In fantasy football, your season can hinge on the players you take in the last few rounds. In many ways, baseball is no different.
In football, they're called handcuffs for a reason, because they're playing time is directly related — or handcuffed — to the status of that team's starter. The starter goes down, the handcuff steps in and reaps the benefits of the starter's carries or receptions.
The biggest difference in baseball is that its handcuffs are all starters in their own right. Instead of a backup running back that will get just four or five tries a contest, the position players available at the end of your baseball draft will be getting four at-bats a game, just like the stars going in the first round. If you're very lucky, they guys from rounds 15 to 20 provide you with some substantial stats in those plate appearances.
So here are some random thoughts about who your might consider for those late rounds. Unless they fall completely off the face of the Earth, they'll give you at least average contribution for that point in the process, and maybe a little bit more.
Adam Eaton, OF, Nationals
I've told you not to overlook Eaton in the middle of your drafts (now going in the 12th round), and while he's currently on the shelf for a while with knee tenderness, Washington manager Dave Martinez has told first-round fantasy star Trea Turner that Turner will be batting second. That's a sign that Eaton, when healthy, will be the leadoff man atop a lineup that last season was fifth in runs scored, behind the Astros, Yankees, Rockies and Cubs.
Avisail Garcia, OF, White Sox
I know Diana Dobrez and Pat Whalen will be delighted that I included a member of their favorite team, but Garcia deserves it based on last season's long-anticipated breakout effort of .330 with 18 homers and 80 RBIs. Being picked up in mock drafts right now in the 20th round primarily because of the rebuilding project going on around him, he's projected to put up 17 homers, 72 RBIs and a .289 average. Not bad for the 19th round.
Kyle Schwarber, OF, Cubs
His value takes a big hit by the fact that his knee injury has taken away his catcher eligibility, but in a lineup that figures to be near the No. 4 it was in 2017 in runs scored, he's a mainstay and lighter, healthier and stronger to boot. Touted for 31 homers and 75 ribbies, he's still being ranked in the 17th-round range despite an injury history that limited him to 129 games last season. Don't worry about the .240 average. It will be higher when the players around him get hot and he gets better pitches to hit.
Chase Anderson, P, Brewers
Hey, somebody's gotta benefit from all the improvements in the Brew Crew's lineup, don't they? Currently going at around the 18th round, Anderson could be the guy. He was effective as it was with 12-4 mark, a 2.74 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. History doesn't indicate he'll in any way be able to repeat numbers like that, but if he's even close to them, the extra run support could net him a few more victories.
Cole Hamels, P, Rangers
Hamels' best days are clearly behind him, but he's certainly still better than the 4.19 ERA he posted a year ago. I'm guessing he gets a dozen wins and finishes with half a run less than that, despite the tough pitchers' park he plays in. And at a pre-draft rank of 230, he'll probably still be around for your last pick, so try him. If he doesn't work out, drop him. Nothing hurt.
Tyler Chatwood, P, Cubs
In the mock drafts I've been doing, I haven't seen Chatwood go any higher than the 21st round, but don't lose track of him. Yes, I have a bias toward my Cubs, and yes, he is just a No. 5 starter, but while with Colorado last season, his road ERA was 3.11, which was lower than many, including Max Scherzer. Away from Coors, he could be a solid steal in a very late round.