The 'bounce-back' sleepers for 2012 

February, 28, 2012
It seems to me that many fantasy owners -- in all sports -- tend to act like anything that occurred prior to the most recent season just didn't happen. Consider last season's fantasy baseball drafts and the plight of then-new St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman. Most people in the fantasy world thought Big Puma was toast. He was chosen in Round 21 of ESPN average live drafts! Of course, Berkman delivered plenty of the proverbial toast in finishing 2011 as a top-25 hitter. Not bad, not bad at all.

It's not wise to select an entire fantasy team based on the previous year's busts, but there's a valid point to be made that one shouldn't choose solely the previous year's surprises, such as Melky Cabrera and Ryan Vogelsong, either. Seek a balanced team, which includes young and old, healthy and brittle, sure things and risks, as well as those that thrived and struggled last season. Berkman was an extreme example of an older player many fantasy owners wanted no part of.

Let's take a look back at the 2011 ESPN average live draft results and identify 10 hitters in demand from the prior top 100 who will not cost nearly as much this coming season. Are they going to follow Berkman's path and bounce back to previous levels of success? Here are players from last year's top 100 who should not be forgotten, and to make this list they must be outside our current top 100 (read that line again before commenting), which excludes Hanley Ramirez (No. 2 last season), Carl Crawford (he was No. 3) and AL East rival third basemen Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis (both made the top 25 in 2011, but not anymore).