Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2017: Closers, middle relievers

Sporting News
Closers -- the bane of fantasy baseball. Our 2017 rankings for relief pitchers feature familiar faces at the top, but things get dicey quickly as we move down the list.

Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2017: Closers, middle relievers

Closers -- the bane of fantasy baseball. Our 2017 rankings for relief pitchers feature familiar faces at the top, but things get dicey quickly as we move down the list.

So, by now, everyone should know the deal when it comes to preseason fantasy baseball closer rankings: They don't really mean much. Sure, they're worth looking at and adding to your draft cheat sheets, but at least a third of these relievers won't be closing at some point this season and more than a few will be massive busts. If you go further down the list (after the 30 projected closers), you'll find plenty of potential sleepers, but even among those RPs there area lot of question marks.

Injuries, inconsistency, and the all-around volatility of the position make it tough to handicap. Just think back to this time last year -- would you have ever expected SeungHwan Oh and not Trevor Rosenthal to be on this list? Moreover,would you have ever expected Oh to be a top-10 closer, maybe even top-five,on many big boards?

And that's just the way it is with relievers. You can try to avoid injury risks, but, really, they're all injury risks. You can try to avoid the unproven guys, but that might mean you're missing out on the best values. You can try to load up on middle relievers late instead of jumping into the fray early, but you might never be able to recover in the saves category.

Please note that we put the 30 players we currently projectto open the season as closers first in our rankings, but things could change in a hurry with those players, so expect plenty of updates throughout the spring. Also, pitchers who are RP-eligible but not expected to work in relief are not ranked below.

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Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Closers

  • Kenley Jansen, Dodgers

  • Aroldis Chapman, Yankees

  • Zach Britton, Orioles

  • Wade Davis, Cubs

  • Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox

  • Ken Giles, Astros

  • Mark Melancon, Giants

  • Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays

  • Cody Allen, Indians

  • Edwin Diaz, Mariners

  • Seung Hwan Oh, Cardinals

  • Alex Colome, Rays

  • Kelvin Herrera, Royals

  • A.J. Ramos, Marlins

  • David Robertson, White Sox

  • Nate Jones, White Sox

  • Jeurys Familia^, Mets

  • Raisel Iglesias*, Reds

  • Francisco Rodriguez, Tigers

  • Jim Johnson, Braves

  • Cam Bedrosian*, Angels

  • Koda Glover*, Nationals

  • Tony Watson*, Pirates

  • Sam Dyson, Rangers

  • Neftali Feliz, Brewers

  • Ryan Madson, A's

  • Brandon Maurer, Padres

  • Fernando Rodney, D-backs

  • Jeanmar Gomez, Phillies

  • Greg Holland*, Rockies

  • Brandon Kintzler, Twins

Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Middle relievers

  • Andrew Miller, Indians

  • Dellin Betances, Yankees

  • Addison Reed, Mets

  • Shawn Kelley*, Nationals

  • Adam Ottavino*, Rockies

  • Huston Street*, Angels

  • Kyle Barraclough, Marlins

  • Tyler Thornburg, Red Sox

  • Carter Capps, Padres

  • Darren O'Day, Orioles

  • Carl Edwards Jr., Cubs

  • Matt Bush, Rangers

  • Hector Neris, Phillies

  • Will Harris, Astros

  • David Robertson, White Sox

  • Nate Jones, White Sox

  • Derek Law, Giants

  • Brad Brach, Orioles

  • Chris Devenski, Astros

  • Grant Dayton, Dodgers

  • Matt Strahm, Royals

  • Brad Hand, Padres

  • David Phelps, Marlins

  • Ryan Dull, A's

  • Pedro Strop, Cubs

  • Sean Doolittle, A's

  • Sergio Romo, Dodgers

  • Hector Rondon, Cubs

  • Koji Uehara, Cubs

  • Joaquin Benoit, Phillies

  • Hunter Strickland, Giants

  • Ryan Buchter, Padres

  • Drew Storen*, Reds

  • Daniel Hudson*, Pirates

^Facing a possible suspension
*Considered to be in competition for closer's job

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Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Closers

There's no perfect way to draft this position. Jumping in early for AroldisChapman or KenleyJansen is often looked down upon, but getting lights-out closers who strike outthatmany batters gives you a big advantage at the RP position. As long as you don't go crazy (i.e. the first four rounds), you won't be sorry you drafted one of those players.

From there, it's all about knowing your surroundings. In some drafts, the closer run(s) start early; in others, it's amazing how late good RPs are available. And they could go in any order. Our rankings below give a little more love to guys who have done it for a full season or more (Wade Davis, Craig Kimbrel), but others look at their warts (injury for Davis, declining numbers for Kimbrel) and have guys like Oh and Edwin Diaz ranked ahead of them. As a result, you could see Diaz go in the seventh round of one draft or the 11th round of another. Guys like Kelvin Herrera, Alex Colome, and Raisel Iglesias (assuming he closes) are other RPs with huge upsides but relatively short track records as closers.

David Robertson, White Sox Nate Jones, White Sox

MORE: Top 50 prospects | 2017 Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide

What makes this year's closer rankings interesting is that, while the bottom third "closers" are big gambles, arguably the top two relievers in baseball (at least two of the top five)aren'tgoing to be closing to open the season. That raises the question -- should you draft Andrew Miller or Dellin Betances ahead of, say, Sam Dyson? They're going to have more overall value, but if they're not getting saves, then they're not helping you in that all-important category. In weekly leagues, that's especially risky.

The answer is probably yes, as you should be able to pick up some closers throughout the year, but it's still tough to pull that trigger on draft day. Even if you don't want to pay up for Betances or Miller, It's always smart to have at least one high-K, low-WHIP middle reliever, especially one who has a legit shot at closing at some point,

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