Developing a plan, part two

The countdown is on! There are only 26 days remaining until the Tigers and Yankees take the field to begin another glorious baseball season. If you haven’t done so already, you’re drafting your team(s) in the next three weeks.

Those drafting in the first weekend of National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) drafts, you only have 17 days to update your rankings, finalize your cheat sheets, and develop a solid draft plan and strategy. What this means is, if you aren’t completely finished with your draft preparation, you have to get on the ball and do so quickly.

Last week I started to delve into how I was going about developing my draft strategy. If you haven’t done so already, please check out that piece before reading this one so you can follow along with my entire thought process as I develop this plan.

Last time, I touched briefly on how my rankings are split into tiers of value, which I’ll expand on a bit here. The spreadsheet that I’m using, which will be the list I use to cross out players during the draft, has every position listed horizontally across the top, and it then lists players in order going downward. These players are ranked at their specific position, as well as grouped in tiers based on players of equal value at other positions. This does two things for me.

First, it allows me to visually see where the drop-offs—or, conversely, pools of value—are at each position. Right now, I can see that second base is one of the deeper positions in this year’s draft. The lower tiers are full of quality players that I wouldn’t mind as a starter in my 15-team league, and I’m confident that I can grab one of these players in the seconnd half of my draft.

What this means is that I will almost assuredly pass over Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia and the rest of the top twelve second baseman.

Secondly, this list allows me to compare players against each other at their same position, and also against players from every other position. For example, let’s say it’s the 14th round and my team is severely lacking speed. In my original strategy, I plan on taking my shortstop around this time. However, there are no shortstops who steal enough to help me out in that category.

However, there are two outfielders in the same tier who could easily steal 30-plus bases. I would then take my fourth outfielder a little earlier than anticipated, and draft my shortstop where I would’ve normally taken the outfielder.

The next piece of advice that I have for you is in regards to average draft position (ADP). While this can be a very useful tool and provide solid data leading up to your draft, don’t rely on it as a crutch when actually at the draft table. After the top four or five rounds, the reliability of ADP has a much higher variance.

A lot of people think that they can look at ADP, find the players they want, and then just select them a round before they’re “expected” to go. The problem is that everyone else at the table will be armed with the same data.

Here’s another very important thing to note about ADP. Many players will see a player fall during the draft and select him purely based on “value.” He or she will think, “Obviously, this player was supposed to go a round or two before this and is still there, so I have to take him!”

This line of thinking is extremely flawed, and here’s why. If a player is falling that far, 14 other teams have passed on him at least once. Maybe there are injury concerns or other information that you aren’t aware of. Also, selecting a player like this usually won’t fit into the plan that you have laid out going into the draft. While you want to be flexible at the draft table, you don’t want to be Peyton Manning calling an audible every pick.

If you’ve prepared properly, you’ve put months of hard work into your draft plan. Do you really want to trust a decision that you’re making in one minute while you’re on the clock instead of the carefully crafted plan that you dedicated so much time to?

One final aspect that I want to explore today involves setting your Kentucky Derby Style (KDS) settings. While this may not apply to some leagues, it is an important feature of the NFBC and one that I have been spending a lot of time analyzing this week. The KDS settings allow you to have some say over your draft position, rather than just drawing names out of a hat. You rank each position in the order you like, and as each name is chosen, they get the top spot on their list that is still available.

I think it’s important to look over the inventory as thoroughly as possible and decide what players you want to build your team around. I try to look at each draft position and plan out the first 4-6 rounds to see what kind of team I would end up with.

Personally, as of now I see a clear-cut top four players that are an advantage over the rest of the field. There is a chance that one of those top four players falls to pick No. 5, so I’d factor that into my KDS as well, worst-case scenario being I get to choose the best of the rest at No. 5.

After that, the next 10-15 guys could go anywhere from fifth to 20th, depending on your personal preference. A few of those guys I like better than consensus and current ADP, which means I wouldn’t need to take them until the back end of round one. So, for now, I’m looking something like 1-5, 11-15, 10-6, but that will probably change numerous times before draft day.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of this series next week, where I basically spell out exactly what I’m looking to do in each round on draft day! As always, questions and comments are appreciated.

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  1. batpig said...

    Ideally you would have a scoring system, something quantitative.  Dollar values work fine, there are many free projections out there for download (ZIPS, RotoChamp, Marcel, CAIRO, etc) if you are willing to spend a bit of time in Excel futzing around.

  2. Jay said...

    Thanks, Dave, this is definitely one of the more interesting and useful articles I’ve read about drafting. I’m intrigued to read the next section, as I always feel like I’m more prepared than most of the other teams yet don’t use my research optimally.

    I do have one question. I can get a sense of how to group players within a position based on who seems like they provide similar value, but how do you match up the tiers between different positions? Dollar values? For example, I’d have Jose Reyes in Tier 2 for shortstops, but I wouldn’t consider him equivalent to a second tier of 1B that includes Votto and Adrian Gonzalez, even when positional scarcity is accounted for. In a case like this, would you skip a tier and just not have a second shortstop tier?

  3. Dave Shovein said...

    Thanks for the feedback Craig,

    I was more or less trying to explain that you should have a plan in place for any situation that comes up. You should remain flexible, but you don’t want to be freelancing every pick without any type of plan at all

    If you’re going to audible and look a different direction at a certain pick, you should have a plan in place to counter that move. If I’m in the 10th round and Daniel Hudson is still on the board, I may be inclined to grab him whether it be my 3rd or 4th SP, but then I know to take an outfielder or whoever else I had planned for round 10, where I would have normally taken the extra pitcher.

    Sure you can’t script everything, but even going through this exercise and trying to plot out everything has extreme advantages come draft day.

    Best of luck to you as well this season, would love to see one of the CDM boys win the big prize

  4. Tsuyoshi Nishioka said...


    I applaud the effort here, but be careful not to contradict yourself.  You mentioned getting a solid base in the top 10 rounds and allowing yourself to freestyle a little bit in the next few rounds if players you didn’t expect to be there fall, good advice, but then you argue against yourself when you say not to be flexible, not to audible like Peyton Manning when a player at a position you weren’t targeting is unexpectedly available.  Now I know you were referring to ADP, but what if its your own list?  Can you audible then and take 4 SPs in a row if you love them?  I can’t tell what your stance is on that because you seem to be hedging and therefore not really saying anything.

    Anyway, I’m a hard critic on these matters, so don’t take anything personally, and opinions…., well, everyone has one.  Good luck this year.


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