Fresh off winning his first AL MVP, 2B Jose Altuve continues his impressive run as a fantasy superstar. He's a true five-category threat after hitting 24 home runs for the second consecutive season, stealing 30 or more bases for the sixth straight campaign, and also winning the batting title.
If not for a thumb injury, SS Carlos Correa was on his way to having the breakout campaign expected of him. In only 109 games, he smashed 24 home runs while hitting .315. The power didn't immediately return, but he still hit .299 after being activated. You can't go wrong with him as your shortstop.
Is OF George Springer - GASP - underrated? He could still be on the board late in the third round of standard drafts, but all he does is hit. Despite being the Astros' leadoff hitter, Springer drove in 85 runs in 140 games thanks in large part to his 34 homers.
Is this the time to pounce on 3B Alex Bregman? He came alive in the second half of 2017, hitting .315 with 11 of his 19 home runs with 44 RBIs to boot. One bonus from Correa's injury is Bregman should retain SS eligibility. He's being drafted 33rd overall, however, so he's on plenty of radars.
When looking for a catcher, the Astros present an uneven target. They hit plenty of long balls from the position, but they mostly split the duties between Brian McCann and Evan Gattis. Consider handcuffing the pair in two-catcher leagues to take advantage of their combined 30 home runs.
How good was SP Justin Verlander after coming to Houston? He went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 34 innings after a late-season trade. Likely due to that superhuman stretch, he's being taken as the 11th starting pitcher with the 40th pick overall. You won't be able to wait on him.
SP Gerrit Cole's numbers have left a lot to be desired of late. In two seasons since going 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA, he has a losing record (19-22) with a 4.12 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. One positive to glean is that he successfully navigated 203 innings, making it seem like he's past his injury woes.
Don't focus on how CL Ken Giles performed in the postseason (poorly), focus on what he did between April and September. He allowed fewer hits in 2017, and reduced his walk rate slightly, to be an overall more effective pitcher than he'd been earlier in his career.
Los Angeles Angels
OF Mike Trout will go first overall in your draft. And even in an injury-interrupted 2017, he posted ungodly numbers with 33 home runs and a .306 batting average. After stealing only 27 bases between 2014 and 2015, the speed element appears to be back, having swiped 52 bags over the last two seasons.
All OF Justin Upton does is hit. The only blip in his game came in his first, and only full campaign with the Detroit Tigers when he hit .246, and he still blasted 31 homers. Well, Upton hit a career-high 35 long balls in 2017 and will have a full season hitting behind Trout.
2B Ian Kinsler is being drafted just inside the top 200, and could be a bargain. He had a rough 2017, batting .236/.313/.412, but the Tigers struggled as a unit from top to bottom. He's in a much better situation with the Angels, and despite his struggles, he hit 22 home runs. He also stole double-digit bases (14) for the 12th straight season.
SS Andrelton Simmons has long been seen as a glove-first player who's unremarkable at the dish. After two seasons with the Angels, he's hit .280 with 18 home runs. He hit 14 of those long balls in 2017, the first time he reached double digits since 2013.
SS Zack Cozart was signed to play the hot corner, but he'll kick the season off as a shortstop in fantasy. His eventual 3B eligibility provides a little extra flexibility. He's coming off a career season when he hit .297 with 24 home runs in only 122 games.
SP Garrett Richards decided against Tommy John surgery, and tossed only 27 2/3 innings anyway. He did fine during the small sample size (2.28 ERA), but his inability to stay healthy has pushed him to the cusp of draftability.
SP/DH Shohei Ohtani is an enigmatic fantasy presence. In some formats, he's being split into two players (a pitcher and a hitter), while in others he's a hybrid allowing you to choose where to use him. His fantasy value will most heavily be tied to his pitching, as he won't be an everyday hitter. During five seasons in Japan, he posted a 10.3 K/9 over 543 innings. If he channels that, he'll be worth his ADP.
SP Tyler Skaggs is a pitcher to keep an eye on. With the Angels bringing in a vaunted offense, run support shouldn't be an issue, and if Skaggs can stay healthy, he has swing-and-miss stuff, posting a 8.4 K/9 over the last two seasons. Treat Skaggs as a streaming option to start the season, and hold onto him if he blossoms to his potential.
OF Khris Davis has hit 85 home runs in his first two seasons with the A's. Only Giancarlo Stanton (86) has hit more. Despite O.co being perceived as a pitcher's paradise, 45 of his dingers have come in Oakland's home park. His power can't be contained, and yet he's not being drafted until 70th overall.
Speaking of unhinged power, 1B Matt Olson smashed 24 home runs in only 59 games between a couple stints in the bigs. He performed an even split, with 12 coming at home and 12 away from home. One bit of concern is that he hit only .196 against left-handers. His ADP of 124 is more than reasonable, provided he continues his upward momentum.
3B Matt Chapman is another member of the A's small sample size brigade. In 84 games, he hit 14 home runs. He'll get the opportunity to start after the team traded Ryon Healy to the Mariners. Take a late-round flier on him, but don't anticipate an immediate run toward being your starting third baseman.
OF Stephen Piscotty failed to build on his promising first full campaign when he hit .273 with 22 home runs and 85 RBIs over 153 games in 2016. Injuries were the primary culprit for his downturn, because he did make strides in plate discipline, nearly doubling his walk rate from the year before while seeing his BABIP shrink. Positive regression could be in the cards as he enters 2018 as a post-hype sleeper.
If you're looking for a last-second infielder in deep formats, 2B Jed Lowrie could be your man. He's unremarkable, but with a full season's at-bats can provide around 15 homers with a batting average that probably won't kill you. He's also likely to be left undrafted with his ADP of 427, so he may only be viable in leagues that have extra FLEX spots.
SP Sean Manaea has yet to find consistency, and is prone to the odd implosion on the mound. Over six of his last seven starts, he allowed only nine earned runs in 35 1/3 innings. Problem was he allowed seven in the other start.
Truth be told, the rest of the rotation leaves a lot to be desired. SP Kendall Graveman is probably the de facto ace, but he hardly strikes batters out (career 5.66 K/9) and relies on his defense to bail him out.
CL Blake Treinen was a far different pitcher in Oakland after being acquired from the Washington Nationals. In 38 innings, he recorded 42 strikeouts and posted a 2.13 ERA while closing out 13 saves in the process.
When will UT Nelson Cruz stop hitting big home runs? He was one long ball away from blasting 40 in four consecutive years. Eventually, the power will (presumably) dry up, but until it does you can doubt him at your own risk, especially as his ADP has him slated to go around Round 5 in standard formats.
2B Robinson Cano hit only .280 in 2017, the second-worst mark of his career. If that's his floor, he's among the elite at the position. His power fluctuates, but he's been a top hitter at the keystone for 12 years, and it's not ending yet.
3B Kyle Seager was perceived as a colossal disappointment, but it's almost entirely linked to his cratering batting average. Other than batting .249, he still hit 27 home runs, 88 RBIs, and 72 runs scored - all in the vicinity of his career averages. He did produce a career-worst .262 BABIP, which could spell rebound in 2018.
SS Jean Segura had a fine debut with the Mariners, batting .300 while scoring 80 runs and swiping 20 bases. If he stays healthy, he should provide more of the same as he's stolen at least 20 bases in five straight seasons, explaining his seemingly inflated ADP of 78.
OF Dee Gordon will contribute in the steals department as well, and he'll be eligible for second base since it'll be his first foray in the outfield. This flexibility should make him appealing as he stole 60 bags for the second time last year, which helps explain why he boasts an ADP of 28 - as that's just how scarce stolen bases get.
It's probably time to get used to the idea of SP Felix Hernandez being a mediocre pitcher, at best. He was injured for much of last season, making only 16 starts, and posting a 4.36 ERA. His 22.4 percent HR/FB rate was the highest of his career. Fortunately, you no longer have to reach. With an ADP of 285, the King can be snagged for a pittance.
SP James Paxton finished 10th among starting pitchers in WAR despite throwing only 136 innings. He was electric. He went 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA and a 10.32 K/9. His inability to stay healthy made Paxton one of the most infuriating players to rely on.
CL Edwin Diaz was erratic in his sophomore season, posting a 3.27 ERA while issuing more frequent walks and fewer strikeouts than in 2016.
3B Adrian Beltre is immortal. Even though he only appeared in 94 games (first time since 1998 that he didn't play more than 100), he was as tough an out as ever. He swatted 17 homers with 71 RBIs while hitting .312.
Before 2017, SS Elvis Andrus had never hit double-digit home runs in a season. He hit 20 last year, also scoring 100 runs for the first time. He stole 25 bases and generally didn't have a hole in his game. The question is whether he's found a new normal, or that will be his outlier.
1B/3B Joey Gallo would be far more valuable in a league favoring OBP. Despite hitting a paltry .209, he still drew a walk in 14.1 percent of plate appearances. With his 41 home runs, he was essentially a lower-rent Aaron Judge because of his inefficiency in making consistent contact.
Through two seasons, OF Nomar Mazara has established a fairly high floor of production, hitting 20 homers in each year. He hasn't shown an explosiveness that should cause you to reach, but his ADP of 157 suggests you won't have to rush.
2B Rougned Odor hit only .204 in 2017. As horrendous as that is, he still hit 30 home runs, stole 15 bases, scored 79 runs, and drove in 75. If he can find a middle ground for his batting average, he'll easily return mid-round value.
SP Cole Hamels failed to pitch 200 innings for the first time since 2009 in 2017 and suffered his worst season in a long time because of it. His 6.39 K/9 was a career-low and his 4.20 ERA was his second-worst mark, resulting in his ADP plummeting to 235. Hamels is a prime bounce-back candidate.
SP Matt Moore is coming off a disastrous season where he went 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA while starting his home games at what's supposed to be one of the more favorable locations for pitchers in AT&T Park. Globe Life is not nearly as friendly.
SP Matt Bush is apparently joining the rotation. As one of the Rangers' late-inning options, he recorded 10 saves while striking out close to 10 batters per nine innings. Expect a dip in counting stats.