Whether you're a seasoned vet or a newbie to the fantasy baseball realm, there are seven simple rules to follow during your league's draft.
Here are a few pointers and tips that will help you build the best team come draft day.
Draft With Your Head, Not Your Heart
Never hold a grudge in fantasy sports. When you're drafting, only look at what the player does on the field. Take nothing else into consideration.
For example, if you're a diehard Dodgers fan it would be very foolish to ignore any Giants players. Yes, you might despise that team and the players who are on it, but you have to push that to the side. Passing on players like Buster Posey, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner because they're on your hated rival's team could be very costly in the long run.
This is particularly important if you're playing in a cash league. While your allegiances might be split at times, you should dedicate your decisions to your fantasy squad. I know it's a challenging task, but if you want to win that prize at the end of the year, you have to do it.
The same can be said in the other direction. Do not put more value on a player who is on your favorite team. You must put your personal feelings aside when battling it out on draft day.
Only Pay Attention to the Managers Before and After You
Your draft position is important in who you select. But instead of trackin
g everybody's team, only pay attention to the managers drafting before and after you. This will narrow it down for you, and make it much easier.
Say you're drafting in the seventh slot of a 12-team league. You're five rounds in, and you haven't drafted a shortstop yet. Take a look at the available shortstop pool, and then look at the rosters from the managers in the sixth and eighth draft positions. If neither of them have a shortstop, then you should consider drafting one pretty soon. If one or both of them do, then you know you can wait a little longer.
The manager with the first pick might not have a shortstop either, but don't put much stock into that. He/she is too far away from you to affect your draft strategies. Just focus on your direct neighbors.
If You're Going to Reach, Reach For a Player You Want
You should never really reach for a player, but if you're going to do it, it has to be a player you really want.
For example, I drafted Josh Rutledge in the 10th round (129th overall) in my 14-team keeper league. Could I have waited a little longer to snag him? Probably. But the guy behind me didn't have a shortstop yet, and I am very high on Rutledge.
I might have reached for him, but at least it was a guy who I wanted and have high expectations for. There is nothing worse than reaching for a player who you really don't want. Don't panic and overdraft a player you aren't completely sold on.
Know the Shallow Positions
A player's value is affected by which position he plays. There are certain positions in the fantasy realm that are very shallow and scarce. You should know this before your draft.
You must realize that shortstop and second base are the two shallowest positions. There are a few studs at each position, but other than that there is a huge drop off. Use this to your advantage. If you have a chance at taking an elite middle infielder, such as Robinson Cano or Troy Tulowitzki, you'd better not miss it.
You shouldn't overdraft at these positions either. If you miss out on the elite option, you're better off waiting until the very end. The difference between the 10th-best shortstop and the 15th isn't that big. Address your other needs rather than reaching for a below-average shortstop.
Know the Settings of Your League
This might sound like a given, but it often goes overlooked. The average league includes runs, home runs, RBI, stolen bases and batting average for hitting, and wins, saves, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP for pitching.
Most rankings are based off these standard 5x5 scoring settings, but make sure you know what stats your league will be using. Most advanced leagues will include other stats, such as OBP, OPS, holds and quality starts (just to name a few).
With the addition to these other stats, your rankings should change. Someone like Mark Trumbo is much more valuable in standard leagues, but his value should drop if you include OBP or OPS. Conversely, Joey Votto should see a spike in value with the addition of the OBP stat.
Know your league's stats and do research to change your rankings if you're not in a standard league.
Don't Draft Players Strictly off Their Career Years
Every year, someone in your league will overdraft a player who is coming off of a career year. Don't be that guy. Obviously, looking at stats from the previous year is very important, but you shouldn't invest a ton of stock into that.
Let's look at some players who enjoyed career years in 2011, and how they fared in 2012.
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2011: .273 BA, 25 HR, 17 SB, 87 R; 2012: .270 BA, 16 HR, 9 SB, 70 R.
Jose Valverde, 2011: 49 SV, 2.24 ERA, 8.59 K/9; 2012: 35 SV, 3.78 ERA, 6.26 K/9.
C.J. Wilson, 2011: 16 W, 2.94 ERA, 8.30 K/9; 2012: 13 W, 3.83 ERA, 7.70 K/9.
Ian Kennedy, 2011: 21 W, 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP; 2012: 15 W, 4.02 ERA, 1.30 WHIP.
Jacoby Ellsbury, 2011: .321 BA, 32 HR, 39 SB, 119 R; 2012: .271 BA, 4 HR, 14 SB, 43 R.
All these players suffered regressions the season after a career year (Ellsbury was hurt, but he was still drafted very high). I'm not saying to avoid these types of players, but don't expect them to have a repeat performance.
Realize That Outfield and Starting Pitching are Deep
While you should have an eye for the shallow positions, you should also know which positions are deep. The two deepest are always outfield and starting pitching. Every season, an outfielder or starting pitcher will emerge out of nowhere. They don't garner much attention before your draft, but they end up exploding and becoming a valuable waiver-wire addition.
Mike Trout — ADP: 218; Final Ranking: 1
R.A. Dickey — ADP: 244; Final Ranking: 5
Alex Rios — ADP: 215; Final Ranking: 13
Kris Medlen — ADP: 461; Final Ranking: 20
Chris Sale — ADP: 273; Final Ranking: 37
Josh Willingham — ADP: 197; Final Ranking: 41
Torii Hunter — ADP: 169; Final Ranking: 49
Those are just a few players who had exceptional outputs after generating little interest before the season started. Every year, you can count on an outfielder and starter to come out of nowhere. This means that you don't have to reach for either position.