I was thinking about ideas for a draft strategy post to complement Grey’s recent draft strategy post when I concluded that the vast majority of my strategic thinking goes into my draft preparation. The draft itself is more just execution. So I figured it might help some of you if I laid out my draft preparation and then some notes on how my strategy might change based on league format.
My larger goal with any draft is to be in control. With the right preparation, I can take advantage of whatever advantages the draft room is giving me. I drafted the 2nd and 3rd pitchers off the board in this year’s Tout Wars and was the last player to take a pitcher in LABR. Yet my hit/pitch split for the two teams was within one percentage point (63.7/36.3 vs 64.6/35.4).
I also strive for zero ‘instant regret’ picks. Those are the picks where you are ‘under the gun’ and pick someone that you regret while the draft is still going on. I think most drafters get ‘lost’ during snake drafts more than they’d care to admit. I can say with full honesty that I only made one of those picks combined between LABR and Tout (LABR – Yasmany Tomas in 16th when none of my planned bats were still on board and Storen went the pick before).
You do not need to follow each and every step (you could just from my $/projections and edit from there) but I do think all this research makes for a smarter, more efficient draft.
- Familiarize myself with the player pool
- Review all 30 teams for initial estimates of playing time and batting order. Marry this information with Steamer projections to build initial player projections + rankings/dollar values
- Read through player profiles in Baseball HQ Forecaster and Grey’s rankings.
- Identify/research breakout targets – i.e., players that I think could beat their Steamer projections
- What players fought through injuries last year, dragging down their stats?
- Read general baseball articles looking for scouting reports/observations that a player made noteworthy improvements in their approach (e.g., Daniel Murphy making a power adjustment in 2H 2016, a pitcher adding a pitch to their repertoire.)
- Park changes (e.g., Miami bringing in the fences in 2016)
- Set up a spreadsheet that shows my rankings/values versus NFBC ADP
- Look position-by-position to identify likely targets and fundamental differences (i.e., as usual, the market’s more bullish than me on catchers and MI)
- Do further research on players that give me pause.
- Start going round by round and jotting down the players that could/should be available for me to draft.
- Note: If you are not experience with Excel, I would invest a little time to learn the following functions: VLOOKUP, SUMIF(S), AVERAGEIF(S), and COUNTIF(S). There are so many free general resources on the web to help with this. Tanner at Smartfantasybaseball.com (and FanGraphs) is really helpful. He’s good answering questions too!
- Run several mock drafts to test/revise my notes
- I use FantasyPros Draft Wizard as it uses ADP to auto-draft for the others. I have no desire to do any actual mock drafts. Time suck + giving away my trade secrets + at mercy of some doofus trying trying out some wacko strategy.
- Test my resulting teams’ category balance – e.g., I found myself struggling to draft enough power and made some category weighting tweaks to accommodate.
- Test to see my hit/pitch mix is coming in around 65/35. Revise notes where necessary.
- Review results to see if I’m hitting a desirable mix of upside vs dependability.
- Read other strategy articles/posts + talk with other fantasy players/experts
- I don’t gain much from this but I like to stay open-minded. Sometimes my mind gets changed on a player. Sometimes on a draft strategy.
Draft Strategy Tweaks Based on Format
- Daily vs Weekly Roster Changes
- Daily – Veer a little more towards upside. Consider lefty hitters for last 2 OF & UTIL that I can platoon out vs LHP.
- Weekly – Veer a little more towards dependability.
- For Daily, I want a 3-4 SP core and then stream the rest. Big stable of relievers to max on saves + all other stats.
- For Weekly, I want a large stable of SPs that I can rotate in/out based on matchups. Usually no more than 3 RP on the roster.
- 12 Team vs 15 Team Drafts
- No major change in hitters. A little more hospitable in deeper format to SAGNOF since there is less of an opportunity cost on power (e.g., last year drafted Revere in NFBC and Hamilton in Tout).
- More focus on SP depth in deeper leagues since streaming options and RP alternatives are weaker.
- Snake Draft vs Auction Draft
- I pay more attention to other teams’ drafts in Auction, keeping an eye on the difference between the room’s prices vs my prices.
- Avoid getting stuck in ‘$1 per player’-ville as it can lead to sacrificing end game value (any player worth much more than $1 will likely get bid to $2).
- I track hit vs pitch expenditure tighter in Auction draft as I have a better feel for how to spared out my pitcher picks in snake drafts (do not take more than 4 pitchers in first 10 picks or 6 pitchers in first 15 picks and you’ll likely skew too pitcher-heavy)
- I am a little more focused on depth at 1B/OF (i prefer to draft at least one 1B/OF eligible player for additional flexibility). I try and have 300+ ABs at every starting hitter spot.
- AVG vs OBP Leagues
- No major change in strategy – just using different $ values.
- Standard vs Yahoo roster format
- Yahoo’s removal of CI/MI/OF4/OF5 and addition of 2nd UTIL basically leads to no real change in position values (one UTIL almost ends up just being OF4). I’m even puntier on C/2B/SS since there will be such a deep free agent pool if my end game plays don’t work out.
- For pitching, I just treat the 8 pitcher staff like a 9 pitcher staff since everyone is rotating their pitchers.
- GS vs IP cap
- In GS cap leagues (like RCL), stock up on relievers to max counting stats.
- In IP cap leagues, it depends on the cap. If it’s at 1,300 or lower, I’m looking at SPs as K/9 players vs K plays and judicial in my middle reliever usage. If at 1,400 or higher, more liberal on RP usage and open to any SPs
- For leagues with trading, I like to total my Player Rater category dollars for all the teams to get a sense for everyone’s strengths/weaknesses. I could usually do this in 10 minutes or so depending on the draft results format of the site. Very annoying that sites combine name with team and position because it makes it harder to match up with my player rater names.
- If the site I draft on totals up ‘projected standings’, I’ll look at it but generally ignore the findings because: 1) I don’t believe in the projections, 2) Roto points could really distort the differences per team in a category (e.g., the 4th through 11th teams might be separated by 10 SB), and 3) Any team who drafted a prospect gets massively penalized in these standings.