If you’ve played both rotisserie and points leagues fantasy baseball, you know there are some wild differences between the two. These formats, while seeking the same results, value players in very different ways. In points leagues, your goal is to maximize the players who can add points to your team while minimizing those who will more frequently take points away. Today we’ll try to exploit these differences and identify a few points league sleepers for the coming season.
Most notably, you aren’t getting negative points for anything in roto leagues if your hitters go 0-for-12 with 12 strikeouts one day. You might lose some batting average standings, but in a points league, you are going to likely lose 12 points, depending on your format.
Knowing that we are seeking to avoid players who could diminish the gains we make on our offensive rosters, who are some late points-league sleepers who can help us avoid the Joey-Gall0-sized pitfalls that exist in drafts?
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
Points League Sleepers for 2023 Fantasy Baseball
All average draft position (ADP) numbers are taken from the latest Fantrax draft ADP updates. This list will look at players currently going later than Round 10 in 12-team points leagues. Also, be sure to check out our points league player rankings which rank more than 1,000 players in that format.
Matt Chapman, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (ADP 130.1)
Never say never, but it seems unlikely that we will ever get another 36-homer, 102-RBI season again as we did from Matt Chapman in 2019. In back-to-back seasons Chapman has 27 homers and RBIs in the mid-70s each year. Hitting in the bottom half of the Blue Jays lineup will likely suppress major RBI chances and counting stats, but it still provides an opportunity to rack up fantasy points.
I’m sure Chapman was happy to leave many parts of his Oakland career behind when he came to Toronto in 2022, but one of the things he brought with him was a strong walk rate. He now has back-to-back seasons with a walk rate over 11% and he managed to cut his strikeout rate below 30% for the first time since 2019. In a potent lineup like the Blue Jays, Chapman should continue to get plenty of plate appearances which leads to runs, RBI chances, and base hits. He had 55 extra-base hits in 2022 which propelled him up the charts in points leagues last season.
If you choose to wait on third base this year, Chapman is a steal in the tenth round of a points league draft.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets (ADP 131.9)
Speaking of high walk rates (which is like gold in points league currency), Nimmo has a BB% over 10.5% for six straight seasons and he had the lowest strikeout rate of his career in 2022 (17.2%). After all the turmoil of the Met’s offseason spending spree, Nimmo ends up right where he left off last year: at the top of the Met’s batting order.
With his keen eye and elite contact ability (almost 83% contact rate in the zone), Nimmo is the perfect table setter for a super-charged offense like the Mets have this year. He set a career-high in runs last year with 102 and he has just enough pop (16 homers) and speed (three steals) to easily outpace his ADP near 132 this offseason. Just keep praying to the points league health gods that Nimmo can give us another 150 games again like he did in 2022 and he’ll be one of the best points league sleepers for 2023.
Ian Happ, OF, Chicago Cubs (ADP 137.5)
Ian Happ will probably not have a fifth straight year of increased plate appearances after a career-high 641 last season, but the Cubs’ outfielder does seem to keep improving every year, culminating in his best year ever at the plate in 2022. His walk rate was above 9% for the sixth straight season, and he struck out a career-low 23% of the time. That combination is exactly what you need in points leagues, especially with a player who will bat third in the order of an improved offense.
Happ also set career-highs in runs, RBI, and steals last season and now gets new addition Dansby Swanson batting directly in front of him, according to Roster Resource. And while all those things working in his favor in points leagues, it’s his batting eye that will keep outpacing this ADP in those formats. He had his best contact rate and his lowest swinging strike rate of his career in 2022 and is now primed at age 29 to keep building on those tremendous gains.
For the overall package, there is no outfielder I am targeting more in this range than Happ for my points leagues.
Josh Bell, 1B, Cleveland Guardians (ADP 187.6)
If Josh Bell is ever going to have another run production season that rivals his breakout 2019 season, this year should be it. Likely batting behind on-base machines Steven Kwan, Amed Rosario, and Jose Ramirez, Bell is going to see plenty of people on base ahead of him, which means plenty of pitches to hit.
He is now in the perfect spot for a player who has been approaching a 1:1 BB/K ratio for a number of years. Last season’s 12.5% walk rate and 15.8% strikeout rate were among the best of his career and that allowd him to finish right at the top 20 overall in on base percentage. Add in the fact that Progressive Field is a large park upgrade over Petco Park, and Bell is certainly worth a late-round dart this season.
Ketel Marte, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks (ADP 200.8)
Marte is one of my favorite players to target for a bounce-back season in all formats and is a second baseman/middle-infielder I am targeting in as many drafts as I can. Marte had an uncharacteristically low .276 batting average on balls in play last year which led to a low .240 average. His walk rate was still 10%, his strikeout rate was below 20% so it seems he was just supremely unlucky.
Marte’s launch angel was the highest of his career, his average exit velocity was the second-best of his eight seasons, and he set a career-low with a 42% ground ball rate. All of this was done without losing his sharp batting eye, a key measurable for points leagues. His contact rate in the zone was an elite 86.3% and his swinging strike rate was under nine percent for the eighth straight year.
Now protected by hotshots rookies Corbin Carroll and Jake McCarthy on both sides of the lineup, this has the makings of a bounce-back season for Marte at a severely discounted price.
Yandy Diaz, 1B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays (ADP 236)
Anyone waiting for Yandy Diaz and his massive biceps to mash 25 home runs one season will likely be disappointed. His swing and contact levels just aren’t designed for that type of batted ball profile. He is much more of a line drive/ground ball hitter than a fly ball guy and his career launch angle is just five degrees.
What Diaz does do, however, is get on base and avoid strikeouts perhaps better than anyone this side of peak Joey Votto. Diaz was one of only four players last season to have a higher walk rate than strikeout rate (Juan Soto, Alex Bregman, and Alejandro Kirk were the others). His .401 OBP was fifth-best in the league and over almost 600 plate appearances. That is points league gold for someone who goes in the 18th-20th round in 12-team leagues.
With first and third base eligibility, he is a steal this late in drafts.
Who are your favorite points league sleepers for the coming season? Drop some names in the comments below. For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!