2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Atlanta Braves

Here are fantasy baseball sleepers and busts from the Atlanta Braves

With teams as good as the Braves, it can be difficult to find busts because of how ridiculous the lineup is. The Braves could perhaps have the best hitter and pitcher in baseball, not just in 2024, but for the next several years, in Ronald Acuña Jr. and Spencer Strider. Offensive powerhouses like Matt Olson, Austin Riley, and Ozzie Albies also appear in the top 30 in early drafts. After a rough start to the season, Michael Harris is also worthy of top 50 consideration with his second near 20/20 season in the books.

The Braves have some work to do with their pitching staff, though, as they are top-heavy with three clear starters in Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Strider. They may have to rely heavily on young pitchers like Bryce Elder and AJ Smith-Shawver if they don’t acquire another more experienced arm. With perennial playoff teams, it can be difficult to identify sleepers and busts, but below you will find a few for the Atlanta Braves:




Marcell Ozuna


2023 stats (592 PA): .274 AVG, 84 R, 40 HR, 100 RBI, 0 SB

I know, it’s crazy to consider a batter who hit 40 bombs with a .274 AVG last season as a sleeper for this season, but he does qualify as a sleeper. He has a current ADP of 152 in NFBC leagues, likely because of his limitations as a DH or UT only eligible player. Despite that, he should be considered much higher in drafts.

For the second time in his career, Ozuna surpassed the 30 home run mark, improving on his previous best of 37 homers in 2017. He also posted his best batting average since 2018 (not including 2020), and the most runs and RBI since his career year in 2017. While some elements of his season may seem fluky, Ozuna has clearly shown he has the ability to hit, and will once again likely hit in the top two thirds of a potent lineup, with plenty of opportunities to produce.

Not only did Ozuna have an excellent season, he improved as the season went on, and improved in key areas as well. According to our PLV data, the power was legit:

This was not just legit power, but elite power. He was fourth among all qualified hitters in barrel rate at 16%, and 21st in HardHit rate at 49%. He had a solid 43% pull rate and a 19% line drive rate, which also support his improvements to BABIP and AVG from the last few years. He likely will regress some in home runs in 2024, thanks to a 24% HR/FB rate that was the second highest of his career and 7% higher than his career norm. Even with some of the best hard contact data of his career, a HR/FB rate that high is a little out of the ordinary for Ozuna.

Ozuna also made strides in contact ability this season. He improved his strikeout rate, chase rate, and contact rate from last season. He also improved his contact over the course of the season:

He was less aggressive last season than in 2022, and it appears to have helped him get closer to some of his career norms in plate discipline.

Even if Ozuna is a DH or UT only player in 2024, he should be in consideration as a top-100 pick. And if you get him outside of the top 100, like at his current ADP, you should be happy because you just got a steal.


Bryce Elder


2023 stats (174.2 IP): 3.81 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 128 K, 12 W

Fantasy managers are not buying Bryce Elder’s 2023, as he carries a 495 ADP in early NFBC drafts. This could lead to Elder being an excellent pitching sleeper in 2024.

Part of the reason fantasy managers may be skeptical about Elder is his lack of strikeouts. He had just a 6.6 K/9 rate last season, which is two strikeouts per nine innings fewer than league average. On the flipside, Elder was better than league average in walks per nine (BB/9), left on base (LOB) rate, groundball (GB) rate, ERA, and chase rate.

In fact, Elder possessed the 23rd best LOB rate among all qualified starting pitchers at 74.4%, and the fourth best GB rate at 49.9%. And while he did allow a lot of contact, he allowed the fourth lowest barrel rate among qualified starters at 6%. Much of the reason for his success at inducing ground balls and soft contact is thanks to his pitch mix.

Elder relied heavily on his sinker and slider, tossing them each around 35% of the time, while utilizing his fastball and changeup about 13% of the time each. His slider was arguably his best pitch, with a .210 batting average against, a 33% whiff rate, and a 19% putaway rate. Here is a look at it:

Elder pitches for one of the best teams in baseball, so he is likely to continue to pick up wins. He also goes deep into games, reaching at least six innings in 18 of 31 games last season, so he carries value in fantasy leagues that score quality starts.

Elder should be viewed as a steal for anyone picking him up after pick 500.




Atlanta is such a good team, it is difficult to find busts. These are a few players who are likely not to return value based on their current ADP.


Jarred Kelenic


2023 stats (416PA): .253 AVG, 44 R, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 13 SB

Will Jarred Kelenic ever live up to the hype surrounding him since his prospect days? He looked like he might do just that during March and April. He slammed seven home runs, had five steals, and batted .308. But after looking good in the early months, he hit just one home run in May, marking his final homer of the season. His production dropped off significantly as the season went on. Just take a look at his Hitter Performance:

Not only was his performance significantly below league average, it dropped off a cliff towards the middle of the season.

A major issue for Kelenic is his propensity to strike out. He had 31% strikeout rate and a 31% chase rate, with just a 69% contact rate. He simply does not make contact with the ball enough to warrant a top-250 ADP. Steamer projects Starling Marte, Jack Suwinski, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Whit Merrifield, Leody Taveras to all outproduce Kelenic in at least three roto categories. But each of those players is currently being drafted after Kelenic.

Additionally, the Mariners traded Kelenic to the Braves where he likely will have to compete for playing time. Kelenic has simply not lived up to the hype and should not be a top-250 pick.


Max Fried


2023 stats (77 IP): 2.55 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 80 K, 8 W

This is where I have to stretch the term bust. Do I think Max Fried will perform poorly? No. But his current ADP is 67, making him the 17th pitcher off the board. I think he should be outside of the top-20, and potentially the top-25. He missed significant time last season due to hamstring, forearm, and finger injuries, limiting him to 77 innings. That could result in a low pitch count for him in 2024.

Fried’s 9.2 K/9 rate was his highest since 2019, his 82% LOB rate was a career best, and his 57% GB rate was the second best of his career. The issue is that those all came in a small sample size. They were all well above his career averages, which suggests that they may have regressed with more playing time.

Fried’s 2.55 ERA was also much better than his 3.10 xFIP and 3.38 SIERA. Our PLA data backs up the notion that his ERA should have regressed over the season as well:

Here is a little blind projection for you based on Steamer projections:

Player A: 185 IP, 8.6 K/9, 3.57 ERA

Player B: 184 IP, 8.7 K/9, 3.61 ERA

Player A is Max Fried and Player B is Zach Eflin. Eflin’s current ADP is 92, making him the 26th SP drafted, which is closer to where I would take Fried.

Taylor Tarter

Taylor is a fantasy baseball champion that has been playing for over a decade. Tune into his podcast, Fastball Fantasy Baseball, every Wednesday for in depth analysis making sabermetrics friendly to the everyday fantasy player.

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