On March 1st, Grey and I took part in the Yahoo Friends & Family Draft – a now 15-team snake draft that is unique amongst expert leagues in that it is a daily transaction league instead of weekly transactions. While it is not quite as wild west as RCLs (125 player add limit + today’s pickups go on your roster starting tomorrow), it requires a different draft mentality.
Rather than belabor my picks, I’m going to just display my roster and just riff on a couple of draft strategies/philosophies and how they applied to this draft. (I only have one of these behemoth draft reviews in me this year – see 15-team LABR Mixed draft).
Last Year Recap (here are the draft results and the final standings)
Soooo close. I finished in 2nd place sandwiched between Yahooligans Dalton Del Don (1st) and Scott Pianowski (3rd). This was my best finish in 4 years of having my own team and co-managing a team with Grey for a couple years before that.
This team was buried in the standings through the first half of the season and then just caught fire for the second half thanks to Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, Justin Verlander, Robbie Ray, some key pickups (Eddie Rosario comes to mind) and a constant stream of starting pitchers (thanks Streamonator).
My team’s ascension from near last to first would have been perfect if the season ended a week early. That gave just enough time for Dalton to pull some pitching magic out of his
ass pocket as he streamed both Matt Cain and Bartolo Colon’s final starts + streamed a ton of mediocre pitchers on the last day of the season to go over the IP max cliff Thelma & Louise-style. Hats off to Dalton as he is a great player and, most impressively, succeeds in this league despite being one of the less active rosterbaters.
My only regret is I left Wins and K standings point on the table by falling 86 IP short of the 1400 IP max. That SEEMS like an easy target unless your SP3/SP4/SP5 are Jameson Taillon, Steven Matz, and Drew Smyly and you are trying not to burn through all your transactions. Honestly, this team looked like a goner through May (take a look at Verlander’s 1st half) and by the time I kicked streaming into high gear, there just was not enough time to hit the max. Lesson learned.
Here are the full results of the 2018 Yahoo! Friends & Family Draft. Note it is 1 catcher, 4 OF, 2 UTIL, 4 bench, 2 DL, and 1 NA slot. Standard 5×5, 1400 IP max, limit of 125 adds. Below are my picks:
|2B||26||2.11||Jose Ramirez (3B)||CLE|
|SS||176||12.11||Paul DeJong (2B)||STL|
|3B||35||3.5||Alex Bregman (SS)||HOU|
|UTIL||236||16.11||Marcus Semien (SS)||OAK|
|UTIL||266||18.11||Josh Harrison (2B,3B,OF)||PIT|
Biggest Differences In Draft Strategy For A Daily vs Weekly Roster Change League
- About 1/3 of your hitters are fungible. Be prepared to churn them as soon as things look unpromising. This varies based on your team but it is usually the following spots: OF4/5, CI, MI, UTIL. While this is a good way to think about a roster in weekly leagues, the time and money (FAAB) constraints require more patience. So my end game focuses more on hitters who could provide value starting week 1 and I can cut with a clear conscience by April 15th (i.e., Leonys Martin and Nick Delmonico over a Nick Senzel)
- Acknowledging your in-season strengths/weaknesses is vital. For instance, if you are one of the quickest in the league to act on breaking news, you can fade relief pitching more. Vice versa. I am in the latter camp on relievers. I feel confident on hitter and starting pitcher pickups (as well as middle relievers) as they are less news dependent.
- Multi-Position Eligibility is slightly more valuable since you have more options to arrange players when a player has an off day.
- Players with good RHP splits but are benched/subpar vs LHP have more value in daily because you can platoon them out. LH power bats are the most common on the waiver wire but this also qualifies for speed guys (harder to run vs LHP)
- Middle Relievers are slightly more valuable since you can swap them in and out of the lineup (plus this doubles as save prospecting – worked like a charm last year in this league with Felipe Rivero). But I don’t believe in drafting them if they have no shot at being the Closer on Opening Day unless it is AL/NL-only (so I am not touching: Chris Devenski, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, etc.)
Draft Date Matters
- The earlier the draft, the more you should use late round picks on speculative closers and avoid investing mid-draft picks in marginal closing talents. I ended up with three lottery tickets in Bedrosian, Boxberger, and Dyson. The only reason I got an RP2 (Colome) is because he came at a discount.
- If you know your stuff, you should push to draft earlier in the spring. While it is frustrating to lose a player to a Spring Training injury or demotion, the uncertainty on players’ draft value leads to small buying opportunities (e.g., I do not think Albies/Acuna make it to me at 7/8 if were were to draft today). I feel the historically later draft date in this league hurt me on a few players I was ahead of the curve on but the market caught up to (Kris Bryant rookie year and Matt Harvey’s post-TJS year come to mind).
Thoughts On Handling A Room That “Overpays” Versus Your Values
We all have comfort zones when it comes to drafting. We expect the ‘market’ to behave a certain way and, when they do not, it can get uncomfortable (unless, of course, you have some idiots in your draft and their suboptimal picks net you more value than you expected).
In this league, we have several players (Rotowire’s Erickson & Liss, Yahoo’s Dalton Del Don) who go heavy on starting pitching in the first 3 rounds. They combined for 6 SPs in those 3 rounds. In addition, top relievers also go a little sooner. It leads to an early wave of panic as the rest of us have to determine whether we use higher picks than ideal for SP1 / RP1 or we load up on bats and do our best to cobble together a credible pitching staff.
This is close to a worst case scenario for me because I like to pay market rate for pitching. I have colleagues (Scott Pianowski and Mike Podhorzer come to mind) who are very good at building staffs on the cheap. I have not had success doing it. As noted in the recap, I win this league with slightly better SP2-SP5 picks last year.
There is no one answer to this but here is a rule of thumb. One method is to adjust your rankings – in my case, I could move from 67/33 hit/pitch to something like 64/36. Since this inflation is more present in the beginning of drafts vs throughout, I find it easier to nudge up an available SP on my player list during the ‘run’. But there is a second thing in play – if there is a run on a position (say SPs), it means other positions have good values (say bats). This is what happened in this draft at 3.5 and 4.11 where I liked Alex Bregman and Marcell Ozuna in those slots more than the SP options and ended up with Ohtani at 5.5 and Rivero at 6.11. In retrospect, I probably should have just taken Severino at 3.5 (I took him 3.3 in LABR and have been hesitant to pay that price again for him).
In summary, don’t panic. Create some rule of thumb (like 1 round up) to give yourself some flexibility. Sometimes it is better to overpay a little for one player to avoid more uncomfortable decisions later in the draft (oh my god, i have no SPs in first 7 rounds!).
If You Are Not Comfortable Punting Any Hitter Position, You May Be Costing Yourself Value
Certain positions are more fun than others to punt. But there are decent values for every position later in the draft. You are probably never going to read any post or tweet from me stating something like the below (note: Vlad is one of the best 15-team mixed experts)
No one’s talking about how shallow 1B is this year.
If you don’t get a top tier guy you should be ready to deal with a season of volatility, possible disappointment and almost certain BA destruction.
— Vlad Sedler (@RotoGut) March 7, 2018
Look at my Yahoo draft. You think I wanted to punt 1B? It just worked out that way. So Morrison in the 15th and Duda in the 20th is a pretty uninspiring 1B/CI duo. That is fine – they are part of my ‘fungible’ group and I built up other spots like MI (DeJong).
Get familiar with the player pool, consider the major flaws of the bargain bin players, and factor that into your early round drafting. I have found power/bad AVG bats are a plenty later in drafts so I prefer to get strong AVG players early in the draft (arguable that I managed that in this draft).
One positive to punting where others do not like to punt is you are in better position to pounce on waiver wire upgrades. That is the worst thing IMO about punting SP or RP as EVERYONE is looking for arms. In ToutWars on March 6th, I ended up having to punt 2B/SS/MI. It is an uninspiring trio (Harrison/Polanco/Crawford) but it let me stock up everywhere else and their names are on my roster in metaphorical pencil not pen.
I have found the most common punt (2nd catcher in 2 catcher leagues) is a little too universal and being a little aggressive at C2 could net a couple dollars of draft value at a time in the draft where pick value nears zero. But I will take the Catcher selection in 1 catcher leagues often down to the last pick.
After 3 completed drafts and 2 in-progress slow drafts, I have punted C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, and OF at least once. But I haven’t punted SP yet as, noted earlier, I have little confidence right now in my ability to build a pitching staff on the cheap.
Quick Draft Thoughts
- While my hit/pitch split was almost identical to my LABR draft (Y! F&F was 66/34 vs LABR 67/33), my SP/RP split was quite different as LABR was 27/6 while Yahoo F&F was 20/14. This was driven by 1) Only 2 SPs in my 1st top 10 picks (5th/9th) and 2) Using a 10th round pick on Colome as an RP2. I will learn from last year and churn more in the first 2 months to make sure I do not fall too far behind on innings.
- I really like the offense. My estimates have it above average in all stats except SBs where it is about league average.
- I will need my offense to be very good given my lackluster starting pitching.
- I really like my bullpen. Hopeful at least one of Bedrosian, Boxberger, or Dyson win the gig and I can use 3+ closers and build up a Save surplus earlier in the season.
- I am excited to see if I could build off last year’s success. It feels like I lifted a curse in this league as it felt like I was a minesweeper uncovering early-round bombs.