If you are like me, you participate in points leagues more frequently than you do the traditional 5×5 or roto formats. I would not say that I necessarily prefer points to other formats, but they are more common and typically, when someone invites me to join a new league or take over a team in an existing league, it tends to be a points league. I enjoy a variety of formats as it gives me the ability to test out different strategies.
If you are new to the points style of fantasy baseball, I recommend reading this excellent Fantasy 101 article from our own Dave Cherman on the subject. As he states in that article, there are many different ways a points league can be constructed as points can be assigned to almost any imaginable scoring category.
For the purposes of this article, I am not going to be talking about any of the upper-echelon type hitters, as I wanted to highlight a few players who I believe to be valuable assets in a points format outside of the top-tiers. Personally speaking, as a general strategy in my points leagues, I still tend to lean towards targeting the top bats early on. However, in many points formats, the top-tier starting pitchers come off the board rather quickly. If you find yourself wanting to draft the likes of Cole and Verlander with your first-round pick, and wait on hitters, then these players might be the ones for you to target. I also plan on publishing the second article in this series discussing hitters who are overvalued in points leagues.
Note: The ADPs that are referenced come from FantasyPros consensus rankings as of March 4.
Eddie Rosario, OF Minnesota Twins (ADP 85.0)
I have found myself targeting Eddie Rosario in several of my points drafts so far this year, and generally, I have been able to land him in the 6th or 7th rounds. You might be thinking to yourself “how is a guy drafting in the 7th round undervalued?” Well, I’m here to tell you that he’s undervalued when he’s ranked outside of the top 20 outfields but produced like a top 15 outfielder last year. While Rosario’s 32 home runs only ranked 21st among outfielders last year, he accomplished this in 137 games. He’s on a loaded Twins offense where he scored 91 runs last year with 109 RBI. I know there are some concerns about his second-half decline that came after an ankle injury in the middle of the season. He posted solid xSLG, XWOBA and xWOBACON numbers, while also producing solid contact (over 80% Z-Contact% and Contact%) with a decent SwStr% of 11.7%. If you pass on an outfielder in your first couple rounds, you should be able to land Rosario.
Eduardo Escobar, 2B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks (ADP 110.0)
This is an interesting situation because second base is not a deep position this year, yet Eduardo Escobar currently has the 13th ADP of all players eligible at that position. His ADP is climbing though because a few weeks ago he was going about 20 spots lower than he is now. Still, he’s being drafted below guys like Moustakas, McNeil, and Moncada, while his projections currently have him scoring the 6th most points at that position. I would issue a strong caveat here that people seem to be catching on and that Escobar is not guaranteed to last until the 9th o 10th round as his ADP suggests. However, if you find your league-mates drafting some of the guys ahead of him you should feel comfortable taking Eduardo when his time comes up.
Yuli Gurriel, 1B/3B Houston Astros (ADP 132)
Yuli Gurriel is an interesting case because of the fact that he’s 35 years old, but he’s only been in the league for a few years after having defected from Cuba. There are several ways you can go in your draft at first base, including points league legend Carlos Santana (who has a similar ADP of 132) but I’m going to talk about Gurriel here because he’s provided similar value to points leagues since coming to the majors. 2019 was his best season as he finished with 31 home runs, 81 runs, 104 RBI while having a minuscule 10.6% K% and 132 wRC+. This led to him being a top-scoring first baseman for points leagues last year, and given that he has third base eligibility as well, he’s a great value pick at this point in the draft.
Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals (ADP 185.0)
Shortstop is one of those positions that is easy to make a mistake on in points leagues. Once you get past the top tier likes of Lindor, Bregman, and Story, there comes a bunch of players who don’t generate a lot of power and mostly provide fantasy value because of their speed. Now, if you are in a points league that assigns a lot of points for steals, then, by all means, target a player early on who steals bases. I’m assuming your league does not do that, so if you cannot snag one of those top SS, then you can wait on a guy like Paul DeJong. He’s currently ranked as the 21st shortstop on FantasyPros, while his production places him in the top 15 at the position for points leagues. He’s the opposite of some of the shortstops who might be more popular in other formats because, while he does not steal many bases (only 9 last season), he has power and scores a lot of runs (30 home runs, 97 runs, .211 ISO). This is a player who can provide you with that late-round value in a points league lineup because of his power, and since you don’t have to worry about categories, he can be plugged right into your lineup as your shortstop (or middle infielder depending upon your league’s roster construction).
David Fletcher, 2B/3B/SS/OF, Los Angeles Angels (ADP 266)
I will just start this off by saying that Fletcher is one of my guys, and I think he has the potential to be a points league legend over the coming years. He brings a lot to the table when you consider his multi-positional eligibility, his runs scoring potential, his high contact / low strikeout profile, and his position atop the Angels lineup. Now, Fletcher does not bring much to the table in terms of power (only 7 career home runs with a 0.92 career ISO) but his ability to generate contact and turn that into hits is superb. He ranked in the 96th percentile of xAVG, while his 91.1 Contact%, 96.1 Z-Contact% and 3.2 SwStr% all led the entire league. If he continues to make contact at this rate while getting on base at the top of that Angels lineup, he could very well score over 100 runs this year. Also, consider that he will be playing every day even if it is in a utility role as his defense is good enough (94th percentile in Outs Above Average) to keep him in the lineup. He’s a guy you can take at the very end of your draft and plug into a number of positions. Players like Fletcher, who can get on base at the top of a lineup and score runs, are indispensable in points leagues.
While I did not highlight any catchers, this is a position I suggest waiting on regardless of your fantasy format. Guys like Carson Kelly, Wilson Ramos, and even Yadier Molina (all ADPs over 170) can provide you with enough at the position that you can target other needs earlier in the draft. Carefully review your league’s settings to ensure you are not targeting the wrong players in your format. What I like about points is that you should be able to generate productivity from a number of different positions and find value throughout.
These are just a few suggestions, as there are many players who fit similar profiles that can help you fill out your points league lineup.
Photos by Bryan Singer & John Adams/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)