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Fantasy Baseball Draft & Hold League Strategy & Advice (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Draft & Hold League Strategy & Advice (2024)

If you have never played in a Draft and Hold league, they are 50-round drafts where you are stuck with your drafted team the entire season. That means no waiver wire pick-ups or FAAB. Draft and hold leagues have become more and more popular each year because they allow you to draft and not worry about FAAB as well as being a great way for people to learn the player pool for early drafters before your more important leagues later in draft season.

Draft and Hold League Strategies (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

Roster Construction

The rosters for draft and hold leagues are similar to your standard leagues with very large benches. Typically, they look like this:

  • 2 C
  • 1B
  • 2B
  • SS
  • 3B
  • CI
  • MI
  • 5 OF
  • UT
  • 9 P
  • 27 Bench spots

While there are many ways to construct your roster, the most common and best way in my opinion is to roster 3-4 catchers, 6-8 CIs (1B and 3B), 6-8 MIs (2B and SS), 10-12 OFs, and 21-24 pitchers with a 2/1 split between starting pitchers versus relief pitchers.

Category Targets

It is important in draft and hold to build a balanced roster, especially if you play in a format like NFBC which has an overall contest because being weak in any particular category puts you too far behind in points to be competitive in the overall. If you are less concerned with the overall or in a format that does not have one, you can be more imbalanced, but it is very risky because you don’t have the ability to pivot the way you would in a league with picks up when injuries hit. Here are the 80 percentile category targets from the 2023 NFBC Draft Champions contest which can give you a better idea of what you should be shooting for.

Runs HR RBI SB AVG
1059 299 1030 183 0.261
ERA WHIP Wins Saves Ks
3.779 1.209 89 74 1372

Risk Management

Typically this type of section would be towards the back of an article, but I think it is one of the most important things that beginners to the format (and some more seasoned players) don’t realize. Draft and hold leagues are battles of attrition. The most successful teams are ones that rack up at bats and innings pitched. Of course they need to upside down their teams, but they often look a lot more boring than you would expect. This is because injuries are going to happen that you would not expect coming into the season and in spite of having 50 players on your roster for 23 spots, getting hit by a rash of injuries can be disastrous.

This is why when drafting, you should be very conscious about how much risk you take on from individual players. Byron Buxton (DH – MIN) has a ton of upside if he stays healthy, but that is a big if and if you get hit by a couple of random outfield injuries at the same time Buxton gets hurt, you could be starting a player that isn’t playing much or at all which makes it really hard to rack up those at bats you need to be competitive. Same can be said for prospects. Prospects are really fun to gamble on, but if you do not know when they will arrive and you get hit by early injuries, that can leave you in a tough spot. Even when prospects come up, there is no guarantee you will want to play them if they struggle. How many people really wanted Taj Bradley (SP – TB) or Brandon Pfaadt (SP – ARI) on their rosters after they struggled early on?

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take risks on prospects or injury prone players. These players are often underpriced because of their risk which is why people are attracted to them. What you don’t want to do is compound the risk. What often happens when people take risky players is they add to that risk by adding a bunch more later. If you have favorite high risk/high reward players, take them, but don’t take too many. I will draft five lottery ticket-type players in a 50-round draft. So if I want three prospects, I make sure I don’t take more than two injury risk players. I also prefer to make sure I am taking them at different points in the draft. If you want Royce Lewis (3B – MIN) early in the draft, then maybe a pitcher like Tyler Glasnow (SP – LAD) who also goes early and has struggled with health is a bad idea altogether. What I will not do is draft players that are already injured to start the season, especially pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery.

Multi-Positional Players

One of the ways to mitigate risk in draft and hold leagues is to target hitters that have eligibility at multiple positions. This allows you to cover more spots in case you are hit by injuries. I especially like players that have eligibility in the infield and the outfield at the same time or at a corner infield position and a middle infield position at the same time. I also look for players that may pick up eligibility in season, especially early on. For example, Henry Davis (RF- PIT) is an outfielder only to start the season, but he will add catcher eligibility early on in the season which makes him a lot more valuable. As the season wears on and injuries pile up, these players that can move around your lineup are very helpful.

Closers

Unlike your traditional fantasy league, closers are really expensive in the draft and hold format. This is in large part because you can’t go get the next guy off the wire when a guy goes down or loses his job like you would in a FAAB league. This makes it important to roster closers you feel are pretty confident that are not going to lose their jobs. It also makes it a viable strategy to handcuff the closers you do draft with their potential backup. As the draft gets into later rounds, take shots on guys with good skills and a potential road to the job because the closer in front of them is risky, a potential trade candidate or has an injury past.


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