Cockcroft: Risk or Reward

Originally Published: March 21, 2005
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN Games Fantasy Edge
While consistency is a valued commodity in fantasy baseball, let's face it -- you can't win your league without taking a few calculated gambles. Mike Lowell, Steve Finley and Livan Hernandez provide you with reliable stats year in and year out, bolstering many fantasy lineups, but these aren't the players that are going to put you over the top. (Unless, of course, your league despises veteran players and lets you have them past Round 15.)

What's going to make or break your fantasy team are the risks you're willing to take, and the ones that come through for you. If every player on your team performs at exactly the expected level of production for his respective round, you'll probably contend, but you're unlikely to be a champion. It's getting those sixth-rounders that produce like first-rounders that makes the difference between the contenders and the title winner.

With so much information out there these days, what I'm finding is that one of the best places to find hidden value is in players with health risks. Most general advice steers you away from injury-prone players, so the mass opinion is suddenly becoming one where anyone with a prayer of disabled-list time is about as desirable as a Pokey Reese rookie card. I know players with health concerns can often be the most frustrating ones to own -- lose them to a season-ending injury on April 10 and you'll be tearing your hair out for the season's final 25 weeks -- but when they put it all together, they can often explode with All-Star totals. (Think J.D. Drew last season.)