For fantasy baseball players draft day is the best part of the entire baseball season. This is the day when you get to make your team. When the draft starts you have a blank sheet, and after a hour and a half or 3 hours (however long your draft takes) you have YOUR team. You may not like every single pick, but you were in control the whole time.
In this post I am going to try and give a couple of strategies for your draft. This can help you go in knowing what you want to do, and feel like you are in control the entire time your draft is happening. Before we get to the actual draft strategies you should do one thing, look over several different fantasy player rankings. It is good to use just one for the draft, but I encourage you to look over 3, 4 ,10 different player ranking lists. This will help you get a feel for what every “expert,” blogger, and paid writer thinks going into this season. If you don’t know where to find a good list, well I have a little treat for you.
The Fantasy Newsman <—-Click here for a huge list of rankings galore!
I stumbled upon this the other day, and I thought this is a great resource to have in preparation for a draft. I would suggest you look over a couple of those lists the week of your draft so you get a feel for all of the players (names, positions, teams) before going into your draft. Once you have done a little “research” print off one of those ranking lists and start highlighting, crossing off, or any other form of note making for the players that you want/like this year and players you don’t want/dislike. This way you can go into your draft knowing which guys you should be looking for. (The note-making step isn’t necessary but I feel it helps a lot for draft day.) Another thing that is pretty helpful is do a mock draft or two. You can find mock drafts on ESPN, Yahoo, CBSsports, and many more. This helps you see where the “average” fantasy player is taking certain people. This will help you enhance your note making, you can put where players you like are typically getting drafted. Let’s say you really like Cole Hamels once you do a mock draft you can see oh he went in the middle of the 8th round. Now you can put 8th next to Hamels, and when it gets to your draft you will know going into the 7th and 8th round that Hamels will be going off the board so you can pull the trigger on him so you don’t “reach” too much for him.
So enough of the preparation stuff here is a couple of H2H draft strategies that I think might be helpful for you.
Overloading a side-This strategy just means you load up on either batters or pitchers. The reason this strategy can work is because you are trying to lock down one side of the matchup categories each week. If you have 5 great SP, 4 great Closers, and 4 more High potential pitchers then you will probably beat your opponents in all of the pitching categories each week. The only weakness in this strategy is if you will have little depth on the other side and it will be hard to steal a category to win your matchup 6-4. But if you were to choose to overload pitching your staff could look like this Roy Halladay (1st), King Felix (2nd), Cliff Lee (3rd), Josh Johnson (6th), Joakim Soria (7), Carlos Marmol (9), JJ Putz (14), John Axford (16), Shaun Marcum (11), Brandon Marrow(13), Craig Kimbrel(19). Or something similar to that. It is always nice to know you don’t have to worry about positions so this strategy is best if you don’t think you will be able to check multiple times a week.
Punting categories-This strategy is commonplace among H2H leagues. It is also a gamble because you are purposely losing a category so that you can make your other categories stronger. So let’s say you decide you aren’t going to worry about batting average at all. Then during the draft you would go for guys you are known to not have good avg, but are really good at another category. A good example of this is people like Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds, Michael Bourn, Ryan Howard, Jose Bautista, and many others. If you were to choose to punt BA then you wouldn’t go for guys like Ichiro, Prado, and Starlin Castro since they offer high BA but not great in any of the other categories. Now if you do this strategy you wouldn’t pass on guys who have a high avg if they offer you good-great stats in at least 3 other categories. So in the first 3-5 rounds don’t pass on studs because they give you a high average. Some other categories that may be easy to “punt” are Saves, SB, and Wins. This strategy has always worked really well for me in fantasy basketball, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in baseball.
Best value-This is always a good strategy no matter the league you are in. You are simply going to get the best value at your pick every time. This might mean you get 2 1B early in the draft, or an old OF in the 10th round. The reason for this is if you have the best players you will be a tough team to beat every week. Plus if you do manage to get 2 great 1B, and 6 solid OF, you can always trade during the season to those who went with position scarcity instead of taking the best player. The down side to this strategy is you don’t end up with the players you like as much. So if you want take a couple of picks either in the middle of your draft or late to take a couple of “homer” picks so you will have some names on your team you actually want to root for.
There are several other strategies that people use during fantasy baseball, but these are three that could help you be competitive in your h2h league for the entire season. Now I want to remind everyone that there is no such thing as a perfect draft…so don’t expect it. Yes you can have a really good draft and love the team you have, but the season hasn’t started so no team is beating the other. The reason I wanted to say there is “no perfect draft” is to take the pressure off of you during your draft. It is ok if you reach for a player once, or you take a guy you aren’t sure about. The draft is an exciting time so sit back, have fun, and enjoy the hours you get to build the team you will get to manage for the entire year. At the end of the season the people who win their league are the people who make moves during the season. If you aren’t willing to change the team during the season, I can almost GUARANTEE that you will not win your league. My fellow fantasy baseballers the time is upon us go and draft with confidence, for those who are about to fantasy draft…I salute you!