Admit it, the best part of playing fantasy baseball isn’t the season long play or the blockbuster trade you might pull off, it’s the draft!! The draft is the first step in proving to family, friends, or strangers online that your baseball knowledge far exceeds theirs. If you get off to a bad start, your team might end up in a state of mediocrity for the entire season and what fun is that.
This article is for the inexperienced player who is just starting out or the middle of the road owner who needs a little help in becoming a consistent playoff team or championship winner. Most experienced owners have a method to their madness; these are a few of mine.
Develop a plan of attack for your draft, but be flexible: On draft day decide how you will proceed if you’re selecting towards the front, middle, or back end of the draft. Look at your own rankings or the ones that most online sites provide you beforehand and gauge what players might be available at certain spots in the draft. The reason I say to be flexible is that there is always one owner in every draft who will do things out of the norm and select a player long before you thought they would be drafted, creating an opportunity for your team to benefit.
Beware of the oft-injured player: These types of players are fantasy team killers, especially if you draft them too early. The first 6-8 selections of the draft are the backbone of your team. You need those players to produce for you every day. If you draft a player in the early rounds and he is always injured, it will drag down your team. A good example of this is Jose Reyes of the Marlins. People always draft him within the first 4-5 picks of the first round and then are shocked when he goes on the DL 3-4 times during the season. In the past three seasons, the most games he has played in any one season is 133. That’s too much time on the DL for my taste. I’m not saying you shouldn’t draft him; I just personally leave that problem to another owner. I’ll take a more sure thing in the early rounds.
Don’t panic when a run on one position happens: When I first started playing, I would fall victim to this during the draft. The first 7-8 owners drafting before me would all take outfielders. I would then panic and select one as well. As I gained more experience, I realized that it might be better to take the 4th or 5th ranked player at another position, than to take the 15th best outfielder. It’s all about value. If the 15th ranked outfielder is a better option than the 5th ranked player at another position, draft him, but look things over first before you panic and continue the run on the position.
Be aware of the needs of the teams drafting behind you: If you are selecting in the middle of your draft, this tip can’t help you much. However, if you’re selecting towards the front or back end of the draft, this one is a keeper. Let’s say you are picking 3rd. You just finished the 9th round, and the 10th is starting to make its way back towards you. You look at your team and you can’t decide between selecting a 3rd baseman or another starting pitcher with your 10th round pick and you need both. You glance at the rosters of the two teams drafting behind you and notice that they both have already selected a 3rd baseman in previous rounds. It’s unlikely they will select another, so select the starting pitcher in the 10th round, wait 4 picks, and take the 3rd baseman with your pick in the 11th round. You end up with both players you wanted because you took a little time and checked out your competitor’s needs.
Be vigilant throughout the entire draft: As the draft winds down, some owners treat their last 2-3 picks as if they don’t matter, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I always use my last few picks to supplement my roster in certain categories. I might draft a player who steals bases and scores runs, but doesn’t offer much else or a middle reliever who can add strikeouts and help lower my team ERA and WHIP. My last pick in the draft is someone I want to take a chance on. This player might have had a couple of down years or had injury problems and I think they might bounce back with a decent season this year. If it works out, I get a decent contributor to my team. If it doesn’t work out, no harm no foul. I didn’t risk anything because he was taken with my last selection. I can just cut him and find another player.
The fantasy baseball season is a long one. A solid draft is essential to fielding a competitive team, year in and year out. Do your homework and most of all, have fun.
Stats are from MLB.com.