NL-Only Sleepers - Fantasy Baseball 2024 (2024)

NL-Only Sleepers - Fantasy Baseball 2024 (1)

No fantasy league is won in the draft, but they can be lost. That's even truer when it comes to NL-only leagues. They are incredibly challenging. They will really test your knowledge and fantasy skills. They could also cause you to question why you play this game! But that's just part of the fun.

The thinner player pool makes it even more vital to ensure you don't walk away from the draft with holes in your roster. Deficiencies in your roster will be even more difficult to fix in-season. To help you navigate things, we'll look at four NL players going in the mid to late rounds of fantasy drafts who could provide significantly more value than their Average Draft Position (ADP) suggests.

We'll be using the RotoBaller NL-Only rankings and the overall ADP on NFBC as a guide to where in the draft you will find the players being taken. Don't forget to keep up to date with all your preseason fantasy baseball needs by following RotoBaller on X. Without further ado, here are four value plays in NL-Only drafts.

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Masyn Winn - SS, St. Louis Cardinals

NL-only RotoBaller Ranking - 184
Overall ADP - 469

The fact that the Cardinals didn't sign a shortstop this offseason tells us they're looking at Winn to fill that role in 2024 and beyond. Both Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline have Winn as the No. 1 prospect in the Cardinals organization and a top-50 overall prospect. Yet, he doesn't seem to have the same hype as many others. That could be down to his struggles in the Majors last year following his August promotion.

In 37 games, Winn hit .172/.230/.238 with two home runs, 12 RBI, eight runs and two steals. The reason for his call-up and lofty status within the Cardinals farm system is largely down to his Minor League numbers. In 105 Triple-A games last year, Winn hit .288/.359/.474 with 18 HRs, 61 RBI, 99 runs, and 17 stolen bases.

Winn admitted that he may have been "pressing" following his promotion, which led to his struggles. That is a common theme with rookies trying to prove their talents on the biggest stage. While Oli Marmol hasn't declared Winn as the Opening Day shortstop, the Cardinals certainly expect that to be the case. It would take a pretty abject spring from Winn to not win the job.

Oli Marmol is excited to see what Masyn Winn can do this spring: "Our hope is that he goes out there and wins the (shortstop) job. It puts us in a really good position if that's the case." #STLCards

— Bally Sports Midwest (@BallySportsMW) February 14, 2024

Winn's got an elite arm and great speed. Even with some offensive struggles, Winn should be an asset defensively and a consistent threat to steal. Last year, Winn displayed more power than he had before. If that power carries into the Majors this year, Winn is a 20/20 threat. At the very least, double-digit HRs and 20 SBs are in play. That will see Winn outperform his current ADP and be a valuable middle-infielder in NL-only leagues.

LaMonte Wade Jr. - 1B/OF, San Francisco Giants

NL-only RotoBaller Ranking - 190
Overall ADP - 480

Wade Jr.'s numbers will not jump off the page at you. His projections aren't anything to get overly excited about. But he does tick two very important boxes when drafting in an NL-only league. Firstly, he'll hit in a prime spot in the lineup. Secondly, he's got multi-position eligibility. The fact the Giants aren't averse to playing Wade Jr. in the outfield and first base will also help give him more at-bats.

If we look at Wade Jr.'s numbers, his plate discipline is what stands out. In 135 games, Wade Jr. hit .256/.373/.417 with 17 HRs, 64 RBI, 45 runs, and two SBs. He had an 18.3 K% and 14.6 BB%, which is what led to the Giants hitting Wade Jr. in the leadoff spot in 99 games. We can see from his Baseball Savant page how good his plate discipline was. His expected numbers weren't too bad either.

NL-Only Sleepers - Fantasy Baseball 2024 (2)

Don't expect Wade Jr. to hit leadoff in 2024. Manager Bob Melvin has already stated that he'd be shocked if Jung Hoo Lee didn't start the season as the Giants table-setter. Wade Jr. is still expected to hit second or third in the order. If Lee is an on-base machine as the Giants expect, there are more RBI opportunities for Wade Jr. Adding Jorge Soler hitting behind him will certainly boost the number of runs Wade Jr. will score too.

Wade Jr. is only projected for 17 HRs (according to ATC) with 54 RBI and 61 runs (124 games). If Soler and Lee both perform as hoped and Wade Jr. plays the same number of games as last year, 20 HRs, 70 runs, and 70 RBI are all in play. In OBP leagues, Wade Jr. is even more valuable. But even in standard NL-Only leagues, he should have no problem outperforming a 20th-round pick, like his ADP suggests he is.

Aaron Ashby - SP, Milwaukee Brewers

NL-only RotoBaller Ranking - 203
Overall ADP - 528

Ashby could wind up as the biggest beneficiary of the Corbin Burnes trade. He's likely competing for a rotation spot with Jakob Junis, Colin Rea, and DL Hall (acquired from the Orioles in the Burnes trade). It wouldn't take much to earn a starting role for the Brewers, especially given the numbers he's put up for them in the past.

A shoulder issue limited Ashby to just 7.0 IP in the Minors last year. Before that, Ashby totaled 139.0 IP in 2021 and 2022 for the Brewers. He had a 5-12 W-L record, 4.47 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 126 Ks. Nothing special at all but his 3.24 xFIP and 3.41 SIERA have fantasy managers believing there are better times ahead for Ashby.

Ashby will need to show he can stay healthy and expecting more than 140.0 IP isn't reasonable. He will also need to improve his 9.7 BB% in the Majors if he is to have success. But there's enough in Ashby's profile to like and certainly worthwhile drafting in the late rounds of an NL-Only league. If he comes out of spring in the Brewers rotation, Ashby could be a prime breakout candidate.

Lyon Richardson - SP, Cincinnati Reds

NL-only RotoBaller Ranking - Unranked
Overall ADP - 750

Richardson missed the entirety of 2022 following Tommy John Surgery (TJS). He returned to the mound last year and made his MLB debut in August. Richardson started four games for the Reds in the final weeks of the season but didn't impress. In 16.2 IP, he had a 0-2 W-L record, 8.64 ERA, 1.92 WHIP, and 12 Ks. Richardson's -3.7% K:BB is most worrisome but control can take time to return following TJS.

Of course, that's a very small sample. If we look at his Minor League numbers, we'll get an idea of Richardson's potential. Across three levels in 2023, he made 24 starts with a 0-3 W-L record, 3.45 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 100 Ks (69.1 IP). Richardson's velocity was of much interest. Before TJS, his fastball sat in the low 90 MPH range and he was regarded as a control pitcher. Last year, it was in the mid to high 90s, and sat there during his MLB starts.

NL-Only Sleepers - Fantasy Baseball 2024 (3)

Given the Reds were very careful with Richardson in 2023, he will likely be limited to ~120.0 IP this year regardless of where he pitches. He'll also need things to go his way to make the Reds rotation on Opening Day. He's already on the 40-man roster so it's not inconceivable that a good spring sees him afforded that opportunity. If not, Richardson would make a nice stash as someone you can take in the final round of NL-only drafts.

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NL-Only Sleepers - Fantasy Baseball 2024 (2024)


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  1. Singles: 1 point.
  2. Doubles: 2 points.
  3. Triples: 3 points.
  4. Home Runs: 4 points.
  5. Runs: 1 point.
  6. Runs Batted In: 1 point.
  7. Walks: 1 point.
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Most leagues also allow for a reserve list of three to five players for a total roster size of 26 to 28 players. After you have determined the number of players you will start each week, your league also needs to determine who qualifies at a position.

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Sleeper is considering other sports for 2022 and beyond. We have received many requests for hockey, baseball, rugby, soccer, and others. Our goal is to eventually cover every game type for every sport, but we'll announce them one at a time as we make those decisions.

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If your League Manager (LM) has enabled Keepers in your league, a link for Keeper selection is displayed at the top of your Team page. Click on the link. The Keepers page will display the Keeper selection lock time, your league's draft date (if scheduled), and the maximum number of Keepers allowed.

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The best way to put yourself in position to get sufficient saves is to use two of your first 10 picks on closers. Many other drafters seem to agree with this approach too. Per ADP, 19 presumptive closers are among the first 150 picks.

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League Structure

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In Sleeper Picks, however, you begin drafting your team by selecting two to eight statistical player projections, comprised of at least two players from multiple teams. You must then predict whether each selected player will gain more or less than various projected performance metrics in the game.

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