Strategy Session: Have a Plan – And Don’t Stick To It

Over the next week or so, I will be running a series of strategy articles to help prepare for your fantasy drafts. Please feel free to post any questions or ideas in the comments section.

Have a plan – and don’t stick to it.

To be successful in a fantasy draft, you need to have a plan. You need to have some idea of the players that you want to take, and know the approximate values of everyone, so you can spot value wherever it may be. You may even want to have a more specific strategy, such as punting a category or concentrating on stocking your team in several categories. However, as important as any plan may be, it’s just as important to know when to abandon your plan.

Let’s say that your strategy is to load up on starting pitching, because you feel that there are very few really high quality starters available, and if you can corner the market everyone else is going to have to dig through the scrap heap to fill out their roster. As such, you plan on taking three or four ace level starters in a row, starting in the second round. Well, let’s say that right after you select your first ace, the next three teams all select aces as well. Suddenly, there are very few other aces available, and if you want to stick to your strategy it would require you to draft non-ace level pitchers in the next several rounds. In other words, you’d have to overdraft pitchers to be able to carry out your plan.

In this situation (or any other similar situation), even though you had a plan, you must switch courses immediately. The best fantasy players are people with plans and the ability to adapt instantly should their plans be thwarted. If you understand the dynamic of any draft, you will be able to exploit it. In this particular example, starting pitchers are being overvalued, and there are bound to be some players who are not being valued appropriately. Rather than playing along with everyone else and drafting pitchers too soon, you should adapt your strategy to exploit whatever is now undervalued – perhaps it’s steals, power, or saves. Whatever it is, if you identify the market in your draft, you can work it to your advantage.

While it’s vitally important to know as many players as possible, it’s just as important to be flexible and adapt to whatever surprising things may happen during your draft. Drafts can be won or lost on this skill alone.

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8 Responses to “Strategy Session: Have a Plan – And Don’t Stick To It”

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  1. Jim says:

    I think loading up on starting pitching with rounds 2-5 is a bad idea in any event, because with the current depth of starting pitching it is pretty much impossible to corner the market by getting 4 SP’s. Maybe that would work in a league with less experienced fantasy players who value big names, but in a league with people who do their research I doubt it would. I always go with offense early, because there will be usually be many more pitchers who can put up good numbers available later in the draft than there will be bats.

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  2. Jim says:

    Just my two cents….

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  3. Eli F. says:

    In this particular strategy, you can see that because ace pitchers are being drafted early, other teams will need to pick up hitting in the middle rounds, leaving a gap in some of the best pitching on the board from rounds 8-13. Re-adjust and plan on taking two pitchers in the middle rounds instead of taking them so early, and grab some high value bats early. To quote Grey from one of my favorite fantasy sites,, “when others Zig, you gotta Zag.”

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  4. D Wrek says:

    Jim, I think you completely missed the point. This isnt about drafting pitching in rounds 2-5. It was a simple example.

    To ellaborate, since it was an example, he didnt go into detail. What if this is a keeper league and you keep 10 guys. Its reasonable to select pitchers with your first 4 picks if you kept a bunch of bats.

    The article was clearly about being able to adjust your strategy (no matter what that strategy may be).

    Sorry for going off topic (again).

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  5. D Wrek says:

    One thing that can be hard to guage is where and how often closers are taken. Its so different in every draft. You may plan on waiting a while and you have a big bat you want to take next, but then there was 5 closers taken in the last round and theres only one left on the board. Time to zag!

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  6. Jim says:

    I realize what the point of the article was. I had nothing to say about the main point of the article; I merely wanted to discuss one part of it.

    And if there is only one closer left on the board, you’ve waited extremely long and chances are there won’t be any big bats left.

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  7. Jim says:

    Man….why do so many people who comment here have their noses higher than the Queen of England?

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  8. D Wrek says:

    Sorry Jim, I was just surprised by going off topic with the fantasy 101 stuff. We know to draft bats early, dont pay for saves, etc. Thats why we come to FanGraphs. We want to go deeper :)

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