Ranks 11-20: Justin Upton in, A-Rod out 

January, 11, 2011
ESPN colleague Buster Olney blogged Tuesday about 10 young players who need to step up this season, and make no mistake, it's a good list, discussing players such as Mike Stanton and Aroldis Chapman. Those players matter, but they can't be trusted in fantasy just yet. When it comes to really mattering in fantasy baseball, we put the most stock in the early draft picks. Fantasy owners seek to minimize risk in Round 1, but Round 2 is when people start taking chances, picking players who could easily produce like a first-rounder.

[+] EnlargeJustin Upton
Brad Mangin/Getty ImagesJustin Upton still has the same 30-homer upside he had heading into the 2010 season.
And what better chance to take than on a young, toolsy, fill-the-box-score talent such as Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton? The fact is, Upton is all of 23 years old, and while 2010 was a disappointing season for him, it's way too early to give up now. Upton was the No. 17 option in ESPN average live drafts a year ago, someone being predicted for 30/30 numbers, at the very least. He fell well short of those marks; as such, most sets of rankings won't even have him in the top 30. Well, mine does. He's my No. 20 player overall.

One of the things I tend to do in all fantasy drafts or even when determining my rankings is look at young players with tremendous upside who everyone loved a year ago but still have yet to reach their potential. Players get forgotten quickly. It's not like Upton was going to slip to Round 8 in your draft, but I don't think much has changed in a year for him to drop more than a few spots. He's still very young and very talented. His progress has not stalled. Health played a role in his hitting a mere .273 with 17 home runs and 18 stolen bases last season, and hey, it could have been far worse. You didn't lose your league because your second-round draft pick hit only .273 with 17 home runs and 18 stolen bases.