When preparing for your fantasy drafts, I recommend that every Fake Teams reader should make a mental note, or a written note, of players they want to target in their drafts. It doesn't matter if your participate in a redraft league or an auction league, make sure you make a list of 10-12 players you want to target in your drafts, because more than likely you will only get one or two of them.
Now my list of targets may not match yours, but these are guys I am targeting in 2013 drafts, along with where you should t:arget them in 12 team, 5 x 5 leagues):
Justin Upton, ATL (late 1st, early 2nd rd.)
Some owners are reluctant to draft Upton, but he is currently being drafted in the first round of many mixed league drafts, and currently has an ADP of 10.84 according to Mock Draft Central. Some say he had a disappointing 2012 season. I agree. To a point. He still hit around .280, scored over 100 runs and stole 18 bases. The thumb injury he suffered early in the 2012 season resulted in a drop in power. Some owners focus on what players did last year and assume they will perform at the same level this season. We are all guilty of it, but some guys you just know they are better than what they showed last season. That defines Justin Upton in 2013.
Aramis Ramirez, MIL (late 5th, early 6th rd.)
He is currently nursing a knee injury, but Ramirez is one of the more underrated fantasy third baseman in baseball. When he is healthy, he is as good as any third baseman in the game. In fact, he has put up at least 25 home runs and 83 RBI in 9 of the last 10 seasons. That's consistency.
Jay Bruce, CIN (late 2nd, early 3rd rd.)
Bruce turns 26 years of age in early April, so he has yet to enter his peak years. Nonetheless, he already has two 30 HR seasons under his belt, and has seen his HR totals increase in each of the last four seasons. I am on record as projecting that Bruce will come close to hitting 40 home runs this season, and with a healthy Votto and a new leadoff hitting in Shin-Soo Choo, we should see the RBI total exceed 100 this season.
Yoenis Cespedes, OAK (late 2nd rd.)
I like Cespedes so much this season, that I traded a $10 Jesus Montero and a second round MiLB pick for a $22 Cespedes in my AL-only keeper league this offseason. Cespedes struggled a bit in the first two months of the 2012 season, but never hit below .261 in any of the final four months of the season, hitting .340 or better in June and July. His strikeout rate dropped as the season grew older, and I think we could see him put up a 30 home run, 20 stolen base season in 2013.
Ryan Zimmerman, WAS (early 3rd rd.)
Zimmerman is certainly is not a picture of health, as he he missed a significant amount of time in two of the last five seasons, and missed time last season due to shoulder which required surgery this offseason. He struggled in the first half of the 2012 season, hitting just .243 with 8 HRs and 40 RBI. He received a cortisone shot right around the All Star break, and went on to hit .319 with 17 HRs and 55 RBI in the second half. His shoulder is now healthy, and he has shown this spring that his bat is fine. I see a 30 HR, 100 RBI season from him in 2013 hitting in one of the best lineups in baseball.
Matt Wieters, BAL (6th rd.)
One of these years, Wieters is going to put up a monster season, and I will continue to drive that train till he does. Like Bruce, we have seen his home run and RBI totals increase in each of the last three seasons, so the power has not peaked, so there is a 30 HR season in his bat, in my opinion. His HR/FB rate is on the rise, so a few more fly balls off his bat could result in him reaching the 30 HR level this season.
Eric Hosmer, KC (7th rd.)
Hosmer had a horrific season at the plate in 2012, there is no question about it. The hype that we, as fantasy writers, put on him after his excellent rookie season did not end well for his owners last season. Hosmer is a better hitter than he showed last season, and I don't see him duplicating his .255 BABIP in 2013. I see him improving across the board this season, but am concerned that he doesn't hit enough fly balls to be a regular 25 HR hitter. I see him hitting 20-25 HRs, with 90 RBI, a .290ish BA and 20 stolen bases this season. A 20-20 season from a first baseman doesn't happen too often.
Alex Gordon, KC (6th rd.)
I drafted Gordon in the 5th round of the Tout Wars mixed league on Monday night. Maybe that was a round or two too early, but in a 15 team, 5 x 5 league, I felt he provided solid contributions across the five hitting categories to grab him there. He had a breakout season two years ago, and all of his numbers fell off last season. I see them returning in 2013, and see him hitting .290 with close to 100 runs scored, 20 HRs, 80 RBI, and 15 stolen bases.
Ryan Howard, PHI (late 6th, early 7th rd.)
Howard's power has dropped off over the last three seasons, but when you are hitting 45+ home runs per season, any drop will look bad. He won't hit 40 home runs again, but I do see him hitting 30 homers and driving in over 100 runs in 2013. The batting average may be lower than league average, but consider this: there were only 12 hitters who hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs last season. Twelve.
Ike Davis, NYM (7th rd.)
I wrote about Davis earlier this offseason here, and my thoughts haven't changed. Davis could turn into an elite power hitter if he can build on his performance over the last four months of the 2012 season. 40 home runs may seem unrealistic, but he has the power to reach that level some day.
Now, none of these hitters are late round value type hitters, but they all have their detractors for one reason or another. I see each of these hitters providing solid production for fantasy owners this season.
I will profile ten hitters I am avoiding on Thursday.