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Five Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategies for Non-5x5 Leagues

By Andrew_Friedman_and_Joe_Maddon.jpeg: Jennifer Huber derivative work: Delaywaves talk (Andrew_Friedman_and_Joe_Maddon.jpeg) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy for Non-5x5 Leagues

The time of the year has come for fantasy baseball owners to get ready for the 2014 season. That means preparing for the many different kinds of drafts that are out there and that includes head-to-head or roto leagues that include more than just the standard 5x5 batting and pitching categories. Some leagues, including a few that I play,are 7x7, 8x8 and even 10x10, with many statistics like OBP, holds and slugging percentage. With all these possible new categories to deal with, there needs to be a different draft plan put into effect.  RotoBaller has you covered with some key draft strategies for non-5x5 leagues.

1. Know the Extra Categories Coming In

There are many rookie owners who don’t take the time to look over their league's rules and stat categories before the draft. This is something that must be addressed before even beginning to rank your players for the draft. Some players get a boost because of the extra categories and others will get downgraded.  It is vital to have a clear understanding of which stat categories your league is using before you get down to business.  Baseball Monster let's you customize player rankings based on league specific categories.

2. Middle Relievers are More Important

A normal 5x5 league will see only closers get taken, with maybe a few dominant setup men as handcuffs. In a league where it is 7x7 or 8x8, holds will likely be a category in addition to saves.  That means those pitchers who come into the game in the seventh and eighth inning are just as important as those finishing the game in the ninth inning. Fantasy managers have to value relievers like Jonny Venters and Luke Gregerson, who may rack up 20 or 25 holds with dominant ratios, equal to many top tier closers.

3. Value Players Who Walk a Lot

If OBP is an extra category in your league, then finding the players who walk a lot, along with getting plenty of hits and RBI will be very important. A player like Joey Votto gets a boost because of his 135 walks last season. Shin-Soo Choo is someone to value more highly in OBP leagues, especially in his new surroundings. Take the time to look at 2013 stats and see which players might be worth drafting a round or two earlier than what would happen in a normal draft.

4. Don’t Get Crazy With Hitters

Fantasy baseball, especially 5x5 leagues, is skewed towards hitting as opposed to pitching.  In leagues with extra categories, you may run more of a risk ignoring the guys on the mound. While drafting six straight batters to begin the draft may seem like a good idea, getting a pitcher and especially a solid closer is important with the extra categories - there are more categories to address overall, so you need to make sure you're covering all your bases otherwise you'll have too much catch-up later in the draft. The plan should be to have a team that can win any category during any given week for a H2H league, or over the course of the year for roto. That means being diverse in the draft with your picks and mixing batters and pitchers more equally than you might in a 5x5 league.

5. Avoid the Category Killers

These are the players who hit. 195 and have 180 strikeouts. In a league with OBP, and K, these guys will absolutely kill you.  While players like Adam Dunn and Chris Carter are going to bring home run power to the table, and maybe even walk a lot, the fact that he helps in power categories isn’t enough to offset his batting average and strikeout numbers. There are certain players you want to avoid like the plague. It is better to find someone who can hit .245 with 10-15 steals while walking 50-60 times before taking a player like Dunn or Carter.