2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Waiver targets, deep sleepers for your first FAB run of the season



henry davis

There are still plenty of Fantasy Baseball drafts left, but for those of you who aren’t waiting until the last minute, it’s time for the nitty gritty of in-season roster management to begin. That means it’s time to get those waiver-wire claims and FAB bids in before the first (or second, if you counted the Seoul Series) lineup lock of the season draws near.

I’ve got waiver-wire targets for every position to consider here, plus a deep-league sleeper if you need to dig a little farther in the player pool, and I’m focusing on players rostered in fewer than 50% of CBS Fantasy leagues here. But, of course, some of you might have drafted early enough that players who would go on to be widely drafted might not have met that 50%-and-under criteria but are still available in your league. So, before you do anything, make sure the following players aren’t available in your league, and if they are, make sure you go add them where you can: 

  • Mitch Garver, C, Mariners (64%)
  • Henry Davis, OF, Pirates (58%)
  • Colt Keith, 3B, Tigers (58%)
  • Jonathan India, 2B, Reds (61%)
  • Jarren Duran, OF, Red Sox (76%)
  • Nick Lodolo, SP, Reds (70%)
  • Christopher Sanchez, SP, Phillies (69%)
  • Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Blue Jays (67%)
  • A.J. Puk, SP, Marlins (67%)
  • Gavin Stones, SP, Dodgers (58%)
  • Jack Flaherty, SP, Tigers (50%)
  • Robert Suarez, RP, Padres (69%)
  • Carlos Estevez, RP, Angels (61%)

Alright, now let’s go position-by-position for the top option available in more than 50% of CBS Fantasy leagues: 

Catchers

Alejandro Kirk, C, Blue Jays (41% rostered) – With Danny Jansen (wrist) beginning the season on the IL, Kirk has a bit more runway to get hot and establish himself as the clear top option for the Jays early in the season. He was terrible last season, but he had a nice spring (three homers, .371/.421/.743 line) and we’ve seen him be a must-start Fantasy option before. If you didn’t invest much in your catcher spot, give Kirk another look. 

Deep-league target: Christian Vazquez, C, Twins (2%) – Vasquez spent the offseason working on improving his bat speed, and has been a very useful source of cheap batting average in the past. 

First Base

Ty France, Mariners (47%) – Another swing-change guy, France struck out just four times in the spring and was pretty much a must-start Fantasy option in 2021 and 2022, so the hope here is he gets back to that level, at least. In deeper points leagues especially, his plate discipline makes him an intriguing option. 

Deep-league target: Jared Walsh, Angels (2%) – With Nate Lowe on the IL to open the season, Walsh has an opportunity to play regularly in a stacked Rangers lineup. 

Second base

Jordan Westburg, Orioles (42%) – With so many talented young guys in the organization, Westburg feels somewhat like a forgotten name for the Orioles. But let’s not forget that he came to the majors with a decent amount of hype last season and could have another level to reach – with 20-15 potential in a very good lineup.

Deep-league target: Amed Rosario, Rays (9%) – Rosario is another guy who re-worked his swing this offseason, and he figures to play a little bit everywhere for the Rays, who have more holes than expected thanks to spring injuries. 

Third base

Michael Busch, Cubs (39%) – Busch probably doesn’t have a particularly long leash, but if he opens the season hot, it won’t matter much. He was terrible in his first taste of the majors with the Dodgers last season, but he was hitting .323/.431/.618 with very good quality-of-contact metrics at Triple-A, and I remain intrigued by the bat enough to use a bench spot on him early on. 

Deep-league target: Graham Pauley, Padres (9%) – Alright, so it’s not a great sign that Pauley didn’t start either of the Padres’ first two games, and maybe that’s a sign of what his usage will be like. But with Manny Machado limited to just DH, I still want to see what Pauley can do after hitting .308/.393/.539 with 23 homers and 22 steals in the minors last season as a 22-year-old. 

Shortstop

Tim Anderson, Marlins (31%) – Anderson had an absolutely miserable 2023 season, one I’m mostly willing to write off as a result of a knee injury suffered 11 games into the season – he was hitting .298 with five steals before that injury. If he bounces back, Anderson is a must-start option who might hit second consistently for the Marlins.  

Deep-league target: Brayan Rocchio, Guardians (9%) – Rocchio was named the starting shortstop for the Guardians, and he remains an intriguing talent for Fantasy coming off a season where he hit .280 with just a 12.3% strikeout rate and 25 steals in 116 games at Triple-A last season.  

Outfield

Tyler O’Neill, Red Sox (49%) – O’Neill was limited to DH for the end of camp due to a lingering calf injury, which is always a concern given his history. But he’s expected to be healthy for the start of the regular season and remains an intriguing bounceback candidate moving from Busch Stadium to Fenway Park. 

Sal Frelick, Brewers (46%) – Frelick looks like he’s going to play all over the place for the Brewers, with second base and third base added to his duties this offseason. Triple-eligibility (quintuple if you count MI and CI), with the potential for a good batting average and the potential for 25-plus steals will play in every league. 

Ceddanne Rafaela, Red Sox (43%) – It’s not exactly clear where Rafaela is going to play in a crowded Red Sox outfield, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – he could see some time at second base when he’s not out there in the outfield, and he’s a more than capable shortstop if the need ever arises. Rafaela’s plate discipline could hold him back, but he played his way onto the roster in the spring and had 20 homers and 36 steals in 108 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season. 

Deep-league targets: Brenton Doyle, Rockies (10%), Luis Matos, Giants (8%), Dylan Carlson, Cardinals (5%) – Matos didn’t do much in his first half-season in the bigs, but I still think there’s decent power without sacrificing much average there if he can figure it out. Four homers in 20 spring games while hitting .314 is a good sign. 

Starting pitcher

Seth Lugo, Royals (46%) – Lugo is one of those pitchers who tends to fall through the cracks in draft season, because he doesn’t have much in the way of projectable, long-term upside. But when the season starts, that 3.57 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with nearly a strikeout per inning (his 2023 numbers) looks a lot more appealing in your starting lineup than some of those more volatile late-round targets we prefer. 

Casey Mize, Tigers (41%) – Mize earned a spot in the Tigers rotation with a 2.35 ERA in 15.1 spring innings. I still have some questions about his strikeout upside, but a spring velocity jump could help answer those to a certain extent. It’s a bet on a former top prospect figuring it out after a very good spring. 

Jared Jones, Pirates (27%) – We’re assuming Jones won the fifth starter job for the Pirates with an impressive spring that saw him allow no earned runs in 16.1 innings. The thing to note is that he walked eight in those 16.1 innings, and that’s going to be the important thing for him moving forward – Jones’ stuff is MLB-quality, but iffy command has kept him from jumping up prospect lists.  

Trevor Rogers, Marlins (22%) – Rogers’ velocity was way down in his last spring start, but he still got pretty good results, striking out 10 in 8.2 innings over his three starts. We’re starting to get far enough away from Rogers’ 2021 breakout that skepticism is warranted, but the upside he showed that season is worth giving him a look to open the season. 

Deep-league targets: Max Mayer, Marlins (22%), Ryan Weathers, Marlins (12%), Luis Gil, Yankees (12%) – I am a Marlins fan who lives in New York City, but that’s not relevant here! Meyer is a top prospect who surprisingly won a rotation spot for Miami in the spring, while Weathers saw a velocity jump this spring to put himself back on Fantasy radars a few years after he was a top prospect in his own right. Stuff has never been a question for Gil, who dominated in the spring to earn the fifth spot for the Yankees. All three of them could be droppable after one start, but I’ll chase the upside. 

Relief pitcher

Michael Kopech, White Sox (27%) – One thing that could make it tough to use Kopech in H2H points leagues is that he’s only SP-eligible until he makes 10 appearances as a reliever, and even very good closers tend to not score enough points to justify starting over most SPs. Then, of course, there’s the little detail that he hasn’t actually been named the White Sox closer, though that does kind of feel inevitable after they moved him to the bullpen recently – especially after he worked three straight scoreless innings to close out the spring while hitting triple digits on the radar gun. He could be a very good reliever – remember, Kopech had a 3.50 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 69.1 innings as a reliever back in 2021. This is one situation where a players’ Fantasy value was unquestionably helped by not making the rotation. 

Joel Payamps, Brewers (44%) – We still don’t know how the Brewers will handle the ninth inning in Devin Williams’ absence, which is one of the bigger unanswered questions coming out of the spring with Williams out three months with a back injury. I’ll continue to bet on Payamps getting the first opportunity, since he was the primary setup man in front of Williams last season and it’s not like Abner Uribe was so good this spring that he should have leapfrogged him. Trevor Megill might factor in, as well, so I think all three are worth a speculative add in the order mentioned here. 

Zack Littell, Rays (34%) – There are plenty of SPaRPs to look for this season – I ranked the top 13 here a week ago! Littell hasn’t inspired much enthusiasm even among that cohort, but it’s rarely a bad idea to bet on the Rays wringing the most value they can from a pitcher. The problem here is that Littell opens the season with a middling matchup against the Blue Jays and then will probably make his second start at Coors Field, which makes it awfully tough to use him as an early-season streamer, especially in categories leagues. 

Deep-league target: Jordan Hicks, Giants (20%), Yimi Garcia, Blue Jays (6%) – Hicks had a pretty awesome spring, with 18 strikeouts in 12 innings of work. If he can sustain his stuff as a starter, we’re going to all look pretty foolish for not hyping him more. As for Garcia: He might get a few saves early in the season while Jordan Romano (elbow) works his way back. 





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