Friday, March 30, 2012

David Bobke - Anticipating Needs and Values

Disclaimer: If you're a fantasy baseball expert, you will probably not learn anything from this article. Or maybe you will. If you're a newbie, you should learn something from this article. But maybe you won't.  It's still worth a try if you're getting ready for your first year of Roto ball. It could be the difference between having and not having hair by the end of your draft.

Concept 2: An-tici-pating Needs and Values Pt. 2

Last article discussed stats and how good it is to have some idea of what you think a player's numbers will be. Now we get into the important aspect of your draft: the rankings.

Here are the main points to remember when it comes to rankings:
1) Go easy on yourself. Start with the draft site's rankings, and make yourself familiar with them.
2) ADP = Average Draft Position; valuable tool to know, necessary to use, especially early in the draft
3) Don't radically overvalue, but be willing to pick a guy earlier than his ADP. We'll get into that more shortly.
4) You're not just picking positions, you're picking categories.

For me, it's a little disorienting when I move players all over the site's rankings list. When I see their numbers all jumbled out of order, I lose track of what pick we're on and who is a reach and who is a value. I wouldn't adjust the rankings too much, but I'd be sure to keep tabs on the guys that I think are worth taking earlier than their site states. I'll shift a few guys around at the top, move up a few players later in the draft up to where I think they might actually get picked (example: if SP Adam Wainwright is ranked #100 on the drafting website, and I think he's a lock to be a much better player than they're projecting him to be, I might notate that I could take him earlier; I don't want to severely overdraft him, but if I'm positive he's worth taking in the early 9th round instead of waiting until the 10th, then that may be a reasonable stretch (keep in mind, for more seasoned players or “experts”, this advice would go out the window; hopefully if you're new, you're playing against other people who aren't named “Kuchera” or “Melnick.”)

There's an argument about drafting a player early if you know he won't be available when your next pick comes up. There is something to that, but less so in early rounds. So if Wainwright's ADP puts him down as the last pick in Round 11 and I have the last pick of Round 10 and first of Round 11, then yes, picking him with either of those would be reasonable.

These last couple paragraphs are from my experience in relatively formal leagues. If you end up doing a more competitive league against people who've been playing the game for 10 years, they'll probably have their own rankings and ignore the site their on, so you may want to follow suit. Bottom line in any draft is this: If you're going to “reach” for someone, be right. If you're right, you're fine. I guess that goes without saying, doesn't it? Sometimes, the obvious needs mentioning.

But picking the #11 player with the #1 pick using that logic is not wise. Actually, it's dumb. Real dumb. You can draft Cabrera or Pujols and trade them off for that #11 guy later on. Yes, there will be certain players you want, but don't forget about value. You're drafting players, but you're also drafting value.

Yes, I know, I'd love to have Ryan Braun too, but if I'm picking 1st, I'm picking Cabrera. I may say to the guy with Braun, “If you wanted to work out a deal for Cabrera, I'd be open to it.”

That takes us to that “radically overvaluing a player” issue. Sit down, let me tell you a story from a Fantasy Football league. Consider this my version of “Reefer Madness.”
This past season, a friend of mine liked WR Chad Ochocinco. He was projected as probably an 8th Round pick. My friend drafted him in the 3rd Round. I don't need to tell you how badly his team did. He could've had him in the 7th pretty easily, MAYBE the 6th if he really didn't want to risk losing him. He buried his team with that pick. His 1st Round pick was a little questionable, but defensible. His 2nd Round pick was solid.  Then came Ochocinco. Don't let that happen to you. There is that old saying in fantasy, “You can't win your league with your 1st pick, but you can lose it.

Just because someone's ADP is 100.5 doesn't mean you have to wait until pick 100 to get them. Check out the ADPs on; some of the ranges are huge. A guy with an ADP of 100.5 could be getting picked as high as 85 and as low as 120. Guys like that, you want to value however YOU deem appropriate. Like Adam Wainwright? Think he's going to be really good? Might want to presume he'll be on the earlier end of that ADP in your league (either because you'll be drafting him there or some other jerk in your league will think the same thing and snag him before you can.) Have I hounded you enough on this? There's a reason I've gone on about it for the last 20 minutes, trust me!

Here's another point I want to stress. In Roto leagues, you aren't just drafting to meet positional needs, you're also drafting to meet statistical needs. We've gone over this idea before (you can't do extra Math homework to cover the fact that you don't know Science, remember?)

You will want to find target numbers for each category. They're better for season-long leagues rather than head-to-head leagues, but they can aid you in H2H too. For example, in 10 team mixed leagues on over the last 3 years, 107 is the average number to win the Wins category. That's probably a good number to go for. So if you go for Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels early in the draft, you're at about 35 projected wins right there. If you wait on pitching and go with Ricky Romero, Matt Garza, and Shaun Marcum, you're looking at 40 projected wins. Either way, there are a number of SP's projected for 10 wins or more, and your RP's will get a few as well; in a daily league, you can rotate a few SP's around, so you can factor that in however you deem appropriate (if you're planning to start 6 SP's and 3 RP's regularly, and carrying 1 more SP, you're still going to get something from that 7th SP if you rotate him in, so don't think you need all your Wins from only 6 of those guys.)

This is probably a lot to digest, and if you're like me, you probably want to see some practical examples. We're getting there! Next time we'll talk about what you can do to apply this prep work to ranking your actual draft, then we'll discuss...okay, I'll discuss setting up your rankings in tiers.

David Bobke

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