A Dozen Tips for Fantasy Baseball Success in 2013
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1. Be prepared on draft day. You’ve already done one thing right – grabbing yourself the Xclusive Edge Draft Kit. Some folks seem to think that one of those magazines with articles written back in December is enough to prepare for a fantasy draft. You know better. Now make sure you devour everything we’ve given you. It’s all important to be truly prepared.
2. Forget about spring training numbers. Managers try out different players, different strategies and different lineups every day throughout the spring, and nothing that happens, except injuries, matters when it comes to the regular season. You can safely ignore spring training production because no matter how many homers Ryan Sweeney hits this spring, he still won’t hit any once the games start to count.
3. Only draft Wil Myers for your bench. Look, I believe Myers will be a terrific player someday, but he’s not going to hit the big leagues this season and become the next Ryan Braun. Besides, the Rays simply won’t bring him up from Triple-A until he’s cleared his super two date. In fact, you might not see him until well after the All-Star break, or perhaps September if he doesn’t hit.
4. Know your leagues rules and exploit the loopholes. Please don’t be “that guy;” you know, the one who clogs up the league message board with questions about the rules after the season begins. He typically whines about innings limits, roster requirements or anything that he didn’t plan for on draft day. If you know the rules, you can figure out ways to beat your opponents by exploiting the loopholes. Almost every league has at least one loophole in their rules.
5. Be very careful about drafting Mike Napoli. The Red Sox gave three years and $39M to several mediocre players without blinking, but they immediately backed off both the money and the length of the contract once they discovered that Napoli has avascular necrosis in both hips. Look, he could easily play through the season without a problem. Then again, he could spend weeks or even months on the DL this season, leaving you scrambling for a catcher or first baseman with some pop. At the very least, have a backup player on your bench to replace Napoli if you take the leap of faith. Better yet, do what the Red Sox should have done – punt!
6. Make sure you’ve got your numbers covered. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me they got almost all the players they wanted in their draft. Then about a month into the season they’re emailing the rest of the league looking for a “speed guy” because they’re 20 stolen bases behind everyone else. On draft day, you have to be certain that you have players who will produce in all of the scoring categories. If you miss out on a player you targeted for steals, make sure you draft someone else with similar numbers, or two players whose combined stats will cover the category and contribute elsewhere. No matter how you slice it, fantasy baseball is a numbers game; pay close attention to player statistics throughout the draft process, from planning to execution and all throughout the season.
7. It’s rarely a good idea to punt a category. For every brilliant fantasy baseball strategy there are at least a dozen more that are equally as brilliant. However, punting a category on draft day is not smart at all in rotisserie leagues regardless of the number of teams. Punting a category is a mid-season strategy, applied when it is clear that you can dominate other categories and still win while sacrificing one of them. Even then, you should only punt after careful consideration of the numbers. In other words, you must be able to dominate the other categories before you punt.
8. You can punt a category in head-to-head leagues. Huh? But you just said don’t punt. Yeah, I know what I said, but head-to-head play is different from rotisserie. As a short-term strategy, punting a category, or even two, can work really well. You can load up on either starters or relievers to dominate in four out of five categories. In head-to-head leagues, as long as you win more than 50 percent of the categories you’ll win the matchup of the week. Again, it’s all about knowing the rules.
9. You don’t want anything to do with Brian Roberts. He is attempting yet another comeback with the Orioles and they’re going to trot him out there and hope for the best. Once upon a time, Roberts was a five-category fantasy producer at a position (2B) where they are scarce. But he’s 35 now and has played just 115 games over the last three seasons combined. He’s toast, and your fantasy team will suffer the same fate if you rely on Roberts.
10. Catcher talent is deeper than you think. In recent years, the catcher talent tiers featured three or four elite players followed by a few low second tier players. That’s no longer the case. After the three elites (Posey, Mauer, Molina), there is a very deep second tier followed by several very good players at the top of the third tier. The bottom line: don’t waste an early pick on an elite catcher. Catchers seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on the DL (remember Brian McCann last year?) and don’t play as many games as other hitters. Use your early picks for players that normally get 500-600 or more plate appearances and pick you catchers in the middle rounds.
11. Keep tabs on good pitchers returning from injuries. There are several top-notch pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery this season. Most notably, Brandon Beachy and Cory Luebke. Beachy was on his way to a Cy Young award before he blew out his elbow and Luebke wasn’t far behind. Both should be back by the end of July and perhaps earlier. Stash them in a DL slot if your league allows and enjoy some elite pitching during the second half.
12. ADPs have limited use and so do mock drafts. ADP information is a helpful planning tool in preparation for your draft. But so many factors can change the way a draft unfolds that you have to be careful not to rely on them. League rules, roster requirements and the individual styles and dynamics of any group of league managers make every draft unique. Don’t count on a player you want being available just because ADP data says he should be. Mock drafts have similar issues, but they are an excellent way to practice using ADPs and are useful to learn how to navigate the dynamics of a draft. Just be prepared to be flexible and roll with the punches when your real draft is in progress.