Crafting a winning fantasy baseball strategy is definitely not as simple as just drafting the best team. It is true that a good draft is a key element. But you can't win your league on draft day. Losing, on the other hand, is a strong possibility if you draft poorly.
Strategies will vary slightly depending on league settings. Such factors as scoring settings, roster limits and size, weekly or daily lineups, and transaction limits are all factors to take into consideration when drawing up your fantasy blueprint. But the key elements to a a winning fantasy baseball strategy remain basically the same: draft planning, line up selection, waiver claims/free agent acquisitions, and trades.
A good draft strategy begins with breaking up the selection process into three segments. The first, rounds 1-5, are obviously the best players but with the highest ceilings often come the lowest floors. The strategy in the early rounds is damage control. Don't pick based on speculation early. Look for consistent performers with a history of good health. Think Albert Pujols. Stay away from pitchers in these rounds and focus on well balanced statistical contributors. You can pick up your steals later. Positions are not important at this point, just take the best player.
The middle rounds (6-15) provide the foundation for your fantasy baseball success. This is where you need an eye for talent on the rise and a nose for those stinkers you want to stay away from. Starting pitchers are strong picks here but look for signs of injuries or declining performance. Stay away from projectable rookies until later rounds but second and third year players are solid picks here as their fantasy stats are typically on the rise. Lastly, if you didn't address your middle infield in the early rounds you should do so here. Late picks are gambles and middle infielders are poor positions to gamble on.
Rounds 16-25 are where the fun begins. No more worrying about dead arm in promising pitchers or power hitters with questionable contact. Shoot for the stars. You do need to fill out the holes in your roster but, much like the real baseball draft, you're looking for diamonds in the rough at the end of the fantasy draft. Outfielders are good late picks, especially rookies. Relief pitchers should also be on your radar.
Specialists, such as light hitting base stealers, are quality late picks as well.
Now that your roster is set the next step to winning your fantasy baseball league is lineup selection. The stars and key contributors in the line up are obvious choices. The rest are based on match ups and streaks. Look at weekly/monthly stats and league ranks to tell you who is hot and who is not. Ride the hot streaks but watch for poor match ups such as strong left-handed pitchers against your own lefties.
Roster turnover is a key facet to your fantasy baseball success. As a standard rule you should look to turnover the bottom 10% of your roster continually. Dump the players that loose their starting spot or get sent down to the minors and pick up those climbing the ladder. Keep an eye on the waiver wire for mistakes from your competitors, some will dump a solid veteran after a poor start to the season. Many players don't hit their stride until the summer months. Also, look for mid-season call ups from he minors. Some of the best late season performers are picked up this way.
The final cog in the fantasy baseball wheel is the art of the trade. If you know your competitors well the trade market can be a great resource. Offering a player from their favorite team can net you huge gains. Look to fill holes in your lineup and maximize your statistical standings. Sell high, buy low, and keep in mind that the best trades are often those you don't make. Much like the draft, a trade may not win the league for you but it could spell your doom.
Follow this blueprint and you are sure to stand at the top of the fantasy baseball heap. Keep in mind that your strategy should be customized to your league and, in some cases, your competitors.
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