Just began my research for the year yesterday and compiled a short list of guys everyone should be targeting in their drafts and auctions.
Roy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: Before 2012, the last season where Roy Halladay didn't throw for at least 220 innings was 2005. Over that span, Halladay has been the most effective and dominant workhorse pitcher in Major League Baseball. From 2008 to 2011, his highest ERA was 2.79. 206 strikeouts was his lowest talley in that time period. In 2012, the wheels came off and good ole' Doc Halladay only threw 156.1 innings while posting an ERA in the 4's for only the 3rd time in his long career. ESPN has Halladay as the 59th player off the board and the 18th pitcher. That is an absolute bargain. If you believe there is even a 50% chance that Halladay performs to his pre-2012 levels, than not grabbing him at his current price will be complete lunacy; because Halladay pitches so many innings when healthy, he has the ability to totally stabilize your pitching staff in a roto league. Clearly worth the gamble in the 4th or 5th.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks: Goldschmidt was a relatively unheralded prospect two years ago, until he started bopping homeruns at an alarming rate. After a disappointing rookie season that saw him strikeout 53 times in 177 plate appearances, he rebounded with a 20 homer sophomore season. His .OBP rose a very respectable .359 and decreasing his K% from 29.9% down to 22.1% and finishing as the 7th best first basemen on ESPN's player rater. Despite all of the signs indicating that Goldschmidt is on the up and plays in a very hitter friendly park, his consensus ranking is the 12th first basemen. While everyone else spends early picks on Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez, you can acquire talent at more difficult to fill spots such as 2nd base or shortstop.
Martin Prado, 3B, RF, SS, 2B, Atlanta Braves: Having Martin Prado on your fantasy baseball team is like having a first aid kid in real life. At some point, your team is going to suffer through stints to the 15-day DL and you are going to need gauze and bandages to get through those weeks. That is where Prado comes in. He doesn't do anything amazing, but he won't hurt you. He finished 7th on ESPN's player rater last year and has a consensus rank of 112. It is really hard to find that value at any place in the draft and by just performing at a mediocre level, Prado earns a 8th round selection. Prado, when healthy is not mediocre, but rather pretty good. Last year, in a healthy season, he hit 10 homeruns, stole 17 bases, knocked in 70 runs, hit .301 and scored 80 runs. He comes close to that again, and he will far out earn his draft slot.
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals: Catcher is a historically hard position to fill for fantasy baseball. Many guys who play the position in the bigs are all-glove, no-bat type of guys which creates intense position scarcity. For quite some time, Molina was viewed as that type of player. Last season, however, Molina swatted 28 homers and hit .315 while owning a K% underneath 10%. His ranking as the 134th player off the board is lunacy. He finished as the number 2 fantasy catcher last year and figures to be able to repeat a facsimile of that performance in 2013. Picking up Molina around the 10th round will help solidify many fantasy teams.
Greg Holland, CP, Kansas City Royals: The underlings of the fantasy industry like to lob shots at ESPN and especially at Matthew Berry, but personally, I do agree with one of the main tenants of his fantasy baseball strategy. You should not play for saves. Finding a good, solid closer to anchor your pitching staff shouldn't come until you have some serious offensive firepower as well as a least one pitcher who will be a positive for you all year. My personal favorite this year is Greg Holland from Kansas City. After Johnathan Broxton got the closing gig as the result of Joakim Soria's torn UCL, KC fans waited for Holland to get the job. Eventually, Broxton was traded and Holland responded with 16 saves and a K/9 over 12. Fangraphs and Pitch f/x have his average fastball velocity at 96.1 MPH. That's not even mentioning his 8.9 runs above average slider that he uses as his outpitch. Holland is an incredibly talented pitcher that should provide some cheap saves in the middle rounds of your draft.