Cockcroft: End-Game Bargains

Don't underestimate those late-round draft picks or single-digit auction bids; finding the right ones can often be a key to building a championship roster. Remember, it's not the studs that carry your team to a title, it's finding the right bargains and sleepers that make the difference in most fantasy leagues. While some owners are already giving their brains a rest while filling the final spots on their rosters, the smart owners, the ones who usually win, are the ones who take as much care filling their final roster spots as their first.

Last year alone, my "End-Game Bargains" column could have netted you Adrian Gonzalez, who managed 156 games played, a .304 batting average and 24 home runs. And in lesser roles, Wilson Betemit (18 HR in 373 AB), Matt Diaz (.327 AVG in 297 AB), Gerald Laird (.296 AVG, 7 HR in 243 AB), Jose Lopez (.282 AVG, 78 R in 603 AB) and Fernando Rodney (7 wins, 7 saves in 63 appearances) each contributed to AL- or NL-only rosters. Had you nabbed even one or two of those names in 2006, you'd have been a lot better off than the owner who had to keep rotating useless free agents in and out of back-end roster spots. (Of course, Kyle Davies, D'Angelo Jimenez and Ryan Wagner were busts from my 2006 list, which does demonstrate how truly unpredictable sleepers can be.)

So, once again, I'm listing my annual "End-Game Bargains," defined as players who shouldn't cost much more than a $1 pick in an AL- or NL-only format. Maybe none of these players will even raise an eyebrow in mixed leagues, but even in those formats, they should certainly be tracked as potential early-season pickups.