Friday, March 18, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned From Mocking Kindergarteners

Hopefully you're following along with me while on my journey to conquer a championship in my first ever fantasy baseball season. One of the reasons I started doing this series was due to the lack of material and advice I could find for brand new fantasy baseball players like myself. What I did find reminded me that there are two types of new players. There are people who are new to fantasy sports as a whole, and others who are familiar with other fantasy sports. So with that in mind, let me try to appease both groups.

If you are totally new to fantasy baseball, you have a lot of basics to learn if you want to compete for a title. I’d recommend you check out Mike’s “2011 Fantasy Baseball For Beginners” articles. I think he covers the basics pretty well. If you’ve done the fantasy thing before (why does that sound dirty to me?), you may have that stuff covered already, so let me give you an idea of what I’m doing this year based on my Fantasy Football experience, and as usual, if you’re an experienced Fantasy Baseball player, give this a look over and decide for yourself if I’m setting myself up for success or disaster. Feel free to say so in the comments; that’s what they’re there for!

Now I was planning to do this article strictly on applying FF knowledge to FB (Fantasy Football to Fantasy Baseball, I’ll use those abbreviations if you don’t mind!) and doing my next piece on prepping for my first official mock draft. What I found was that my notes were covering a lot of the same tips and strategies and prep work. So I’ll boil it down to this basic list of my personal ideas for the fantasy-minded individual who maybe doesn’t know how to start prepping for FB season. Next time, I’ll add a few tips to what Mike’s already said for the totally new folks.

What I lerned so Phar...

1) Get a Lot More Prep Work Done.

I’ve learned this early on…it’s not just about knowing the players and what position they play, it’s about knowing exactly where in the lineup offensive players are projected to hit AND what other positions they’re eligible for. In FF, there’s only like five two-position guys. Danny Woodhead, Joe Webb…annnnnd…I may have miscounted. On top of that, there’s generally only six positions to draft for. QB, RB, and WR are the only things on my mind in the first few rounds, then TE comes into play, and K and DEF if I don’t forget to grab them before the draft ends (which happens sometimes, I get overly excited about my sleepers).

Just in the prep work I’ve done so far, I realized just how many baseball players I know nothing about. As I’ve been hearing and reading about how drafts are going this year, I’m realizing just how tricky filling my offensive spots will be. I can tell you I will be working on this right up to my actual draft. As Lenny Melnick has said numerous times, “There’s so many guys out there.” There might not be as much a difference between the 1st and 10th best First Baseman as there is between the 1st and 10th best Running Backs, but I think “value” is what I really need to hound myself on in the coming weeks.

2) Mocks are necessary, but…

Don’t take too much away from them. There are plenty of reasons to participate in multiple mocks before you start your official draft. They help you identify trends, helps you gauge your own instincts, and you can gain a lot of confidence because you have a better idea of what to expect…

…but…

…in my experience, mocks can only get me a certain amount of knowledge. I draft against people of all sorts, usually people who have played a lot more fantasy football than I have. When my real draft comes along…how do I put this nicely…I draft with idiots (not all of them! Just one or two who won’t be reading this article anyway). There are strange picks throughout the draft, and I would suggest to you that if you’re playing FB with a group of friends who haven’t been playing in more competitive leagues (i.e. for money), at least one of them will be selecting very strangely. This is the person who will pick Prince Fielder in the 1st round, Derek Jeter in the 2nd round and Mariano Rivera in the 3rd. Not only will you want to punch this person (at the VERY least), but your mocks will seem much less important.

Again, do a lot of mock drafts to prepare, but also prepare for the unexpected.

3) Be annoying…to an extent

This is my personal strategy in a draft…drive the players next to me crazy. I can usually work out who my friends like, and I can frustrate them pretty well that way. Sometimes because I know they told me truthful information (unless you know they’re telling you the truth, disregard anything your friends say…they’re probably lying to you!). I know one friend, hardcore Packer fan, who loved Aaron Rodgers and Jermichael Finley. So, if the opportunity arose, I was going to snag one of those guys if they were on my list at that point. I won’t overdraft, I won’t compromise my own team, but if I get the chance I will drive my friends nuts. If you get the chance, give it a shot. It’s tremendous fun!

4) If your team turns out badly, tough it out

I played in four FF leagues last year. I thought two of those drafts went very well, one went pretty well, and the last one I thought was only okay. Guess which league I won...

Yep, the last one is the one I won. Not only do people get frustrated when a fantasy owner abandons his team, but this is where point 3 comes back into play. Imagine the wonderful feeling you could get when you pull an upset over a buddy late in the year and cost them a playoff spot. The spoiler role can be great fun, and you can take more chances. The stress of putting your very best team out there is not as important as it would be if you were trying to hold on to first place. A few good free agents can turn things around as well. Your friends will appreciate that you toughed it out all season.

5) This is where I lose you…

Okay, here’s where you can tell I’m a single guy. I told you to do plenty of mock drafts earlier, but I take my mocks one step further. Feel free to try this, but try not to laugh too hard if you think this is crazy…

I mock draft…against myself. Literally. I create my own worst-case scenarios, and force myself to consider these terrible situations. What if I pick a First Baseman with my first pick, and everyone else (or close to it) waits on First Basemen? I’ll make the selection process as hard on myself as I can stand. Now I realize this may indicate that I am a few fries short of a Happy Meal or may be much closer to the nearest looney bin than I’d care to admit, but I can at least admit that it’s a little crazy. It does get me prepared though, not to mention grateful when my real draft doesn’t turn out to be “worst-case” in every round.

As I stated before, these are a few thoughts to you folks who are somewhat familiar with fantasy sports already that are just getting into baseball. For those of you who are new to fantasy sports as a whole, look around http://www.thefantasyman.com/  and look for his “Fantasy Baseball For Beginners” article I mentioned earlier. That should get you off to a good start. When you see me next, I’ll have a few other tips for you to consider.

In the meantime, keep mocking yourself friends.

David Bobke

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