Why are you playing fantasy sports? Is it for recreation or is it because you enjoy competition? If you fall under the first category then this article really isn't for you.
I play to win and I have won quite a few times. So here are 10 strategies that I apply when I am drafting.
1. Know Your League Settings
I know this one seems obvious, but it is very important. What are your leagues settings and how will that effect your draft. Is your team a roto league or is is a head to head league. Each format requires different players. In roto leagues consistency is important, but as long as their stats work out in the end then it's all good. Whereas an inconsistent player in a heads up league may cost you a few wins.
What stats are being used to keep score? Why don't owners know this? It is inexcusable to be clueless. This determines the value of a player in a particular league. A guy like Todd Helton in a league that has Avg. OBP. SLG. and OPS is a 4 stat stud where if he was in a traditional league he would be a bottom tier 1st baseman.
KNOW YOUR SETTINGS!
If you want to do well at a fantasy baseball draft then you have to research a little bit. You don't have to be obsessed like I am and look at obscure stats, but you do need to do some. When you get into the late rounds you will be shooting in the dark if you have not done adequate research.
3. Don't be afraid to reach for players
Many times an owner will be afraid to reach on a player because the other owners will criticize him for it. Well often it is the guy that reaches for a player that will end up winning the league. Those who reached for Miguel Cabrera in 05 most likely won their leagues and the same is true for those who reached for Prince Fielder last year. So blow off the critics and draft your team, not theirs.
4. Don't draft a closer until late
Don't make the mistake of spending a 4th round pick on a closer. You can find efficient closers late in the draft or on the waiver wire. Last year there were over 50 closers that compiled more than 10 saves. I actually never draft a closer. Usually I will scoop up a closer off of waivers and do just fine with them. It is only one stat so I don't believe you should overemphasize it.
5. Draft for consistency
I prefer consistency over one stat studs. I am always looking for a guy who bats around .300 and scores runs and steals about 10 bases. Consistency makes you a 5 stat threat.
6. Avoid focusing on one stat
If you take a look at the bottom dwellers in a league they usually are great in one or two stats and absolutely horrible in the rest. This happens for 2 reasons:
1. They were clueless at the draft
2. They focused on one particular stat
Guys that focus on power are usually strong in RBIs and HR, but weak in AVG, Hits and SBs. They also struggle with long droughts at the plate. (a no-no in a heads up league)
Guys that focus on speed end up being strong in SBs and Average but are not competitive in HR and RBI.
It is fine to be strong in one particular stat as long as you are not punting 3 or 4 stats to be strong in them.
7. Don't be a Robot
This strategy has won me more league than any other strategy. Think differently from the rest of the owners. I won't get into too much detail because I am going to write about this strategy exclusively so just remember the concept.
8. Be Able to Adjust
Rarely does a draft go the way you want it to, actually it never does. It would be great to end up with 5 studs on your team, but there is a problem with that thinking...everyone else has to draft too. There are going to be guys that get drafted earlier than you had them going and it messes with you rankings. Let it go and stay focused. You should be able to make adjustments quickly because you have researched the players.
9. Think Ahead
This is a strategy that is not for the weak at heart. I occasionally will draft 2 guys back to back that play the same position. I know that sounds stupid, especially when I do it in the early rounds, but it works if you do it right.
If you are really strong at a shallow position then you can use that as leverage in a trade.
This is what I did last season:
I drafted Utley in the 1st round and then Phillips in the 5th. 2 of my first 5 picks were spent on 2B. I then turned around and traded Utley for Hanley Ramirez and a throw in.
At that point I had a great SS and a great 2B. Han-Ram was draft in the 2nd round and ended up being the best SS last season. Brandon Phillips was the best 2B last season. I could have never acquired a team like that without thinking ahead.
10. Be Realistic
You can't win a league through the draft alone so don't be hard on yourself when one players don't work out the way you planned. Everybody has one or two of those guys. Try your best to stockpile talent to trade away and don't be afraid to make the trades either. Not only is this unwise but it is no fun at all.
Usually the 4th or 5th place teams never make a trade during the season. They laugh at the 11th and 12th place teams that made the bad trade and that is there reason why they play it safe. Of course they ignore the fact that the 1st and 2nd place winners made trades that made them champion.
Nobody remembers who finished in the middle of the pack.