There are so many different types of leagues out there that it’s hard to give one set of advice for everyone. In a league without a Corner Infield or Middle Infield position, you have a totally different mindset than those that need both positions. In a league with five outfielders instead of three, your concept of player value and position scarcity is totally different. So, be wary of following any one set of rules you may see from experts out there. Know your league. But, putting all of that aside, there are still some tips that are applicable to all league types in 2011.
The Early Rounds
Try your hardest to get one of the top four 3B
You have Wright, Longoria, Zimmerman and A-Rod and then you have a lot of question marks. While you might be able to survive with Pedro Alvarez and you can get by with Casey McGehee, you would rather have the security that these top four offer you. More than any other position this season, the drop-off after the top tier is extremely quick and severe at 3B.If you the first four go off the board before you could nab them, I do think your best options are waiting until the middle rounds for Pablo Sandoval or Mark Reynolds as they offer the next best value at the position.
Draft the 1B position early and often
No other position generates quick as much as offense as first base. Even the worst first baseman are still pretty decent fantasy players. But, nothing replaces the production of the elite first basemen. From Pujols to Fielder, you are getting unworldly production. You get decent production from there on out but there isn’t a huge difference between Paul Konerko in the 6th round and a later round pick. If you have a DH spot or a CI spot and are able to start two 1B, there’s a lot of value in drafting a 1B with both of your first picks before the production drops off after the second round.
Draft power hitters early and speedsters later
Carl Crawford’s ability to contribute in five categories sounds really nice in the first round. But, his 20 HR’s at that point will end up hurting you in the end. You can get a guy who can steal 50 bases in Round 14 but you can’t get a guy who is a threat for 50 HR’s. Home runs peak early and are a rarity after the early rounds while stolen bases never really hit a peak or bottom. And, if you’re drafting a home run hitter, you’re drafting for more than one category because homers are so strongly linked to both Runs and RBI’s. While, if you draft a stolen base expert earlier on, the only other category that correlates with it is Runs and it’s not a very strong correlation. If you miss the boat of power early, you can’t make it up later. On the flip side, speed is always available so don’t overpay for it.
The Middle Rounds
Try to fill up your OF positions (or most of them) by Round 10
Outfield isn’t an incredibly deep position this season so you’ll want to start filling it up sooner than later. After Round 10, it really starts to drop off a bit so you’ll want to fill as many outfield holes as you can prior to that. While other positions such as SS and 2B may seem important at the time, they can always be filled later on and you’ll want to make sure you take care of OF quickly or pay the price later on.
Try to secure your pitching staff by Round 15
Starting pitcher continues to generate value going into the middle rounds but hits a peak in Round 15 then starts a fast nose dive in value. You’ll want to try to secure your starting pitching by that point so you’re not stuck grasping at straws. Closers maintain good value for a while but reliable closers start to disappear by Round 15 as well. So, use these middle rounds to try to work on pitching especially as there’s not much of it later on.
Grab a shortstop by Round 13 or so
Shortstop is another one of those positions that doesn’t maintain value and takes a nose dive. After Starlin Castro is off the board in Round 13, the already-slim pickings get even slimmer. If you didn’t grab a shortstop in the early rounds, make sure to get an Alexei Ramirez or Castro in this range so you don’t have to take a Ryan Theriot later on.
The End Game
All bets are off so reach for whoever you want
Towards the end of the draft, nobody knows what they’re doing. Throw away your ADP sheet and rankings and reach for the players you want. Sure, Michael Morse might be on the waiver wire if you don’t draft him but go ahead and reach for him anyway. If you want a player, there’s no pressure any longer to conform to average draft positions so go for it. The later rounds are the rejects that nobody wanted in the early rounds anyway.
Reel in those speedsters
Even if you already drafted speed early, you never know if it will pan out. So, this is a time when you can still find guys like Rajai Davis or Julio Borbon and possibly grab another 3 or 4 points in the stolen base category by season’s end. That’s a lot more than you can get out of any other statistical category at this point.
Grab 1B, 2B and 3B for your bench
When looking at the players left here, a lot of them don’t even come close to comparing to starter-level production. Yet 1B, 2B and 3B all have players that are able to be drafted later that compare decently with the average starter at their position. So, when filling bench spots, these are your best positions to load up on and then rely on the waiver wire for SS, SP or C.
Oh yeah, draft a catcher
Though leave the spot empty would be more valuable… it would be probably be illegal in your league. So, go ahead and grab a catcher in the last round for your team.