. For me, that has allowed “boring” veterans who are actually still in their prime with room to improve to fall in drafts. I just think you need to have a plan of how you want to build your team, stick to your valuation of players, and don’t be overly influenced by the direction of others in your draft room.

Jorge Montanez: Given the number of injuries we’re seeing in spring, especially on the pitching side, my biggest takeaway from early drafts has been the need to mitigate risk. That means limiting the amount of already injured players or prospects to stash. Navigating injuries is part of the game, but taking on players that you already need to account for missed time could only make things more difficult.

Dave Shovein: No one really knows anything. Don’t follow the group think and box yourself in with average draft position. Be confident in your evaluations and go up to get your guys.

Matthew Pouliot: I don’t know that it’s my biggest takeaway, but I’ve been surprised how early the non-Rutschman catchers are getting taken in one-catcher leagues. I just don’t see enough value in selecting William Contreras, Will Smith, and J.T. Realmuto in the first 10 rounds when I can get Logan O’Hoppe or Mitch Garver at the very end of the draft.

D.J. Short: Wait on starting pitching. The Gerrit Cole news only reinforces this idea. Spencer Strider is the clear No. 1 fantasy starter at this point, but I don’t see a ton of separation between the next 15-20 guys. Why reach early when hitters are the “safer” avenue?

Which player(s) have you drafted most this spring?

Shelly Verougstraete: I’ve taken DJ LeMahieu in most of my drafts so far. While he isn’t one of those sexy, fun players, he is expected to start the season as the Yankees leadoff hitter, right in front of Juan Soto and Aaron Judge. A.J. Minter has also made his way onto my teams quite a bit this spring. I love using one of my last draft picks on a closer spec.

Jorge Montanez: I’ve been taking Pablo Lopez as my ace in nearly every league. The 28-year-old broke out last season with the addition of a sweeper that helped him see a spike in strikeout rate, finishing third in baseball with 234 punchouts. Spencer Torkelson has been one of my favorite hitters to draft. The talented young slugger has 40-homer upside and should be in line to drive in plenty of runs hitting in the heart of an up-and-coming Tigers lineup.

Dave Shovein: Tarik Skubal, Max Muncy, Jung Hoo Lee, Erick Fedde

George Bissell: Zack Gelof, 2B, Athletics. It’s honestly refreshing to have faith in a player the fantasy community seems to be completely out on. There are some real concerns with his in-zone contact rates, but his power and speed combination is really enticing and the Athletics have zero alternatives at the keystone.

Matthew Pouliot: Everyone seems to have written off Eloy Jiménez after another season in which he missed a chunk of time, but he’s still hitting the ball hard and his strikeout rate has been trending downwards. That the bottom half of the White Sox lineup is a wasteland hurts, but at least he’ll be batting cleanup and have a fair number of baserunners to drive in. He shouldn’t be lasting until the end of drafts.

D.J. Short: It’s not sexy, but Jeimer Candelario. He’s allowed me to wait at third base, which I’ve found useful in filling out the rest of my roster. I love Candelario in Cincy and while I wasn’t necessarily worried about him losing at-bats due to that big offseason contract, at least there’s fewer options in that infield with Noelvi Marte facing a PED suspension.

Eric Samulski: If we’re going just by my player shares, it’s Willson Contreras, Bailey Ober, Shota Imanaga, DL Hall, and Ke’Bryan Hayes. I’m a big fan of all of theirs for various reasons, but both Contreras and Hayes are great options if you decide to wait at their respective positions and don’t want to be left with total wild cards at the position.


Which player has jumped on your radar the most during spring training?

Jorge Montanez: It has to be Texas outfielder Wyatt Langford. The 22-year-old was selected fourth overall in last year’s amateur draft and breezed through four levels of the minors, knocking on the door of the majors as the Rangers made their World Series run. Langford is tearing it up in spring training, giving the team little reason to hold him back, especially with questions surrounding Corey Seager and Nathaniel Lowe’s availability for Opening Day.

Shelly Verougstraete: Oooh, good question. (Thanks) I’ll go with Ryan Weathers here. The velo is up and he has a 17/3 K/BB ratio over 13 2/3 innings this spring. I can’t say I’ve ever given Weathers much thought, but he could be an interesting later-round guy if he keeps this up.

Dave Shovein: Shane Bieber. I wasn’t going to be in on him at all, but the increased velocity has my attention.

D.J. Short: Jackson Merrill with the Padres. I wasn’t paying him much mind a few weeks ago, as it seemed like he was bound to start the season in the minors, but the Padres have a clear need in their outfield and Merrill has (seemingly) won the starting center field job. There’s double-digit homer/steal ability here, so he’s a fun late-game flier for me.

Matthew Pouliot: Christian Encarnacion-Strand has made the biggest move in my rankings, but that’s the result of the Noelvi Marte suspension opening up a bunch of at-bats in the Cincinnati infield. I really like what I’m seeing from Shane Bieber velocity-wise, so he’s climbed quite a bit.

Eric Samulski: Probably Jared Jones, Reese Olson, Casey Mize, A.J. Puk, Ryan Weathers, and Ryne Nelson on the pitching side. I love getting late shares of all of them. The hitters I’ve been impressed with are Coby Mayo and Victor Scott, who may actually break camp with their teams, and both Chase DeLauter and Owen Caissie, who may get a summer call-up for their teams. I also like the swing change from Anthony Volpe, and Lawrence Butler, is becoming one of my preferred deep-league flyers.

George Bissell: Jared Jones, RHP, Pirates - The raw stuff is incredible and the Pirates seem like they’re giving him a shot to make the season-opening rotation. There’s a reason he’s one of the most highly-touted pitching prospects in the game and it’s possible his time is right now. Honorable mention: Victor Scott, OF, Cardinals.

Which position have you found has the most later round value?

D.J. Short: It feels like there’s no shortage of corner-infielder options in the late rounds. Ryan Mountcastle feels misplaced at his current ADP while Justin Turner, Anthony Rizzo, Eugenio Suarez, and Josh Bell fit into that “boring veteran” mold. It also seems like Colt Keith is getting lost among some of the other exciting prospects around MLB.

George Bissell: Starting Pitcher - It’s cliche, but there are a ton of intriguing starting pitchers worthy of a late-round dice roll. Here’s my quick late-round (250+ ADP) target list: Kyle Harrison, Chris Paddack, Chase Silseth, Erick Fedde, Bowden Francis, Trevor Rogers, DL Hall, Joe Boyle, Cole Irvin, Nick Martinez, Reynaldo López.

Eric Samulski: Many people are going to say starting pitching, and I fully agree. I love filling my bench with late-round starting pitchers. However, if we want a different answer then I’ll say third base. If I don’t get one of the top three third basemen in drafts then I’m happy to wait on guys like Ke’Bryan Hayes, Maikel Garcia, Jeimer Candelario, Ryan McMahon, Matt Chapman, Eugenio Suarez, and even snag some shares of Coby Mayo in case he gets an early call-up.

Matthew Pouliot: Unless I happen to land Austin Riley in round two, I like waiting for a third baseman. Maikel Garcia is one of my favorite picks this season, and Josh Jung, Jeimer Candelario, Ke’Bryan Hayes strike me as underrated.

Dave Shovein: For me, it’s in the outfield. I’m fine getting my OF4 and OF5 from the group of Jung Hoo Lee, Kerry Carpenter, Jarred Kelenic, Tyler O’Neill, Starling Marte, Parker Meadows, Jack Suwinski, Kris Bryant, and Jose Siri.

Shelly Verougstraete: Starting pitching, especially those on bad teams. JP Sears, Joe Boyle, Garrett Crochet, and Kutter Crawford have looked pretty good so far. Crawford has been getting more love in the community as of late so you’ll definitely have to grab him earlier than you think he’ll go.

Jorge Montanez: If there’s one position I don’t mind waiting on, it’s first base. There are many corner infielders late in drafts that I wouldn’t mind settling on as my starter, such as Brandon Drury, Ryan Mountcastle, Justin Turner, and Jose Abreu.

Which pitcher is most likely to emerge as a fantasy ace this season?

Eric Samulski: Cole Ragans and Tarik Skubal will be the popular answers and are likely already considered aces by many, and I think Max Fried will remind people just how good he is this season, but I’ll go in a different direction and say Bobby Miller. I think there’s a good chance that Miller leads the Dodgers in innings this season, and his arsenal is much deeper than people give him credit for. I’m happy waiting on starting pitching and making him my SP1 but I usually don’t need to do that because he’s going off the board as the 15th or 16th starter.

Matthew Pouliot: Tarik Skubal definitely looks like an ace. I also think Bobby Miller will make the leap in year two. He’s already demonstrated very good command of that 97-100 mph fastball, and the secondary stuff is there for him to miss quite a few more bats this season.

D.J. Short: Tarik Skubal is an easy answer, but he sure looks like the real deal. The left-handed deGrom. You don’t have to tell hardcore fantasy managers this one, but there’s still a chance you could get a value (relatively) in some casual leagues. Otherwise, I’m interested to see the steps youngsters like Eury Perez (health-willing) and Bobby Miller take this season.

Jorge Montanez: Dodgers’ starter Bobby Miller has been a big target of mine in the fifth or sixth round. Miller has incredible upside and is sure to rack up plenty of wins on a loaded Los Angeles team. He’s a pitcher we could see going in the second or third round next season.

George Bissell: It’s Cole Ragans, but let’s go off the board a little bit. Kyle Harrison sort of fits this bill. Former top prospect with immense talent and massive strikeout upside. Added a new pitch (cutter). Pitcher-friendly ballpark. He might put it together quickly and could evolve into a fantasy monster.

Shelly Verougstraete: I’ll go with a former ace in Chris Sale. He is on one of the best teams in baseball and appears to finally be healthy.

Dave Shovein: I think he’s already there based on his second half from 2023, but it’s Tarik Skubal. He’s a top 5 SP for me.


Which hitter drafted outside the five rounds has the best chance of being a first-rounder next year?

Matthew Pouliot: Wyatt Langford seems like the most obvious answer here, but I’ll say Jordan Walker. It’d probably require him becoming a 20-steal guy, but he has the raw speed to do that, even if he swiped just seven bases as a rookie. Big-time power is certainly on the way, and he didn’t strike out overly much as one of the league’s youngest players last year.

Dave Shovein: Wyatt Langford. His ADP is going to surge once it’s clear that he’s cracking the Opening Day roster though. If we’re digging deeper, I think Jarren Duran has the tools to do it.

Shelly Verougstraete: Triston Casas. While his spring training stats aren’t the best, we all saw what type of player he could turn into during the second half of 2023. The slugger had a 175 wRC+ with a .617 SLG after the All-Star break.

D.J. Short: This answer depends on league depth, but put me in the camp of Jazz Chisholm Jr. For him, it’s not about ability, it’s about health. In 157 games combined over the past two seasons (again, the injuries shouldn’t be ignored), he’s put up 33 homers, 34 steals, 97 RBI, and 90 runs scored. He’s a fine gamble at his current price because the upside is first-round value.

Jorge Montanez: Hitters drafted inside the first five rounds tend to either have solid five-category production or elite four-category upside. The player that comes to mind outside the first five rounds is Oneil Cruz. Cruz might’ve been on his way to being a top-round selection had he not suffered the broken ankle last season. Now fully healthy, he’s having a tremendous spring and has the skills for a 30/30 season that would propel him to the top of 2025 fantasy drafts.

Eric Samulski: Let’s see, in a 12-team league that means a hitter going outside of the top 60 picks. For me, a first-round pick needs to contribute in all five offensive categories and needs to have a baseline of security in terms of playing time, team context, and health. I assume most people will say Wyatt Langford, but I’ll go with Oneil Cruz, who’s going 70th overall in NFBC Online Championships since the start of March. Yes, he has some batting average risk, but he was showing much better plate discipline in the SUPER small sample size before getting hurt last year. He has elite power/speed potential, and his injury was a fluke one, so I don’t believe it makes him “injury-prone.” The fun one to say is Matt Shaw though. There’s a chance he’s the Cubs’ starting 3B by the summer and a 20/20 player with a plus batting average as early as next year.

George Bissell: It’s Cole Ragans, but let’s go off the board a little bit. Kyle Harrison sort of fits this bill. Former top prospect with immense talent and massive strikeout upside. Added a new pitch (cutter). Pitcher-friendly ballpark. He might put it together quickly and could evolve into a fantasy monster.

Who is your favorite spec saves pick or closer stash?

Shelly Verougstraete: I brought him up earlier but my go-to stash is A.J. Minter. We’ve seen two straight seasons of declining strikeout rates from current Braves closer, Raisel Iglesias. After a bad start to the season, Minter was lights out, posting a 2.60 ERA with 67 strikeouts after May 1.

D.J. Short: Give me Jason Foley with the Tigers. He’s simply a better pitcher than Alex Lange and I expect that situation to come to a head at some point, especially if the Tigers show they are on the brink of being a contender. I don’t think they are very far off.

Matthew Pouliot: John Brebbia is still being treated as an afterthought, but the White Sox just don’t have anyone else who seems like a good bet, especially with sleeper candidate Prelander Berroa going down with an elbow issue. I also see David Robertson eventually overtaking José Leclerc in Texas.

Dave Shovein: James McArthur

George Bissell: None. Just kidding. Does Mason Miller count? It’s nearly impossible to project these types of developments but Brewers reliever Abner Uribe has the type of stuff to dominate in the ninth inning if he can somewhat cut into his Carlos Marmol-esque walk rate.

Jorge Montanez: Jeff Hoffman reinvented himself as a reliever last season with the Phillies. Increased velocity boosted his strikeout rate and catapulted him into high-leverage work. He should be next in line behind Jose Alvarado, who spent two stints on the injured list last season with elbow inflammation. Hoffman could get a share of occasional save chances as it is, with the Phillies typically playing matchups in the ninth inning.

Eric Samulski: If people are going to fade Mason Miller because he’s not the closer then I will scoop up all the shares. He’s going to be an elite multi-inning reliever and then I think he can take over the closer’s role by summer and still get double-digit saves. If we want a pure spec, then I like Jordan Leasure with the White Sox, John Schreiber with the Royals, and Trevor Megill with the Brewers now that we know Devin Williams is out for a few months.