Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide For 2024 – Who To Draft & When

2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide & Rankings

Welcome to The Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for 2024. It’s my personal draft outline for who to draft and when for your 12-team fantasy baseball leagues.

In this guide, I’ll outline who I’m targeting in each round, which positions I’m focusing on getting early in the draft, and those on which to wait. All my favorite players are here in one place for each position, with a round-by-round cheat sheet at the end.

I’ve done this draft outline for years, and last season I added more to this already bloated article, turning it into a proper guide instead of just an outline, and I’ve kept a lot of it the same – think of this year’s guide as more of this year’s edition than a new piece.

Per usual, before we talk about the specific players, we really need to talk about draft philosophy — specifically 12-team standard league draft philosophy, but much of this also applies to other leagues. I’ve adapted many approaches and refined my strategy over the years, and I found it’s incredibly important to outline how you should navigate your draft at a macro level before we determine who should be on our radar at the micro level, round by round.

For additional resources, I want to direct everyone to our Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit For 2024. This is where you’ll get links to all our rankings, research articles, sleepers, busts, player breakdowns, all for freeIf you enjoy this and want to support this little company I started in 2014, consider subscribing to PL Pro, granting access to our incredible Discord, an Auction Draft Calculator, our 2024 Player Projections powered by PLV, and our Live Draft Assistant Tool.


Get 20% off PL Pro today with Promo Code DRAFTGUIDE24 – Sign Up Here.


Draft Strategies


There are many tenets of drafting I want to discuss, but if there is one that you take home with you it’s this:


You Are Not Drafting A Best Ball Team


I’ve hammered this point across articles and podcasts for years now and it’s for good reason. As we prepare for drafts, we’re overwhelmed with different rankings and projections, from a site awarding “most accurate experts” that are determined from their pre-season rankings and how they played through the entire season (Spoiler alert: Those are best ball rankings, not draft rankings!) to a collection of projections that make you feel comfortable grabbing a pitcher because “he’ll give me a 3.80 ERA” or a hitter on your bench that gives you just enough RBI or Runs to make his spot worthwhile.

This is all a lie.

I’m willing to bet that you won’t be rostering at least 30% of the team you drafted by June 1st. Go back and look at your drafts from previous seasons and you’ll quickly see how few picks panned out in the back half of your draft. You should be drafting in a way that not only expects this but plans around it from the start.

Think of yourself, the astute, smart, dashing fantasy manager. Let’s say it’s the 20th round, and you chose to draft Eduardo Rodriguez because the projections say he’s destined for a near 4.00 ERA and 1.25 WHIP this year. But then his first start is against the Dodgers and you can’t start him then. And then he’s holding a 4.00+ ERA in May, are you still holding him? Is it worth it?

The great news for you is that the waiver wire exists. You don’t have to keep rostering Rodriguez and you should have structured your draft with this in mind. This brings us to our next point:


Draft Preparing To Use The Waiver Wire


The waiver wire is a magical place. It’s where seasons are won, your next favorite player has a cozy abode, and it feels like the most glorious mall in America where you can constantly go shopping. I can hear many of you right now “But Nick, it’s so hard to find someone good on the wire!” and to all of you, I want to show you a pair of charts I’ve already featured many times this off-season:



And that’s not even including this rag-tag crew containing many pitchers you were able to grab at specific points of the season for legit value:



The Frizzle Method is the most important thing I can teach you: take chances, make mistakes, and get messy. In the back half of your drafts, don’t go after boring projection players so you can show your friends that the “draft projects me to win our league.” Those charts expect everyone to have the same players by the end of the year, and we all know that isn’t the case.

Nick, how am I supposed to know which pitcher’s to pick up and when? Well, don’t worry about that one, just read my daily SP Roundup articles that will come out early in the AM every single day of the season. It’s why I do it and you will be able to get many of these arms — you’ll only need 2-3 to win your league!

Now that we’ve established that you want to pick up arms off the waiver wire, it’s important that you draft accordingly. What this means, is you have to set yourself up for a sturdy floor, then feel comfortable taking chances.

The raw number of “foundational” pitchers I want to draft changes each year based on the pool of players and with a hefty amount of SP depth this season, I find myself drafting SP like this:

  • Draft three inside the Top 22 SP
  • Draft one “riskier” guy between 25-35 SP
  • Draft two more inside my Top 51 SP
  • Draft whoever falls in the final rounds that I’m feeling that day.

Once you have those 3-5 arms, take all the fun picks you like, just make sure that we can collectively decide on them early in April — there’s nothing worse than taking a starter late in your draft and realizing he has poor matchups early that make him sit on your bench. You might as well take something that can give you value in those early weeks.

So take your Kenta Maeda, Matthew Boyd, Kodai Senga, Alex Cobb, etc. Don’t feel like you need a ratio “rock” with your sixth starter — you already have five others! — and you’ll be able to find one of them on the wire if you really want one during the season.


This Is For Hitters, Too


This plan doesn’t apply just to pitchers. During the season, the two easiest positions to fill in your daily lineups are Outfield (especially in a standard 3 OF league!) and UTIL. That means as you traverse your draft, plan to leave at least one UTIL and one OF spot for the later rounds of the draft. Take a flier on each and plan to search the wire for that one batter who made the changes you like.

Lastly, I want to mention here to play to your personal strength. If you don’t have one, we have all the articles and AMAs to help through the year (come hang out when I’m livestreaming daily!), but if you’re better at finding hitting in-season, great! Draft accordingly to give yourself the ability to fill those holes.


Category Targets Are Great Guides, Not Rules


To ensure you’re not getting completely lost inside your draft, I highly recommend keeping tabs on the projected stat totals from your starting lineup and drafting players to help fill holes. It’s incredibly obvious, but without a proper target for each stat, the task is daunting and nebulous.

Instead, refer to this table, which is the 80th percentile targets for each 5×5 category in 12-teamers, i.e. the season-long stats required in each category to come in at least 3rd place in your 12-teamers. Huge shoutout to Jeff Erickson who put together both Hitter Targets and Pitcher Targets for 12-teamer NFBC OC leagues in 2023. (Seriously, y’all should have a subscription to Rotowire if you don’t already).


Hitter 5×5 80th Percentile Targets


Pitcher 5×5 80th Percentile Targets


Remember, projections are finicky things and since it’s not a best ball league, you’re end of season stats will be shifting all season long. Keep those targets in mind during the draft and during the year as you make changes to your team. Assess if you’re falling behind in any of them and make moves accordingly.


Other Minor Things To Consider


I’ll just bullet point now, and it mostly stems from that expectation that you’re going to be changing your team through the season.

  • Who cares which team is projected to win the season — Yep, I’m saying it again. You’re not in a best ball league!
  • Drafting is about a floor you’re comfortable with early, then taking chances late — you can replace the weak spots on the wire if you fall in the back half of the draft
  • Know yourself as a manager — I already mentioned this before, but I want to say it again. Are you better at finding hitting on the wire? Are you willing to make the changes each day for platoon bats? Will you have the time to make constant waiver wire swaps through the season? Draft to cover your weaknesses and open yourself up to take advantage of your strengths: For me, that’s a lot of hitting early (my weakness) and relying on the waiver wire for SP (my strength, shocking, I know).
  • When in doubt, draft a closer — Many people say “I’ll just get a closer on the wire” and I like to think I’m the same, but man, it’s annoying. When you’re going through your draft and don’t love any options, drafting a closer always helps. I’ve called closers “the currency of fantasy baseball” as every team can use one more guy for saves. You’ll always improve by grabbing a closer.
  • Team construction is huge, especially for roto leagues. Look I don’t like punting categories as it puts too much pressure on winning the other categories. Go for “average” in saves and steals if you want, and reach on ADP if you need that one guy for steals at 2B. Who cares about ADP values, winning your league is way better.


Positional Eligibility


Y’all should know what league you’re playing in. This draft outline will speak to Yahoo’s settings as it is the most lenient of them all (i.e. the broadest of audiences). Here’s a quick table to cover each league’s eligibility settings:

Positional Eligibility

Don’t know if a player I’ve mentioned is eligible in your CBS or ESPN league? My good friend Grey Albright over at Razzball went over every multi-positional player and outlined their games played at each position. It rocks.

Alright, I think that’s enough ranting before the draft outline. I needed to let all of that out as, without the understanding of how I’m playing the regular season, this draft outline doesn’t make sense. You need to be doing both in tandem to win your leagues. You got this.

…fine. One more time

You are not drafting a best ball team.

Okay okay, let’s actually move on now.


Who I’m Drafting Round By Round


Draft Outline Primer


H’ok, the real meat of this article. Let’s go over the details of these picks and why I’m choosing who I am:

  • This outline is meant for a redraft, 12-teamer 5×5 Roto or H2H league with 23 rounds. It still applies to most variants, but obviously, it’s not a one-size-fits-all.
  • In general, the positional eligibility is from Yahoo. Know your league’s settings and adjust accordingly.
  • I have purposefully left some holes because drafts are fluid creatures that need affection and constant attention to nail down just right.
    • I do not repeat names for multiple rounds, instead just listing them for the first round I look for them. It makes for a cleaner sheet.
  • Don’t follow this so rigidly that when Elly De La Cruz falls to the seventh round you ignore him, nor do you ignore that you may have to reach an extra round from these targets at times.
  • Round targets are based on Fantasy Pros’ ADP, which merges NFBC, Yahoo, and CBS data. They are a rough estimation and should give you a general idea of when you should be looking to grab them.
  • There are certain players who have round labels well before or after their ADP. Either I want to reach or I’ve seen them fall consistently and will watch their stock mid-draft.


  • These aren’t the only players I’m looking to draft, but they are the ones that I’m hoping fall to the right place.
  • I can’t list every player at every position for obvious reasons. You should 100% be reading the player ranking articles from Scott Chu, Rick Graham, and myself that provide detailed reasoning for our affection or skepticism. I’m sorry I can’t answer all comments that ask “Why aren’t you considering [Player]?” or “You forgot [This Player]. He wasn’t forgotten, just not someone I found myself taking either because I liked others at that spot or thought he was going too early.
  • I highlighted my favorite players for each position in green inside their tables. Keep in mind this isn’t included in the master chart at the bottom as it would complicate things too much.
  • “What’s your ideal amount of SPs and Bench bats?” Generally: 10x SP, 2x RP, 1x Hitters in a standard daily league with 4 bench spots, shifting to 8x SP and 3x Hitters after a few weeks. Why? Getting PAs each day is more important than an extra start as the season progresses, but SPs with full-season value are easier to identify in April and require aggressive bench stashing.
  • Consider multi-positional eligibility for your final hitters. It’s for Mondays and Thursdays when teams have days off — you want as many PAs as possible and multi-positional players can do wonders. Even a 1-for-4 with a Run and RBI can add up plenty across 25+ weeks.


Draft Trends I’ve Seen


I’ve done a ton of mocks this pre-season, testing strategies from different positions, and I’m going to bring in more bullet points to go over the general approach I have in drafts:

  • The trend you’ll see is that I elect to wait on grabbing starting pitchers. This isn’t for everyone and I understand if you want to be a little more aggressive than I am.
    • I’m a huge believer that you should be drafting with the mindset of three to four SPs that you trust through the year, then your final four SPs are options that you’re okay dropping if they don’t pan out.
    • Also, hitting is far more valuable in the first two rounds than SP as the value gap between the top vs. middling hitters and top vs. middling pitchers is monstrous.
  • Draft position always matters and you should learn to adapt based on your draft slot. For example, drafting in the back-half allows for José Ramirez or Freddie Freemanwhile early in the draft suggests more Marcus Semien with a stud OF in the first. That dramatically shifts your positional focus and who your targets should be inside the top 10 rounds. Have a plan for each position.
  • Closers are dumb, and I hate them. You’re better off solidifying your offense than feeling OK with a stat that makes up only 10% of your week-to-week and isn’t even a guarantee. Check out Alex Fast’s We’ve Drafted Saves Wrong Again and you’ll understand.
  • The final eight rounds or so will be shooting for upside starters and bats. There are so many to choose from. I have specific guys I like. You probably have different ones, and that’s cool. Get your guys.

Alright, I think you understand the flow. Get tons of offense early, shift a focus to SP somewhere between rounds 5-9, and find the flow after round 10 for your needs.

Now let’s focus on the specific players to target during your drafts by position and later round-by-round.

I’ve highlighted my favorite targets in Green in the tables below.


Why Don’t You Have [Player] Listed?!


I’m addressing this a second time because I’m wagering you skipped a lot of this article. This is my personal outline of players who I’m targeting. It means there are many I skipped over because they aren’t a good value in my personal view (I’m not a fan of Elly De La Cruz, for example) or is not the position I want to target at that time (early SP and RP, for example).


First Basemen / Utility


For detailed anaylsis on First Basemen, check out Scott Chu’s Positional Rankings for 2024 Fantasy Baseball.

Make sure to have a plan at first base entering your draft. If you can’t escape the third with one, either pivot to Cody Bellinger or Paul Goldschmidtor look to grab Christian Walker, Spencer Torkelsonor Vinnie Pasquantino later in the draft. There are other options as well, and plan your picks around snagging a strong foundation.


First Basemen Targets By Round


Second Basemen


For detailed anaylsis on Second Basemen, check out Scott Chu’s Positional Rankings for 2024 Fantasy Baseball.

It’s a lot of green, emphasizing the importance of getting a second basemen early, reaching for Gleyber Torresor figuring out your late target. I love Edouard Julien and Jorge Polanco where they are going in drafts, while taking a stab at Colt Keith is always fun.


Second Basemen Targets By Round


Third Basemen


For detailed anaylsis on Third Basemen, check out Scott Chu’s Positional Rankings for 2024 Fantasy Baseball.

I often aim for a third basemen in the second round when I’m at the back-half of 12-teamer drafts, then pivoting to Manny Machado or Royce Lewis if I miss out. Josh Jung, Jake Burger, and Ke’Bryan Hayes are great options if you find yourself searching past the 10th round.


Third Basemen Targets By Round




For detailed anaylsis on Shortstops, check out Scott Chu’s Positional Rankings for 2024 Fantasy Baseball.

It’s pretty easy to get lost without a shortstop after the 4th round and it’s important to plan ahead. If I miss out, I’m going to Oneil Cruz possibly a round earlier as his 2023 was altered by injury, not by skills. Take a chance on Anthony Volpe and Jackson Holliday as well if you can, as the potential large impact shortstops dwindle after them.

I threw in Amed Rosario as well since he’s looked magnificent in the spring, with the Rays recently raising him to first in the order. Who knows if that sticks, but it’s a solid flier at the end of the draft if you’re searching for a reliable shortstop.


Shortstop Targets By Round




For detailed anaylsis on Outfielders, check out Scott Chu’s Positional Rankings for 2024 Fantasy Baseball.

Your draft spot will dictate if you’ll have an outfielder in the first round or not. There is a cliff after Adolis Garcíaand I often like to secure at least one OF before then. If not, then I pivot to the 7th/8th/9th crew, while taking a shot on Wyatt Langford and Chas McCormick.

Don’t forget – the easiest position to fill in 12-teamers during the season is outfield (just 36 needed to fill all rosters!). Don’t stack too many early in your drafts.






For detailed anaylsis on Catchers, check out Scott Chu’s Positional Rankings for 2024 Fantasy Baseball.

I personally see Adley Rutschman taking another step inside a great lineup this year, making his floor the safest and most beneficial of all in the category. Considering he’s going in the fourth – a spot where hitters begin to take a step back in quality – I’ve found myself grabbing him constantly.

Otherwise, you can go for Salvador Perez and lean on his heavy volume (far more than most catchers), or simply wait until the end and take your favorite. There are more than 12 fantasy relevant catchers this year, making the punt strategy work well in snake drafts.


Catcher Targets By Round


Relief Pitchers


For detailed anaylsis on Relief Pitchers, check out Rick Graham’s Closer Rankings for 2024 Fantasy Baseball.

I’m not one to chase a reliever early – there’s too much value elsewhere – but there is a fantastic group of reliable closers without common warts near round 10. Try to snag a pair you like near there (I adore Evan Phillips and Tanner Scott) and you’ll be able to navigate the season effectively.


Relief Pitcher Targets By Round



Starting Pitchers


Now for my favorite part – Starting Pitchers. I’ve shared my thoughts aplenty across the last six months and when it comes to my evaluations vs. the ADP, here are the major takeaways:

  • I will rarely draft a pitcher in the first three rounds as hitters are just too valuable
  • I call the Top 24 SP in my rankings “The Aces of Dubs” – my goal is to target at least two of them in drafts, starting in round five.
  • Target about 3-4 starters between rounds 5-10, one more before round 14, then go ham chasing upside. There is more value to gain with starting pitchers than hitters in the back half of the draft and it’s wise to chase all the upside guys late with pitching instead of hitting.

Look, if it’s your game to get SP early, then go ahead. Do your thing. This is the way I recommend doing 12-team drafts that gives you the most value leaving your draft and opens the door for the most possibilities in-season.

I’ve written so many words about these pitchers over the last six months and if you’re curious as to why these pitchers have been selected, here are three links to help:

80,000 on the Top 400 Starting Pitchers – Updated February 8th


Sidenote: No Green highlights for this one as I simply follow the order for the most part, unless I need to balance risk with more stability. I love all these arms, y’all.




All Targets Round By Round Cheat Sheet


I made this handy chart for you to reference through your draft:

And here is one giant table of all players by round and position listed.

All Target Players By Round/Position



PL+ and PL Pro members get access directly to the excel sheet that I will be updating moving forward given player injuries and news. You can find it in pinned inside the #fantasy-help channel.

Good luck! Here’s to a fun 2024 season ahead.


Adapted by: Chris Corr (@Chris_Studios on Twitter)

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

5 responses to “Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide For 2024 – Who To Draft & When”

  1. Matt says:

    Bravo!! Out of 50+ articles I’ve read over the past month, this is the ONE I’ve been looking for. WELL DONE!!

  2. Peter says:

    You missed Royce Lewis at 3B.

  3. John Sheets says:

    Drafting tonight (March 17). I’ve played Fantasy Baseball starting as a kid in 1978 (we didn’t even call it ‘fantasy’ back then), and Fantasy Football since 1989 (both pre-internet). I THOUROUGHLY ENJOYED this article as well as many others here. It’s a refreshing outlook compared to the magazines and sites that seem beyond basic. The detail you go into on the pod is phenomenal. Baseball, even as I reach the age of 60, is a sport where I still feel I’ve only scratched the surface regarding knowledge. You’re pitching info is TOP NOTCH. This site is one I have bookmarked. But won’t share as I don’t want my competition to find it as well. LOL. I hope that’s not too selfish. While I’m an “old school” guy, I’m embracing the new stats more each year. You’re teaching an old dog some new tricks!

  4. John Sheets says:

    Drafted on March 17th. League: H2H 12 team redraft.
    I used much of the info here and was able to get
    Marcus Semien (Target 2nd Round) in Round 3
    Michael Harris II (Target 3rd Round) in Round 4
    Adley Rutschman (Target 4th Round) in Round 5
    Zach Eflin (Target 6th Round) in Round 7
    Eury Pérez (Target 8th Round) in Round 10
    Bailey Ober (Target 9th Round) in Round 11
    Bryan Woo (Target 10th Round) in Round 14
    Andrés Muñoz (Target 10th Round) in Round 15
    Got Lodolo very late, and grabbed Colt Keith in final round.

    Top picks were Betts/Austin Riley/Semien/

    Grabbed 5 hitters in first 5 rounds, and still ended up with a pitching staff of
    Bobby Miller
    Zach Eflin
    Joe Musgrove
    Brader Ober
    Bryan Woo
    Eury Perez
    Nick Lololo
    (We can only carry 7 SP’s)
    Evan Phillips and Andres Munoz

    I’m happy with the balance of my squad, and used a lot of the information in this article.
    Had to reach earlier than I wanted for Rizzo, but 1B was nearly depleted and I knew a guy was going to grab him. After Rizzo not much was left. Hey, it happens. Sometimes you have to reach earlier due to the way the draft is unfolding.

    Great job on the Draft Guide! I especially loved the TARGETS BY ROUIND CHEAT SHEET.

    If you haven’t had your draft yet, DEFINATELY have this page open during your draft.

  5. Scott B says:

    Ok so you don’t like Ely Della Cruz for whatever reason, but he’s better than many other options here and potentially he’s a 1st rounder next year but he’ll be a top 36 at least. His speed alone bumps up his singles, doubles, triples and scores runs when he’s on 3rd on hits from other players that just put the ball in play or almost anywhere in the air. Speed is not just for stealing bases and there are so many players that can boost a few different fantasy stats because of their speed these days. Last season was just the beginning of the “new speed” in the game.
    Just my thoughts, this is a great read. Thanks!

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