One thing you'll need to make sure you're up to speed on heading into you Fantasy baseball draft is the state of each position heading into 2020. Positional scarcity isn't really as much of a factor in the current Fantasy baseball landscape, but you still need to know which positions have the most depth, which you might need to reach for, and who, exactly you'll want to target at each.
Lucky for you, we spent the past few weeks on the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast going in-depth on every position, from catcher to relief pitcher. You'll want to make sure you subscribe to the podcast to get every position preview right at your fingertips, along with the rest of our draft prep content — and we'll be there to guide you through the regular season, too, with every up and down that comes with it.
But we went through each position on Tuesday's episode, providing our quick thoughts on each, and that's what I'm doing here as well. I've gone through each position, highlighting a key strategy question, my favorite options and more for every single one. Plus, I've linked to Scott White's cheat sheets, highlighting his favorite players, and his tiers to show exactly where the depth is for each position, along with our preview podcasts.
The hope is, by the time you draft, you'll bring your own expert-level knowledge into the draft room with you. We're just here to guide you along.
- Strategy for one-catcher leagues: I'm usually not paying up for a catcher here, but it's not a hard and fast rule. If J.T. Realmuto falls to 60th, I'll snag him. But, outside of the top six at the position -- Realmuto, Gary Sanchez, Yasmani Grandal, Willson Contreras and Wilson Ramos, in my eyes — there isn't much of a difference between the rest of the options. Even after that drop-off, there are probably 10 more names I'd feel OK with as my starting catcher, so I'll wait until the last few rounds and take the likes of Sean Murphy, Danny Jansen, Carson Kelly or Jorge Alfaro, secure in the knowledge that if one of my upside plays doesn't hit, there will be at least a few others on waivers.
- Strategy for two-catcher leagues: Of course, that isn't an option for a two-catcher league, and if you wait too long to fill out your spots, you could be really hurting. I want to get at least two of the top 15 at the position, but if I am left scrambling for a late-round option, Isiah Kiner-Falefa is an intriguing option — he's re-worked his swing this offseason to generate more power, and may end up the starting third baseman for the Rangers. That would give him a significant edge on the competition in playing time.
- Catcher you draft most? Wilson Ramos. He's kind of my strategy for both formats; if I get him at his going rate (14th round ADP), my catcher position is in pretty good shape.
- Scott White's Catcher Cheat Sheet
- Scott White's Catcher Tiers
- First base is a shallow position. How do you handle that? It's shallow with super stars, but it's lousy with guys who can contribute. I'm thrilled to get Freddie Freeman in the second round, but he's the only first baseman I'm likely to take in the first five rounds besides Cody Bellinger; if not, I'm more likely to wait and take Josh Bell in the sixth or seventh round. If I miss on both, I'm perfectly happy to wait and snag a late-round option, like …
- A late-round first baseman if you miss out on the top 12: Luke Voit. He's played 157 games for the Yankees, hitting .280/.384/.517 with 35 homers, 100 runs and 95 RBI. That's Anthony Rizzo production, but because he struggled in the second half while playing through a core injury, Voit is available around the 200th pick in most drafts.
- Scott White's First Base Cheat Sheet
- Scott White's First Base Tiers
- Another shallow position. Do you reach to make sure you get one of the early ones? This is one position where I do want to try to reach for a dependable option, yeah. Sometimes that's Jose Altuve or Ozzie Albies or Ketel Marte; sometimes it's Max Muncy or Jeff McNeil. If I don't take a 2B in the top 100, I'm much more likely to wait until the last few rounds to fill the spot with someone like Kevin Newman, Nick Senzel or even Tommy La Stella, depending on my need.
- Who do you draft most? It's probably Marte, though heading into this last draft weekend, I think I'm going to make it a point to make Keston Hiura the real answer. I think there's a legitimate chance we're talking about him in a tier of his own at the top of the position next year.
- Scott White's Second Base Cheat Sheet
- Scott White's Second Base Tiers
- Probably the deepest position in Fantasy. Do you have a specific strategy, or just take the best value at the position? The thing about third base is, you don't need a specific strategy. If you want steals, Jose Ramirez is a worthy second-round pick no matter where you happen to pick, and he's a player I love targeting, but otherwise, the depth of star power at this position means you can address it at any point and be pleased with the outcome. Chances are, you might end up with multiple starters with third base eligibility. Nothing wrong with that.
- Who do you draft most? Ramirez has become my preferred second-round pick if I get the chance, but obviously if you pick later, he may not be there. If it's not Ramrez, it's probably Justin Turner, a star-caliber bat without the counting stats. If the addition of the DH to the National League makes it easier to keep him in the lineup, he has legitimate top-five potential even at this position.
- Scott White's Third Base Cheat Sheet
- Scott White's Catcher Tiers
- Likely the second-deepest position behind third base, but with a few elite stolen base options. Worth reaching for them? I think Trea Turner belongs right there with Gerrit Cole (and ahead of Francisco Lindor) in Roto leagues behind the that Big Five hitters. His stolen base potential is just so far beyond what even other first-rounders can manage, and if you end up with the sixth pick, you should strongly consider taking Turner. As for Adelberto Mondesi, the other steals gem … I'm less bullish. He's a terror when he gets on base, but he gets on base less frequently than nearly any other player in baseball. He has enough pop in his bat to help avoid Billy Hamilton territory, but if he's putting up a .260 OBP -- a very realistic outcome -- I would rather take a chance on someone like Mallex Smith in the double-digit rounds than bet on Mondesi staying healthy and effective.
- Who do you draft most? Either Corey Seager or Carlos Correa. We're just a couple of years removed from them being considered the future of the position, but injuries have derailed both. That's a concern, but if they manage to stay healthy, both can be elite Fantasy options, as they've shown before. Seager, in particular, seems like an obvious candidate for a breakout, a full year removed from hip and elbow surgery and just entering his physical prime. There's room for a significant power jump here.
- Scott White's Shortstop Cheat Sheet
- Scott White's Shortstop Tiers
- How does your strategy change in three-outfielder leagues (Most H2H) vs. five-outfielder leagues (Roto)? Ideally, you'll want to avoid filling your outfield too soon in a three-outfielder league, just because the depth of the position means from Round 10 on, the best position player available will often be an outfielder. Of course, that's often true in Rounds 1-9, so if you do fill up the position early, it's hardly the end of the world. In a five-outfielder league, I typically want to leave a few spots in the outfield for the middle and late rounds, because it's the easiest position to find specialists. Get through the 10th round and realizing you need power? Max Kepler, Franmil Reyes, Kyle Schwarber, Hunter Dozier … well, there's no shortage of options. The same is true for average (J.D. Davis, David Dahl, Tommy Edman) and stolen bases (Mallex Smith, Oscar Mercado, Will Myers).
- Favorite early-round target: J.D. Martinez. Given his age, a "down" season could be a harbinger of things to come. On the other hand, a "down" season for Martinez still meant he was a top-25 hitter, and any concerns about a decline skill set should be muted by a .305/.390/.575 line after the All-Star break.
- Favorite mid-round target: If Giancarlo Stanton counts as a mid-rounder, he's the one. I get it, injuries, injuries, injuries, etc. But when he's healthy, I have little doubt Stanton will be an elite Fantasy bat. He's being discounted as if there are performance concerns in addition to health concerns.
- Favorite late-round target: Alex Verdugo. Verdugo might have become something of a forgotten man because he wasn't going to be ready for the initial start of the season, but he'll be ready for opening day this time, and he's a future batting title winner in a still-very-good Red Sox lineup. He's a top-100 talent being taken outside of the top-200.
- Scott White's Outfield Cheat Sheet
- Scott White's Outfield Tiers
- How many aces are there? Aces? What is an ace? Is it a pitcher you feel confident in as your No. 1 starter, because he's got the skill and proven track record? If that's the definition, I count 16 — in FantasyPros.com's ADP, everyone through No. 17, Lucas Giolito, minus Blake Snell. If you use the more liberal definition Scott White does — a pitcher who can conceivably be genuinely dominant, even those with inning concerns — you can get through about No. 30 in his starting pitcher rankings.
- How many do you need to have? Historically, the best return on investment at starting pitcher for Fantasy comes in the first two rounds — over the last three seasons, starters drafted in the third- and fourth-round range have returned about the same amount of value as those drafted in the 10th through 11th. I want two of the pitchers who fit my definition of ace. Ideally, it's one of the top tier — Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Walker Buehler — and one of Patrick Corbin, Charlie Morton or Lucas Giolito. But if it ends up being two of that latter trio, I'll sleep soundly.
- Favorite early-round target: Corbin or Morton. They'll give you Stephen Strasburg production at a discount.
- Favorite mid-round target: Zac Gallen, the rare young pitcher with no workload concerns and a deep arsenal of pitches that should help him turn lineups over. He flashed legitimate ace upside last season — 70 strikeouts to just 22 walks in 57.2 innings in his final 10 starts.
- Favorite late-round target: Mitch Keller. I'm not expecting new Pirates pitching coach Oscar Marin to be a miracle worker, but he just needs to bring the Pirates out of the dark ages. An analytically inclined approach is going to help Keller break out. Two dominant breaking pitches and a 95 mph fastball will help, too.
- Scott White's Starting Pitcher Cheat Sheet
- Scott White's Starting Pitcher Tiers
- Strategy for H2H points — Are we back to believing in SPARPs? I've moved in the opposite direction from spring, when I thought this could be The Year of the SPARP. There was an unusually high number of potential difference-making starts with RP eligibility this season, so my plan was to always take two SPARPs. Now? I'm not sure I want any — maybe Kenta Maeda and Carlos Carrasco are the exceptions, because they've shown they can handle a full-time starter's workload and pitch well. With the stop-and-start nature of the preseason along with the abbreviated time to get up to full strength, I'm worried wins and quality starts will be hard to come by early in the season, and if that's the case, SPARPs lose much of their value. I'm much more likely to snag two closers these days — though I will say, Carlos Martinez might be one of them, and I'm targeting him in all drafts if he ends up in the ninth for the Cardinals.
- How many closers do you try to come away with in Roto or H2H categories leagues? Typically, at least two, usually three if I can afford it. That doesn't mean I'm paying up for closers, though. My ideal closer group heading into the final draft weekend would look something like this: Ken Giles or Edwin Diaz or Craig Kimbrel plus Carlos Martinez plus Mark Melancon or Keone Kela or Brandon Kintzler or Hunter Harvey. I want high-upside options at a cheap price, and that's what this approach gives me.
- Scott White's Catcher Cheat Sheet
- Scott White's Catcher Tiers