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2019 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Closer and RP

Sporting News — (Matt Lutovsky)

Closer has long been the bane of fantasy baseball owners' existences. Around two-thirds of major league teams change their closer at some point during the season, and with more committees and "openers" becoming en vogue, it's not long before we have no idea what to expect from ninth-inning situations heading into the season, making these rankings even more of an exercise in futility. High-strikeout middle relievers are becoming more than just late-round sleepers, and you should have more than a few circled on your cheat sheet. While you might not draft more than one or two, knowing who can rack up innings and Ks (and possibly wins and saves) while keeping peripherals low is important.

It's important to note that for our rankings below, we rank the projected closers above the projected middle relievers. Josh Hader could easily be more valuable than the majority of the guys ranked above him, but given that saves is its own category in most leagues, the importance of getting guys who contribute in that stat can't be understated (especially H2H leagues). (Update: Hader has been moved up with both Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress injured to open the season, but it's unclear if Milwaukee really wants Hader in the closer's role.) Also, with several teams yet to officially name a closer (and Craig Kimbrel still unsigned), it's fair to say these rankings will undergo quite a few changes before opening day. 

2019 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers:
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Each team

Because closer is such a volatile position, rankings can swing wildly from year to year. Save opportunities can dry up, and even just a couple more homers allowed or a little worse batted-ball luck can really inflate ERAs and WHIPs. That's why we're taking a bit of a cautious approach with someone like Blake Treinen, who was dominant last year but hadn't show that level of brilliance at any point in his career. Still, he should have plenty of job security, at least to open the season, which gives him a boost over some other, perhaps more talented, pitchers.

2019 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Tiers, Draft Strategy
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | StarterCloser

Job security is definitely important but it changes rapidly, so as much as it's valued throughout our preseason rankings, especially early, it isn't everything, especially when you get into the RP2 range.

2019 Fantasy Baseball Rankings:
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Top 300

Drafting at least one secure closer feels like a necessity, although we all know it doesn't mean much over the course of an entire season. Injuries and cold streaks will happen, and you'll definitely be hitting the waiver wire at some point. If you don't overdraft your RPs and get a few high-upside options late in the draft, you can help mitigate the pain. Ultimately, though, you're guessing and hoping on a lot of these guys. Good luck.

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2019 cheat sheet

Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Closer and RP

These rankings are for standard 5x5, non-keeper leagues. Eligibility based on Yahoo default settings.

* = closer battle in spring training
**= Not eligible at that position on draft day but expected to play there


1Aroldis ChapmanYankees
2Edwin DiazMets
3Kenley JansenDodgers
4Josh HaderBrewers
5Robert OsunaAstros
6Sean DoolittleNationals
7Blake TreinenA's
8Felipe VazquezPirates
9Brad HandIndians
10Raisel IglesiasReds
11Kirby YatesPadres
12Jose LeclercRangers
13David RobertsonPhillies
14Archie Bradley*Diamondbacks
15Will Smith*Giants
16Wade DavisRockies
17Ken GilesBlue Jays
18Alex ColomeWhite Sox
19Craig KimbrelFA
20Brandon MorrowCubs
21Trevor MayTwins
22Jose Alvarado*Rays
23Matt Barnes*Red Sox
24Arodys VizcainoBraves
25Jordan Hicks*Cardinals
26Brad Boxberger*Royals
27Sergio Romo*Marlins
28Cody AllenAngels
29Shane GreeneTigers
30Hunter StricklandMariners
31Mychal Givens*Orioles
32Andrew Miller*Cardinals
33Jeremy JeffressBrewers
34Dellin BetancesYankees
35Adam OttavinoYankees
36Alex ReyesCardinals
37Ross StriplingDodgers
38Pedro Strop*Cubs
39Corey KnebelBrewers
40Chad GreenYankees
41Seranthony DominguezPhillies
42Jace FryWhite Sox
43Jose CastilloPadres
44Yoshisha Hirano*Diamondbacks
45Ty ButtreyAngels
46Joe JimenezTigers
47Ryan PresslyAstros
48Jeurys FamiliaMets
49Will HarrisAstros
50Keone KelaPirates
51Tony CingraniDodgers
52Ryan BrasierRed Sox
53Drew Steckenrider*Marlins
54Adam Conley*Marlins
55Wily Peralta*Royals
56Blake Parker*Twins
57Mark Melancon*Giants
58Diego CastilloPadres
59A.J. MinterBraves
60Oliver PerezIndians
61Darren O'DayBraves
62Ray BlackGiants
63Hector NerisPhillies
64Richard RodriguezPirates
65Lou TrivinoA's
66Greg Holland*Diamondbacks
67Richard BleierOrioles
68Carl Edwards Jr.Cubs
69Seth LugoMets
70Nate JonesWhite Sox
71Kyle BarracloughNationals
72Cam BedrosianAngels
73Ryan YarbroughRays
74Craig StammenPadres
75Taylor RogersTwins