Everyone knows closers are the worst, so it’s fair to wonder why most fantasy baseball leagues still have saves as a category. Even if your league has made the switch to saves and holds as one category — which really opens up the player pool to include all relief pitchers and causes much less draft-day or in-season stress — those third-of-an-inning, four-run implosions really sting. Nevertheless, most leagues still have saves, and therefore most owners need a good set of RP rankings heading into draft day. 

Every season it gets more difficult to rank relievers. Roughly two-thirds of closers lose their jobs, at least temporarily, at some point each year. That might be because of injury or poor performance, but either way, there’s going to be significant turnover. On top of that, more teams seem to be opting for a “closer-by-committee” strategy in the late innings, which ultimately adds more potential saves contributors but also makes it more difficult to find the right ones. There are only so many spots on a roster, and you can’t devote too many to RPs who might get one save chance per week. 

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: 2021 Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheet

Our RP rankings elevate the “safe” closers, but even our No. 2 guy, Josh Hader, might be in more of a committee than you think. His K-rate and peripherals are so good, though, that he can still be a major contributor in any type of league. The same goes for his bullpen-mate Devin Williams, who could also find himself in the mix for saves. Perhaps we have him overvalued, but that just shows how difficult it is to navigate this position. There aren’t many “sure things” for saves, and there are even fewer “sure things” who will actually have good ERAs and WHIPs. 

2021 FANTASY BASEBALL RANKINGS:
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Top 300

RP is an important position, but it’s the toughest position to handicap in March. That means you shouldn’t invest too much draft capital into it. Yes, you want a stud closer, maybe even two, but unless they have ultra-high K-rates and have proven themselves over the past seasons, you shouldn’t reach too far. There will be plenty of closers who pop up on the waiver wire throughout the year, and if you trust yourself to get them, then there’s no need to pass on more reliable hitters or starters. 

2021 FANTASY SLEEPERS
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | OutfieldPitcher | Each Team

We’ll be updating these RP rankings frequently throughout the spring, so check back for the latest player movement. 

MORE FANTASY BASEBALL:
Mock Draft Simulator | Auction Values | Team Names | Spring Updates

Fantasy Baseball RP Rankings: Closer Tiers, Sleepers, Draft Strategy

Rankings based on 5×5 H2H leagues with Ks, ERA, WHIP, Wins, and Saves as pitching categories. 

Position eligibility based on Yahoo’s default settings

Rank Player (throws) Age (as of 4/1) Team Tier
1 Liam Hendricks (R) 32 White Sox 1
2 Josh Hader (L) 26 Brewers 1
3 James Karinchak (R) 25 Indians 1
4 Aroldis Chapman (L) 33 Yankees 1
5 Brad Hand (L) 31 Nationals 2
6 Raisel Iglesias (R) 31 Angels 2
7 Edwin Diaz (R) 27 Mets 2
8 Ryan Pressly (R) 32 Astros 2
9 Kenley Jansen (R) 33 Dodgers 2
10 Nick Anderson (R) 30 Rays 2
11 Devin Williams (R) 26 Brewers 3
12 Hector Neris (R) 31 Phillies 3
13 Richard Rodriguez (R) 31 Pirates 3
14 Drew Pomeranz (L) 32 Padres 3
15 Trevor Rosenthal (R) 30 A’s 3
16 Greg Holland (R) 35 Royals 4
17 Jordan Romano (R) 27 Blue Jays 4
18 Matt Barnes (R) 30 Red Sox 4
19 Giovanny Gallegos (R) 29 Cardinals 4
20 Amir Garrett (L) 28 Reds 4
21 Taylor Rogers (L) 30 Twins 4
22 Anthony Bass (R) 33 Marlins 5
23 Emilio Pagan (R) 29 Padres 5
24 Diego Castillo (R) 27 Rays 5
25 Jordan Hicks (R) 24 Cardinals 5
26 Alex Colome (R) 32 Twins 5
27 Craig Kimbrel (R) 32 Cubs 5
28 Joakim Soria (R) 36 D-backs 5
29 Rafael Montero (R) 30 Mariners 5
30 Will Smith (L) 31 Braves 6
31 Daniel Bard (R) 35 Rockies 6
32 Jake McGee (L) 34 Giants 6
33 Stefan Crichton (R) 29 D-backs 6
34 Sean Doolittle (L) 34 Reds 6
35 Bryan Garcia (R) 25 Tigers 6
36 Hunter Harvey (R) 26 Orioles 6
37 Matt Bush (R) 35 Rangers 7
38 Ian Kennedy (R) 36 Rangers 7
39 Daniel Hudson (R) 34 Nationals 7
40 Yimi Garcia (R) 30 Marlins 7
41 Luke Jackson (R) 29 Braves 7
42 Mike Mayers (R) 29 Angels 8
43 Freddy Peralta (R) 24 Brewers 8
44 Archie Bradley (R) 28 Phillies 8
45 A.J. Minter (L) 27 Braves 8
46 Scott Oberg (R) 31 Rockies 8
47 Jose Cisnero (R) 31 Tigers 8
48 Luke Jackson (R) 29 Braves 8
49 Zack Britton (L) 33 Yankees 8
50 Tejay Antone (R) 27 Reds 8
51 Cesar Valdez (R) 36 Orioles 8
52 Jose Leclerc (R) 27 Rangers 8

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