One thing that makes Fantasy baseball different from football or basketball is how close the relationship is between the best teams in the standings and the best teams for Fantasy. Because football and basketball games have a time limit and finite amounts of possessions, there's only so much room for one team to contribute for Fantasy; even the great teams only have a few contributors. 

That isn't the case in baseball. The best teams tend to have the best Fantasy players, and that's certainly true for the reigning World Series champions, the Astros. This team features two elite hitters, another one right on the cusp, and two of the better starting pitchers in the game, plus depth in both the lineup and rotation through the final rounds. Oh, and they traded for Gerrit Cole without losing much from the major-league roster. You'll probably have a few Astros on your team if you want to win, and after last year's dramatic, lineup-wide improvements in strikeout rate, this should once again be one of the most efficient lineups in baseball. 

Whether the pitching can hold up, built around aging superstar Justin Verlander and two players with huge upside and big injury question marks, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, is another question. There's a surprising amount of risk in this rotation, just one year removed from the World Series, though the addition of Cole provides a steadying influence – with ace upside of his own. 

Ranking the Astros' Fantasy Assets
PlayersRoto RankH2H RankRoto POSH2H
2 2 1 1
18 15 2 2
25 24 9 8
41 28 8 6
43 51 7 6
73 48 17 15
82 107 5 5
89 72 23 23
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Ken Giles HOU RP
89 92 5 5
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Lance McCullers HOU SP
124 126 31 36
143 157 8 8
155 154 41 37
202 190 51 58
250 239 30 27
250 249 69 65
283 224 81 74

Players in Scott's Top 100 Prospects

15 Kyle Tucker
A bumpy transition to Double-A brought Tucker's numbers down a bit, but the power took a big leap forward for the former fifth overall pick who some evaluators considered the best hitter in the 2015 draft. He may not run in the long run, but he's just beginning to tap into his offensive potential. Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: cup of coffee
24 Forrest Whitley
With a refined four-pitch arsenal, rapidly improving command and the build of a workhorse, Whitley looks like an ace in the making. True, he's young, but having already flashed a 1.84 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 16.0 strikeouts per nine innings in 14 2/3 innings at Double-A, he's moving fast. Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: cup of coffee
59 Yordan Alvarez
Pursued by the Astros before being signed by the Dodgers and then traded to the Astros for Josh Fields, Alvarez was a teenage heartthrob to metric-minded front offices and validated their fervor with a high OBP and the start of a power breakthrough. He stumbled after the move up to high Class A, but he was young for the level. Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: cup of coffee

Things to Know

  • Evan Gattis played enough catcher last season to carry eligibility into 2018, but you won't see him there much this season. That's good news because Gattis is expected to serve as the team's primary DH, giving him his first opportunity for everyday at-bats since 2015. He hit 27 homers and drove in 88 runs that season, and was the No. 2 catcher. 
  • If you have to invest in some batting average drags like Rougned Odor or Joey Gallo, consider Yuli Gurriel to fill your corner infield spot. He probably tops out at 20 homers, but his contact-heavy approach in this lineup should lead to an average around .300 and plenty of RBI. 
  • If the Astros can get Gerrit Cole to focus less on his fastball and more on his breaking pitches, he could turn into the ace status he's (mostly) failed to live up to so far. Cole has been a major disappointment in recent seasons, which could drive his price down low enough to make him a bargain on Draft Day. 
  • Lance McCullers has ace upside, but it's fair to wonder if his curveball-heavy approach puts too much stress on his elbow to get him through a season. If you can get him in the 10th round, that's the perfect pairing of risk and reward.
  • If you want a different kind of risk, Brad Peacock flashed ace upside in his 21 starts last season, sporting a 3.22 ERA and 10.9 K/9. The risk? He had a 4.39 ERA in 46 career starts before last season, and he won't be in the rotation until someone gets hurt. 
  • Most of the talented young guys in the organization have been called up or traded, but Kyle Tucker went for 25 homers and 21 steals in the minors last season, and could get the call in 2018. The problem is, there's nowhere the play him right now. 

Lineup & Rotation

Lineup                                  
1 George Springer CF
2 Alex Bregman 3B
3 Jose Altuve 2B
4 Carlos Correa SS
5 Yuli Gurriel 1B
6 Evan Gattis DH
7 Josh Reddick RF
8 Brian McCann C
9 Marwin Gonzalez LF
Pitchers                                  
SP Justin Verlander
SP Dallas Keuchel
SP Lance McCullers
SP Gerrit Cole
SP Charlie Morton
CL Ken Giles   
RP Chris Devenski
RP Joe Musgrove