Three Deep League Targets and Late Round Strategy

Mike Kurland Dives into the depths of the player pool to give you 3 names going outside the top 400 in ADP and gives a few helpful strategy tips.

Deep leagues are not for everyone. However, if you do decide to dabble into them it is important to be prepared. We will be discussing some of the strategies employed as you dip into the later rounds (focusing on picks beyond the top 400 of ADP) and then there will be three players to target in this range. My focus here are redraft leagues. Dynasty formats require a different process and that will be discussed at a future time. 

These helpful hints are in no particular order. 

Late Round Draft Strategy

The Do’s

  • Aim for At-Bats. The more at-bats the greater the production potential. Just remember playing time is king.
  • Target multi-positional eligibility. You can do this throughout the draft but if you can find a player who clearly has a role on a team late and is eligible at multiple positions it’s a cherry on top. 
  • Focus on team build. Do not just aimlessly take players late. You need to know what stats or position your roster is weakest in and make sure to fill said needs. Even in the late rounds, this is possible.
  • Innings later in drafts are easier to come by. You can afford to wait on pitching a little more because finding playing time for offensive players is tougher than innings late. 
  • Target talented relief pitchers that can earn saves on their respective teams. Relief pitchers tend to fly off the board. Some teams have questionable closer situations and if you bet on talent at the position late you might stumble into the eventual closer. This is more applicable to Draft Champions (draft and hold) formats. 
  • If you do target any prospects, target prospects with a clear path to playing time sooner than later and make sure they are in Triple-A. 

The Don’ts

  • Avoid prospects below Triple-A and limit overall exposure even to prospects at Triple-A. We all know Juan Soto made the leap. However, Juan Soto is the exception and not the rule. Most minor league players won’t pan out in their rookie season but players below Triple-A are less likely to even debut. 
  • Take too many risks. This falls in line with the first point listed. If you come away with too many situations thinking “if this happens” or “there is an outside chance of that happening” you are already behind those who drafted players they don’t have to ask those questions or say such statements. 
  • Don’t let ADP dictate your draft. Once you get later into drafts you have to be more willing to take your guy earlier than anticipated because ADP fluctuates more as you go and you never know how other managers value that same player. 
  • Don’t take a player just because they drop. If a player drops, there is typically a reason. If they were off your list before they should remain off of it. 

Now that we discussed a few tips for drafting the late rounds of deeper redraft formats, let’s dive into three names I target in these rounds. ADP data is from one month since this article was posted (12/14/2021).

1. Tony Kemp, 2B/OF, Oakland Athletics

ADP: 409 Min Pick: 244 Max Pick: 499

With Josh Harrison out of the picture among other players, Tony Kemp has an opportunity to lead off for the Athletics. He did lead off at times last season and even with just 397 plate appearances, he posted eight home runs and eight stolen bases with a triple slash of .279/.382/.418. The fact he walked more than he struck out and has walked at a double-digit clip in three of the last four seasons (posting at least a .351 OBP in said three seasons) suggests that leading off is a very real possibility.

The hit tool is a strength of his. He continues to post 90% or better Z-Contact rates while consistently posting better than league average O-Swing rates. Kemp has never posted an SwStr% above 7.6% at any MLB stop. It only proves he has a great eye for the ball and that should continue to translate to good plate discipline numbers and lend itself to a good batting average and on-base numbers.

Kemp also brings that multi-positional eligibility. He checks all the boxes for a late-round pick as the roster currently stands in Oakland. There is no reason to think that will change with rumors of selling off floating around. Plate appearances, good batting average, and speed going this late have value in deep leagues. 

2. Seth Brown, OF, Oakland Athletics

ADP: 498 Min pick: 297 Max Pick: 591

With the news of Matt Olson likely on his way out, there will be a spot at first base wide open for Brown. Not to mention the DH spot is already slated to be his. What should be a middle-of-the-order bat who offers big power upside, Brown is a perfect fallback for power late. Unfortunately, you’ll need to build for the batting average liability he brings with the big power. He has a career 28.9% strikeout rate and overall below-average contact rates. Again, this is a mix of playing time and power upside. In 2021 he posted:

  • Max Exit Velocity of 113.7 MPH (Top 10% of the league)
  • 13.9% barrel rate (he is consistent with the barrel rates)
  • Pulls the ball around 44% while hitting fly balls at a high rate ( career 47.8% fly-ball rate). This approach will sustain power production. 

Although he only has OF eligibility, he did play first base as recently as 2019. If Matt Olson is traded, that opens the door for playing time at first base and gaining first base eligibility. That would be icing on the cake.

3. Seth Beer, UT, Arizona Diamondbacks

ADP: 606 Min Pick: 213 Max Pick: 750

Seth Beer is a prospect but he did come up for a cup of coffee in 2021 and these are the prospects I will target late. His ADP is as late as it gets for someone who can fit in as a DH for the team on day one. The reason I am confident in the NL DH is that early indications suggest both sides want it and it is not a bargaining chip. 

Seth Beer has shown the ability to hit for decent averages in the minors. He has hit at least .262 at every stop except one. This has typically come with strong strikeout rates. He posts rates in the low 20’s and at times below 20%. The good plate discipline has come with double-digit home runs in multiple seasons. Beer is not flashy but the profile can be around a .250 hitter with close to 20 home runs. Beer has flashed a 21.6% line drive rate or better since 2019 and that should assist in the batting average department. Again, assuming the DH is here in 2022 there is a spot for Beer. Even if there is no DH, he should not be held back on a team that is going the route of a rebuild. 

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