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Friday, March 23, 2012

March Madness

Every year in March a certain madness sweeps the nation.  What is this madness, you ask?  Fantasy baseball draft prep, that's what!  That, and basketball.  Do the two have anything in common?  Read on, my friend.

Everyone who has ever filled out a bracket knows that you can't pick all of the favorites, you've got to go with some upsets here and there.  The prognosticators that pick the proper upsets win their brackets.  The folks who draw chalk do okay, but end up around the 30th percentile or so.

In your fantasy drafts there will often be some people who cannot attend for one reason or another and the computer takes the best available player for them.  This is a sure-fire way to finish in the middle of the pack... say, 5th or 6th in a 12-team league.  If you are used to finishing very low in your leagues, this may actually be a viable one-time strategy for you.  Assuming, of course, that you don't mind knowing that you won't finish in the money from the beginning.

But why do some people routinely finish very low in the standings?  They put their money on the wrong horses, over and over again.  The opposite is true, of course, for the great fantasy managers who often finish in the money.  They pick the right upsets.

I have written previously about the bit of conventional wisdom that says: "You can't win your league in the first round but that you can lose it."  To some extent, I believe this is true.  In a snake draft, take players with the highest floor as possible with your first four picks.  You want to lay the foundation with guys who are reliable.  At that point, rely on your research to direct you to the most likely upsets.  Use the techniques and strategies written about here to uncover the gems in the middle rounds.

I advocate a mix of solid, stable assets in conjunction with at least 20% high-upside breakout candidates.  As discussed previously, your typical breakout candidates are going to be players who:
  1. Have no playing time concerns.
  2. Have a solid pedigree (as amateur, draft pick, minors, etc.).
  3. Have shown an ability to hang in the big leagues.
  4. Are entering their prime.
Grab 20%-40% of your roster with that profile, starting in the 5th round.  That will be 1 or 2 picks out of every 5.  In an auction, spend about 30% of your money on guys like this.

Pick the right upsets, my friend, and they'll never see you coming.