Ok I started playing fantasy baseball in 1997 and have had a team in every season except 2002. During that time frame (1997-2001, 2003) I have had 14 teams. Of those 14 teams, 10 were in yahoo, 4 through espn. I won with 9 out of 14 team. In 2001 I won all 5 leagues I was in. I took 2002 off because I was bored with fantasy baseball, then I played again last year, one team in a yahoo public league ... I won it.
Now I know I am a pretty good fantasy baseball player. It comes from taking a lot of educated risks and loading up on valuable players in positions that are low on talent. i.e. SS, Catcher, and closer.
However it is my observation that the desparity in talent for SS and C have dropped considerably. At SS there is still A-Rod as king (until he loses his SS eligibility) but I think the pack is catching up to Jeter, Nomar, and Tejada. Renteria, Cabrera, Furcal, and the possible emergence of Matsui, Crosby, and Rollins are decreasing the relative value of Jeter, Tejada, and Nomar. The same goes at catcher, where the king, Piazza has a career at C that is tailing off, with only the inconsistent Javy Lopez, and the good but unspectacular Posada to carry the torch. Varitek is good but not great.
The story of closers is similar. I think definitive closers are not as prevelant as before.
All in all I am finding that it is harder to reap the rewards of cornering the market on talent in the positions of C, SS, and CL. Am I the only one who feels this way?
"I tried to hit a 1,000-foot homer. I went down on the ground and wasn't the same after that."
- Henry Rodriguez
Good post and analysis, and it seems you do know your stuff, but winning yahoo leagues and espn leagues is NOT reason enough to consider yourself a pretty good fantasy baseball player! These leagues are a joke and anyone who has any semblance of a clue could dominate. Anyway, on to your question- you definitely have the right idea. Catcher is becoming much less in disparity between the top and the last ranked. That was poorly worded by me, but basically i'm agreeing with you. So this year is a good year to go with a Jason Phillips, Craig Wilson, Matt LeCroy at catcher. SS is also becoming less disparate (if that's even proper english), but not as much as Catcher, coz you still have the dominating guys at the top. And last, i never have and never will draft a closer early. Unless Gagne or Smoltz or someone drop to like the 7th round, you won't see me drafting a closer until after the 10th. Saves are too unpredictable and they are always available during the season from free agency. And people always forget about the middle-tier guys. How much difference will there be between an Isringhausen and a Bill Wagner? Not enough to justify drafting Wags in the 5th round or something and Izzy in the 12th. I'm just making up rounds, but you see my point.
Nothing is ever a sure thing in fantasy baseball (ok, maybe AROD but he's a freak). Remember who was a top 2 pick last year? That Randy Johnson guy. He was like a sure thing until he absolutely destroyed many a fantasy team.
It's time to throw out your value strategy. You'll be drafting guys like Pujols and Beltran long before you draft guys like Piazza, Nomar, and Gagne.
Lastly, if you want a real challenge, give my league a try, it's going to be a 16-team 5x5 roto. PM me for details if you are interested.