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Winning Your Draft

The fantasy season is coming to a close. Whether your team dominated all the way through the playoffs — or stunk from the beginning — it’s always important to review your teams at the conclusion of the season. What went wrong/right? Most of that analysis can be done simply by looking at your draft results. Waiver-wire pickups and trades can have a significant effect on your team, but you acquire most of your players through the draft. If you happen to draft well, you have a chance at winning your league. Draft poorly, and it’s almost impossible to climb out of that hole.

Unfortunately, the draft can be “lost” in any round. Making the wrong choices will definitely sink your fantasy team. This is particularly devastating in the early rounds, however. This may seem like common sense, but the best fantasy players are supposed to be drafted in the first couple rounds. These are the guys your team is built around, and the guys you are depending on this season. When one of them fails to live up to expectations, it can cripple a fantasy team. Since these players usually have a history of consistency and high-level performance, it’s unlikely you drafted a strong backup at their position. Miss on a top draft pick and you are going to be in for a rough season.

2011 Examples: Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford.

The middle rounds aren’t that much better. You can find a few guys that outperform their draft position in these rounds, but it’s tough to find major value here. Since it’s the middle of the draft, you are likely expecting adequate production from most of these players. Should one outperform their draft slot, you likely expected a solid performance anyway. That’s not to say drafting well in the middle rounds is not important; just that it’s still tough to “win” your draft based on the guys you selected in the middle rounds. It’s possible, but really tough. Again, you can very easily “lose” your draft based on poor selections in the middle rounds.

2011 Examples: Good: Hunter Pence Bad: Adam Dunn

You can really “win” your draft in the late rounds. As Michael Barr wrote in his draft retrospective, he could’ve won his league by assembling players selected in the eighth round or later. Again, this makes sense. At this point in the draft, you should be taking flyers on guys with high upside. If you manage to hit on one of those players, your fantasy team can see a huge benefit. Conversely, whiffing on players in the later rounds comes with very little consequence for your fantasy team. If these players struggle out of the gate, you can cut them without agonizing over the decision. The draft can certainly be “won” in the later rounds, but you have to be a little lucky as well.

2011 Examples: Craig Kimbrel, Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Morse

After analyzing your drafts, would you generally agree or disagree? Are drafts “won” in the later rounds? Are they “lost” in the early rounds? What the heck happens in the middle?