Once you realize that you’ve made some strategic errors in your fantasy baseball draft, it is often too late to fix them. There is no undo button to fix a bad draft pick. It sounds simple but the best strategy is really to not make errors to begin with. Knowing what mistakes to avoid is the first step.
If you’ve done a few drafts then you’ve seen other owners in your leagues fumble their way through a draft that results in having a team that has no shot at the title. You don’t want to be that guy.
You can tell that your roto draft is going in that awful direction if you find yourself making these obvious mistakes.
1. You Target Pitching Too Heavily Early On
There are many different strategies when it comes to building a pitching staff and most are centered around not investing heavily in pitching. One of those strategies is the LIMA Plan and there’s versions of that same plan where some folks advocate one ace and then low-investment pitchers after that. Regardless, the biggest mistake you can make when it comes to pitching is to draft too many aces. The idea of having lots of good pitching isn’t bad in and of itself. The idea of not drafting hitters with your early picks is bad though. The talent pool dries up quicker than you think. You do not want to still be drafting multiple offensive starters in Rounds 15 and on.
2. You Draft Too Many “Breakout” Candidates
I think there’s a lot of benefit to grabbing a Wil Myers or Jose Abreu or Jedd Gyorko in hopes that you can take advantage of their lack of a track record by getting the “next big thing”. However, be conservative in your risk-taking. When you build your team with too many boom-or-bust players, you cancel out the boom by having too much bust. For every Mike Trout, there’s a Desmond Jennings and a few Brett Lawries waiting right behind him (fine players that didn’t offer great return-on-investment when they were being drafted as “breakout” rookies). If you look at your team and you say “if he breaks out…” about more than just a couple players then your team is filled with too many “ifs” and you’re going to suffer because of it.
3. You Don’t Draft A First Baseman Early Enough
It doesn’t seem like a position of scarcity since there are a dozen good options at 1B but when you’re in a league that has a DH or Corner Infielder position, you can suddenly find yourself in big trouble if you don’t have a 1B by the seventh round and other teams already have multiple 1B’s. After Anthony Rizzo and Jose Abreu are gone, you’ve found yourself in a horrible position if you haven’t yet filled this spot. Don’t be cute. Draft 1B early.
4. You Draft Too Many Injured or Injury-Prone Players
This plays along with the same theory behind drafting too many “breakout” players. There’s an advertised risk with drafting a player who starts the season on the DL. That obvious risk drives his draft value down and someone eventually decides to take a chance. It’s okay to be that guy. It’s not okay to be that guy multiple times in the same draft. It’s not okay to be taking chances on those aforementioned breakout candidates in addition to these injured players. A draft built upon risk is a draft doomed to fail.
5. You Don’t Understand Your League’s Position Eligibility Rules
You’re looking at a cheatsheet or reading a website that makes you think that picking Evan Gattis as your catcher would be a sneaky move. You draft him and then go drink some Yoo-Hoo and carry on with life without realizing that he’s not eligible at catcher in your league. Only later do you realize this and try to cover up your mistake. Suddenly your whole draft plan has shifted but it’s too late to remedy the mistake.
You’d be surprised how often these mistakes occur and how much of an affect they can have upon your draft. Double-check and then triple-check anybody that you think has dual-eligibility because every league has different rules related to this.
6. You Draft A Closer That Maybe, Possibly Isn’t Closing Right Now
Cool. Your draft info from early March says that Neftali Feliz is the closer for the Rangers and they’re going to win a lot of games so you–no, don’t be that guy. Joakim Soria got the closer job a few days ago. Know who the closers are. You can’t ask for a redo on a draft pick when you get the right info a few minutes later. I recommend using Closer Monkey as a resource for knowing who is the closer for every team at the time of your draft.
7. You Wait Too Long On Outfielders
There are so many outfielders, you say! There’s so many good outfielders too, you say! Until… you look around and realize that you just might have to start Ben Revere as your third outfielder because you were too busy picking closers and catchers and backup catchers. Don’t be that guy. Try to have three outfielders by Round 12 so you’re not scrambling for scraps (especially true in 5 OF leagues).
8. You Use Too Many Early Picks On Hitters With No Power
Dude. Do you even read Mr. Cheatsheet? No? Well you probably should. If you’re in a roto league, you gotta target power early on. As an added bonus, you get higher RBI and Run totals when you draft HR guys. I like Elvis Andrus. I like Dustin Pedroia. I like Joe Mauer. But, no no no, don’t draft all of these low power guys to gain those SB’s or high AVG in these crucial rounds. You can find SB’s through other means but you cannot make up for not having power hitters on your team. Be smart. Draft power hitters.