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Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (2024)

Whether this is your first fantasy baseball draft or your 20th, I have the ultimate fantasy baseball guide for you.

We have a lot to go over, so let’s get into it quicker than Zach Davies declines his wife’s phone calls.

The Ultimate 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide

Understand Your League Structure

Make sure you know your scoring, matchup settings and roster format up front.

Head-to-head points, categories and rotisserie are the main league categories. Within leagues, commissioners can change points for player events — similar to changing a passing TD in fantasy football from four points to six.

You can either:

  • Check your scoring against manual league settings, check for any differences and then manually calculate how that would affect consensus rankings.
  • Upload your league using FantasyPros for free and have them do the work.

One option seems easier than the other.

Understanding your league and its scoring is important when preparing for the draft. Players like Kyle Schwarber will have their ranking changed based on the league format.

Get a Broad Understanding of Player Rankings

No one expects you to know every player. Clean-up hitters change, lead-off hitters change, pitchers get sent to the minors, etc. Do not feel bad if you don’t know who the cleanup hitter for the Angels is.

No one does.

Instead, get a decent understanding of teams expected to score runs, solid overall lineups and pitchers/hitters with great/horrific underlying numbers.

Review expert rankings and read their analysis to decide if you agree or disagree to get an idea of what to expect during a draft and when players will be drafted.

In order, rankings, in my opinion, are driven by:

  1. Statistical Analysis
  2. Positional Scarcity
  3. Upside/Social Media Clips
  4. Role On Team
  5. Injury History

And you can use FantasyPros to create consensus rankings of the most accurate fantasy baseball draft experts.

More Fantasy Baseball Draft Ranking Resources

Statistical Analysis

I’d estimate this is about 80% of the overall analysis. It is easiest to formulate and sell in easy-to-digest tidbits. I’m not saying it is wrong or misleading but it can get convoluted.

Lizzo hit only 12 homers but had a .129 ballpark-isolated BABIPAR against righties on Thursdays, which is 64% below the league average since BABIPAR became a stat in 1999.

All of that was made up but it’s not too far-fetched. Well, maybe one part.

Last year, I was involuntarily institutionalized over an obsession with NRFI/First 5 bets; trying to find predictable events with the least amount of unpredictable variance. What I found was people way smarter than myself spent days and weeks analyzing predicted stats against actual outcomes over the last decade and found the largest predictors of success were pretty simple:

For Batters

  • OPS+
  • WOBA+

For Pitchers

  • OPS+
  • WHIP

I always found this interesting because it made more sense than some stats I hear get thrown around now.

In a world of too much information, when using statistical analysis make sure not to get caught in the paralysis of over-analysis. Use the most accurate fantasy baseball projections to put together your draft strategy and rankings.

More Projections Resources

Positional Scarcity

Tier lists and mock drafts are great tools to prepare for positional scarcity. Trust that you’ll understand positional scarcity quickly if you do not prepare for it.

Situations like spending heavily on two aces early and then watching the mid-round pitcher pool pass you by with regret.

Or taking a shortstop in the first round and seeing nothing but great shortstop value in rounds eight or nine.

Do a few mock drafts and see which positions have high-value players still available in rounds 11 or 12 and which positions have large drop-offs near tiers tier and three.

Or you could let the experts do it for you:

12-Team Leagues

10-Team Leagues

I heard the writer who did the 12-team salary cap mock was an Abercrombie model.

Upside/Social Media

I might as well call this the Elly De La Cruz tier.

Be wary of guys who can have insane highlight reel plays despite worrying underlying numbers.

But also be ready to reach on players who had such great numbers in the minors their team had no choice but to call them up (2023 Corbin Carroll).

It’s why players go early based on age and production in the minors — they have the potential to pop. The cost is the potential.

It’s like the sports card market, players are priced almost exclusively on their potential. And someone out there will buy into that potential if they feel the price is too low.

Similarly, veteran players often fall in the draft. New shiny players often never fall and always have “20/20 potential”.

Elly De La Cruz stealing second and third base and being No. 1 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 is no doubt amazing but it’s worth the same as a Max Muncy two-RBI double in a random seventh inning when the Dodgers are losing to the Diamondbacks 17-3.

Role on Team

Batting fifth for the Dodgers/Braves/Orioles matters.

Batting ahead of Mike Trout matters.

Being a top-five fantasy draft pick but having almost no lineup help around matters.

Being in a hitting platoon matters.

Getting a new contract in the offseason matters.

Ballpark matters.

Injury History

Seems pretty self-explanatory.

I put it last because I found people use injuries to fit their narrative on whether a player will be good or bad, or why they will bust.

I try not to predict or get in front of injuries. Because, let’s be real, none of us are doctors and we are all just guessing.

Just kidding, I wrote a whole article about predicting injuries.

Draft Day

Formulate a Plan

Reaching on players you feel are undervalued?

Taking the best available?

Loading up on one category?

Prioritizing certain positions?

Try to get a basic idea of how you want to attack a draft and then finalize your positional tiers.

A lot of great resources on FantasyPros can help with these tiers. I follow Pat Fitzmaurice’s tiers with a few slight personal changes. He does some great research and explains his reasoning. Read them all below:

Have a general idea of what you want your team to look like but be ready to pivot. And combine rankings to create a cheat sheet you can rely on the day of your draft!

The Draft

Be prepared. Get your favorite player in an auction. Have fun. Set a foundation for the season. And you can even optimize your picks with expert advice during your baseball draft with our Draft Assistant.

In fantasy football, you try to win the league in the draft. In fantasy baseball, it’s about setting a foundation of depth and predictability.

In the world of social media, fantasy podcasts and TikTok, the casual/borderline obvious sleepers now do not exist. Do not be shocked when your “top sleeper projected in round 12” goes in round nine.

Snake League

Look ahead to your first two picks and see who will likely be available at those spots before the draft starts. For example, if you pick sixth and 19th, make a top-19 list as the draft is about to start. This will help you prepare for the later rounds.

Plan a round ahead and don’t be afraid to draft players you like that may not be the “best available” if there is a chance they will not be available at your next pick.

More Snake League Draft Resources

Salary Cap League

Be Aggressive early and get your top guy.

Get a top player at a position you consider important. Elite early players will always be the value, so spend what it takes to get your guy within reason. It is much easier to budget out a team when your most expensive, cornerstone player is accounted for early.

Fifteen percent of your team will be players you purchased for less than $3. Find $1 players you like.

However, most importantly…

Fantasy baseball is about enjoyment!

Draft a player you love ahead of a guy who is projected 12 points higher throughout the season.

More Salary Cap Draft Resources

Enjoy, be prepared, lay the foundation for a great season and check out the FantasyPros Draft Kit!

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Players to Target

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