Myths to Ignore on Draft Day (Fantasy Baseball)
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Let’s peel back the curtain a little bit. The time that fantasy websites see the most traffic is during draft season. It’s the bread and butter of our industry, and it’s the most exciting time of the year for fantasy managers, too.
No matter which website you go to, you’ll see tons of draft advice columns, and they’ll range from topics such as draft strategies, breakouts, busts, and the like.
It can be a daunting task to digest all of the information for your draft, but as a way to put all of the advice in one evergreen column, we’re going to look at all of the myths — both pros and cons — that you should throw out the window for your draft.
Marry Yourself to a Strategy
It’s good to be prepared for your draft, and it’s good to come in with a plan. It’s another thing, though, to be married completely to that plan. Always, always write in pencil, not in ink.
You can do countless mock drafts (and you should, by the way), but when it comes time for your actual draft, it’s not going to go the exact way that you think it will. If you are married to the idea of getting two starters with your first two picks, but everyone else feels that way, too, you need to be ready to adjust your strategy mid-draft to secure up as much value as possible — don’t force Zack Greinke into the second round while passing on Freddie Freeman just because you feel a need to stick to the script.
Take Steals Early
With stolen bases declining every year, it’s no surprise that players who offer elite speed are getting pushed up. Just be careful. Remember Whit Merrifield in 2019? Or how about Adalberto Mondesi in 2019? Don’t forget about how highly Billy Hamilton went for about four years in a row without returning any value.
There’s a reason why the power/speed combo guys go so highly. It makes sense. But if you are pushing up the players who offer minimal contributions elsewhere, you’re doing it wrong. Remember, with fewer steals in baseball, you will need less of them to win or compete in the category.
It’s easy to look at what a player did last year if they had a big outlier season and automatically write it off. If they haven’t done it before, why should we believe that they can do it again? The thought process makes sense and is sound, in a way, but treating every player who has that breakout with that blanket approach can cause you to miss out on players who legitimately broke out.
Each player needs to be treated individually, and that requires a dive into their surface and peripheral stats. Your job as a fantasy manager is to form your own opinion because different fantasy analysts will evaluate each breakout differently. You must take the information available and figure out why the player broke out.
Was it luck-driven? Are there red flags with their expected numbers as opposed to their actual numbers? Is the player 30-plus who had a great season out of nowhere despite their past average track record? Do a little bit of the dirty work and form your opinion.
Avoid Last Year’s Slumps
A lot of fantasy is “what have you done for me lately?” Honestly, it’s maddening. You can have a player that has been a stud or a starter, at least, for two or three years on fantasy teams, and if they have an off-year, they are pushed down in the next year’s draft automatically.
Similarly to the breakouts above, you need to look at why, exactly, the player struggled. Look, baseball is hard. Players are going to struggle, and sometimes that struggle will be an extended stretch that will make the season-long numbers look worse than they were.
Take the same approach with a prospect who doesn’t make an impact right out of the gate. Fantasy managers will look toward the next exciting shiny toy, but what they should be doing is buying low on the post-hype sleeper.
Wait to Take High-Power Hitters
You’ll hear a lot of “why to take Pete Alonso or Jorge Soler when there are players later who can give you similar production at a lower price” conversations taking place, and it makes sense. Drafts are all about getting the most value out of each selection.
But it seems like these discussions take place mainly around home run hitters. Unlike steals, homers are increasing each and every year, which means you need more and more of them to compete in your league. Yeah, you want to find that cheap player in the draft who can give you 30 home runs, but you also want that 50-homer Alonso on your team, too.
Draft an Elite Closer
It was worked into my contract with FantasyPros that aside from rankings, there would be no articles about closers with my byline on it. I’m kidding … sort of.
Closers are the most volatile from year to year, with little consistency carrying over from season to season. What’s more, with teams using their bullpens more strategically, there are more players getting saves than ever before.
About 1/3 of the closers on draft day will return value, while the rest will either bomb or lose their job to someone else. Grab one in the draft, and just stream saves throughout the year. They are easy enough to find.