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Welcome to reliever week, which I can only assume is everybody’s favorite week here at Baseball Prospectus. In this space, we’ll be looking at average ADP data from NFBC for the final time. One thing I notice right off the bat is that people are willing to be a bit more aggressive at RP this year. On top of that, there aren’t many fallers at this position, since ineffective relievers are usually rendered irrelevant for fantasy purposes. As always, the average round reflects a 15-team league.

(Early) Early Rounds
If you want an elite reliever, you’ll need top use a top-five pick…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

1

Aroldis Chapman

NYY

47.55

4

2

Kenley Jansen

LAD

48.10

4

3

Zach Britton

BAL

57.81

4

4

Mark Melancon

PIT

69.95

5

5

Seung Hwan Oh

STL

73.51

5

Zach Britton, Orioles

Britton was a hot name heading into drafts last season, and all he did was put up one of the best seasons out of a bullpen ever and include himself in the Cy Young conversation. This, unsurprisingly, was enough to propel him into the elite tier of relievers. He moved up over two rounds from last season. It’s far from a novel idea, but nothing is more appealing to me in a reliever than someone who gets strikeouts and ground balls, and Britton is the personification of that skill set. I’m not sure this is tremendous value — I can’t see ranking him ahead of Chapman or Jansen, for instance — but I doubt you’ll be disappointed if you end up with Britton on your roster.

Seung Hwan Oh, Cardinals

After Trevor Rosenthal quickly became the most disappointing fantasy reliever in 2016, the Cardinals didn’t waste much time finding a new elite reliever. Oh obviously has very little MLB experience — he was a rookie last year — but nothing about his performance suggests it was a fluke. He posted a DRA- below 70, a cFIP of just 71 and a FIP of 2.17. The one concern here is that Oh looked worse in September, but he still struck out 11 batters per nine innings. I like a couple guys in the next tier more than Oh (most notably, Ken Giles), but I think grabbing the Cardinals’ closer instead of Melancon will prove prudent by the end of the year.

(Late) Early Rounds
In this writer’s opinion, this is the optimal tier to strike for your RP1…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

6

Craig Kimbrel

BOS

77.11

6

7

Edwin Diaz

SEA

81.86

6

8

Roberto Osuna

TOR

81.86

6

9

Wade Davis

CHC

87.52

6

10

Ken Giles

HOU

91.59

7

11

Alex Colome

TB

103.00

7

12

Kelvin Herrera

KC

103.52

7

Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays

I’m not sure there’s a more underrated reliever — not just in terms of fantasy, but overall — in baseball right now than Osuna. He’s now got two full seasons under his belt, and he’s been roughly ten percent better than the league average in terms of DRA, strikes out almost 10 batters per nine innings and walks under two. Oh, and he’s just about to ender his age-22 season. The one concern here is that Osuna is a fly ball pitcher, which is dangerous at Rogers Centre. Still, there’s enough talent here that I’d take the young righty over everyone else in this tier besides Giles.

Wade Davis, Cubs

As I said at the top, this is not a position in which we see many players’ stocks fall without falling to the point of falling entirely out of the draft. Davis is the exception, here. Formerly among the elite of the elite, Davis missed a chunk of time last season and generally didn’t look like himself. His K/9 was below 10 for the first time since converting to a full-time bullpen role, and he allowed more than two hits per nine innings more than the previous two years. The good news is his swinging strike rate stayed constant from his peak and he’ll now be pitching in front of one of the elite defenses in baseball. That being said, he lost a big chunk of his control in 2016 and his age and history makes me wary about another injury. It wouldn’t shock me to see him bounce nearly all the way back in 2017, but I’m too enamored with the names around him to take the plunge myself.

(Early) Middle Rounds
Here, you will find the steady veterans you’ve been drafting for the last few years…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

13

Cody Allen

CLE

105.68

8

14

Andrew Miller

CLE

106.19

8

15

Jeurys Familia

NYM

113.36

8

16

David Robertson

CHW

124.99

9

17

A.J. Ramos

MIA

129.82

9

18

Francisco Rodriguez

DET

131.41

9

19

Sam Dyson

TEX

144.66

10

20

Tony Watson

PIT

147.93

10

Jeurys Familia, Mets

Here, we have another established arm who fell a little bit from last year, although this one’s for different reasons. Familia was still quite solid for the Mets last year, striking out over a batter per inning and posting big ground ball numbers. His biggest issue was walks, as he reverted back to his career norms after taking a big step in the right direction in 2015. However, the real reason Familia is falling in drafts is that he will likely be suspended before the season starts after being arrested for domestic violence last winter. It’s unclear how long he’ll be out for, but he’ll certainly lose some save chances. Addison Reed, who will likely get those saves, could put immediate pressure on Familia when the latter returns, too. Like with Davis, taking Familia here could work out swimmingly but I’d rather look at the other players in this tier.

Tony Watson, Pirates

For a long time, Watson was one of the most reliable set-up men in all of baseball. He quietly went about his business in the eighth inning for the Pirates, adding sneaky fantasy value to prudent owners. He finally got a chance to close last year and…it didn’t go all that well. His strikeouts and walks didn’t change much after getting the promotion, but he started giving up a ton of extra base hits including six homers in 23 innings. Opponents posted a .262 ISO against Watson after the trade deadline. I don’t think the home run issue will stick around to that same extent, but it’s worth noting that he saw a significant drop in ground ball rate last year. Since he also doesn’t add an elite strikeout rate, and he also started walking more batters last year, I’d look elsewhere for my RP2 or RP3.

(Late) Middle Rounds
There is a ton of upside in this tier, and also Jim Johnson

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

21

Adam Ottavino

COL

163.72

11

22

Raisel Iglesias

CIN

172.04

12

23

Dellin Betances

NYY

173.91

12

24

Jim Johnson

ATL

202.51

14

25

Cam Bedrosian

LAA

223.23

15

26

Shawn Kelley

WAS

223.70

15

Raisel Iglesias, Reds

Iglesias has seen his value drop a bit since drafts last year, but that’s likely due more to a role change from the rotation to the bullpen than his talent level. He converted to the bullpen at the end of June, and was spectacular from that point on. In 32 games, he posted a 1.98 ERA with a 54-to-19 K/BB ratio in 50 innings of work. The issue for Iglesias in 2017 is that he’s not guaranteed a full-time closer job in Cincinnati, which is already a rough team for which to earn saves to begin with. One would expect Michael Lorenzen, Drew Storen and Tony Cingrani to also fight for saves in that bullpen. That being said, I believe Iglesias is the most talented of that group and will eventually win the job on a full-time basis. If you are willing to wait for that and benefit mainly from the ratios until that point, this is good value for the Cuban.

Dellin Betances, Yankees

Here, we have one of the poster boys for fantasy value without having a closer job. There’s really no arguing against Betances’ skill as a reliever. Even with some mild control problems, he’s likely one of the three best pure relievers in baseball. Obviously, the issue in fantasy is that he won’t be getting many saves. However, I still believe this is a steal. You’re getting elite help in strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP. Betances will also slide into the ninth if Chapman gets hurt, and there’s an outside chance the Yankees will deal their homegrown star if they once again decide to sell at the trade deadline. You can find saves on the waiver wire during the season if you need to. You can’t find talent like Betances.

(Early) Late Rounds
Take a chance on some of 2016’s biggest surprises….and Fernando Rodney

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

27

Ryan Madson

OAK

235.50

16

28

Hector Neris

PHI

236.17

16

29

Brandon Maurer

SD

237.49

16

30

Fernando Rodney

ARI

265.17

18

31

Addison Reed

NYM

266.57

18

32

Nate Jones

CHW

269.22

18

33

Brandon Kintzler

MIN

278.20

19

Addison Reed/Nate Jones, Mets/White Sox

Here, I am cheating a bit and grouping two set-up men who have improved their stock enough to be drafted in most leagues this year. The reason is pretty clear, and similar for both. To start with, they both have talent. Reed had a big bounce back with the Mets in 2016, turning into one of the best set-up men in the league. Jones has always had talent, but hadn’t pitched a full year since 2013. He didn’t miss a beat last year. Even more intriguing is that both have a good shot at saves in 2016. Reed will take over when Familia gets suspended, as I mentioned above. If he pitches well in that time, he could theoretically put a shorter leash on Familia. Jones will start the year in the eighth inning, but with Chicago in rebuild mode he could take over the ninth if the White Sox find a taker for David Robertson. The risk here is that they also deal Jones, but even then you get great ratios. These are my top two pitchers in this tier, and it’s not particularly close.

(Late) Late Rounds
There is some intriguing upside at the end of drafts this year…

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

34

Neftali Feliz

MIL

292.77

20

35

Tyler Thornburg

BOS

310.19

21

36

Mike Montgomery

CHC

313.04

21

37

Greg Holland

COL

323.11

22

38

Joe Musgrove

HOU

325.87

22

Neftali Feliz, Brewers

In 2016, Feliz was quietly another example of the Pirates fixing a formerly exciting pitcher. He wasn’t dominant by any means, as his control was still shaky and he gave up a few too many home runs, but he still finished with a double-digit DRA- for the first time since he won Rookie of the Year in 2010. He’s moved on in free agency, taking over the closer role for the Brewers. That he’s being taken this low has me kind of stumped. Sure, his fly ball tendencies don’t fit well in Milwaukee, and the Brewers don’t figure to win a ton in 2017. However, he should have a decently firm grip on the job and his strikeout gains from last season looked legit. Getting a full-time closer who’s not in a camp battle in the 20th round is a steal.

The Undrafteds
This is a monster tier with some monstrous talent.

Rank

Player

Team

Avg. Pick

Avg. Round

39

Kyle Barraclough

MIA

352.57

Undrafted

40

Carter Capps

MIA

352.82

Undrafted

41

Robert Gsellman

NYM

353.93

Undrafted

42

Corey Knebel

MIL

354.09

Undrafted

43

Matt Strahm

KC

359.72

Undrafted

44

Chris Devenski

HOU

362.69

Undrafted

45

Huston Street

LAA

363.57

Undrafted

46

Matt Bush

TEX

265.81

Undrafted

47

Arodys VIzcaino

ATL

387.44

Undrafted

48

Jenmar Gomez

PHI

389.28

Undrafted

49

Joaquin Benoit

PHI

389.93

Undrafted

50

Sean Doolittle

OAK

400.86

Undrafted

51

Andrew Triggs

OAK

401.93

Undrafted

52

Drew Storen

CIN

424.83

Undrafted

53

Hector Rondon

CHC

428.65

Undrafted

54

Brad Ziegler

MIA

434.29

Undrafted

55

David Phelps

MIA

437.79

Undrafted

56

Blake Treinen

WAS

439.66

Undrafted

57

Daniel Hudson

PIT

441.23

Undrafted

58

Mauricio Cabrera

ATL

457.59

Undrafted

59

Brad Brach

BAL

462.63

Undrafted

60

Ryan Dull

OAK

463.67

Undrafted

61

Santiago Casilla

OAK

472.92

Undrafted

62

Michael Lorenzen

CIN

474.78

Undrafted

63

Jeremy Jeffress

TEX

475.15

Undrafted

64

Brad Hand

SD

475.40

Undrafted

65

Carl Edwards Jr.

CHC

483.10

Undrafted

66

Trevor Rosenthal

STL

485.75

Undrafted

67

Glen Perkins

MIN

492.65

Undrafted

68

Bruce Rondon

DET

495.46

Undrafted

Well, then. This is an overwhelmingly large group, and I expect some of these guys will move into the last tier of drafted relievers when the season gets closer. For now, there are a lot of intriguing names who I’d rather have over everyone in the final tier save Feliz. Kyle Barraclough and Carter Capps right at the top definitely deserve to be higher. If you’ve been reading me over the last couple of years, you know how much I love Arodys Vizcaino. He’s someone I’d gamble on in a deeper league since I’m not a huge believer in Jim Johnson. Sean Doolittle and Jeanmar Gomez are two good saves candidates in this tier. In fact, the latter will likely start the season as Philadelphia’s closer, so I’m stumped as to why he’s so far down on this list. Doolittle may not be the favorite for Oakland’s job right now, but I’m convinced that he’s far and away the most talented. Even if he doesn’t get the job right away, I expect he’ll get it soon enough. For some reason, Washington isn’t committing to Shawn Kelley yet, so grabbing Blake Treinen in the last round now could prove to be a steal, too.