First base is consistently the deepest position in Fantasy -- and for good reason. At the risk of oversimplification, it's where all the hitters who can't field wind up.
But in a way, its depth makes it especially tricky to draft. The goal of the tiers is to accentuate which position to target with each of your picks, but so many of the top hitters are first basemen that by the time you actually get to consult the tiers, the depth is compromised.
Let's break it down, and you'll see what I mean.
(Players with an asterisk (*) next to their names are DH-only and wouldn't be worth tiering if they weren't lumped with some other position. Most often, you'll draft a first baseman to fill your DH/utility spot anyway.)
The Elite: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, Anthony Rizzo
The Near-Elite: Victor Martinez, Freddie Freeman, Albert Pujols, Todd Frazier, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz*, Carlos Santana, Joey Votto, Buster Posey
The Next-Best Things: Prince Fielder, Chris Davis, Chris Carter*, Lucas Duda, Mark Trumbo
The Fallback Options: Steve Pearce, Matt Adams, Eric Hosmer, Adam LaRoche, Justin Morneau, Brandon Moss
The Last Resorts: Joe Mauer, Yasmani Grandal, Stephen Vogt, Brandon Belt, Kennys Vargas*, Mike Napoli, Mark Teixeira
The Leftovers: Logan Morrison, Allen Craig, Billy Butler, Michael Morse, Jon Singleton, Kendrys Morales, James Loney, Ike Davis, Nick Swisher, Adam Lind, Ryan Howard
See there? The Elite: It's five deep, but all five could be gone by the end of the first round, which is the one part of the draft where you shouldn't rely on tiers since it's more or less choreographed. Maybe Rizzo will slip to the second round -- and if he does, he's probably the guy to grab -- but for the most part, drafting a top-tier first baseman isn't as much something you decide as something you fall into.
Which is great, I guess. At least for that one position, you can go on autopilot to start out. But what if you don't draft in a spot that lands you one of those five? Half the league is already a tier ahead of you at the position. The downside to depth is that you can't afford to be left out of it; you'd be putting yourself at a disadvantage.
But hey, that second tier is huge, right? You'd have to fall asleep to get left out there. That's how it looks anyway, but looks can be deceiving. Because first base is deep and is known for being deep, players who qualify elsewhere are almost always drafted to play that other position. Frazier and Santana will be drafted as third basemen. Posey as a catcher. Ortiz isn't even eligible at first base; he's here just because tiering three DH-only players separately is pointless. Eliminate them from first base consideration, and suddenly the first two tiers go from 14 players to 10. If you get caught up drafting other positions, confident you can wait at the deepest one, suddenly you're not just one tier behind half the league, but two.
That's not to say you can't find value in the third tier. Players like Fielder, who's coming off major neck surgery, and Chris Davis, whose last two seasons have been polar opposites, have the capacity for elite numbers, but because of the risk, you'd rather draft them to play corner infield or utility -- you know, a spot where they can bust and it won't come back to bite you. Because if they do bust, it'll be after the draft, leaving you to rummage the waiver wire for replacements. And if you're the one owner in your league struggling to find even a competent first baseman, you'd better hoped you're stacked everywhere else.
And maybe you are. I'm not trying to scare you into reaching for Freeman or Gonzalez, two relatively boring players who require a big investment. I'm just asking you to trust in the process, to forget your preconceived notions about positions and take the one whose active tier is closest to completion when your pick comes up.
If that means you use your second, third and fourth picks on an outfielder, starting pitcher and shortstop, and by the time your fifth pick comes up, all The Near-Elite at first base are gone, so be it. Rather than panic and reach for Fielder three rounds too early, just wait until a couple of The Next-Best Things go off the board and then act. It's not ideal, but at least you know you were as efficient as you could be with the hand you were dealt.
And the good news is you'll probably end up drafting multiple first basemen just because the position houses some of the better and more promising late-round bats -- i.e., breakout candidates like Adams and Hosmer and unheralded types like Pearce and LaRoche. You do have more of a safety net at first base than you would at a shallower position like second or third base.