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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dominant Draft Design

There is this concept called "Dominant Design" that pops up in any industry that is creative or driven around a building or construction process.  In the early stages of any of this kind of undertaking all sorts of ideas emerge about how to accomplish the task.  Sometimes one of these plans is so clearly superior that it must be heralded as a "dominant design."  This design goes on to be the standard in that realm and all other concepts whither away.

Today I'd like to talk about the dominant design in fantasy drafts and some of the things I have seen that have bucked the trend.

In an earlier post I talked about how fantasy football drafts tend to have two running backs, one quarterback, and two wide receivers in the first five rounds, in some order.  In baseball, there is a common trend of taking "one of each."  These are market inefficiencies that you can exploit.

It used to be that the only smart thing to do in football would be to take running backs with each of your top two picks.  This was the dominant design of the day.  It slowly crept into our minds that this might not be the best course.  What if you took wide receivers with your first two picks?  Well, you'd get the two best ones wouldn't you?  What about grabbing Aaron Rodgers in the first round?  He's pretty reliable, unlike most running backs.

Be on the lookout for these sorts of dominant designs.  One plan in auction drafts is to go with "Stars and Scrubs," which is to say that you spend most of your money on big studs and then fill in with cheap filler guys.  If everyone in your league is 'zigging' like this, I recommend that you start 'zagging.'  How would you do that?  It seems obvious that if most people are paying for those players worth $35 or more that there must be lots of value in the $8-$22 range.  If you scoop up a bunch of those types do you know what is likely to happen?  A couple of them will break out and perform like those $35+ players and the rest of them will dramatically out-produce the $1 and $4 guys on your competitors' rosters.

In one of my leagues this year there was a well-respected manager who decided to go all pitching for the first nine rounds.  That is the exact opposite of what you are "supposed" to do.  Pitching is deep, don't pay for saves, get your stud hitters before they are gone, blah blah blah...  Needless to say, this guy's pitching is spectacular.  His hitting is terrible on paper, but he has some high upside guys.  Pitching is half of the scoring, so why not?  We'll see if his plan works.  It should be interesting.

I had a similar start to my AL-Only Expert league in FSIC this year.  I mentioned it in my draft recap, but it's worth saying again...  I was logged into two laptops and missed my first two picks.  I got Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez with picks #10 and #11, so we'll see if going with pitching early is the new dominant design.  Stay tuned.