Fantasy: 6 older players worth taking

With most fantasy baseball drafts quickly approaching, owners can be expected to shy away from the league’s older players in favor of budding phenoms. But remember: in some cases, age is just a number.

Youngsters like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto took the baseball world by storm last year and are expected to go high in drafts, but there are still a number of elder statesmen offering value to fantasy owners.

Here are six players on the wrong side of 30 worth drafting.

(Average draft positions as of March 12, courtesy of FantasyPros)

Justin Verlander – Astros – SP – ADP 21

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Age has had no effect on Verlander’s performance. In his age-35 campaign last season, the hard-throwing right-hander finished one frame behind Corey Kluber for most innings pitched in the American League en route to a second-place finish for the AL Cy Young. His 290 strikeouts were a career high and his 0.90 WHIP led his league. Verlander will be one of the first pitchers off the board but should be available in the second round of most drafts.

Zack Greinke – Diamondbacks – SP – ADP 59

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After a shaky debut season for Arizona in 2016, the 35-year-old Greinke has been a worthwhile fantasy starter since. His 32 wins are fifth-highest in MLB over the past two seasons, while his 3.20 ERA ranks 10th. He may not rack up the strikeouts like Max Scherzer or Chris Sale, but Greinke’s 414 Ks since the beginning of 2017 are still the 11th-most among qualified starters. That should make him a valuable add in the 6th or 7th round.

Nelson Cruz – Twins – DH – ADP 88

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Cruz may be a one-dimensional player in real life, but for fantasy owners interested in padding power stats like home runs and RBIs, the 38-year-old slugger is the guy. Since 2014, Cruz leads MLB with 203 home runs (Giancarlo Stanton is second with 188) and ranks third with 522 RBIs. He won’t hurt you with a low batting average like fellow slugger Joey Gallo either; Cruz owns a career .274 average and should be available in the 7th round.

Robinson Cano – Mets – 2B – ADP 115

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Before a drug suspension derailed Cano’s 2018 campaign, he was on the verge of another 20-home run, 100-RBI season with the Mariners. Cano has always been a decent power provider for fantasy owners (311 career home runs) and hits for a high average (career .304 AVG). The 36-year-old should get plenty of opportunities to do damage in the middle of the Mets’ lineup, so he’ll be a worthwhile add in the 9th or 10th round if you need a second baseman.

Yadier Molina – Cardinals – C – ADP 136

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In his age-35 season last year, Molina showed he still has fantasy value – and not just because he plays nearly every game. The veteran catcher hit 20 home runs – two shy of matching his career high – and drove in 74, which tied him with J.T. Realmuto for the third-highest total in baseball among backstops. Catcher is a weak spot in fantasy; waiting for Molina, who can probably be had in the 14th or 15th round, is a wise decision.

Rich Hill – Dodgers – SP – ADP 170

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With Bartolo Colon jobless and Albert Pujols’ productivity dwindling, Hill is arguably the oldest player offering the most fantasy value in MLB (sorry, Fernando Rodney). The 39-year-old curveball specialist has three straight seasons with 11 or more wins, and his 3.09 ERA since 2016 ranks 11th in baseball – slightly behind early-round fantasy selection Verlander and ahead of Stephen Strasburg. Hill also offers fantasy owners plenty of strikeouts (10.2 K/9 last season), although durability lowers his value (378 2/3 IP since ’16). Look for him to be available in the 13th round.