It seems like we spend so much time planning our draft-day strategy, but it's still tough to be fully prepared. You really never know what's going to actually happen in the draft, and when other managers are going to pick certain players, so it's important to adapt and make quick decisions. Flexibility is key during our drafts, which can come in a variety of ways, and below I'm listing some of my drafting tips that may help with shaping your draft-day strategies.
It would be a shame for one or two random picks by other managers to mess things up and send anyone into a spiral of bad decision making. We've probably all been there, in those dark draft minutes where we feel our "first place" roster may be taking a turn for the toilet. That's what we want to avoid, and that's why I'm here to give you the straight talk on draft day strategy. Hopefully this piece helps you to prepare for your fantasy baseball drafts in 2015. Also be sure to check out tons of other fantasy baseball draft strategy pieces by our awesome writers.
Fantasy Baseball Draft Day Strategy
1. The biggest 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. Don't lose focus because "the guy you wanted" just got drafted by someone else. There's a domino effect between a bad pick and how the rest of your team may shape up. Have players lined up in your draft queue, and have multiple options and backup plans for each round and draft pick. If you draft the catcher in the seventh round instead of taking a #3 SP or a third OF, you may find that when the draft comes back around to you, your options are limited.
2. Use tiered rankings
Be sure to check out every single one of RotoBaller's 2015 fantasy baseball rankings, and make sure to create your own general tiers for drafting. We provide premium tiered rankings in our Preseason Premium Pass which 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 Zach Greinke and somebody picks him right before you, you know you have Cole Hamels or someone else in the same tier and you can feel good about making that pick instead.
3. 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. 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. RotoBaller's ADP Draft Sleepers Tool helps with this too.
4. 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 Carter who might get you 30 HR and 90 RBI but only bat .230.
5. Don't get too 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 or third round versus Matt Kemp or Hunter Pence in the fourth or fifth. A lot of these veteran types are sometimes slipping in drafts despite the fact that they can produce very good value at their draft price.
6. Don't ignore injury-risk players with upside
Injury-risk players are another great example of guys that are undervalued in fantasy baseball drafts. 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. In 2011, 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. Prince Fielder and Matt Harvey are these types of players in 2015.
7. Always draft the best player on the board
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 Paul Goldschmidt in the first round, and Jose Abreu is somehow available in the second, you gotta take him! You have two elite first baseman, so what? Say Freddie Freeman then makes it to the 3rd round of your draft, you then gotta draft him, as well! If your team is stacked with elite production and talent at premium positions, 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.
Alight RotoBallers, there you have it. 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. Good luck RotoBallers!