Position Scarcity Draft Strategy & Targets (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
If you have consumed any fantasy baseball content this year, then you have heard about the scarcity of certain positions. Analysts are screaming from the mountain tops things like “THIRD BASE IS AWFUL THIS YEAR!” or “THE OUTFIELD IS REALLY BAD!” However, what is the truth of the matter?
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Position Scarcity Draft Strategy & Advice
In trying to discover the answer, I made this chart of each position and where they are being drafted in NFBC Online Championship drafts which are 12-team Roto leagues since the beginning of the year.
The first thing you discover is how deep starting pitching is, especially for 10 and 12-team mixed leagues. This is backed up by what I have seen in drafts so far this season. You can wait on pitching in a lot of these formats.
When you look at catcher, it depends a lot on your roster format. In a 1-catcher format, it is pretty easy to wait on catchers. There are a ton of good options. However, in 2-catcher formats with 12 or more teams, the drop-off becomes pretty apparent. The deeper the format, the greater the advantage that comes from drafting an early catcher because the replacement value just isn’t there.
First base is the deepest of positions in the game. There isn’t as much talent at the top as at shortstop, but with 29 going in the first 300 picks, it is easy to find playable talent later than just about every position.
While it is not talked about as fervently as third base and outfield, second base may be the position that has the most scarcity, especially for shallower formats. On top of the fact it has the least amount of players being drafted in the Top 100 and Top 300 (outside of catcher), it also is the only position without a top 30 player. Add in the fact that the position is littered with multi-positional eligible players (13 in the top 300 picks), and there are quite a few guys with major injury risk questions like Jazz Chisholm, Ozzie Albies, Max Muncy, Jorge Polanco, Brandon Lowe, and Jonathan India going in the top 200 picks. I think it is very important to have targets you like at the position and be aggressive in getting them because the drop-offs are so severe and the depth is lacking.
One of the most talked about positions in fantasy this year has been third base and how bad it is. However, it is better at the top than every other infield position outside of shortstop and has better late depth than all of the infield positions. The strategy that seems to work the best is if you do not get a top-tier third baseman, then wait and attack the position later by getting a high-upside young player like Jordan Walker or Josh Jung, or take gambles on an older player bounce back like Anthony Rendon, Justin Turner, or DJ LeMahieu. I am not as worried about the depth of the position, but I want to be very tuned in with the drop-offs at the position. There is a 45-pick drop-off between the sixth and seventh player at third base and other big drop-offs early on in the ADP.
Shortstop has been referred to as the deepest position in fantasy, and I think that is true in shallow formats like 10-team leagues with 13 players going in the top 100 picks. However, if you play in deeper formats, there are pretty big drop-offs, and the depth later in the draft is pretty thin. Once you get past the top 260-300 picks, there are not a lot of options left that are going to play, and a lot of the ones going outside of the top 250 are multi-positional eligible. So, while you can wait at the position, you need to be careful not to wait too long in deeper leagues. There is also a huge benefit to taking the elite shortstops because they contribute in all the categories. While it is ok to wait in your 10 and 12-team leagues, I recommend not waiting very long in the deeper formats.
Finishing up with the outfield, this is another position where scarcity is determined by the depth of the league you play in. In a 10-team league, there is a lot of playable depth at the position. Even in a 12-team league, the depth is still pretty good, with 70 guys going in the top 300. The problem becomes when you get into deeper leagues. In a 15-team league with five outfielders per team, it becomes a lot more difficult to find your fourth and fifth outfielder, much less guys for your bench. That is not to say it is great in shallower formats, either. The difference between the top 10-15 outfielders to the rest of the pack is pretty big. There are about 15 guys I am very comfortable with, and then even outfielders going inside of the top 50 picks have question marks about their health or skills. I have been trying to attack the position early, and then typically, I wait until later unless a big value appears in the draft.
There are a lot of ways to approach the player pool this season, but knowing how to apply depth and avoid the scarcity of the positions is how you build winning teams.
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