If you haven’t already held your Fantasy Baseball draft, chances are you have a big evening ahead of you in the next two weeks. Today’s post focuses on reminding you of the things you already know (if you’re a seasoned player) before getting into your fantasy draft. It’s a creed to live by on draft night. It’s because – as Mike Tyson once said – “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.
Things will likely feel like they’re getting away from you at some point. It’s not a good reason to overpay for Curtis Granderson, or draft Yadier Molina five rounds too early because your catcher slot sits empty.
R-E-L-A-X. Read through these common sense reminders, and draft yourself a champion today. Remember, the guys you select on this night; if things go according to plan, are going to be spending more time in your living room than most of your closest friends. If you draft Adam Eaton, you sure as Hell better like him. Or find something useful about him.
- Stick to the plan. Look, I love baseball. Which means I love all the damn players. The first thing I want to do when I see the player pool full and I’m on deck to pick is I want to invent a way to draft the next five guys in my queue. Narrow it down and remember what you came for. If your plan was to take bats early, power relievers in the middle, and grab value starters late; don’t stray from that unless there is insane value to be had. Be disciplined. Make a post-it note that says ‘stick to the plan’ if you must. But whatever plan you have for winning your league – and you know your league and it’s members better than anyone else – strive to carry it through all the way to the final round.
- If you like to gamble, gamble on youth. There are a lot of aging veterans whose past seasons you will remember fondly. Albert Pujols sure was great to me in 2004, but time has flown by fast. If you’re in need of a position and there’s a young guy and an aging guy and you like both about equally, you really need to gamble on the potential and upside. Sometimes, this will get you killed. But more often than not, you’ll find that younger player has a higher ceiling and floor. As long as your team isn’t filled with rookies and second year players, there’s nothing wrong with gambling on the prospect with upside a few times. It’s going to be more enjoyable, and more profitable.
- Always, ALWAYS take the bat. It goes without saying that pitchers break down more. They just do. One outing they’re throwing you a shutout, and then they have a bullpen session and something doesn’t feel quite right. They’re interchangeable parts in fantasy folks. Do your best to lock down an elite guy or two; but don’t build your entire team around having four aces and scrimp on bats. Load up on the big time bats and find a few lottery tickets late in the way of starting pitching. Chances are, there’s a guy who will outperform those highly drafted pitchers on your waiver wire right now. The same cannot be said for great offensive players. There just aren’t that many .290 hitters.
- Corner the market on saves. Closers, especially good ones; can really help besides the ‘save’ category. You’ll see the benefit in your ERA, WHIP, and most other ratios used in fantasy leagues. If you have two to three good starters and a bunch of excellent closers, you’re in great shape. Then you can even add a turd closer or two like LaTroy Hawkins or Addison Reed who will hurt your ratios albeit not much; because you have the heavy lifters laying down the groundwork for you. The more closers you have, the better the chance someone in your league will have to punt the category. As the season dwindles, you can sell these guys off to save-needy teams for more than they’re worth.
- Remember steals are the rarest category in fantasy baseball. This is not a category you want to ignore. Everyone loves the sexy home run, but what most players don’t realize is that steals are going to be tough to come by; and while you might think ‘Oh, I’ll just add Jarrod Dyson or Rajai Davis here and there to pick up a few”, guys like that don’t do anything else to help you. Any player you can draft who not only steals bases but does something else that can help you will really bolster your roster. He has a rare value.
- Build a balanced (offensive) team. Easier said than done, eh? Have a decent mix of guys who can hit .300, hit over 30 homers, a high stolen base guy, and guys who get on base. Valuing the bat over the arm will also aid in doing this. Every time someone takes an arm off the board early, that’s one more offensive player who may fall to you that can help to build a well-rounded offensive team. Don’t be that guy who says at the end of the draft ‘well at least my team will lead the league in homers’. Yeah, they might. But guess what? You’re going to finish seventh because you neglected some very important categories. Look for lead-off and two-hole hitters that will get on base at a good clip and score some runs at value spots.
- Add a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ to your toolbox. I try to have one of these every year, and if I don’t I feel naked out in the wilderness of fantasy baseball. What’s a Swiss Army Knife in fantasy baseball? Look no further than the man whom I made a star in 2014, folks. Josh Harrison, added to my roster well before anyone else did (I promise you this) for the sheer fact that he was getting regular at-bats, did a little bit of everything; and the son of a gun played 2B, 3B, OF. If you can find a guy with a good combination of position eligibility (Brock Holt fits the mold we’re looking for, if he actually was good); you need to at least have an eye on this guy’s activity. If he looks like he’s performing over a two week or ten day stretch, add him. These players are valuable because they can cover multiple injuries across several positions when they happen. And in Harrison’s case they might end up being a starting outfielder for you.
- Don’t be afraid to overpay for the guy you want. This applies when you’re making a trade during your season, but it especially applies during a draft. If you believe in a guy, go for the gusto. Don’t be afraid of what anyone else thinks because the majority of owners out there are losing owners. When other players zig, I expect you to zag. Don’t do what the majority does all the time. If you’re feeling a break-out, especially if it’s a young guy; roll the dice and grab him several rounds too early. My friend in my big money league in 2012 who is an Angels fan said ‘You know what, F-it’ and selected Mike Trout in the 14th round of a draft only because he felt like he owed it to his favorite young prospect. This is after we had all sat around for an hour with Mike friggin’ Trout staring us in the face and passed him up for the safe player. Now my friend has Mike Trout at round 14 for a lifetime because he rolled the dice. And it wasn’t even an overpay. But at the time it seemed like a gamble with Trout coming off a shaky 2011. This stuff is meant to be fun. Sometimes you’ll be wrong, but sometimes your overpay will make you look brilliant.
These are a few things we think will serve as helpful reminders if you haven’t held your drafts yet. So go grab Anthony Rizzo in the damn 1st Round already! He’s gonna be a stud! Thank us 40 home runs later. Have yourself a great draft and come back in October to tell us your draft success stories in the comment section!