Regardless of whether you play a Rotisserie League or a Head-to Head league, drafting an all around squad should be your ultimate goal. Finding players at each position that can help you across the board should be a mandatory focus.
Targeting certain players will help you better achieve this goal. But come draft day, you must feel how your draft is rolling out, and knowing who you are drafting against helps as well. Big names, hyped up younger players, and other drafters’ favorite teams’ players could go off the board sooner than expected. Targeting certain players and positions in your draft could be more difficult because of these trends.
You shouldn’t expect a good player to fall to you and if he is a target of yours, don’t get too greedy and wait too long to draft him, possibly regretting it later and getting stuck with somebody you do not want. Listed below are statistical goals for your fantasy team and the players that will help you achieve those goals.
Based on a standard twelve team fantasy baseball league:
Hitting Statistical Goals
Batting Average: .290
Home Runs: 225
Stolen Bases: 175
Statistical Averages Per Hitter: .290/25 HR/90 RBI/90 Runs/15 SB
Pitching Statistical Goals
Statistical Averages Per Starting Pitcher: 3.20/15 W/190 K/1.30 WHIP
Statistical Average Per Closer: 2.25/30 SAVES/1.10 WHIP
You’re goal after the draft is to have your players projected statistical averages come as close to those statistical averages listed above. Focusing on building a squad that will reach those goals creates a balanced team. Therefore targeting certain players that will help you average those numbers is key.
If you draft Mauer in the first round for example, you could target a player like Mark Reynolds who should still be on the board a couple rounds later. Mauer’s stats are close to the statistical average per player goals, but he gives you a boost in the batting average department, but drops you in the stolen bases category. Drafting Reynolds makes up for the lack of steals, as Mauer makes up for the lower batting average. Combining Mauer’s and Reynolds’ stats looks like this (using last season): .312/36/99/96/14 (Achieving or beating your desired statistical goals).
A player to target in the second round would be Troy Tulowitzki or Justin Upton. Drafting both in rounds 2 & 3 would be ideal.
Targeting a guy like Ben Zobrist, who plays a couple different positions, should go off the board between rounds 4-5.
Targeting Mauer, Tulowitzki, Upton, Reynolds, and Zobrist in rounds 1-5 gives you a statistical hitting average of .301/30/92/93/17 and gets you off on the right foot in the batting categories. If you feel that you can wait on those players an extra round or two (Reynolds or Zobrist), or if one is off the board before your pick (Tulowitzki or Upton), draft a top starting pitcher and focus on a couple late round targets that will be listed below.
By round six, there will be plenty of quality pitchers still on the board, as well as some 1B/3B options. Drafting Reynolds, who gives you position flexibility by playing 1B and 3B, will allow you to pick the best available 1B/3B option later in the draft. Draft the player that can get you as close to your hitting statistical goals as possible. If you couldn’t draft Tulowitzki, make sure you target Zobrist who gives you flexibility at 2B/SS/OF.
If one of your targets leaves the board, draft a top pitcher instead. If you do draft your hitting targets (Mauer, Tulowitzki, Upton, Reynolds, & Zobrist), then focus on starting pitchers in the sixth round. Guys like Josh Johnson, Jon Lester, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Cain, Tommy Hanson, Cole Hamels, and Ricky Nolasco could still be on the board. Targeting two of those pitchers in rounds 6-10, accompanied by a closer and another outfielder and infielder, is a solid strategy to pursue.
If you did draft a starting pitcher before round six, draft the best available player at the infielder position you are missing that can best help you achieve your statistical hitting goals. If you were unable to draft Mauer, or drafted Pujols, Ramirez, or Braun instead, make sure you target McCann or Martinez early enough to draft them (rounds 2-4), or Wieters (shouldn’t last further than round nine and could go as high as round six).
Targeting a closer from round seven on should provide you with many guys still on the board capable of reaching 30+ saves. Rank your closers, starting with Broxton/Papelbon, from round seven on, choosing one closer per round. If that closer is drafted, wait to the next round to pick your next closer target. You don’t have to draft them in every round obviously, but having a target from rounds 7-16 should provide you with 3-4 closers that are capable of getting you 30+ saves.
From rounds 6-20, fill out the rest of your roster with starting pitchers and outfielders with potential to reach your statistical goals. While doing so, draft the infielder position that you are still empty at and pick up at least three closers. By round 16, you should have a full batting roster of nine players, four starting pitchers, and three closers. After round sixteen, fill out your roster to where you believe it is the weakest. If your team is lacking power, draft the left over mashers, or if your team is lacking speed, pick up the remaining speedsters. Follow the same strategy for pitchers (low ERA vs. K’s).
Once your roster is filled out, it also gives you an opportunity to roll the dice on some younger talent like Strasburg (who won’t be in the minors for long), Niemann, or Heyward.
The key to this strategy is to stay on par with your statistical average goals. You want to keep your team as balanced as possible to compete in every category. You don’t have to win each one, but hovering in the top three or so will help you compete in all. If you come in last place or are weak in a category or two, it can really ruin you chances of winning either type of league you are in. Targeting the right players at the right time, even if you have to reach for them some what, will help pay off while trying to keep your squad as balanced and strong at every position.
There will be outfielders, starting pitchers, and closers available later in the draft that will help you reach your statistical goal averages. That can not be entirely said about all other positions, as the drop off at catcher and short stop will be steeper than any other position. If you run yourself thin at those positions, it will force you to draft a less complete player that could ruin your overall statistical averages goal.
*Indicates first round talent limiting one player per draft
# Indicates possible first round selection
BOLD indicates hopeful targets
C- *Joe Mauer/Brian McCann/Victor Martinez/Matt Wieters
1B- *Albert Pujols/Adrian Gonzalez/Joey Votto/Billy Butler
2B- Ben Zobrist/Brandon Phillips/Aaron Hill
SS- *Hanley Ramirez/#Troy Tulowitzki/Jimmy Rollins
3B- Mark Reynolds/Pablo Sandoval/Ryan Zimmerman/Kevin Youkillis/Gordan Beckham
OF- *Ryan Braun/#Matt Kemp/#Matt Holliday/Justin Upton
OF- Sin-Soo Choo/Tori Hunter/Bobby Abrau/Nelson Cruz/Adam Jones
OF- Hunter Pence/Shane Victorino/Jay Bruce/Jason Heyward
UTL- (Stolen Base Insurance) Michael Bourn/Juan Pierre/Julio Burbon/Rajai Davis/Nyjer Morgan
SP- Josh Johnson/Jon Lester
SP- Clayton Kershaw/Tommy Hanson/Cole Hamels
SP- Matt Cain/Ricky Nolasco
SP- Scott Baker/Matt Garza
SP- Stephen Strasburg/Jeff Niemann
RP- Jonathan Broxton/Johathan Papelbon
RP- Andrew Bailey/Heath Bell
RP- Brian Wilson/Raphael Soriano
RP- Billy Wagner/Trevor Hoffman
Target as many of the players listed above as possible. The pitchers that are ranked above Josh Johnson will all help you reach your goals, so if a targeted player is drafted, immediately target the best pitcher on the board.
The more of those listed guys that you are able to draft, the better your team will be while staying on track to your statistical goal averages. Keep in mind that if you draft a player who will not get you steals, draft accordingly thereafter.
Balancing out your squad is the plan to this strategy, so if a player you draft is below one of the category statistical goals, pick up a player that will best help balance out your totals. Targeting players that you would like to have on your team helps you stay focused on the statistical balancing act while actually drafting your team.
You’re not going to get every player that you target, but having back-up targets will help you round out your squad. I recommend noting your statistical goal averages and adding up your team as you draft it to know where you may be under par. Having the best overall team statistically gives you the best chance at winning your league.
About the Author
Written by Josh Souder