STATE OF THE POSITION
As I mentioned in the First Base picks, there is a huge advantage to having an elite 3B this year, with a huge drop between the Bryant/Arenado/Donaldson(/Machado) tier and the rest. But assuming you miss out on those hotshots, you'll need a backup plan, and there are some nice value picks to be had in the mid-rounds this year. In fact, I'll probably fill CI/UTIL slots with my upside 3B picks in quite a few leagues. Included here are two guys that have flashed their power across '15 and '16 but are nonetheless still underprojected and underrated, as well as a guy to avoid that probably put up a career year in '16.
TARGET: Justin Turner
615 PA, 20 HR, 76 R, 79 RBI, 4 SB, .278 AVG
Would you be surprised to find out that Justin Turner is a top-25 hitter in baseball, dating back to 2014? He slots in with the 22nd highest wOBA, just ahead of Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts. His years as a no-power utility infielder for the Mets are long gone, but the projections don't seem to have forgotten, so I've pumped Turner up a bit over his default projection. Last year, the Dodgers were hard to peg playing-time for, and they still are, due to their 40-man stuffing ways. But Turner is locked in as their starting 3B at this point, and figures to give you a nice power/AVG combo from the middle of the LAD lineup. Buy with confidence.
When to target: In most formats, you can get him in Round 11. CBS, realizing his greatness, has him ranked higher, and you'll need to grab him in Round 7 or 8.
Risk profile: Low.
TARGET: Mike Moustakas
550 PA, 22 HR, 71 R, 72 RBI, 3 SB, .267 AVG
I wish we had a little more info to go on here, but between his '15 and partial '16 seasons, I think it's safe to say that the .200-ISO version of Moustakas should be back this year after recovering from his ACL injury. If the small sample in '16 is any indication, he could put up even more. I think my 550 PA projection is a bit conservative, but accounts for some injury risk or slow start to the season for Moose. If he puts together a full season, 30 HR and a .270 AVG are within reach, which is huge for a guy going this late.
When to target: He's in a tier right around where Castellanos and Healy go in drafts, and should be there in Round 18 for Yahoo/CBS, Round 16 in ESPN/NFBC.
Risk profile: Medium.
AVOID: Hernan Perez
405 PA, 8 HR, 41 R, 41 RBI, 18 SB, .260 AVG
I have a strong feeling that Perez is going to end up on a lot of teams this year for owners that rode him to championships in '16. But, you can avoid this pitfall if you stop and think about it for just a minute. Perez is likely to run like mad when given the chance this year, just like last year, but the big question mark is how many chances he'll get. Travis Shaw seems to be in line to start at 3B for the Brew Crew, with Thames at 1B, Villar at 2B, and Arcia at SS, so Perez will float around as the every-position utility guy, but it won't be consistent enough to rely upon in shallow formats. I could see rostering him in deeper leagues for the steals, but he's going too early with his 186 NFBC ADP.
Risk profile: High.