2016 Fantasy Baseball Draft Tips

Mar 19, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Nick Swisher (23) reacts to the catch made by New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (not pictured) during the first inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Nick Swisher (23) reacts to the catch made by New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (not pictured) during the first inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

With fantasy drafts quickly approaching, fantasy owners are beginning to formulate their strategies and distinguish who they are going to target. Here are some draft tips and tricks that owners can use to hopefully maximize their chance at winning this season.

  1. Safety Trumps Upside in the first round

One of the biggest reasons fantasy baseball takes more strategy and studying than other fantasy sports, is due to the sheer size of roster sizes. While all leagues are different and incorporate keepers or what have you, on average fantasy owners are selecting over 20+ players on draft day.

The old adage in fantasy baseball is that, “you cannot win your league in the first round, but you can surely lose it.” A first round pick has to be the anchor of your team and a guy who you insert and forget. Every season we have breakout stars emerge and while they do not have an established track record, owners chase their upside over proven options.

Carlos Correa is going to have a tremendous career, but is it smart to select him around the seventh overall pick already? His ceiling is sky-high for sure, but we have no idea what his floor could be either. In the first round wouldn’t it be smarter to take Andrew McCutchen or Anthony Rizzo at that spot, because we know what we are getting and each guy’s floor still offers top-tier production?

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  1. ADP is Overrated   

Each and every fantasy article seems to always attach a players ADP when discussing their fantasy value as if all leagues are going to value them the same. I concede that ADP offers an indicator of how high or low fantasy players are targeting someone, but those are useless when it comes to draft day.

For those in live drafts, which I recommend over online if feasible, all it takes is one owner to have a crush on a guy and there goes that fifth-round ADP target you had your sights on. Point being, ADP is just a tool for pundits to use is efforts to highlight who seems to be under or overvalued across the leagues under the umbrella in which they are looking.

Utilizing ADP is really only useful in online drafts where most of the time drafters are using the sites rankings. Astute owners can see certain players that the site has higher up their rankings based on their ADP, and assume that other owners are going to be influenced by seeing that a certain player is going higher or lower than they thought.

  1. Know Your Draft Room    

For those owners that enter in random leagues or are first time joiners, this is a tall task. My favorite thing to do in online situations is type into the chat bar a player’s name that I do not want, but is generating a lot of fantasy buzz, in the hopes that someone will bite and offer a glimpse of their opinion on that player. Does it always work, of course not, but these are the types of tricks that owners can use to gather a better feel of a foreign draft room.

This strategy is a lot easier in live draft formats, where you can see just how owners react. Before the draft begins try discussing with another owner a fantasy players that elicits a lot of discussion. A great example this season is, Miguel Sano, who most fantasy owners are torn on. Start with one owner and try to get their opinion, then float the question to another person nearby under the guise of just having a conversation. But, this is all in an attempt to gather intel on how the draft room is leaning, and hopefully other owners offer you an advantage before the picking even starts.

One other thing to take into account, is always remember the fan bases in the room. In the area I draft, 9 out 12 drafters are Baltimore Orioles fans. Keeping this in remind serves as an advantage and disadvantage. You know that fans are going to reach for their guys, but it also means that if you have any hopes of getting one of their players, you are going to have to reach to get them. There is a lot of information a fantasy owner can attain on the competition before the draft even begins.

  1. The Fantasy Baseball Drafting Landscape is Changing

One of the popular tools that fantasy owners look to before their drafts is the numerous expert drafts that multiple web sites have. One thing that has stood out amongst experts, is that premium pitching is getting targeted earlier and earlier. The pitching pool is incredibly deep, but owners are realizing that it is hard to contend with fantasy staffs that have two top-tier starters leading their staffs.

While Clayton Kershaw is still the only 1st round SP being taken, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Jake Arrieta and company, are slowly creeping up the draft boards as owners are making it a point to get that bona fide ace. I have always been of those owners who rather wait on the eventual SP run in the middle of the draft or draft a group of SP 2 or SP 3 in efforts to rather build my offense. But, it may be time to shift off that philosophy.

The stats that top-tier starters are posting in today’s age of baseball, has altered the drafting landscape where now it makes sense to make sure you use an early pick on an ace to make sure you are not overpowered on a weekly basis.

Next: Texas Rangers Shawn Tolleson: 2016 Fantasy Projections

  1. Always Have Fun

Whether you are playing for bragging rights or a grand prize, never lose sight that fantasy sports were created for us to have fun. For that one day we put on our pseudo-G.M. hats, and try assemble the best team we can. With that said, if you really like a certain player, take him even if it is considered a reach in the room. Too often than not you will hear owners say, “I knew I should have taken him”, so try to avoid getting sniped by ensuring you get the guys you want, when you want.