If you’ve been listening to SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio lately, then you’ve already been inundated with all sorts of talk about stolen bases. The decline in speed we witnessed last season has apparently stood out like a turd in a punch bowl and heading into the January 23rdFSTA Experts Draft, the declaration of speed being at a premium this season was heard loud and clear. Five of the top burners were off the board by the end of the third round and when Billy Hamilton was taken with the first pick of the fourth (40th overall), you knew the pundits were focused on speed.

Yes, you read that correctly. Billy Hamilton, the guy fantasy pundits have been laughing at for two years, was the 40th player off the board. His 2016 ADP sat near the 120 marker in both the NFBC and Mock Draft Army, but with speed apparently now being at such a premium and his .369 OBP in the second half last year, he’s now a highly-coveted commodity in the fantasy baseball kingdom. Not sure why people believe in his second half for OBP but dismiss the second half power of Justin Upton, but that's an argument for another day. Let's stick to the speed.

But should you be buying into all of this? I don’t think so. I do agree that stolen bases are at a premium this year, but to such a degree that players like Hamilton and Jonathan Villar are worth a top-40 pick in fantasy drafts? No. Let others in your draft make that mistake. You can target speed late and still remain in the upper echelon in steals in your league.

Let’s start by taking a look at the top-50 base-stealers from last year (minimum 350 PA):

Jonathan Villar679199263620.285
Billy Hamilton46036917580.260
Starling Marte52997146470.311
Rajai Davis495127448430.249
Eduardo Nunez595167367400.288
Hernan Perez430135056340.272
Jean Segura6942010264330.319
Paul Goldschmidt7052410695320.297
Mike Trout68129123100300.315
Jose Altuve7172410896300.338
Travis Jankowski38325312300.245
Wil Myers676289994280.259
Melvin Upton Jr.539206461270.238
Mookie Betts73031122113260.318
Odubel Herrera656158749250.286
Leonys Martin576157247240.247
Elvis Andrus56887569240.302
Jose Ramirez618118476220.312
Bryce Harper627248486210.243
Ian Desmond6772210786210.285
Kevin Kiermaier414125537210.246
Chris Owings46655249210.277
Jacoby Ellsbury62697156200.263
Francisco Lindor684159978190.301
Josh Harrison52245759190.283
Brian Dozier6914210499180.268
Carlos Gomez453134553180.231
Charlie Blackmon6412911182170.324
Gregory Polanco587227986170.258
Freddy Galvis624206167170.241
Alcides Escobar68275755170.261
Cesar Hernandez62266739170.294
Ryan Braun564308091160.305
Brett Gardner63478041160.261
Ender Inciarte57838529160.291
Todd Frazier666408998150.225
Jason Kipnis688239182150.275
Angel Pagan543127155150.277
Michael Bourn41354838150.264
Cameron Maybin39146543150.315
Rougned Odor632338988140.271
Ian Kinsler6792811783140.288
Adam Eaton706149159140.284
Brandon Phillips584117464140.291
Lorenzo Cain43495656140.287
Kevin Pillar58475953140.266
Paulo Orlando48455243140.302
Ben Revere37524424140.217
Xander Bogaerts7192111589130.294
Carlos Correa660207696130.274

If you look through that list of players, you’ll find nine who finished with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Another six just missed that plateau by either three or fewer home runs or three or fewer stolen bases. Lower that number to five (homers or steals), and you can add seven more names to that list. While there are names which I may not believe in for a repeat, overall, we’re still looking at 22 players who went, at a minimum, either 20-15 or 15-20 last season. Again, there are obvious exceptions, but those are the players you should covet early – guys who have a strong blend of both power and speed.

Now take a look at the FSTA draft board.

After Hamilton was taken in the fourth round, we still had Wil Myers, Ian Desmond and Jean Segura on the board. All three went 20-20 last year. We also saw Gregory Polanco, Ian Kinsler and Jason Kipnis still available. While none of them stole as many bases as Hamilton, all of them had stronger overall production.

Now look deeper into the draft. Rajai Davis had 43 stolen bases last year and was taken in the 11th round. So did Eduardo Nunez and his 40 steals. Hernan Perez (34) and Travis Jankowski (30) were both available in the 21st round while Leonys Martin (24) sat until the 23rd.  And we haven’t even discussed the potential of speedsters like Jarrod Dyson, Mallex Smith, Jose Peraza, Cameron Maybin, Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ketel Marte and Ben Revere. I’m not saying these guys don’t have warts, but they can certainly help augment your steals total at a ridiculously low cost.

If stolen bases are a concern of yours early, then when you’re picking your stud in the first round, grab a Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Paul Goldschmidt, Charlie Blackmon or even a Bryce Harper – guys who will contribute well in the category. Then look for your better across-the-board producers like Desmond, Myers and/or Polanco in the next couple of rounds. You’ll have a much more balanced squad through the first 10 rounds of your draft.

And don’t forget, those late-round speed guys you grab will also contribute runs scored and batting average. Your opponents, who will find themselves fishing for late home runs to make up for that early burner, won’t be able to say the same about the late-round power help they now need to find.