If you are in a fantasy baseball league, you are scrambling this weekend to get ready for your draft. The SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League draft is Monday night. No matter what league you are in, there are steps you need to take to succeed in your draft.
HAVE A PLAN
To develop a plan you need to understand your league scoring categories, roster requirements, and rules. In our league, we have 16 teams competing head-to-head with weekly roster changes. Our offensive scoring categories are runs scored, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, on base percentage and strikeouts. The pitching categories are quality starts, saves, holds, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. We are required to have five starting pitchers, three relief pitchers and three pitchers in our lineup each week. On offense, we are required to have two catchers, one player at each infield position, three outfielders, and two utility players that can be filled by any offensive position.
Your draft list is shaped by your league's rules. That said, draft lists can look very different within the same league. Below is a chart showing how ESPN, BaseballMonster.com, CAIRO, and Yahoo O-Rank, each project the first-round of Monday's SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League draft. Each team has five keepers so the draft begins with 80 players already off the board. All projections are developed using the scoring categories and roster requirements of the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League except for the Yahoo O-Rank. The Yahoo rankings are extremely important because that's the order the computer will choose players if team owners are not at the draft and haven't ranked their players.
If owners rely on Yahoo O-Rank they'll receive an excellent player in the first round, but it may not be at the position they need. The Vicious Fishes already have two first basemen - Prince Fielder and Paul Konerko. Yahoo O-Rank would add a third first baseman, Mark Teixeira. That would limit owner Nikhil Dinesh's ability to use the utility spots to match-up with opponents on a weekly basis. It would simply be all power all the time.
The chart illustrates two points. First, no two draft lists are alike. Second, the draft list is your plan.
HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR DRAFT LIST
The Yahoo O-Rank list is a great place to start. Go to our Yahoo League home page and click on "Players". Sort the players on "All Available Players" and "All Batters" or "All Pitchers". This will show you which players are available.
Now, divide the draft into thirds, with seven rounds in each third. This makes developing the list more manageable. There will be 16 players taken in each round. My top 16 players - irregardless of position - I place in order in my first round. I reserve the first third of my draft for established veterans. They are normally more reliable. The second third I'll take some chances with younger players or players coming off injury. The final third is used to fill my four bench players (usually I target two offensive players and two pitchers that provide value in one statistical category), my second catcher, a fifth outfielder, and the best available player at any position.
For owners brand new to baseball with no idea how to rank players, use the Yahoo O-Rank as a guide. You can also refer to the player projections on this site. I also like the rankings at Razzball.
If you find this exercise overwhelming - and a I completely understand if you do - just let Yahoo O-Rank pick for you.
EDIT YOUR PRE-DRAFT PLAYER RANKINGS
Once you've completed your list, you can go back to the Yahoo League home page, click on "Draft Central" and "Pre-Draft Rankings". I list the players by the Top 25 and then sort by position. I then move to "my players" all of the players I have ranked at that position. Be sure to save often. Once I'm finished with each position, I begin moving the players up and down the "my players" list according to my overall rankings, irregardless of position.
You can rank as many or as few players as you want. The Yahoo O-Rankings will take over when your list is exhausted.
PARTICIPATE IN A MOCK DRAFT
Now that you have completed your list, click on "Draft Central" and participate in a "Mock Draft". Be sure to join a 12-team, head-to-head draft if possible. Now you'll have a chance to practice. It's a great way to learn how the draft works. You can stay for as many rounds as you like. If you go from beginning to end, the draft will be reviewed and your team will be compared to the other teams in your draft.