This draft strategy planning guide is only applicable to CBS Fantasy Baseball Premium Public Head-to-Head Leagues.
Any draft strategy that purports to be useful for any fantasy format really can't be useful. There are many leagues that use similar rules, but each league has its own nuances that make the smart "fantasy baller" change his or her strategy.
For instance, if a random fantasy baseball league uses hits as an offensive scoring category, but does not designate scoring differences between hits and extra-base hits like doubles, triples or home runs, all of a sudden, Ichiro Suzuki becomes a more valuable player than a guy like Adam Dunn or even Alex Rodriguez.
However, if a second league rewards extra base hits, you want no part of Ichiro and want to look for those sluggers that can put your team over the top.
If you look at the rules of the CBS Sports public leagues, it is worth noting that offensively, extra base hits are rewarded and home runs are worth four points, the highest amount you can score for an offensive play.
However, if you delve deeper, you will also notice that a home run also will produce at least one RBI and one run (one point each). This means that even a solo home run is worth six points! Load up on sluggers, and get them often. The one-half point deduction for strikeouts is not a large enough deterrent to avoid drafting a guy who swings for the fences.
Even a guy like Adam Dunn, who fans upwards of 160 times a season, also walks over 100 times a year. You are awarded one point for each walk, so don't be scared away by the big strikeout numbers, you are winning with a guy like Dunn in the long run. Draft sluggers in the early rounds early and often.
Looking at pitching, there are two things to consider: First, for CBS Sports head-to-head leagues, your transactions run weekly; not daily. Therefore, you must be on the lookout for two-start pitchers with good matchups. Luckily, CBS Sports publishes this list weekly, and you can usually find some solid two-start guys. But this is draft strategy, so what does this mean for your draft?
This means, for starting pitchers, you use the late-middle to late rounds of your draft to take a lot of middle of the rotation solid pitchers—guys like Matt Garza, Mike Pelfrey, Ted Lilly, etc.
Look at all teams' rotations as your draft approaches. Figure out the guys that will be over-valued. Guys like Johan Santana or C.C. Sabathia are great, but if they are only starting once in a given week, you would be behind the eight-ball. Presumably, you had to use a first- or second-round pick on Johan or C.C. and missed out on a slugger like Prince Fielder and will be struggling to make up points all week in that matchup.
Looking at scoring, you will note that some of the scoring categories have changed. CBS Sports has not made any restrictions on innings pitched per year or game restrictions. That is good news for you. What is even further good news for you is that you are allowed to have five bench players a week as you start 16 players (21 total on your roster). This means, draft strategy! You need to know the guys you want to stow away on your bench; starting pitching and more starting pitching! Don't waste more than one roster spot on a backup outfielder or backup infielder. You are going to want to stash pitchers away; especially young guys with upside.
The guy who spent a late-round pick on Mike Pelfrey or Edinson Volquez was earning huge points every two weeks starting those guys! Odds are, your starting offensive players will stay healthy, if not, in a 10-team league (as the public leagues are) the waiver wires will have plenty of great options all year in case disaster strikes. I was able to add Xavier Nady and Alexei Ramirez in the middle of last year when I thought my season might have been done due to injuries.
Finally, CBS sports makes you start two closers. This is better than last year as you were unrestricted as to which pitchers you started. Closers became far overvalued (wins and saves were also valued at 10 points each last year) and were swooped up in rounds 1-4. Now that each team starts only two, that means only 20 closers are started each week. There are 30 major league teams, each with a closer. I'm not saying don't draft a good one, but in the middle of the draft, a solid guy will be out there.
Remember three things: Draft sluggers early and often, starting pitchers middle and late, and closers in the middle. Then, watch that waiver wire! Good luck!