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Leading off: Finding fantasy sleepers atop lineups

By R.J. White | CBSSports.com

Leadoff hitters are in the midst of a renaissance, thanks in part to the efforts of players like Shin-Soo Choo and Starling Marte. A fresh face is expected play the role of traditional speedy leadoff hitter in center field this season, and Billy Hamilton has fantasy owners fawning over his stolen-base potential.

However, other players are being largely overlooked in fantasy leagues late in drafts or auctions despite having the potential to contribute in runs, steals and sometimes even batting average from atop major-league lineups.

I don't necessarily think all leadoff hitters deserve to be rostered ahead of hitters lower in the order as a rule, but when looking for potential fantasy finds, owners could do a lot worse than nabbing a player or two that'll reap the benefits of batting leadoff.

Below, I've grouped the league's leadoff hitters (as projected by MLBDepthCharts.com) by surefire mixed-league rostered players and potential top-of-the-lineup sleepers, and I've roughly listed the players in descending order by fantasy appeal. Obviously, the two lists will bleed into each other depending on league size and format. Also, players denoted with an asterisk (*) will likely serve as the strong side of a platoon, thereby limiting their upside in no-bench or weekly-lineup leagues.

Owned in most mixed leagues

NYY Jacoby Ellsbury

TEX Shin-Soo Choo

LAD Yasiel Puig

MIL Carlos Gomez

PIT Starling Marte

TOR Jose Reyes

ATL Jason Heyward

DET Ian Kinsler

BOS Shane Victorino

STL Matt Carpenter

CIN Billy Hamilton

CHC Starlin Castro

OAK Coco Crisp

MIA Christian Yelich

SD Everth Cabrera

CHW Adam Eaton

KC Norichika Aoki

Top-of-the-lineup sleepers (availability may vary)

HOU Dexter Fowler

WAS Denard Span

LAA Kole Calhoun

PHI Ben Revere

ARI A.J. Pollock

MIN Brian Dozier

SF Angel Pagan

NYM Eric Young *

SEA Abraham Almonte

COL Corey Dickerson *

BAL Nick Markakis

TB David DeJesus *

CLE Nyjer Morgan (filling in for Michael Bourn)

 
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