General Strategies for Deep Leagues (Fantasy Baseball)
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Just what is a deep league, you may ask? Any fantasy baseball league with 16 or more teams is considered deep. If you’ve never played in a league with this many teams before, you really have to alter your approach. Players come off the board differently, and draft elements like position runs have to constantly be considered. Deep leagues take a unique blueprint to conquer.
While deep leagues are considered 16 or more teams for this article’s purposes, don’t sleep on the fact that many of these tactics can help you find success in a 12- or 14-team league as well. Let’s examine some general strategies to help find success in a deep league.
Know Your League’s Format
Understand the league’s setup and format before proceeding any further. Each and every league has its own positions and rules, and it’s critical to know them like the back of your hand before drafting. Furthermore, one other crucial element to consider is whether you get to choose your draft slot. In some leagues, managers have the ability to pick their draft position. If that is an option, the middle of the pack is always a great choice in deep leagues to ensure player runs will not pass you by.
Use FantasyPros to Prepare
Shameless plug here, but we all know that practice makes perfect. Once you understand your league’s format, let FantasyPros prepare you for a deep league. Check out and study the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR). Use the Draft Simulator to practice. The endless tools available on FantasyPros are just what you need to succeed.
Be Aware of Position Scarcity
Head to FantasyPros’ ECR after reading this article. How many catchers would you truly be happy having as your starter this season? Seven? Eight? Ten? Either way, I’d bet it’s not 16. The difference between the first catcher and the 16th catcher is much greater than the difference between some other positions. While a catcher might not be vital to grab early in an eight- or 10-team league, that could very well change in a deeper format. Always consider position scarcity.
Prioritize Picks Early
Plain and simple, think thoroughly through early picks each and every way possible. For example, outfield is typically pretty deep each and every year. Now, that doesn’t mean you should pass on Mike Trout. What it does mean, though, is that where you’re drafting and what position you select should be taken into consideration in a deep league. Maybe a debate between an outfielder and a shortstop in the first or second round can be decided by where you are in the draft and each position’s scarcity. Use these clues to help guide picks, especially early in the draft.
Be Prepared for Position Runs
I say be prepared for position runs for a reason. You can’t and won’t always beat a position run, nor should you always follow them. Position runs are unpredictable; this is especially true in deep leagues. That’s why it’s eminently important to have a tiered-based rankings system. Take the FantasyPros ECR and determine where each position has its tiers. If there is a major drop off in shortstops when a position run starts, then trying to hop in on that run is a good idea. If there isn’t a major decline when a positional run begins, however, it might be smart to look elsewhere and let the rest of the league duke it out. Value can often be found by veering when the rest of the league goes straight.
Think Long Term
Thinking long term also takes a solid knowledge of your league’s rules and the people who play in it. Does your league consistently end up trading for saves each and every year around the trade deadline? Why not load up with an extra closer or two then, if the price is right? Each and every league has its own unique characteristics; figure them out and use them to your advantage. Deep leagues present many more opportunities to trade and strategize. Thinking long term during the draft process can give a significant advantage later in the season.
Contemplate, Speculate, and Analyze
Contemplate whether taking the player on your radar will be the best choice now, one round from now, and at the end of the draft. Speculate whether that player will be the best choice for the rest of the season. Analyze what that pick will mean to your team’s roster. In a deep league, working through this process can help find potential pitfalls for drafting certain players. If, after thinking over these three steps, the player fits the mold, fire away.
Go With Your Gut and Have Fun
At the end of the day, you will have to live with whatever decision you make for the rest of the season. Once the selection is in, there’s no going back. It’s always better to trust your gut and go with it than to make a selection you may disagree with and regret for the rest of the year. Fantasy baseball is fun, is played for fun, and should bring joy into your life. Let it do so.