As you sit down in front of your laptop, preparing to make preparations for the upcoming fantasy baseball draft, you are trying to figure out what the most important factors are to winning your league.
One of the dirty little secrets is that it is virtually impossible to narrow down a single draft strategy that will carry you throughout the season. Baseball is a six-month-long sport, so there are going to be constant changes that you have to be aware of.
However, there are some hard-and-fast rules that you can follow when you are drafting that will put you in prime position to win your league. Here are the most important ones that you need to know.
Don't try to plan the entire draft
This strategy drives me absolutely nuts. You can't plan a draft anymore than you can say with any certainty what the lottery numbers are going to be. Improvisation has to be the name of the game. Reading and reacting to what everyone else is doing is of the utmost importance.
The only pick that you should have at least some plan for is the first one. After that, you have to see how the draft is going and plan accordingly.
That is not to say that if others are drafting overrated closers in the third round you should start, but if there is a big run on power-hitting first basemen, it might be wise to see if there is good value at that spot for you.
You can't possibly be in the heads of the other players, so you just have to make sure that you can see what they are doing and make your picks based on that.
Always remember that roles will change
I am thinking specifically about closers for this one, but it can also apply to many different positions on the field.
Basically, if you are hesitant to draft a dominant relief pitcher because he isn't closing and can't rack up saves, just know that teams are going to make adjustments based on what is in their best interest.
For instance, if the Cardinals try Trevor Rosenthal in the rotation but it doesn't work, and Jason Motte struggles at the end of games, manager Mike Matheny knows that he can throw Rosenthal in the back of the bullpen and get a lot of saves.
You have to think about the big picture, instead of what is going to happen in April and May. Everything we think we know right now is going to seem silly when you think back on it in September and October.
Take chances based on the assumption that certain roles are going to change or increase as the season moves along.
Late rounds are great opportunities to go young
Fantasy players are scared to death of drafting rookies because they don't have a big enough sample size by which to judge them. You need to feel comfortable and safe when you are drafting a player, so you will go with the aging veteran before the hot-shot prospect.
That needs to change right now.
Even if it is a rookie who might start the season in the minors, like Texas' Jurickson Profar or St. Louis' Oscar Taveras, eventually a role will open up for them because they are that talented.
But look at rookies like the aforementioned Rosenthal or Tampa Bay's Wil Myers, among others. These are young phenoms we know (or strongly believe) will get extended playing time.
Those players may not reach their full potential right away—few prospects do—but they are talented enough to exceed the value based on where they were drafted. Don't be afraid to bet on a rookie or two in the later rounds hoping to hit it big.
Remember, at this time last year, no one was talking about Mike Trout and Bryce Harper as impact fantasy players.