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9 Advanced Fantasy Baseball Draft Tips

Mar 12, 2020

Don’t dismiss D.J. LeMahieu as a one-season wonder.

There are fantasy baseball draft tips – and then there are fantasy baseball draft tips.

Not sure what we mean? Check out our latest collaborative feature, in which we ask our fantasy baseball experts what one high-level draft strategy they’d offer to people who are preparing to fill out their rosters over the next 2+ weeks.

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Q. What is your top advanced draft tip for fantasy baseball players?
Drafting three dynamic relievers
will give you similar production to an ace. Take Tampa Bay’s top three: Nick Anderson, Jose Alvarado and Diego Castillo. They could combine for 280 Ks, ratios near 3.10, 1.10 and 35 saves. Gerrit Cole is going in the 1st round and should return 280 Ks, 3.10, 1.10 and 15 wins. So the question becomes: would you trade a 15th round pick (Anderson), 23rd round pick (Alvarado) and 24th round pick (Castillo) for a 1st round pick? The answer is yes and you can essentially achieve that with this cheat code.
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Spend at least a couple of late draft picks on players who can capitalize on their early-season schedule. No matter how well your draft turns out, a few rough weeks to start the season can set you back significantly. In advance of your draft, take a few minutes to check on some early-season schedules to try to capitalize on some soft matchups and get a head start in your league.  For example, the Cardinals’ first nine games are at Cincinnati, at Milwaukee, and home against Baltimore. Those matchups are generally favorable for hitters, so even players who might otherwise go undrafted like Dexter Fowler or Harrison Bader may be worth a long look with one of your last picks. And the same applies for pitchers. With the Dodgers starting their season with two series against the Giants and a home series against the Rockies, Alex Wood should be able to capitalize on both of his early matchups. The fantasy season is a marathon. But capitalizing on soft matchups is a key to success, and you can do it for free if you spend even just a modicum of draft capital on players who have plus matchups in the first two weeks.
– Dan Harris (@danharris80)

There are many advanced tips experts can suggest, but the one that has helped me the most in drafts is not just waiting on pitching, but learning how to wait on pitching. The concept of fading the top arms in favor of drafting elite batters is not novel, but many drafters who employ the strategy find themselves devoid of quality pitching later because they either draft too many high-K, low-command pitchers that lead to bloated WHIP and ERA stats, or they find themselves “over-drafting” pitching by having to pair those wilder, high-K arms with safer, command-oriented pitchers. I’ve spent years eschewing the top-rated arms in drafts, taking two elite bats instead while targeting early, mid, and late-round hurlers who qualify as “Five Points Pitchers,” and it has led to much success in leagues of all formats. Like with any process, it’s important not to be too rigid and inflexible. It’s acceptable to make exceptions for pitchers who only qualify for three or four of those “Points,” if they’re exceptional standouts in the other areas and you love them as targets for your team. Obviously, the more marks they hit, the better, and that should be the guide.
– Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs)

Take a deep look behind the breakout before dismissing someone as a one-year wonder to fade. In years past, it was easier to not pay for a player’s career year when the price skyrocketed to absurd levels. Now, however, most drafters are too measured to overrate Josh Bell and D.J. LeMahieu. As a result, I find myself far more likely to buy a breakout when not needing to invest fully in last year’s stats. Not only are drafters getting smarter, but so are organizations learning to optimize a player’s abilities. Rather than point to Bell’s 37 home runs as a clear outlier, we have the data to see a major change in approach that yielded a higher launch angle and far more hard-hit batted balls. In some cases, he actually turns into a value with many dismissing the exceptional first half.
– Andrew Gould (@AndrewGould4)

Do not rely too heavily on ADP (or whatever specific draft tool or cheat sheet you are using) and trust your gut. That doesn’t mean going into a draft and saying, “I saw this player on my favorite team play last year and he’s awesome, so I’m drafting him in the first round even though he isn’t projected to go until pick 200.” What I mean is that you should do your homework and go into your draft prepared, but don’t base your whole strategy around where players have been going in other drafts. If you are picking at pick 50 and there is a player you really like who isn’t projected to go until pick 65, 70, or 75, trust yourself and go get your guy. Chances are that if you try to play the ADP game, you’re going to miss out on a bunch of players that you want and end up with a mediocre team. Everyone looks at ADP, and they’re all aware of where players are being drafted.
– Mike Maher (@mikeMaher)

I highly recommend using the FantasyPros Draft Assistant to determine how you rank – in real time – in each category. That way, you know what you need later in the draft, and you can build up your queue accordingly. Don’t just guess at your strengths and weaknesses, know them inside out. This is the best way to do it. I’ve been using the Draft Assistant the last couple years, and it has paid huge dividends in determining my targets in the middle and late rounds.
– Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)

Dictate your opponents’ actions in the draft. If you’re in an auction, this becomes even more important. Do not allow a strong team to get stronger because of a discount. If possible, sacrifice a roster spot for the good of balance. You might have an outstanding draft, but you could still be chasing others who mastered theirs. Don’t let it happen. In a snake draft, always focus on the positions needed by the teams drafting after you. If said owner is lacking saves, take the closer. If middle infield is weak and you can afford to add to your roster, draft the second baseman or shortstop that your opponent needed. Best case scenario? You help your own team while hurting another. Worst case? You have a surplus at one position and a possible trade partner.
– Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)

In category leagues, you can get an advantage on the rest of the league by having your bench spots mostly dedicated to hitters. You can focus on loading up on top 30 pitchers early on, and then easily make up what you’re lacking in offense by adding the specialist hitters that nobody really wants later on in the draft. Having five or six hitters on your bench every day now only allows you to have more at-bats on days with a light MLB schedule, but it also lets you avoid starting a lot your hitters against the league’s best pitchers. You get more quantity as well as a higher quality of at-bats from your players. Guys that contribute in a couple categories but not in much else are great fits for this strategy, as you can tailor your lineup every day to how your opponent’s team is looking.
– Jon Anderson (@JonPGH)

Dedicate a bench spot or two for elite hitting prospects that do not currently have a big-league job – players like Jo Adell, Nick Madrigal, Jarred Kelenic, and Andrew Vaughn. Most of these players are going to be very cheap to acquire on draft day simply because they do not have a path to a job right now. Unlike most players vying for your bench spots, top hitting prospects have superstar potential and could be just an injury away from the big leagues. In keeper leagues, I take this one step further and target high-upside prospects while they are still in High-A. Luis Robert and Jo Adell both went from High-A to AAA in one season. Julio Rodriguez and Xavier Edwards could be next. Depending on your league format, the value of High-A hitters will likely never be lower. March is the perfect time to use bench spots on lottery tickets for the next fantasy superstar – your fantasy team is healthy, and MLB roles are still in flux. Using your last draft pick on a top hitting prospect is an underrated way to find a league-winner.
– Jarad Evans (@Jarad_Evans)

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