They say you can't win your fantasy league with your first round pick, but you can lose it. That may be partially true, but fantasy owners can win a league if you mid-late round picks outperform their draft round. In auction leagues, the late round picks are the "end game" picks. These are the guys you draft when you are "dollared out". The end game picks are the guys coming off injury, or a sub-par year, or a busted prospect, a backup infielder or outfielder, or a 4th or 5th starter, so they come cheap.
With all that in your mind, let's take a look at some of the better end game picks ($1-$2) in the LABR NL-only auction league draft from Sunday night.
Jeff Erickson, Rotowire
Alex Presley ($1) - the former darling of the NL draft last season, he never lived up to his preseason hype, but still owns speed skills. The downside is that he is part of a crowded outfield in Pittsburgh, one that includes starters Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Travis Snider, Jose Tabata and Presley. Now, Marte and Snider are the favorites to flank McCutchen, but neither are proven, and both could be on a short leash with Tabata and Presley behind them.
Chad Billingsley ($2) - Billingsley is battling a barking elbow, as he put off Tommy John surgery this offseason. Should he prove healthy, he is capable of winning 10+ games with a 3.50+ ERA.
Steve Moyer, defending NL-only league champ
Chris Capuano ($2) - Capuano doesn't have a starting job at the moment, but if Jeff's Dodger starter doesn't hold up, or if rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu doesn't perform up to expectations, Capuano has a good shot at returning to the Dodgers rotation. Last season, he won 12 games with a 3.72 ERA, so he can help fantasy rosters.
Dillon Gee ($4) - Gee is not a $1-2 end game pick, but he was close enough. I think Gee could be one of the best end game picks in this draft. Gee pitched better than his stats indicated in his 17 starts last season, and will look to improve upon his 2012 performance.
Derek Carty, DerekCarty.com
Eric Young ($9) - now Young wasn't a $1-2 pick, but I am going to guess that he was an end game selection and Derek just outbid another owner who has $8 left. Maybe. Anyway, Young may have a super-utility role in Colorado this season, and he could provide 25+ stolen bases if given 200 at bats.
Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton, Full Moon Sports
Roger Bernadina ($1) - Wolf and Colton full-mooned the rest of the LABR experts when they grabbed Nationals back up outfielder Roger Bernadina in the end game. Bernadina hit .291 and stole 15 bases in his 227 at bats last season, and should be a slam dunk for double digit steals again in 2013.
Brad Evans, Yahoo
Tyler Skaggs ($2) - Skaggs is one of the top pitching prospects in the game, and has a real shot at cracking the Diamondbacks starting rotation come Opening Day. Look past his cup of coffee last season, and take a look at what he accomplished at the higher levels in the minors to get a picture of what you can expect from Skaggs when he finally settles in as a major league starter.
Greg Ambrosius/Shawn Childs, NFBC
Devin Mesoraco ($2) - If Dusty Baker would ever give this guy a legitimate shot to be an every day catcher, Mesoraco could show off the power and hit tool he had on display back in 2011 in AAA. He has the potential to be a middle of the order hitter, but in the Reds stacked lineup, he would better fit in the 6 hole. He is hitting .385 with 2 HRs and 6 RBI in 13 spring at bats. so maybe he is ready to put his dismal 2012 performance behind him.
Bob Radomski, Sandlot Shrink
Jose Tabata ($2) - Tabata has fallen into a back up outfielder role in the Pirates outfield, but he could be the leadoff hitter the Pirates lineup so sorely needs. Tabata has the speed to steal 20+ bases, which represents excellent value for $1.
Doug Dennis, Baseball HQ
Mark Melancon ($1) - am I the only one who thinks Melancon will be closing in Pittsburgh before the season is over. I think new Pirates closer Jason Grilli, he of the 5 career saves, may not last long in the role, opening up the opportunity for Melancon.
Nate Ravitz, ESPN
Zack Wheeler ($2) - the Mets starting five includes two starters, Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum, who are no strangers to the DL, which presents Wheeler with an excellent shot at seeing time in the Mets rotation come early June. The Mets are in rebuild mode and will need Wheeler to keep the fans in the seats come the dog days of summer.
Gerrit Cole ($1) - Cole should follow Wheeler to the majors in 2013. Cole has the arsenal to be a #1 starter at his peak, but should provide fantasy owners with solid strikeout totals this season.
Lawr Michaels, Mastersball
Nathan Eovaldi ($1) - Eovaldi struggled in his 22 starts in Miami last season, but he still ended the season with a 4.30 ERA, which is not so bad when you consider Eovaldi is still only 23 years old. I see the strikeout rate improving in 2013, along with his ERA.
Eric Karabell, ESPN
Tony Campana ($1) - 11 of Karabell's 23 man roster were end game picks ($1-2) and maybe his best end game pick was Diamondbacks 5th outfielder Tony Campana. Consider this, in his 317 career major league at bats over the last two seasons, Campana has stolen 54 bases in 59 attempts. #GRIT
I will look at the best end game values in the LABR AL-only draft on Friday.