If you're going to punt, definitely go with Saves or SB's, no doubt about it. Those are pretty much the 2 categories that don't fit with the others, at least in a standard 4x4 or 5x5. Holds are also a good choice, if you happen to be in a league that counts them.
As for whether or not punting is a good strategy, check to see what your points would be if you led every category, and came in last in two of them. In a lot of leagues, that would either not be enough or barely be enough for first. Since you're not guaranteed to win every other category, it might not be a good idea.
On the other hand, sometimes you can decide to punt (usually just one category) on draft day, either based on the draft pool available for the year or else based on drafting in the early rounds (if 8 out of 10 teams choose a heavy SB man in the first few rounds, or for high bids, why bother to compete? Just opt out and go for the sluggers).
The real win lies in winning a category with a minimum of effort when a bunch of others punt that category. It's this that keeps everyone from punting SB's and SV's. Generally, someone will get the idea (during the draft) that they can win Saves by picking their closer "right now" and that will start a run on closers as everyone rushes to compete. Usually you'd only punt if you end up caught at the end of the run with no really great options left.
I agree with Eugenstyles on all points. Especially on the "don't punt" point. Since everyone comes to the same conclusion about punting saves or SB's, it's usually a bad strategy. Better to try to win the "easy" categories if everyone is punting.
Off the subject, kind of, but here's my general FB strategy:
In a draft, order players in their overall value and their positional value. Maybe you decide to go for SS, then 2B, then OF, then P, but you've put Rivera at number 15 overall. All of a sudden it's the third round, you're picking the 28th player, who's supposed to be an outfielder, and Rivera's still there? You have to take him.
You need to come up with an overall philosophy, but it has to be flexible to take advantage of opportunities when they come up. Never be rigid.
During the season, I try to retain a sense of the true value of each player I have, and I try to leave my heart out of it! Good example: I drafted Brad Penny this year, and I had a really good feeling about him. He was getting so much hype at first that I was psyched to have him. I would not trade him at the time, because I thought I could not get the value I hoped he would deliver during the year. His first outing was stellar. I was optimistic. He got sick in April. Threw some more decent outings, but nothing special. Then he got hurt and barely produced in May. I held him, but had a bad feeling. I should have traded him thenand gotten something because in reality, he's never produced! I bought into the hype and held him all the way until the end of May, when he was totally worthless. To the waiver wire he went.
Moral: Don't let excitement cloud your vision of the true value of your players. When you're really excited about what a player COULD do, that's the time to trade him. His value is at it's peak. Anyone who picked up Prior off waivers should have immediately entertained trades for him, because there's no way he can equal the hype. He's a rookie. He'll dazzle us and disappoint from one start to the next. Nobody wins fantasy with a bunch of potential. You need results. Trade rookies that people are drooling over in favor of reliable veterans. ALWAYS!
Following that rule, I should have entertained trades for Penny right after his first start. I could have gotten a lot more than a trip to the free agent pool!
Not much to add to the analysis so far (gotta get some of these guys to write a guest article or two some time...). I agree that planning on punting isn't usually a good idea, especially in 4x4, and that being flexible is one of the greatest keys to success in any draft.
One thing worth adding is that the strategy of punting (especially saves) in the draft has become more common over the last couple of years. This will result in some interesting configurations and both over- and undervalued players, which makes being flexible and observant more important than ever.
It'll be interesting to see whether this is just a brief fad or a lasting trend...
I am going to have to disagree and say that punting a category can be a very effective strategy. I am currently winning a 12 team NL only league 5x5 roto league with 0 saves. I knew the only way i could contend in saves would be to pick up at least two top notch closers maybe three.
Instead i pouched saves and picked up Bats. Now my pitching isn't that bad either. I am currently in 4th out of 12 teams with no saves. How you ask. I have RJ and he carriew my team but i surrouned him with cheap hurlers with Low Era's, Whip, and in the case of my league decent K-BB.
Middle relievers are the key if you are pouching saves, add guys like Remlinger for cheap he always has a nice ERA and Whip and gets K's plus a few wins. A Guy like Vizcaino of Mil is also nice, Gabe white. I do have a few other quality starters too in J. Fogg, Rusch, Quevado, Nomo. Plus you can work the wire and pick up spot starters i added simontacchi and he has been stellar.
If you are writing off a category you have to constantly watch the league and make the neccesary adjustments to hold on. I am in 1st in Hr, 1st in RBi, 1st in Runs, 3rd in SB, and 3rd in BA.
The way i see it in order to get a big fat zero in a category and come in the $ you need a deep league it won't work in a 8 team league and you have to do your homework. Look at it this way i could of gotten one closer for $20 who would get me like
4 wins, 60 k's, 35 saves, a 3.0 era, a 1.3 whip or
I could get 3 middle relievers a dollar starter and still have $15 for batters.
i got J. fogg for $1 6 wins a nice era, etc.
Remlinger $2 2 wins a low era, whip, etc.
G. White $1 2 wins a low era, whip, etc.
Vizcaino, $1 3 wins a low era, whip, etc.
Plus i got $15 to buy a batter lets say in this case i used the $ to buy S. Finley.
10 Hr's, 6 Stolen bases
In a roto league you are much better off with a $1 pitcher who is a decent middle reliever or an unknown starter than a $1 batter.
Sure i'd prefer not to have to write off a category like saves but if you are gonna finish last or second to last in the category why waste $ and for nothing, your resources could be better spent somewhere else.
Good point zpalm. In a deep league, you may be right to punt. It also depends on the rules of your league. With your strategy, though, you missed out on a potential easy win. I drafted Rob Nen and Matt Anderson. Nen was pretty high up there, bu he's pretty awesome. Anderson is obviously a bust, so he was riding the pine. Who did I pick up off waivers? Eric Gagne.
And the same happens EVERY year with saves. There are always cheap saves out there. There are only a few closers worth the big bucks: Nen, Hoffman, and Rivera. I think Gagne may end up in the circle next year. Kim looks like he could too, but he's still got some tarnish to his image. Next tier is loaded with guys like Isringhausen, Koch, etc. I think these guys are all overrated and people pay too much for them every year. That is why people decide to punt saves, because they wisely determine that this second tier of closers is too expensive.
I think that's an oversimplifcation, though. The top tier are worth every penny. The next tier is not. They are not worth it, because every year you can find cheap pitchers that end up putting up real good years as closers. This doesn't translate to punting, in my book. Like I said in my first post, whether you want to in saves or not. If Rivera is available in the right spot, you take him. You can always trade him to someone who wants to win saves.
Flexibility and constant re-evaluation of your decisions is the only way to go in this game!
Hmm... I guess it does make a lot more sense to punt in 5x5 leagues. Middle relievers are almost useless in 4x4 but pick up some value in 5x5. In a 5x5 plus holds, I guess they could be just as good as starters (although never played in one), if they are a team's primary set-up man. So I guess it's not so crazy to punt saves in 5x5, but I wouldn't want to do it in a 4x4, if only because that's 12.5% of the points you're missing out on instead of 10%.
SB's on the other hand, might be tougher to punt in 5x5, since SB men are generally good R producers too.
I wouldnt punt saves...because if you draft closers they can also help with era, and a couple of extra k's never hurt anyone, plus they can give you a win on occasion.
If you want to punt something sb might be the best idea if you have alot of power hitters, but players who steal bases often tend to get more runs, so if you punt stolen bases you are often hurting your runs catagory.