Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy for Roto Leagues
It’s officially Fantasy baseball season! While everyone shakes the snow off and begins to rejoin their leagues from last year, the countdown until draft day begins. For most teams their entire season rides on having a good draft, as picking the wrong players can ruin the year before it even starts. I have been mock drafting daily since registration opened, and have compiled a list of tips to share that will help managers properly prepare for draft day and ensure success for the 2014 fantasy season.
Mock Draft From Different Draft Slots
It is pretty hard to prepare for a draft when you do not know what spot you will be drafting from. Some leagues publish the draft order beforehand, but most leave it up to a random draw on draft day. With that in mind, the best way to overcome this, especially for those in multiple leagues, is to mock draft from different spots. The benefit of this is that you can get a good idea of who will be available in what rounds (and who won’t be) as well as where you might need to sacrifice an earlier pick to guarantee that guy you really want.
Use Your Queue Properly
For most people, myself included, the Queue has always been useless. While I’m drafting, I don’t need to list the players available when they are right in front of me. However, I figured out a tip that gives a whole new way to use this tool. When looking at your board, figure out how many picks you are away from your next turn. Then, add all the players on the current board you want into the queue until you reach the number of picks it is before you. Note that they don’t have to be all above the grey line signaling your draft number. What this avoids is freezing during your turn which often leads to momentary stress and more than likely, a bad pick. It provides you a fallback option at the very least.
Add The Right Players To The UTIL Spot/Bench Spots
The last spots to fill on any starting roster are the Utility and bench spots. These are fun, and sometimes hard spots do decide who you want to roster as any hitter can be placed there. The way I usually fill them is the same way I use my bench spots for hitters, and that is with players with more than one available position. Look at players like Nick Swisher, Xander Bogaerts and Kyle Seager for what I mean. Swisher is classified as both a 1B and OF, Bogaerts SS & 3B, and Seager 2B & 3B. An additional reason why these solid players will be even more valuable is their ability to take over in case of an injury or if you make a trade. They are also flexible on those days where every player in your lineup is playing, and can be moved around to make room for somebody else.
Simply put, they are the most overrated position in fantasy baseball. Most leagues, they are only useful for one stat, saves, with exception of very few closers. Other than that, they do not make much of an impact in the ERA/WHIP categories, and only occasionally grab a win either by luck or blowing a save. I have yet to find a viable reason to draft a closer as early as Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel are projected. There is plenty of value lower down the list with Addison Reed, Rafael Soriano and Fernando Rodney. I usually break from the draft with 2/3 closers, then grab the nice waiver guys once injuries/blown saves affect the studs (see: Koji Uehara.)
Simply put, if you’re worried that your sleepers might get taken early, they probably aren’t big sleepers. They are just guys you overvalue. For example, I loved Alex Gordon going into last year, so much so that I drafted him over Jason Heyward. Not a good decision. It’s great that you do research before the draft and maybe see somebody ranked lower than they should be, but odds are your love for that player is a personal reason like you’ve seen them play and were impressed, or he is just a name player that used to be great. Nonetheless, sleepers are a great thing to have in the back of your head and target in drafts, but don’t go drafting them a whole 5 rounds early just because you can't live without them. If you draft them too early, it defeats the point of them being a sleeper!
That’s the end of my tips; I pray nobody reading this is in my own leagues. For everybody else, I hope you use this advice well and come out of your draft feeling that you made the right moves.
Follow Justin on Twitter @JustBerglund as well as @Rotoballer for all your fantasy baseball updates.