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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.