Earning You Fantasy Ph,D

by Eddie Mayrose

Before ESPN, CBS and Yahoo realized the amount of money they were leaving on the table by ignoring Fantasy Baseball and its enthusiasts, there was a simple formula for success in a Fantasy league: be prepared.

Those guys that digested the preview publications beginning in January, scanned Baseball America for prospects and read the daily team notes in USA Today were miles ahead of the guys that picked up a magazine on their way to the draft. Today, all of that information is available to any bonehead with a laptop, even if he doesn’t look at it until draft night.

With that advantage gone, the mechanics of the selection process are the sole vehicle by which experienced owners can separate themselves from the rest of the pack.To that end, Dr. Graham has decided to share the tenets by which you can dominate your draft.

Value Early Value
In the early stages of the draft, especially in the first round, you MUST get players that are virtual certainties to produce at a very high level. It’s your best shot at an elite player, so there is no room at all for speculation. Which brings me to Ryan Braun. A top-three player on the surface, Braun’s use of PED’s brings his entire body of work into question. Worse, he’ll no longer have Prince Fielder batting behind him, he’s currently 1 for 15 this Spring and Ron Roenicke is hesitant to play him on the road for fear the abuse will be a distraction. If that’s the case in Florida, what happens the first time he’s in Philadelphia? Braun may very well repeat as NL MVP, but he’s got too much baggage for you to justify using an early first rounder on him at this point.

Don’t Sleep On Your Sleepers
The highlight of any draft is unearthing an All Star in the late rounds and watching him help your team to a title. Don’t lose sight, however, that everyone else at the table has a sleeper list and it’s likely that they’re looking at a few of the same guys. Therefore, don’t be too greedy in letting a sleeper slide a few rounds. If you’ve slotted a guy for the 12th round but start to get nervous in the 10th, take him. There is nothing worse than watching a player star for another Fantasy team because you were afraid to pull the trigger.

Medic!
We’ve all been there. The draft is starting to get a little thin, when you notice names like Johan Santana or Justin Morneau still on the board and you talk yourself into the likelihood that they’ll be able to rebound from injury and produce at their previous levels. While it’s risky, it does, occasionally, work out. Just make sure you don’t take a flier on more than one. If you have two or three and they all go down, your season is over.

A Pair of Aces Beats One
So, you’re in the middle of the 2nd round of a mixed league and you happily scoop Justin Verlander. The classic mistake is to think that you’ve now anchored your staff and can wait until the later phase to fill out the remaining slots. Wrong! When you’ve used an early pick on a pitcher, you’ve committed to making that a strength and must follow up with a Jered Weaver or David Price in the next few rounds. If not, Verlander is just one guy on among a bunch of slugs, your pitching is still weak and you threw away an early pick that could’ve been used on a productive hitter.

Scarcity Can’t Scare You
Do not get sucked into the paranoia of position scarcity in the early rounds. This is where you’ll build the foundation of your team and it is imperative that the players you select will give you the best numbers. Conventional thinking tells you to grab Troy Tulowitzki with one of the top 5 picks because the Shortstop position is so thin. However, while that gives you a significant leg up at the position,you’re taking a hit on the stat sheet if you passed on players like Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera or Jose Bautista; all of whom will give you better numbers. Taking Tulo and following him up with a second-tier corner infielder weakens your team, even minimally, at two spots. Worry about scarcity when platoon players begin to appear in the later rounds; not before.

Moonlight Graham’s Top Ten Fantasy Players

1 Matt Kemp
2 Jose Bautista
3 Albert Pujols
4 Joey Votto
5 Miguel Cabrera
6 Troy Tulowitzki
7 Prince Fielder
8 Adrian Gonzalez
9 Ryan Braun
10 Evan Longoria

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