It seems like we spend so much time planning our draft-day strategy, only for one or two random picks by other managers to completely screw it all up and send us into a maniacal spiral of horrendous decision making. We’ve all been there, in those dark draft minutes where our “guaranteed first place” roster all of a sudden took a turn for the toilet. That’s why RotoBaller is gonna give you the straight talk on draft-day strategy. So let’s prepare for your fantasy baseball draft in 2013.
One key to draft day is don’t panic. Once you start panicking and making junky off-the-cuff picks, things start heading to the toilet, and quickly. There’s a domino effect between a bad pick and how the rest of your team may shape up. If I draft the catcher in the seventh round instead of taking a #3 SP or a third OF, I may find that when the draft comes back around to me my options are limited.
Use tiered rankings: Be sure to check out every single one of RotoBaller’s rankings. Our tiered rankings make it easy for you to understand which guys are comparable to each other. Tiers are very important for drafting because if you’re targeting Matt Cain and somebody picks him right before you, you know you have Zach Greinke in the same tier and you can feel good about making that pick instead.
Don’t reach; wait for guys with good values: Part of having a successful draft is taking players with good values and not overpaying for production. We cover this in depth in our rankings, especially starting pitchers. Instead of loading up on pitchers or another type of player in the early rounds, there’s almost always an opportunity to wait a few rounds and find a guy who is undervalued but will produce 90 to 95% of the value of the guy you were considering a few rounds earlier. This is how you make a profit: get good value on the cheap, and then those solid numbers will increase that player’s value immensely, both for your team and in the trade market. The more you can do this, the more profit you will make. And the more fantasy baseball profit you make with player statistics, the better chance you will have to win your league.
Target guys who fill the stat sheet: You’ll want to try and load up on the guys who can fill the most categories early. If you have an opportunity in the third round to draft a well-rounded 5-category outfielder or a mashing 3-category first baseman, go for the more well-rounded player. The more well-rounded production you can draft early on, the easier it will be to plug any holes on your team later on down the road. Plus, late in the draft is when you’re looking for power or speed fliers, not well-rounded players. A team with a balanced approach can handle a flier on Chris Davis who might get you 30 HR and 90 RBI but only bat .230.
Don’t get seduced by the youth: The aging veteran is a good example of a guy who is undervalued in your typical fantasy baseball draft. These guys have been producing for many years, but for some reason people are always predicting their declines. At the same time, managers and “experts” are always proclaiming the next big breakout from a 21- or 22-year-old. People love the unknown– it’s sexy and mysterious. Fortunately for you, the unknown doesn’t do that well in fantasy baseball. So while other managers are drafting the sexy young studs, you can sit tight and draft the guy who’s been producing for a decade. The perfect example of this is Bryce Harper going in the second round versus Matt Holliday going in the fifth. A lot of these veteran types like Carlos Beltran or Paul Konerko are sometimes slipping in drafts despite the fact that they can produce very good value.
Don’t get too loose with injury-risk players: Injury-risk players are another great example of guys that are undervalued in fantasy baseball draft. Many people are scared off by players coming off an injury. These guys tend to slip in drafts, and if your roster is solid in the early rounds you can start taking chances on these types of players in the middle rounds. A few years ago, in the middle-to-late rounds of my draft, I was able to secure the following players; Adrian Beltre, Roy Oswalt, and Francisco Liriano. All of those guys produced numbers at least ten rounds better than their draft slots, making it very difficult for my league to catch up. If an injury-risk guy slips too far in your draft and you feel good about your team, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger and invest in an opportunity at making a huge draft-day profit.
Grab the best player, period: The last thing to remember about draft day is always grab the best available player on the board, especially if you’re having a tough time deciding on your pick. If you’ve drafted Joey Votto in the first round, and Prince Fielder is somehow available in the second, you MUST take him. You have two elite first baseman, so what? Say Paul Konerko then makes it to the tenth or twelfth round of your draft, you then MUST draft him, as well. If your team is stacked with elite production and talent, you will find a way to win even if you can’t play all your guys at the same time. You can always rotate players or trade them to other teams. When your team is full of really solid players, things always seem to find a way to work themselves out for you.
So make sure to be prepared before draft day, have your cheat sheets ready, and feel confident about every pick that you are going to make. After all, the draft is by far the best place to establish yourself as a contender for the year. If you can make savvy draft picks and start picking up guys in the mid-to-late rounds for putting up numbers equivalent of the first few rounds, you will most likely win your league.
If you guys have any questions at all about your fantasy baseball draft, your league format, your keepers, your draft strategy, your cheat sheet, anything at all, find us on Twitter @RotoBaller or in our fantasy baseball chat room in the lower right-hand corner and get at us with your questions or discussion topics. You can submit a question to us for a complete and detailed analysis, as well. We will always do our best to get back to you as fast as possible and give you the advice or analysis you are looking for to help you win your fantasy baseball leagues in 2013.