Avoiding early-round duds will go a long way in putting your fantasy team in position to win. However, hitting on later-round players will oftentimes be the key to a championship. Fantasy owners stress so much on the early-round picks that they forget there are good players throughout the draft board who can play an important role.

We will discuss undervalued pitchers, but for now, here are the hitters that are being overlooked in 2021.

Baltimore Orioles First Baseman Trey Mancini

Mancini is an inspiration to all after battling colon cancer in 2020 and recovering to a point that he can play baseball at the highest level once again. Mancini is easy to root for and he’s a really good baseball player.

There are no restrictions for the 29-year-old, which means he will start every day for the Orioles and bat in the middle of the lineup. That’s great news in general, but for fantasy purposes, that’s a big lift as well.

Mancini has played at least 147 games in his three full seasons, and in 2019, he slugged a career high 35 home runs. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the power is down in 2021 as he continues to gain strength and get acclimated after missing last year.

However, I believe the average will be right around his career average of .276, and because he’ll bat in the middle of the Orioles lineup, the RBIs should be there as well. Since Mancini was sidelined in 2020, the first baseman has an average draft position of 155. I’ll gladly take the talent level of Mancini in the 12th or 13th round.

Mancini has first base and outfield eligibility on Yahoo! Sports, but only outfield on ESPN. However, that should change quickly with the expectation of Mancini playing first base every day for the Orioles.

I’ll add that teammates Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle are both being drafted around the same spot as Mancini. The Orioles may not win many games in 2021, but they do have some later-round offensive options for fantasy owners this season.

Boston Red Sox Designated Hitter J.D. Martinez

Martinez could have easily been included in the bounce-back players, but we’ll spotlight him here. The slugger currently has an average draft position of 91 overall due to his poor 2020 season. The 33-year-old hit .213 and had a putrid OPS of .680.

However, Martinez totaled 235 RBIs and 79 home runs in 2018 and 2019. The shortened 2020 season that saw Martinez hit only seven home runs has caused fantasy owners to sour on one of the best power hitters in baseball.

At his best, Martinez will help in four of the five offensive categories and provide elite numbers in those categories. Don’t let last year’s struggles make you forget how good of a hitter Martinez is.

Houston Astros Shortstop Carlos Correa

Correa is an interesting case as he has loads of talent, but it just hasn’t translated over the course of a full season. Maybe he isn’t as good as people thought? I’m not going to go that far, as we have seen elite-level production. However, injuries have prevented him from fully realizing that potential.

It feels like Correa has been around forever, which is partially true. The shortstop will be entering his seventh season in the big leagues. However, he is only 26 years old. Correa is also entering his final season before heading to free agency. The motivation is real.

The infielder struggled in 2020, as he had a career low slugging percentage of .383. As has been a common theme of players struggling in the shortened season, Correa is being drafted as the 16th shortstop and 119 overall.

Despite his regular-season struggles, Correa was a beast in the playoffs, hitting six home runs and finishing with a .362 batting average. Despite not having that true breakout season, Correa has had four seasons with more than 20 home runs and we are now treating him as a middle-of-the-road middle infielder.

Drafting a player like Correa in the ninth or tenth round is something I will be eyeing to do every single time.

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Phil Backert

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