While some intense fantasy sport enthusiasts have just gotten of the high of their Fantasy Football Championships, a more grueling 162-game baseball season is rearing its head and this is the time most are preparing for their drafts. We all dread making the big blunder when it's our turn to pick and hopefully I can warn all of you on the things you shouldn't do come draft day.
There has been a lot of talk about these "once in a decade" type prospects like Bryce Harper and Yoenis Cespedes making it very easy to fall into a trap and buying the hype surrounding them. When you hear of players like them, it tends to make owners a bit antsy seeing massive amounts of potential and not immediately taking a chance and hoping for the best.
For Harper and Cespedes in particular, it is possible neither starts the year in the majors and in most standard leagues owners are drafting them early enough in the draft to project as one of their starters from Opening Day. If drafted that early and not in the majors, it quickly puts you a step behind everyone else and once they arrive would have to play to a level above where you drafted them to begin with, which is rare for rookies.
If you can get one late in the draft to stash on your bench until he finds his stride, then I say go for it, but if you are counting on a rookie to start Day 1 for you and produce, you may be in some trouble.
Over my years of playing fantasy baseball, especially in a public league format, there is always "that guy" who will take four or five starting pitchers in a row to start his draft. In more cases than not, that owner will finish at the very bottom of the standings and wonder what happened.
Having a nice pitching staff is great, but for the most part fantasy baseball is a game that revolves around offense.
In the standard ESPN and Yahoo! Sports Public League format, the pitching categories consist of Wins, Saves, K's, WHIP and ERA. The last time I checked, starting pitchers aren't recording saves any time soon and only the cream of the crop (Halladay, Verlander, Lee) can actually contribute in all of the others.
When it's your turn to pick and you're forced to make a tough decision over a bat or an arm, it's statistically safer to pick the bat and that's what I advise you do as well.
At some point in every draft, something I like to call the "Crazy Closer Crap-Shoot" occurs.
Now as ridiculous as my newly coined term probably is, what I find more ridiculous is being the guy to start it. Right now a closer such as Craig Kimbrel is being chosen in either round four or five in most drafts which I just believe is way too soon (no matter how amazing his K rate is). After this owner picks the first closer, then it also gets way out of hand with people reaching for closers and drafting them like there's no tomorrow, hence the poor nickname I've given to the madness.
There is not a lot separating the second best closer in the draft to say the eighth or ninth to begin with, so if you're patient and wait it out an extra two rounds, you can start to reel in some high-save closers while improving the main core of your roster during the scramble.
This seems to be the easiest mistake to make as a fantasy manager.
A lot of us fell victim to the woes of Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and Adam Dunn a year ago because of how well we thought it looked on paper. When it comes to fantasy baseball the phrase "Newer isn't always better" couldn't be more true.
This year, there are even higher-profile players leaving for new teams such as Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes, all of whom are cases that you need to do your research on. I'm not saying any of these men will struggle, but it is much safer to take someone whose situation hasn't changed to someone like Pujols who is now hitting in a weaker lineup than he once was in.
This is probably the mistake that will give the owner the most amount of grief during the season. Especially those owners who are returning in a private league with their friends, it is CRUCIAL that you avoid the temptation of drafting guys who play on your favorite team, just because they play on your favorite team.
Opposing managers will feast on a "homer" and continuously take advantage of you all season if that's how you set up your draft strategy. Whether it is by making unfair trades with you during the season or quite frankly the complete humiliation you'll feel once you take Derek Jeter in the second round just because you've been a Yankee fan since 1976, you won't last long during the season if you choose to be a "homer."
Well that's a wrap folks.
Hopefully my advice has helped some of you out in time for your drafts and if not, you can at least say you have someone to blame if you have a poor season. Talk about your win-win situation...
In all seriousness, I would like to thank you all for reading and encourage you all to comment below with your thoughts or share even more mistakes you see being made in your drafts.