Here's what I had to say about the third base position just two years ago:

I've been ranking players for CBS Fantasy for more than a decade now, and I can't recall a time I saw a position so deep. There are enough multi-eligible players here, spaced far enough apart in the draft, for you to form a lineup entirely of third basemen while still leaving enough on the board to meet the third base need of the 11 other teams.

Position Strategy: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP       

Life comes at you fast, and it sometimes brings a wrecking ball, tearing down this once beautiful position through a combination of position changes, breakout fakeouts, injuries and natural decline. For all the talent leaving over the past two years, virtually none was added, save for Austin Riley. Ke'Bryan Hayes and Alec Bohm looked to lengthen the position a year ago, but they turned out to be among the breakout fakeouts.

Bottom line: This position is the pits now. If it's not top of mind for you on Draft Day, you'll quickly be left behind. The last bankable starter, Nolan Arenado, goes off the board in Round 5 or 6. There are some reclamation cases beyond then -- as hard as the position has been hit, how could there not be? -- but whether the investment justifies the risk is another matter. You certainly can't count on any player falling to you. The glass is half full when there are no others to drink from.

My approach to third base this year, then, is pretty simple: Get in as early as I can reasonably justify it. Yes, position scarcity is a thing again, at least when it comes to this position.

The Studs

2022 ADP2021 PPG2021 BA2021 HR

We may disagree over who's No. 1 at some positions. Third base is not one of those positions. Jose Ramirez is the odds-on favorite to lead it in both home runs and stolen bases (oh right, Adalberto Mondesi is a third baseman now, so ... not stolen bases) and has been a first-round fixture for half a decade now. The only question is how early in the first round you should take him. My answer, again, is as early as you can reasonably justify it. He's going to be one of the worst bets for batting average among the first-rounders, so at least in 5x5 leagues, the overall upside isn't quite on the level of Fernando Tatis, Vladimir Guerrero or Trea Turner. Fourth overall sounds about right. In points leagues, where batting average has no direct impact, you can slot him ahead of Turner as well.

Beyond Ramirez, Rafael Devers at the Round 1-2 turn is about right. I've decided I'd opt for him over Freddie Freeman in the name of position scarcity. Manny Machado at the 2-3 turn is also fair, though maybe not over a higher-impact player at some other position, be it Luis Robert or an ace like Zack Wheeler. When laying the foundation for your team, you can't afford to get too cute. Fortunately, the alternatives aren't as promising once Austin Riley enters the conversation in Round 4. He doesn't offer the track record of a Devers or Machado and, in fact, seems more likely to take a step back than another step forward. But if you let him go, you're really playing with fire because there's only Nolan Arenado left.

That's not strictly true, of course, but it is if you want a third baseman you can trust. And while I'd rather have Arenado in Round 6 than Riley in Round 4 (especially since I've already said I'll take catcher Salvador Perez every time he's available in Round 4), holding out for Arenado leaves no margin for error.

Other Deserving Starters

2022 ADP2021 PPG2021 BA2021 HR

Am I being too harsh by excluding Alex Bregman and Adalberto Mondesi from the previous group? Judging by ADP, you could say the same for Kris Bryant. Shoot, let's throw in Anthony Rendon for good measure. He's been a high-end guy in the past. Bottom line is you have to draw the line somewhere, and for me, it's a matter of trustworthiness.

Maybe in a points league, you could slot Bregman with the studs based on his superlative plate discipline. Maybe in a categories league, you could do the same with Mondesi based on his superlative base-stealing skills. But both carry injury risk -- Mondesi significantly so -- which means you'll need a Plan B if you invest in either one. At this position, Plan A is hard enough.

Plus, for Bregman, as well as Bryant and Rendon, the power output may not measure up to years past. We're in a post-juiced ball world where fringy exit velocities like theirs don't play the same. Bregman and Rendon both saw a sharp reduction in home runs for the time they were healthy last year. It wasn't as glaring for Bryant, but his exit velocities are the worst of the three. True, all three bring something other than power to the table, provided they're healthy, but if their upside isn't what it once was, how much of a priority should they be?

My favorites of the group, at least at their going rates, are Bregman and Rendon, and if I miss out on one of the studs at the position, I'll hold my breath and take either/or when the time comes. Alternatively, if I need to make a splash in steals in a categories league, I'll look to take Mondesi as early as Round 7. Each of those scenarios feels like a resignation of sorts, though.

The Sleepers

2022 ADP2021 PPG2021 BA2021 OPS

*minor-league stats

When a position gets burned as badly as third base has over the past couple years, among its remains are a number of bounce-back candidates who meet the definition of "sleeper." My favorite is Matt Chapman, who has a couple studly seasons in his past and is still in his prime at age 28. Most of all, though, he has the perfectly reasonable excuse of having had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip in 2020. An offseason of rest may not have been enough to get him back to full strength (the same was true for Buster Posey in 2019), in which case there may still be 40-homer potential.

Yoan Moncada also has an elite pedigree and was trending the right way as recently as 2019, but all bets are off after the way his past two seasons have gone. Nothing in the underlying numbers will help you make sense of it either. In shallower leagues, after I've already blown it at third base, I've taken to hedging my bets with both Chapman and Monada late, but that's harder to justify in a league of real size.

Eugenio Suarez's power hasn't diminished since his 49-homer 2019, but he's hit only .199 during that time. Here's hoping his big September was a sign of him turning the corner. Patrick Wisdom also showed 40-homer potential as a 29-year-old rookie last year but will probably strike out too much to make good on it. Josh Donaldson and Evan Longoria are both still reasonably productive but won't play consistently anymore. Ke'Bryan Hayes and Alec Bohm feel like such Hail Marys at this point that I'd rather cast my lot with the next prospects set to debut -- i.e., Jose Miranda of the Twins.

The Base-Stealers

2022 ADP2021 SB2022 hopeAlso eligible
player headshot
Tyler Wade LAA SS
5481715-20SS, OF

Adalberto Mondesi is an odd fit at third base, a position normally reserved for sluggers, but as the game's most prolific base-stealer, he's a darling pick for categories leagues either way. The question remains whether he can take the field regularly, and the presumption as of now is no. Apart from him and first-rounder Jose Ramirez, there are no major steals sources here, just a handful of players who could make a relevant contribution to the category. Jonathan Villar and Tyler Wade have demonstrated the upside for more, but both seem destined for utility roles.