There may be a better value later…

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.

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Next: Fantasy Baseball Hall of Fame pt. 2 (2001 – 2005) »


  1. Fantasy Alpha said...

    Agree.  the middle rounds are where you win by finding next seasons players who will be top round picks i.e. Matt Kemp

  2. Andrew said...

    The early rounds are just about returning fair value while the late rounds provide the best opportunity for return on investment on a relative basis. The middle rounds, though, offer the best chance for pure profit. Looking forward to future posts!

  3. Zack M said...

    Redraft leagues are usually won in the middle rounds. My 7-8-9- round picks last year – Jeter, Greinke, Vazquez. Combine that with solid, non injured early round picks and you have the recipe for a winner.

  4. Jimbo said...

    Agreed on the need and under-analyzed aspects of this exercise. Honestly? I’m not even sure what “good” preparation for those rounds would encompass.

    Won’t need my whole seat until you post…just the edge of it. wink

  5. dan said...

    Great point, Paul.  The “why take X when you could get Y 4 rounds later” advice only makes sense when the position in question is flat.  To listen to some of these experts, we just shouldn’t pick at all.

  6. archilochusColubris said...

    This is great, Paul. I agree that these can be the trickiest rounds while being underrepresented in fantasy columns. Great to hear that some attention will be turned this way!

  7. Jimbo said...

    One issue I’ve found in recent mocks is that I really do find myself without a solid option around the 6, 7, 8 picks. Assuming an efficient field of owners (meaning few gems falling to a value), I might wind up in round 6 not too fond of most “6th round” ADP types.

    Do I reach for one of the 5 guys I really DO like in the 10th round ADP bunch?? Typically this is where I will reach for someone like Jay Bruce (for 2010). Has the upside to deliver 6th round production, and he’s one guy other people will be targeting.

  8. Jimbo said...

    ^ Would like to add that when I make those reach selections, I don’t always feel good about the result. Was giving an example of why I’m looking forward to the series!

  9. Paul Singman said...

    Wow! I wasn’t sure what the response would be to this post but I’m glad to see the positive responses everybody. All I can say is stay tuned as we head into drafting season.

  10. Zack M said...

    Drafting 2 closers before round 10 is nonsense. Year after year there are late round and WW pickups that rack up 30+ saves. No reason to grab 2 closers in the middle rounds when there is so much SP and hitter value to be found.

  11. Jimbo said...

    Zach, personally I agree with you…but that’s just the approach that fits me best.

    Enough owners feel the same way you do, and then there’s inefficiency at that position. Having two relievers with sub-3 era and sub-1 whip has a significant impact on those categories.

    One year I landed Pappelbon when he broke out. You’re proven right that season. Another year the revolving door of WW closers yielded me some terrible era/whip production.

    If Joe Nathan’s production is the 5×5 equivalent of a 4th round pick (and he has been)…but you ignore him, that gives me tremendous value in round 8—where he’ll likely go in my league.

    I can see both angles having merit. Also the sort of risk/reward decision making that I hope gets discussed in this series!

  12. Castaways said...

    I agree to importance of rounds 6 7 8 9 – i think rounds 1-10 make your year – I do not agree to the difficulty in the selection process.  I think clearly you are looking for two solid closers and another strong SP in this group.  While I do not target this, I will say I most often find that by the end of round 10 I have 6 hitters and 4 pitchers drafted.

  13. Paul Singman said...

    Jake, I’m not sure if most people share the same problem as you regarding having more sleepers at the end of a draft than there are rounds… my advice is to use more discretion when deciding between two sleeper-type players. No two sleepers are created equal, so you should prioritize which ones you have a higher preference to draft and not just lump them all together into a one big sleeper group. That should help clear some clutter.

    The other thing you can do—and I was going to expand on this thought in an article soon—is adjust the sleepers you target at the end of drafts based on who you get in the early rounds. If you get Hanley in the first round, then perhaps you do not need to target your SS sleeper later in the draft and instead defer to a sleeper in a postion filled by a weaker player.

  14. Jake in Columbus said...

    Picking out decisive values from the mid rounds is indeed important. However, I often end up in a situation where I have a list of numerous available sleepers but only one or two picks left. Prioritizing guys to reach for with the last few picks of the draft is still helpful. In addition, mid round 2 seems to be a toss up. Any specific advice, other than to shore up categories and/or fill in with upside depending on who already fell to you?

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