Actually, don't. There's nothing exciting about these 12 players, and if there was, it would surely revoke their underrated status.
I'm not particularly fond of them myself, but in most every draft, whether or not I'm the one taking them, I find myself marveling at the value.
For most, it's pretty obvious why they fall. They're old. They're injury-prone. They're perceived to have no upside. (Sign me up, right?) But when they're drafted at less than their expected production, that itself is another form of upside.
I don't know that you'd want to draft all 12 in the same league, taking on every bit of the risk that your competition carefully avoided. But in each case, you should remind yourself that the worst-case scenario probably isn't the most-likely scenario and accept whatever gift comes your way.
(I've denoted each player's average draft position -- or ADP -- for CBS Head-to-Head, CBS Rotisserie and FantasyPros, which finds the average Rotisserie ADP using data from several sites.)
Adrian Beltre averaged the sixth-most Fantasy points per game among third basemen last season, which, comparing to other positions, was better than Corey Seager, Edwin Encarnacion, Christian Yelich, Andrew Benintendi and Elvis Andrus. You could argue that per-game production isn't the fairest way to assess someone who played only 94 games, but Beltre is only a year removed from a 153-game season and averaged 148 games in the three years prior to last year. Maybe he falls off a cliff in his age-39 season, or maybe he hits .300 with 30 homers again and you get him for the price of Yoan Moncada (whose dream scenario is something in that same range, for what it's worth).
Even in points leagues, his better format because of the walks, Carpenter is being drafted as if his injury-stifled production of the last two years is the new baseline for him when really it's more like the worst-case scenario. He makes some of the hardest contact of any hitter, with line-drive and fly-ball rates normally associated with high batting averages and big power, and even if he follows through on his desire to sacrifice some of the latter for more of the former, his on-base ability could make him something like Anthony Rendon offensively.
Jay Bruce won't hit 40 homers, but he'll hit 30. He won't hit .270, but he'll hit .250. It's like he falls just short of the thresholds that would generate real enthusiasm among Fantasy Baseballers, putting him in a sort of no-man's land where he's decidedly less than elite but also as good as you can hope for in home runs and RBI once the elite are off the board. I understand why Khris Davis goes earlier, but six rounds? The line between them is thinner than that (with only 0.08 separating them in Head-to-Head points per game last year).
Brett Gardner is 34 and just set a career high in home runs (21) with his most stolen bases in four years (23) last year. So I get it: regression alert! But here's what I don't get: For all the praise given to the Yankees lineup this spring, why is the player expected to bat at the top of it -- directly ahead of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, mind you -- so resoundingly disregarded? He's a .350 on-base guy, for crying out loud. If Gardner stays healthy, he'll rank among the major-league leaders in runs scored, and I'd at least call him a pretty safe bet for 15 homers and 20 steals.
Kevin Kiermaier missed about one-third of each of the last two seasons with a fractured hand and a fractured hip, and he deserves to be downgraded because of it. But particularly in an environment where most every viable 20-steals guy has an inflated price tag, he shouldn't be downgraded that much. He averaged 13.5 home runs and 18.5 steals in those two injury-plagued seasons, which is about a 20-25 pace, so we could be looking at something like a poor man's Andrew Benintendi in the Round 15 range.
for this season precisely because he's being totally disregarded, Gennett was an out-and-out stud at second base, averaging 3.30 Fantasy points per game from the time he became the starter June 18, a mark topped by only four second basemen last year. The date is important because it came after the four-homer game that first put Gennett on manager Bryan Price's radar, so the per-game production wasn't inflated by some historic fluke. Granted, the 27-year-old never hit for much power prior to last season, so you can't just assume he'll do it again. But assuming he won't, which is how he's being drafted, is to me just as foolish.
The raw numbers suggest Lance Lynn was pretty good last year, the same as always in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. Some of the underling numbers -- specifically, the 4.82 FIP -- suggest otherwise. But to reiterate, it was his first year back from Tommy John surgery. Command is often an issue for such pitchers, and the career-high walk and home run rates were the biggest culprits behind his should-have-been-bad season. And yet the batted-ball profile was the same as all those years he had a low-to-mid-threes FIP for the Cardinals. He's also good for six innings almost every time out, and he's normally a respectable strikeout pitcher. I think people are outsmarting themselves here.
Last year was something close to a disaster for Chris Davis, but with his poor contact rate and extreme batted-ball tendencies, volatility is built into his profile. His entire Orioles tenure has been a roller-coaster ride that has included as much good -- a .270-hitting, 33-homer season, a .286-hitting, 53-homer season and a .262-hitting, 47-homer season -- as bad, and the quality-of-contact data doesn't suggest any sort of skills decline for the 32-year-old. There's a real chance he bounces back with the same sort of numbers we're expecting from Matt Olson or even the other Khris Davis, and yet I've taken part in drafts -- even Rotisserie, with all those lineup spots to fill -- where he drops outside of the first 20 rounds.
Another second baseman whose underdraftedness inspired me to put him in my Sleepers 2.0, Jason Kipnis has done all he can do to reassure us of his health this exhibition season, having already hit twice as many home runs (six) as in any previous spring campaign. And seeing as he's only 30, health should be the only concern for him. The only times he hasn't performed like a must-start Fantasy option were when he was plagued by a strained oblique (2014) and afflicted by a strained hamstring (last year). Second base is deep, but not so deep you should ignore a guy only a year removed from a 23-homer, 41-double, 15-steal season.
In 2016, Tanner Roark won 16 games with a 2.83 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. In 2014, he won 15 games with a 2.85 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. I'm not suggesting there's anything special about even-numbered years for him, but I am pointing out he has genuine high-end potential. It's not potential in its usual form -- the big bat-missing ability -- but it's potential proven twice over. And the truth is every year he's among the best pitchers at avoiding hard contact. It's just that in 2015, he was forced to bounce between the rotation and bullpen and, last year, he had some command issues stemming from mechanical issues that he appears to have addressed this spring. Frankly, just the innings-eating potential on a first-division club is valuable.
Given the scarcity of stolen bases in the game today, it's astonishing to me that a shortstop with a top-prospect pedigree and a full-time job who ran at a rate that would have netted him 20 steals if he had spent all of last year in the majors is so widely ignored. Yeah, having 49 strikeouts compared to just three walks puts a damper on things, but he was a 21-year-old getting his first taste of major-league duty. Bat control was his thing in the minors, so beyond just the steals total, Amed Rosario might be the one player on this list with genuine breakout potential.
Mike Minor has gotten so little traction during this draft prep season that I sometimes wonder if I just imagined his move back to the rotation. But no, the Rangers seem fully committed to the idea, and normally when relievers who dominate to the extent Minor did last year get their shot in the more impactful role, us Fantasy Baseballers start salivating over the potential. The difference here is Minor has already had a big season as a starting pitcher, back in 2013 for the Braves, which should only be a point in his favor. Still, the only leagues where we see him getting drafted at all are ones where his relief pitcher eligibility is prized.