1) Team 1- Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers: Obviously, this draft took place before the injury news surrounding Greinke. He was diagnosed with inflammation in the back of his elbow, putting his availability for opening day in question. However, when he is on the mound, there is a lot of upside with Greinke. First, he is back in the NL, pitching in pitcher friendly ballpark. Also, the Dodgers’ lineup is very strong, allowing a terrific chance for some solid run support. Just keep an eye on the status of his elbow.
2) Team 2- Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves: Easily the best relief pitcher in fantasy baseball, Kimbrel is coming off an absolute monster 2012 campaign. His 42 saves ranked first in the NL and his 116 strikeouts certainly weren’t too shabby either. In my eyes, this is the perfect round to take the best relief pitcher in fantasy. I wouldn’t feel comfortable grabbing him in the first three, maybe four rounds, but round five seems ideal. Playing for a favorite in the NL East, Kimbrel should see plenty of opportunity for more saves.
3) Team 3- Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds: For many years, Phillips has been rather inconsistent, making owners wonder if he would ever reach that status he was being compared to. Fast forward to 2013 and he is one of the better fantasy second basemen in a very shallow position. He is pretty much a lock for double-double numbers in home runs and steals (18 and 15 last year) and has seen at least 580 at bats each of the last four seasons. With Shin-Soo Choo appearing to be the Reds’ leadoff man, Phillips will likely bat second, presenting plenty of opportunity to have a runner on when he steps up to the plate.
4) Team 4- Chase Headley, San Diego Padres: I love Headley this season and why shouldn’t I? He saw a power surge last season, hitting for 31 home runs after belting just 27 combined through 2009-11. Now, Petco Park will be moving the fences in to compliment his power? Sign me up. He should be a monster at home, but is still very capable on the road, sporting a career .300 batting average away from Petco. Headley can also give fantasy owners steals as a third baseman, posting double digit steal totals in each of the last four years. Entering the prime of his career, Headley is easily a top 10 fantasy 3B.
5) Team 5- Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox: If I can help it, I am personally staying away from Ellsbury in fantasy. Injuries are clearly a concern, as the 29-year old has missed a whopping 222 games over the past three years. Granted, when he is healthy, he’s very good, posting 32 home runs, 105 RBI and a .321 batting average when he played 158 games in 2011. However, for me, there is too much to dislike. First of all, he will turn 30-years old this season and the Red Sox roster is showing signs of a last place team in the AL East. Hopefully he stays healthy, but for me, too risky.
6) Team 6- Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals: Holliday, on the other hand, presents much less of an injury risk, if at all. He has played in at least 150 games in three of the past four seasons. 2012, for instance, was a good year for Holliday, hitting a solid .295, 27 home runs and 102 RBI. Keep in mind, however, that injuries are still a possibility for Holliday, considering he is 33-years of age. Still, as long as he is on the field, he is a safe bet for terrific batting average and at least 20 home runs. Holliday is a career .313 batter who has posted at least 20 home runs in each of the past four seasons.
7) Team 7- CC Sabathia, New York Yankees: A year ago, Sabathia was universally ranked one of the top pitchers in fantasy. Now, after dealing with a certain elbow injury, he has slipped outside of the top ten for many people. The 32-year old has pitched at least 200 innings every season since 2007, making many wonder how much he has left. If you ask me, he has plenty left in the tank, but the injuries to the Yankees certainly impacts his fantasy value quite a bit. At this stage, I don’t know if I would feel 100 percent comfortable with him as my fantasy ace, but I would love him as a number two.
8) Team 8- B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves: Y’all gonna make me lose my mind, Upton here, Upton here. Get it? Anyone? Okay, it was a reference to a DMX song. Both of the Upton brothers will reunite in Atlanta this season. Anyway, if you are looking for batting average, stay away from B.J., as he is sporting a career batting average of .255. However, it appears he will be batting fifth in a powerful Braves lineup, giving the 28-year old a plethora of opportunity to produce some big time RBI totals. Entering his prime, Upton will also be a lock for stolen bases, having stole at least 30 every season since 2008. With the combination of weapons in the Braves lineup and Upton batting in the heart of the order, don’t be surprised if he sets a career high in RBI in 2013.
9) Team 9- Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals: Arguably the second best catcher in fantasy baseball, Molina is easily coming off of his best season ever. His .315 batting average finished fourth in the entire National League and he’s a catcher. Then, he went ahead and added 22 home runs, 76 RBI and a very solid 12 stolen bases. To put that into perspective, the next highest stolen base total from a catcher was four. Molina provides a rare combination of stolen bases and average and can easily be considered a double-double candidate.
10) I Love Griffey- Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals: What a 2012 campaign for Gonzalez. The 27-year old exploded for 21 wins (1st in NL), 207 strikeouts (4th in NL) and a 2.89 ERA (6th in NL). Part of an extremely strong rotation with a very good lineup behind him, there is no reason to believe that Gonzalez can’t see similar production in 2013.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.