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Winning Points Leagues on Draft Day

Most of the analysis you'll find in the fantasy community tends to be geared towards roto or 5x5 formats. This is done for two main reasons. First, category formats are easily the more popular of the two options. Analysts write to be read, so it makes sense to appeal to your largest possible audience.
Secondly, the different scoring systems for points leagues can be incredibly diverse. This makes giving out general advice for them rather difficult. Something as simple as assigning a negative point value to strikeouts can dramatically influence draft strategies (think: Chris Davis or Chris Carter).

With draft day upon us, it's time to pay this format some attention though. There are some general principles that hold true for more standard points formats, principles which I'll be outlining in this article. Hopefully, they'll ring true for your league.


1) Starting Pitchers Are King

In general your highest scoring players in a points league will be your starting pitchers. While I'm generally not a fan of drafting pitchers too early in roto leagues, in this format I'll want to walk out of the first four innings of my draft with a high strikeout ace. Someone like Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, or Stephen Strasburg can really give you a leg up on the competition throughout the long season.


2) Categories Don't Matter (i.e. Saves Aren't Special)

Roto leagues force you to draft a diverse team. After all, there's no point in beating the second place finisher by 100 home runs if you lose every other offensive category in the process. This is the absolute reverse in the points format. It doesn't matter if your points are coming from steals or RBIs, home runs or singles, saves or wins. All that matters is your sum total at the end of the year. If you can draft the best team without taking a single closer, do that. If you walk away from the table without any speed whatsoever, that's fine too. At each round of the draft, the only question you should really be asking yourself is: what is the best possible player I could get at this point?


3) Avoid High Strikeout Hitters

I talked about it briefly in my introduction, but you want to pay close attention to strikeout rates in this format. Guys like Chris Davis, Pedro Alvarez, Chris Carter, and George Springer can be a big liability if your league penalizes strikeouts. Think about it: in over a quarter of their at-bats, these four players would be providing negative value to your team. If you overdraft this type of hitter, that can be a tough hole to dig yourself out from.


4) Slugging Percentage > Home Runs

Fantasy owners are very accustomed to thinking of power in terms of home runs. That won't do in a points league. As long as your league awards points for doubles and triples, you'll have to pay attention to gap hitters as well. This is why SLG, along with more advanced power metrics like ISO, is a much better method for evaluating players than home run totals alone. Not a big fan of Joey Votto? If you play in this type of format you should be.


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