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Draft and Hold League Primer: Strategy & Advice (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Draft and Hold League Primer: Strategy & Advice (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

With the Super Bowl officially over, it is now time to get into drafting season for fantasy baseball! If you are coming over from fantasy football and are looking for a less strenuous format than the daily grind of most fantasy baseball leagues, then let me introduce you to Draft and Hold leagues.

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Draft & Hold League Primer (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

What is a Draft and Hold league?

These are 50-round drafts with no in-season pickups. So if you love to draft but hate having to do the FAAB or waivers period every week, then this may be the format for you. All you have to do is draft your team and set your lineups at the beginning of the week!

Roster Construction

Typically, these leagues are standard roto leagues 2-catchers. So your starting lineup looks like this:

  • 2 Catchers
  • 1B
  • 2B
  • SS
  • 3B
  • CI (a 1B or 3B)
  • MI (a SS or 2B)
  • 5 Outfielders
  • UT (any offensive player)
  • 9 Pitchers (SPs or RPs)
  • 27 Reserve/Bench Players

Part of the strategy with your roster construction is to give yourself a lot of flexibility. Typically when I draft a Draft and Hold team, I am looking for:

  • 3-4 Catchers
  • 7 CIs
  • 7 MIs
  • 10 OFs
  • 21-22 Pitchers
    • 14 SPs
    • 7 RPs

These are general guidelines that can be adjusted depending on how early you attack certain positions. For instance, if I draft an early catcher or two, I likely won’t draft a fourth one and will instead just make sure I have a third catcher that actually plays.

One way you can make your life a lot easier is to get multi-positional eligible players. If you have guys that can play multiple positions, it gives you a lot more flexibility, especially when injuries happen. You still need to have the bodies for each position, so drafting a guy like Brandon Drury is helpful, but you still need ~14 infielders; he doesn’t count as multiple. I always want to bump up guys that have multi-position eligibility, especially those that are eligible in the infield and outfield because they can cover more positions.

Don’t Be Risky!

Just because you draft a ton of players does not mean you should take a bunch of gambles on minor leaguers and injury-prone players. The most successful players in this format often have pretty boring-looking teams, but they just rack up a ton of plate appearances and innings. Especially for those of you playing in leagues with an overall, the teams that often do well in overalls have prioritized loading up on plate appearances and innings over upside. It is ok to take calculated gambles on high-upside players, but I like to only take five stashes personally as you don’t want to not be able to field a full team if you have an early rash of injuries.

Don’t Skimp Out On Saves!

I think people often think that they shouldn’t overpay for saves. While that is debatable for normal leagues, in Draft and Hold leagues, you can’t pick up guys in season, and so you need to make sure you leave with at least two closers you feel comfortable with. They will not be cheap, either. There are ten closers going in the top 75 picks in Draft Champions leagues on NFBC since the beginning of the year. Do not be afraid to “overpay” for the ones you like.

Starting Pitching is Deep This Year but Goes Quickly

I think that a lot has been written this year about pitching being very deep, and it is. So far, we don’t even have a first-round starter unless we count Shohei Ohtani. That being said, starting pitching does get drafted in bunches and runs and can go very quickly, especially in the 15-team leagues. While it is smart to devalue starters a little more this season than others, I recommend leaving your first 10 rounds with at least three starters and at least one closer.

Stay Balanced

It is important to stay balanced in terms of your categories through the first 10-20 rounds. Ignoring some categories early limits your ability to get them later on. Categories like saves and stolen bases dry up, and while you can get them later, they often come with huge deficits in other categories. Staying balanced allows you more options later on.

NFBC Specific Strategies

In NFBC, unlike other formats, you can change the hitters part of your lineup on Fridays. This allows you to stream in guys that may be platoon players if they have good matchups at the beginning or end of the week. You can also stream good parks a little bit easier (more on that later).

Also in NFBC, there are overalls for their draft and hold leagues. This means you are not only competing against your own league but also against every other league in the contest for an overall prize. This means if you are hoping to win the overall, you must stay balanced in order to do so. Here are the 80th percentile category targets for these leagues from last season courtesy of Vlad Sedler, who is an all-time great in NFBC:

  • Runs – 971
  • HRs – 266
  • RBI – 948
  • SBs -125
  • AVG – .255
  • Wins – 89
  • Strikeouts – 125
  • ERA – 3.397
  • WHIP – 1.142
  • Saves – 63

With the new rules this season and us not knowing what the ball will look like, you may want to adjust these yourself by making sure you have extra stolen bases and a higher batting average, but these are good goals for your projections.

I also recommend using ADP as a guide for your NFBC draft, but make sure you adjust the time frames down to the last two weeks or so. Using Draft Champions ADP that goes back to October is pretty useless for the most part, especially after you get past the first 50-100 picks.

Now you are ready for your Draft and Hold leagues this season! Good Luck, and happy drafting!

Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.

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