By Tim McCullough
The following is a free preview excerpt from the RotoExperts.com Xclusive Edge Fantasy Baseball Draft Package. To view the full 30 Tips, plus a whole lot more, including dynamic auction values, prospect and injury reports, click here.
Fantasy Baseball is all about having fun. You get to build and manage a team of big league players and compete against your friends for pride, money, ugly tattoos or some kind of ridiculously large trophy that most wives and girlfriends would much rather see out at the curb for the garbage collector. Regardless of what prize may come with a Fantasy title win in your league(s), half of the fun is in the building of the team on draft day and in managing the day to day lineups. To keep it fun, there are a number of things you can do (30 to be exact) to make your draft go smoothly, keep your team on track during the season and make your league the best it can be. To that end, I offer you these 30 Tips to a Successful Fantasy Baseball season. Play Ball!!
1) Be prepared on draft day. This is tip number one just about every year. You’ve already done one thing right – grabbing the Xclusive Edge Draft Kit. Some folks seem to think that one of those magazines with articles written back in December is enough to prepare for a Fantasy draft. You know better. Now make sure you devour everything we’ve given you. It’s all important to be truly prepared.
2) Know your league’s rules and exploit the loopholes. If tip one is to be prepared, the tip two is the first step towards it. There is no excuse for showing up on draft day with a bunch of questions for your commissioner about the rules. If you know the rules, you can figure out ways to beat your opponents by exploiting the loopholes. Almost every league has at least one loophole in their rules, find your league’s loopholes and exploit the heck out of them.
3) ADPs have limited use and so do mock drafts. Sure, ADPs can give you an idea of the general consensus value of players across many different leagues. However, your league is unique and your draft will be unique. Just because Jose Abreu is being taken with the 91st pick in NFBC drafts (and climbing) does not mean some idiot in your league won’t reach for him in the third round. He has gone as high as 47th! Everyone values players differently, so you need to be flexible and prepared to adjust your picks on the fly during your draft.
4) Be wary of unknown commodities on draft day. Speaking of Jose Abreu – don’t go into your draft thinking he is the second coming of Yasiel Puig. I’ve seen some mighty lofty projections based on his video game-like stats in the Cuban League. There is no doubt about his power, but that could easily bring with it some record strikeout numbers and a real drag of a batting average in the .230 range. There are plenty of first basemen that can give you just as good, if not better production with far less risk than Abreu.
5) Don’t get hung up on rankings and projections. Research by Ron Shandler has shown that as many as nine of the Top 15 players won’t return Top 15 value by season’s end. That’s means even the best players in the game are unpredictable, so you can surmise that it gets even worse as you go deeper into the talent pool. So go with your gut; it’s probably just as accurate. Rankings are just one person’s subjective analysis of the player pool. The only rankings that really matter, and the ones you should trust the most, are your own.
6) Forget about Spring Training numbers. It doesn’t matter how many home runs Yangervis Solarte hits in Spring Training; he won’t be breaking camp as a member of the Major League Yankees. During the spring, managers are using as many pitchers as possible, including non-roster invitees with middling-at-best stuff. Hitters are way behind pitchers developmentally and they are just trying to get their 50 at bats in. Pitchers are trying new pitches out. The numbers mean nothing. So don’t devalue or overvalue players according to their spring numbers.
7) Be bold at the draft table. I can honestly say that the years in which I won or at least did very well in all the leagues I play in were years in which I took chances on draft day. In competitive leagues (especially those where money is at stake) you should assume that everyone prepares and is ready to do their best job at the draft. Be proactive and don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on players you believe in. If you’re only reacting to what everyone else is doing then you’re not doing yourself any favors and will end up with a mediocre team.
8) Don’t fall in love with players. Just to temper what I told you about being bold, it’s important to be flexible in your player choices during the draft. If you count on getting certain players, and only those players, you’ll be disappointed. Always have several choices in mind for any one roster spot.
9) Make sure you’ve got your numbers covered. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me they got almost all the players they wanted in their draft. Then about a month into the season, they’re emailing the rest of the league looking for a “speed guy” because they’re 20 stolen bases behind everyone else. On draft day, you have to be certain that you have players who will produce in all of the scoring categories. If you miss out on a player you targeted for steals, make sure you draft someone else with similar numbers, or two players whose combined stats will cover the category and contribute elsewhere. No matter how you slice it, Fantasy Baseball is a numbers game; pay close attention to player statistics throughout the draft process, from planning through execution and all through the season.
10) Rookie hitters are pretty much useless in Fantasy Baseball. A total of 273 rookie hitters came to the plate during the 2013 season. A measly 25 of them amassed more than 300 plate appearances. Can you guess how many of those 25 did enough to make a measurable difference in Fantasy play? Would you believe me if I told you it was less than a dozen? I won’t tell you not to bother with any rookies at all; there are a couple that just might help you.
11) Believe in Xander Bogaerts. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who’s seen Bogaerts play who doesn’t think he’s destined to be a star someday. He can hit for average and has enough power to be worthy of your third base slot, but he’ll be more valuable as a shortstop. I believe there is five-category Fantasy goodness to be had here. Believe it!
12) Multi-eligible players are really useful in all formats. This is especially true in leagues with large rosters or odd roster requirements. The more flexible your roster, the easier it will be to replace injured players or keep the largest possible number of players active on any given day.
13) It’s rarely a good idea to punt a category. For every brilliant Fantasy Baseball strategy there are at least a dozen more that are equally as brilliant. However, punting a category on draft day is not smart at all in rotisserie leagues regardless of the number of teams. Punting a category is a mid-season strategy, applied when it is clear that you can dominate other categories and still win while sacrificing one of them. Even then, you should only punt after careful consideration of the numbers. In other words, you must be able to dominate the other categories before you punt.
14) You can punt a category in head-to-head leagues. Huh? But you just said don’t punt. Yeah, I know what I said, but head-to-head play is different from rotisserie. As a short-term strategy, punting a category, or even two, can work really well. You can load up on either starters or relievers to dominate in four out of five categories. In head-to-head leagues, as long as you win more than 50 percent of the categories you’ll win the matchup of the week. Again, it’s all about knowing the rules.
15) Wil Myers will have a breakout season. Myers burst on the scene last season after the dramatic trade that sent him to Tampa Bay, where he slugged 13 home runs in 373 PA while maintaining a .293 batting average. He needs to cut down on the strikeouts a bit, but even if he continues to strike out about 25 percent of the time he should still hit around 25 HRs and keep his average above .275. The Rays lineup is about as good as it has ever been and Myers will be one of the main cogs in their run producing machine. Look for four category production from Myers this season.