Early Rankings Love for 2014

Justin K. Aller

Alex Kantecki highlights some players he likes more than others heading into 2014 fantasy drafts.

I've started preliminary rankings for the 2014 season -- hence my slight absence in the past week -- and I surprised myself with favorable rankings of players I've previously written off. This post is just an exercise to hit on some of the players I assume I like more than others heading into the new season.

Happy New Year! (Keep in mind, these are for 2014 ONLY.)

Catcher: Brian McCann, Yankees

McCann's move from Atlanta to New York is fantasy gold. He can grab extra at-bats at DH and the short porch in right should boost his home run total considerably. This offseason move is likely the most beneficial for fantasy purposes. Ray loves McCann in Yankee pinstripes, and I do too.

I prefer McCann over: Wilin Rosario, Matt Wieters

First base: Jose Abreu, White Sox

First base is once again deep, but the guy I keep coming back to is Abreu. There's significant risk in drafting a player with zero major league experience, but he has an 80-power tool and could lead your team in home runs. Ideally you can grab a first baseman a round or two earlier and then snag Abreu. He has big, BIG upside.

I prefer Abreu over: Billy Butler, Brandon Belt

Second base: Chase Utley, Phillies

Utley shouldn't fall past the top-10 second basemen, but there's a good chance he will. He failed to reach 20 home runs for the fourth consecutive season, but I'm optimistic he reaches the mark in 2014. He'll add 10 or so steals and should be a cheap option on draft day. Last season I liked Rickie Weeks over Utley. Never again.

I prefer Utley over: Aaron Hill, Ben Zobrist

Shortstop: Starlin Castro, Cubs

Call me a homer, but I still believe in Castro's skill set. I also believe the Cubs will let Castro be the aggressive hitter he once was, like when he collected 200 hits as a 21-year-old (!). Don't let him fall too far.

I prefer Castro over: Asdrubal Cabrera, Andrelton Simmons

Third base: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates

I am sad to say I owned zero shares of Alvarez in 2013, but I'm willing to budge on a low batting average if I can get elite power at the hot corner. That being said, I'm not going to overpay to acquire his services. A sixth rounder is about right.

I prefer Alvarez over: Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Donaldson

Outfield: Jay Bruce, Reds

I've said it before, but I prefer the consistency of Bruce to some of the higher upside guys. From 2011-2013, Bruce has a three-year average of 32 home runs, 87 runs and 101 RBIs. The only caveat is that he's a headache in head-to-head leagues. In rotisserie leagues, I'm all in.

I prefer Bruce over: Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Upton

Starting pitcher: Homer Bailey

Bailey was a trendy pick to break out in 2013 and -- if you ignore his 11-12 record -- he did exactly that, posting a 3.49 ERA (3.31 FIP; 3.34 xFIP) with 199 strikeouts in 209 innings. I expect Bailey to pass Mat Latos as the Reds best starting pitcher in 2014.

I prefer Bailey over: Mat Latos, Jordan Zimmermann

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Who do you like heading into the new season?

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