2022 Fantasy Baseball: Draft Targets

Players to target in your remaining drafts, as we head into the final week before the MLB season

Sean Chard delves into the many facets of draft strategy that can help you build a winning fantasy baseball team in 2022 and into the future. This feature focuses on many of his targets for drafts this year, across several different league formats.

Around this time, there are plenty of “My Guys” articles out there from many of the fantasy baseball industry’s leading analysts. These are helpful to read for seeing who the top draft targets are for this year, and of course, there is plenty of overlap with “Sleepers” and “Breakout” lists.

Well, I’m just an unknown fantasy writer, but I do have more than 20 years of experience in fantasy baseball redraft and keeper leagues, with a high percentage for winning and cashing, and I thought I’d share my own thoughts and the list of players I’ve been targeting in Keeper and single-season leagues during this draft season.

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Fantasy Baseball Draft Targets

For me, 2022 Draft prep started months ago,  listening to dozens of fantasy baseball podcasts every week, reading countless articles, closely following player news and MLB roster updates, researching stats and advanced stats, and of course, completing many drafts. All of this information gained has been compiled into my draft prep sheets, and this led to building a target list of players. For more on Draft Prep, check out my previous article: Keeper League Draft Strategy & Tips.

2022 Drafts and Formats

This fantasy baseball season I’ll be doing a total of 20 leagues/drafts, including:

  • 12 X Best Ball drafts on FanTrax, including four in the Best Ball Bonanza, with overall prizes by level
  • 1 X FanTrax Draft-and-Hold league
  • The Fantasy Six Pack Series league – a daily Roto league on FanTrax
  • 2 X roto keeper leagues on FanTrax, with semi-weekly roster setting and FAAB (Commissioner for both)
  • 2 X roto keeper leagues on Yahoo, with daily moves and roster setting (Co-Commissioner for both)
  • 1 X head-to-head categories league on Yahoo, with daily moves and roster setting, and a weekly moves cap
  • The CERF (“Canadian Eh? Roto Fantasy) league on NFBC (semi-weekly roster setting, weekly FAAB), which is part of the “EARTH” fantasy leagues

Draft Targets and General Observations

Following all these drafts, there has been a lot of information gained, and several key players that I have been drafting repeatedly.

Catchers

In nearly all my drafts, I’ve ended up with one of the top 3 catchers (Salvador Perez, Will Smith, J.T. Realmuto). By grabbing one of these guys (and reaching where needed), it seems to set things up really well for the team build. It’s a good feeling to know that this position is covered, and shouldn’t need to be something to worry about later. For Best Ball leagues, this also means that you can wait a little longer before grabbing a second catcher. Some of the other C2s that I’ve ended up with regularly are Omar Narvaez, Joey Bart, Travis d’Arnaud, and Elias Diaz.

First Basemen

The only early round 1B that I seem to have on many teams is Paul Goldschmidt, who should continue to produce across all the Roto categories, and strong fantasy points in Best Ball. Some mid-to-late round targets for me have been C.J. Cron, Nathaniel Lowe, Jesus Aguilar, and Yoshi Tsutsugo.  On Yahoo, I’ve also been grabbing Lourdes Gurriel Jr. who has 1B/OF eligibility.

Second Basemen

The second base position seems to be one where I’ve waited on a bit, with a lot of good options. For Keeper leagues, I’m high on Jonathan India, who I’m betting on to take another step forward, following his rookie of the year season. Other regular targets have been Brendan Rodgers, Tommy Edman (more for roto leagues for SBs), Chris Taylor, and Josh Rojas on Yahoo roto leagues due to position eligibility and counting stats across categories, and Jorge Mateo as a late-round option.

Third Basemen

When I’ve had an early draft pick in redraft leagues, I’m trying to get Jose Ramirez wherever I can. With a late draft slot, I’m grabbing Rafael Devers in the second round instead. Having 3B covered early with a top guy sets things up well for the rest of your roster builds (NOTE: this applies more in Best Balls. In Yahoo leagues, this is less applicable because of the additional 3B options). Other 3B targets have been Josh Donaldson, Eduardo Escobar and Jeimer Candelario.  For players with profiles like Donaldson, who are injury prone but have high production when they play, these are draft targets of mine for roto leagues and especially ones with daily moves. You want to maximize the production you can when they play, and just plug in a replacement when they are out of the lineup.

Shortstops

Give me all the Bobby Witt Jr.!! Obviously, he is a big target for keeper leagues as a top prospect, but I’m reaching for him in Best Ball leagues and other redraft leagues as well. We saw several high-profile rookies flop in the past couple of years, but I don’t expect the same with Witt Jr.  Other Shortstops that I have drafted regularly include Dansby Swanson, Willy Adames, and J.P. Crawford (in Best Balls), plus those 2Bs mentioned above that have Shortstop eligibility also in some leagues/formats. For leagues with an IL and in Best Ball leagues, I’ve also been reaching for Fernando Tatis Jr. ahead of his new ADP. When he comes back (and assuming health from that point, of course), he is going to put up major points/value per game, and you can cover yourself with another Shortstop until then by being one of the first people to pick your second one.

Outfielders

Targets for OF have been largely league format dependent this year.  In season-long leagues, players like Bryce Harper, Kyle Tucker, and Luis Robert have been players I’ve drafted a lot in the first couple of rounds.  A bit later, Byron Buxton (AL MVP upside if healthy), Nick Castellanos, Ketel Marte, and the power quartet of Kyle Schwarber, Franmil Reyes, Marcell Ozuna, and Jorge Soler have been guys I’ve taken often across all formats. In roto leagues, I’ve reached for Seiya Suzuki (I’m buying big time), Akil Baddoo, and Ramon Laureano to try to land some power/speed combo guys. Finally, the late-round guys I’ve been grabbing include Randal Grichuk (following the trade), Manuel Margot, Lamonte Wade Jr., Justin Upton, and Bradley Zimmer.

Starting Pitchers

So many good choices and they are fun to draft. In Best Ball leagues, I tended to grab a couple SPs early (like Jacob deGrom, Lucas Giolito, Zach Wheeler) and then grab mostly bats until around rounds 8-13 and then jumped back in with Yu Darvish, Shane McClanahan, Eduardo Rodriguez, and popular sleeper Patrick Sandoval. In roto leagues, and especially daily moves keeper leagues, I’m looking at K/9 ratio as a key stat (plus K/BB also). In these leagues, I’m trying to maximize strikeouts and win that category (Note: this is especially true in roto leagues with an innings limit). I’m targeting the top ranked SPs with high K rates (deGrom, Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Aaron Nola), and I’m also buying the older comeback veterans Chris Sale and Justin Verlander. My favorite SP sleeper and target in all leagues is Logan Gilbert. From everything I’ve heard and read, he is poised for a big breakout. Other young sleepers and targets for keeper league drafts (where not already kept), include: Michael Kopech, Luis Patino, Jesus Luzardo, Shane Baz, plus Sandoval and McClanahan mentioned above. Some other mid-to-late round targets that I’ve drafted plenty of times include Jon Gray, Alex Wood, Austin Gomber, Drew Rasmussen, Yusei Kikuchi, Spencer Howard and Reid Detmers.

Relief Pitchers

With most of the leagues I’m in being Saves + Holds or Best Ball leagues, I’m managed to avoid the closer surge in early rounds of drafts for the most part. I’d be an advocate for abolishing straight “Saves” roto leagues entirely, considering the trends in bullpen usage over the past few years. In Best Ball leagues, there is a general strategy approach to not draft any relievers at all, and just load up on SPs. For roto leagues with Saves as a category, I’ve been targeting some of the second-tier closers, including: Emmanuelle Clase, Jordan Romano and Corey Knebel. For Saves + Holds leagues, generally fading closers and targeting high-end holds relievers with good ratios and high K rates is a good strategy. This starts with Devin Williams, and some other great targets include Chad Green, Paul Sewald, Collin McHugh, Jonathan Loaisiga, Brusdar Graterol and Art Warren.


Sean Chard is a 20+ year Fantasy Baseball veteran, as the Commissioner and league member for numerous Fantasy Baseball keeper leagues. He will be sharing information and strategies here for winning your leagues, and especially your Home Keeper league. For more great Fantasy Baseball analysis, follow him on Twitter @maxdoutdfs.

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