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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Are you 'hurt' or 'injured'?

Rub some dirt on it, kid.

Are you "injured" ...or just "hurt"?

What's the difference?  In fantasy, it's a big difference.  Today I'd like to talk about the value of what I call "quantifiable unavailability."  In other words, how much time is a player likely to be injured and either placed on the DL in baseball or labeled "out" or at least "doubtful" in football.  That, instead of this in and out of the lineup nonsense.

The in and out of the lineup guys are to be avoided at all costs.

There are tons of players that have been marked 'injury prone' and the reality is that most of the time it is justified.  And, most of the time they are avoided in drafts by your competitors.  This is a market inefficiency that can be exploited.

Here is the rationale.  Let's take a guy like Nelson Cruz - highly talented, very productive, and always misses a quarter of the season. I would humbly submit that these guys are great bargains in most drafts.  Most people think that is risky at best and crazy at worst.

The key here is that with some injury prone guys, you know that they will spend time on the DL or be labeled "out."  That is vastly better than not knowing because you can be prepared to slide in the best available replacement.

Let's say Nelson Cruz slips to the 6th or 7th round.  What other outfielders is he competing with for your attention at that point in the draft?  Guys that aren't as talented as him, for sure.  Why did he slip?  Because he'll miss 40 games this year, that's why.  He always does.  If he was going to play all 162 he would be a 2nd round pick.

Personally, I'll take 120-ish games of a 2nd rounder for a 6th round cost plus another 40 games of a replacement level guy. (Nolan Reimold, anyone?)  Especially at a position like outfielder, starting pitcher, or wide receiver... where there are more likely to be new options emerging as the year develops.

The real trick here is determining which guys have nagging injuries that mess with their playing time and which ones will be out for defined periods of time.  "Quantifiable unavailability."

Last thing on this... This is a little better of a better strategy in head-to-head leagues than roto.  The reason is that when your injury prone guy is available to you he'll help you win your matchup.  When he's not, he's not... but you will know it.

So, kid, are you injured?  ...or just hurt?