When it comes to fantasy baseball, the outfield position can be tough to navigate in drafts.
Depending on your league rules, upward of 10 outfielders could be taken in the first two rounds, with the next 10 coming off the board by the end of the fifth. If you are in a league that starts just three outfielders, then no problem, but if you start five and also have a utility spot to fill, attacking the position early is recommended.
Does that mean you can’t find quality outfield help later in your drafts? Of course not. In fact, there are a couple of strong power hitters who aren’t getting the respect they deserve and can be drafted at major discounts.
Though his fantasy baseball ADP has climbed a few rounds recently, Phillies outfielder Nick Castellanos is still a major bargain in the 10th round. It is easy to see why the casual fantasy player routinely overlooks Castellanos: He had a .263 average and just 13 home runs last year in Philadelphia after he clubbed 34 homers the year before in Cincinnati. But he also hit just 14 home runs in a shortened 2020 season, so his three-year averages don’t look great.
Those numbers don’t tell the full story of Castellanos’ development as a hitter, though, nor do they acknowledge the struggles of being traded in 2019, signing with a new team in 2020 then joining another new team in 2022.
Baseball players are creatures of habit, so playing for four different teams over a five-year span can be difficult. When analyzing his numbers, the focus should be on his growth as a hitter in Detroit and how he bounced back in 2021, his second full year with the Reds. Using those trends as a guide allows us to expect a similar bounce-back for him in his second year with the Phillies.
With a similar ADP, you can also look for Rockies outfielder Kris Bryant to return to form as well. Plagued by back and shoulder issues throughout 2022, Bryant struggled in his first full season in Colorado. Now fully healthy, Bryant is batting .333 with three home runs during spring training and will benefit from playing half his games at Coors Field. Just one season removed from a 25-homer campaign, he is primed for a major comeback this season.
The talent level among outfielders is tremendous, so drafting them early is a solid strategy. But you don’t have to pass up quality at other spots just to fill out the position. There is depth throughout, and though you don’t want to wait too long, having guys like Castellanos and Bryant available in the middle rounds should make drafting the position easier.
Howard Bender is the head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.