The number one issue all fantasy baseball owners need to be concerned about when dealing with their fantasy baseball roster and league is how to approach their fantasy draft.
Of course, beyond pre-ranking players, knowing player roles, injuries, stats, and current depth charts, it’s extremely important to know exactly what type of league you’re working with, what the scoring system is, and deciding on a draft strategy.
The following is a basic breakdown of all the major league formats and how the average owner could/should go about drafting their team for the 2010 season, or any other season in the future:
Autopick/List Drafts: Autopick drafts have the fantasy owners pre-rank players in a draft list, or use lists already conducted by the website running the league. During the draft the owner’s highest ranked players that are not already selected in the draft would be their top pick. This type of draft allows the fantasy owner to have minimal control over their final fantasy roster, but also does not require the fantasy owner to be at the draft.
Live Drafts: Live drafts require all fantasy team owners to be present at the draft, and give the user the ability to have complete control over how their final roster will shape out. The draft order should be pre-determined before the draft, and then each owner will take their turn in a specific or random order until the draft is completed. If you are signed up for a live online fantasy draft but do not attend the draft, your team will be automatically drafted for you. If you have pre-ranked lists of players like you would have for an autopick draft, you still have some moderate say in your final roster, despite not partaking in the actual draft.
Salary Cap Draft: Salary cap drafts have fantasy owners pick players based on a pre-determined point system, which assigns specific players specific value, using fake money as a reference, and allotting each fantasy team the same amount of “money” to be used. This can work two ways. One style can have the draft be in an auction format, where each team has the right to bid on players, while another style can have each team carrying any player they choose to draft, so long as they meet the salary cap requirements.
Know Your League
It sounds simple and obvious, but it happens all the time. Fantasy owners simply enter leagues on a whim, don’t pay attention to the league format, and draft against what they actually need.
In other words, you don’t want to be drafting the best pitchers you can find on the draft board if your league is either dominated by your team’s batting average or runs scored, or possibly doesn’t carry pitchers, altogether.
Plain and simple: know your league format, the scoring, and exactly what positions (and how many) your league demands.
The most common league formats are Points Based, Head-to-Head, and Rotisserie, while Keeper and Dynasty leagues are also popular. There are many other less-used league formats, and beyond the actual formats, the scoring systems within these formats can be changed in a variety of ways.
Know Your Scoring System
Knowing your fantasy league’s scoring system can directly affect what players you draft for your fantasy baseball team, and almost as importantly, when you draft them.
As previously stated, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re drafting a bunch of big-name players and find out later that you have little-to-no use for them on your fantasy roster.
Knowing the in’s and out’s of your league and scoring system also applies to daily and weekly adjustments, whether it be trades, adjusting your lineup, or picking players up off of your league’s fantasy waiver wire.
If you don’t know your scoring system, then you can count on a lost season.
Know the Players
Believe it or not, this actually comes after knowing your league format and scoring system. You can be a casual fantasy baseball fan and still rock your league, all the while never knowing who the starting pitcher is for the Toronto Blue Jays in any given week.
However, once you figure the first two bullet-points out, knowing the players in MLB, both from a “reality” stand-point, as well as a fantasy baseball perspective, becomes extremely important.
A quick rundown of each team, a look at depth charts, injury reports, and rankings around the web can go a long way in quickly catching you up on big names, fantasy sleepers, and even guys to go after on the fantasy waiver wire in the middle of the fantasy season.
This doesn’t have to be something you completely master before the draft, and is always a work in progress, but having a good idea of who the top 15-10 players are at each position is a fantastic start.
Know Your Competition
This final piece of advice could just as easily be number one on this list, as solid knowledge of your competition, their drafting and trade habits, and their homer squads can go a long way in helping you maximize the potential of your fantasy draft.
It isn’t complex or sneaky. If you enter into an open league with people you’ve never met, this is clearly much for difficult. However, chatting up a storm with the guys during your draft (or even before), and keeping mental notes of their favorites teams, layers, and even they fantasy team name can help you in edging out the competition.
The more you know, the better off you’ll be.