StrategyFebruary 29, 2008

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Draft ‘08 | The Do’s and Do Not’s

By Brendan Horton

As many of our Fantasy Baseball ‘08 Drafts quickly approach (or have already approached), it seems like a good time to go over a few of the Do’s and Do Not’s that could mean the difference between participating in next year’s Master’s League or next year’s Pond Scum League…

DO your homework… Know how value, and more importantly; perceived value, has changed with regard to players over the last four months. Albert Pujols’ stock is plummeting, and you should know why! Tom Gordon will likely start the season closing games for the Phillies; you should know this! Read anything and everything you can to stay as up to date as possible on news, trends, breaking updates, signings, promotions, starting jobs, injuries, so on and so forth. You cannot be too prepared!

DO NOT stockpile your team full of your favorite team’s players (especially in H2H). Just because you love David Eckstein’s grit and determination does not mean he should be starting at shortstop for your fantasy team! You can root for your fantasy team and your favorite team at the same time. When pride, bragging rights, and possibly cash are on the line, winning is more important than going to sleep knowing that you don’t care what his line reads, you are drafting Mark Kotsay because darn it, he’s starting in the Braves’ outfield, or Yadier Molina, because of that home run he hit to win the 2006 NLCS against the Mets…

DO participate in mock drafts – They give you a great indication on how player’s values are being perceived, and where you may have to reach to get them, or can let them fall to. Also DO look at Average Draft Position (ADP) to see where an even larger sample size of people are valuing players.

DO NOT participate in mock drafts with your league-mates – This completely defeats the purpose of trying to gauge value. You are tipping your hand, provided you are drafting normally.

DO NOT draft Rich Harden. I don’t care how good he is, or how filthy his stuff is; the guy’s thrown less than 75 innings in the last two seasons combined. Let him be somebody else’s headache, and if he somehow makes it through the year injury free, shake his owner’s hand for having the stones to do something as stupid as draft him in the first place.

DO go into your draft with a plan, and stick to it! Draft collapses happen when a plan is put in place, and sometime around Round 9, you decide to go a different direction, into uncharted territory. Why even make a plan in the first place? Sure every draft is different, and adjustments must be made accordingly, but I’ve seen complete 180 degree turns in the middle rounds, and it has destroyed a team’s chances of competing for a title. DO NOT let this happen to you.

DO NOT punt a category. In most leagues there are only 10 categories up for grabs – giving yourself a 1 in one of them before a pitch has been thrown is about as dumb as dumb gets. There are always deals to be made and waiver wire steals to be taken, so no matter what your team looks like halfway through or at the end of your draft, do not punt a category, unless you’re not interested in winning your league, that is.

In Keeper Leagues, DO understand the value of prospects, youth, and upside, but DO NOT try and draft a team that’s ready to win your league in 2011. It’s 2008, win now, and then again in ‘09, ‘10, and then in 2011. It’s preseason, no pitches have even been thrown yet – play to win; now. If you’re not trying to win, what are you playing for? Prospects are about as volatile as closers in the game of baseball, and right when you think you have it figured out, a Rule 5 Pick turns into Johan Santana. Like I said, understand these things, but build a team ready to compete now, as well as in the future; not just the latter.

DO reach to get certain players that you feel you absolutely must have. Most people are going to tell you never to reach under any circumstances, but if you are unbelievably high on a certain player, and have done your homework on him with respect to his perceived value in your league, reaching for him a round early to ensure he ends up on your roster instead of someone else’s is fine by me, as long as it’s within reason. DO NOT make a habit of doing this; it should be done sparingly, as noted, when there is a certain player you feel you must have.

DO NOT draft a closer too early. These are some of the most unpredictable beasts that baseball has to offer, and if you waste a high pick on one and he turns into BJ Ryan or Brad Lidge, you may be planning for next season. I don’t care if Jonathan Papelbon’s ADP is higher than Nick Markakis’ – this disturbs me and keeps me awake at night. Do not fall into the trap. You can wait for closers, and in all likelihood, get them off of waivers if you pay close enough attention.

DO talk trash. It’s part of the game, it’s fun, and it may just coax your league-mate into drafting the wrong player at the wrong time, out of frustration. There’s nothing quite like reminding your league-mate about the time he dropped Justin Morneau or Matt Holliday in 2006 because of their slow starts, in favor of Chris Shelton, or Chone Figgins just a year ago. The whole league gets a good laugh, and hopefully they balk on their pick again, providing fuel for future draft fires. It’s a game, and while money may be on the line, if you’re not having fun, it’s not worth playing.

DO NOT, and I mean DO NOT guarantee victory. You’re not Joe Namath, and when your kid brother finishes ahead of you in your league and laughs in your face all the way to the bank, you’ll look like a goon. Talking trash is fine, but the Fantasy Baseball Gods work in mysterious ways, and one of these ways is putting half your team on the DL in the short period following a guarantee of this magnitude, or a gaffe of equal value.

DO these things, and I look forward to hearing about your tales of triumph, your championship rings, your name being etched into your league trophy for all eternity, and receiving a portion of your winnings… What?

Brendan Horton has been a regular contributor to the Cafe since 2005. You can catch up with Brendan in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of bigh0rt.
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