There may be a better value later…by Paul Singman
January 19, 2010
If you have ever been in the position where you are giving advice to someone, you know it is always easier to "play it safe" and advise them to take the less risky route. Whether it be an investor telling you to put your money into mutual funds instead of individual stocks or even a football coach telling his team to punt on fourth-and-one instead of going for the first down; the safe route allows the person giving advice to escape any added blame in the event of something bad happening.
Of course, the result of giving safe advice is avoiding the spotlight—you cannot become the hero or the goat, and many people are fine with that fate. Not everyone feels the need to become the next Bill Belichick, and people who write about fantasy baseball are no exception.
A large part of what fantasy experts do is evaluating what players are good values, and by value I'm referring to their production versus where they can be drafted. More often than not you will hear a fantasy baseball expert pull out his favorite line: "While Player X should put up decent numbers I would not pull the trigger on him where he is currently being drafted, especially when Player Y can be drafted five gazillion picks later." By saying this patented phrase our expert has accomplished two important goals: 1) He has given what appears to be useful advice and 2) He has absolved himself of any risk related to the drafting of these players. Sure, the Player Y could bust, but since you made such a small investment in him it is insignificant.
Now, sometimes a fantasy expert gives the advice to hold off on a player in a certain position for one that can be had later, and the advice is sound. However, when an expert repeatedly says this, following his advice in an actual draft would leave you pickless in the eighth round and desperately awaiting the arrival of the 20th round so you can fill your roster with Alcides Escobar and Scott Sizemore galore. Unfortunately, you do have to select players in those difficult middle rounds, so not every pick you make can be bursting with value throughout a draft.
To help you through those rounds, you need more than just the expert who plays the value game, you need someone who is willing to absorb some risk with their advice and tell you not who to avoid, but most importantly who to take. In the past I admittedly have been guilty at times of always deferring to a player that could be drafted later, but this year one of my goals will be helping people through that 10-round stretch—from round six to 15—in drafts that I think is not only the most crucial, but also the most ignored.
Anyone can draft a competent first few rounds and the sleepers for ends of drafts are almost universally spelled out by the time drafts occur. The middle rounds are where any skill you possess in drafting will shine—where the risk of investment is still high enough and the skill of the players is decreasing quickly enough that make it the critical point in any draft. If there is going to be a part of the draft you skimp on preparing for, the middle rounds should be last on your list.
Paul has been managing fantasy baseball teams for many seasons and writing for THT Fantasy over the past three years. He is currently a student at UPenn welcomes readers' thoughts at his email here or in the comments below.
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