Join SI.com's James Quintong in a discussion of some of the latest news in football, baseball and other sports and how it relates to fantasy teams and leagues.
3/16/2007 05:54:00 PM
Alternative draft strategies
If you want Johan Santana on your fantasy team, you may have to do some creative drafting to get him.
Now that you've picked clean through the SI mock draft, let's turn our attention back to your own drafts, in particular, some ways to spice up the process.
Snake draft leagues can get somewhat monotonous. You get your draft slot, you pick your players and you move on. But you can add a little strategy in picking your draft position. Instead of just drawing a number that becomes your draft slot, that number becomes your position in picking the draft slot.
So if you draw the first slot, you probably want the first pick in the draft, same goes for the second pick. But if you draw a 5 or 6 in a 12-team draft, you may want the last pick in the first round and the first in the second round instead of the middle pick in each round. If you think the draft is deep enough early where you'd rather have two top-15 players instead of a top-three and then a top-25 player, you can manipulate that in this type of draft.
The National Fantasy Baseball Championship uses this system, calling it the Kentucky Derby Style of drafting. At the Derby, horse owners draw lots to figure out the order of selecting post positions. And like in fantasy drafts, some horse owners are comfortable with picking strange positions when the most coveted ones are gone.
If you're in a keeper league, especially one with no limits on players you can retain, you may want ditch the snake draft and go with the traditional draft. There isn't as much of a need to keep things as equitable in terms of talent if you're keeping lots of players, which is why the snake draft is usually used.
And to spice things up even more, you could even consider giving the No. 1 pick to someone other than the worst team in the league. I've been in a league where our minor league draft order starts with the team that just missed finishing in the money (sixth in a 12-team league), then the seventh through 12th teams, then reverse order as usual with the top teams. Call it a consolation prize of sorts for just missing the playoffs or a money spot.
As for auction formats, there is some extra strategy involved when bringing up players for bid. You don't necessarily want to bring up all the top stars right away. Sometimes you can sneak in a lower-level player early, either to drive up the bidding and take some extra money off the table when everyone's got cash, or snag him for a bargain as everyone tries to figure out who you've just brought up. There's also the school of thought that you should bring up players for bid that you don't want, letting other people spend money on your unwanted guys.
But for another twist, my colleague Lenny Melnick has tossed out the idea of putting the names of all the AL, NL or major league teams in a hat and randomly drawing a team. You can only offer up players from that team's roster for bid until they're all gone. Then repeat with another team.
For instance, if you drew the Royals first, you'd have to bid first on guys like Gil Meche, Mark Teahen and Octavio Dotel. And you might have to wait a while to draft some bigger stars if the Twins or Yankees don't get drawn right away. Plus, it will wreak havoc with your spending as you can't be too sure if you'll have enough money late to get a Johan Santana or Alex Rodriguez. And if you're stuck with a lot of money with few good players left, you might have to overspend on a scrub like Doug Mientkiewicz.
But those are just a few tweaks to the draft process. What other creative ideas do you have?
Alfonso Soriano surprisingly slipped to the No. 7 overall pick.
The latest mock draft for your perusal comes from the halls of Sports Illustrated, where a number of my colleagues got together for a standard 5x5 mixed-league extravaganza.
You can see all the results, plus commentary from all the drafters here.
Some observations from the draft results: -- The trio of Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Howard going 7-8-9 in the first round was a bit of a stunner, given all of them seemed to be top-five picks, and on the other end of the spectrum, Joe Mauer taken 10th right after that run was also a surprise.
-- With this roster setup, you can take advantage of that extra corner or middle man spot to load up with two studs at an infield position. David Sabino did that with Albert Pujols and Derrek Lee at first and corner, while Greg Ambrosius loaded up the middle with Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins.
-- Joe Lemire built up a nice 1-2 punch at the top of his rotation with Johan Santana and Carlos Zambrano. You could call his squad Team Venezuela.
-- Peter King cornered the market on players named Chris Young. He also picked up five Japanese players, including Daisuke Matsuzaka, a fifth-round pick.
-- As for other top rookies, Delmon Young went in the eighth round, Alex Gordon went in the 14th round, Troy Tulowitzki in the 17th and Phil Hughes in the 22nd.
Now it's your turn. What do you think of the picks? Who had the best and worst drafts? What were the biggest surprises?
Reuben Droughns rushed for 758 yards and four TDs for the Browns last season.
Some news, notes and reflections throughout the fantasy world as I tackle my NCAA bracket:
-- Speaking of brackets, if you're looking for a pool to join, why not jump into my colleague Luke Winn's group on Hoops Bracket Challenge. Look for the Luke Winn's Tourney Blog Pool group in the game, and you could win some nice prizes.
-- Back to football, the running backs keep moving all over the place. Dominic Rhodes jumped to the Raiders, and likely will share time with one of last year's biggest busts, LaMont Jordan. Unfortunately, Rhodes isn't in as strong an offense in Oakland, so he doesn't have the same value as a time-share back as he did in Indianapolis. And Jordan's value gets stuck in the No. 3-4 running back spot now.
-- While Rhodes went to Oakland, the Giants picked up Reuben Droughns from the Browns for Tim Carter to bolster their running game. Droughns definitely isn't Tiki Barber, but he could form a decent 1-2 punch with Brandon Jacobs, who should see his touches increase next season. At this point, it's hard to figure out who'll get more touches, but in the Giants offense, both have decent fantasy value as No. 3 running backs.
-- Over on the wide receiver front, Donte Stallworth cashed in with a big contract from the Patriots to become Tom Brady's No. 1 target. Stallworth only had 38 catches last season but those went for 725 yards (a 19.1 ypc average), plus he had five scores for the Eagles. The injury bug hit him again as he missed four games with hamstring issues, and that's the reason why you have to be careful in drafting him. Otherwise, he's a great big-play receiver, and along with fellow newcomer Wes Welker, give Brady the consistent targets he's missed since Deion Branch was dealt.
-- Back to baseball, you may want to move Cliff Lee down your draft charts as he'll be on the DL to start the season and could miss a month with an abdominal injury. And you probably want to cross Mark Prior off your lists (in mixed leagues) or make him no more than a very late-round or $1 flyer in NL-only leagues as he's struggled to even hit 90 on the radar gun so far this spring.
-- So much for Javy Lopez being a sleeper in Colorado. The Rockies let him go, paving the way for rookie Chris Iannetta to be the starter and Yorvit Torrealba to be the main backup. Iannetta now moves up the draft charts, and while he has plenty of promise, he also has to worry about all those hyped-up Rockies catchers over the years like J.D. Closser, Ben Petrick and Jayhawk Owens.
-- While even NL-only players may not have taken a risk on Mike Hampton, it may be worth a very late flyer on Mark Redman, whom the Braves signed when Hampton went down with a side injury and will miss most of April. Redman isn't anything to write home about, and his All-Star selection last year for a horrible Royals team was a bit of a joke, but he could give you a couple of good starts here and there now that he's in Atlanta.
-- It appears top pitching prospects Phil Hughes of the Yankees and Tim Lincecum of the Giants won't make the team out of spring training, but that shouldn't dissuade you from drafting them. Both appear poised to hit the majors sooner rather than later and you'd rather have them at a cheap price now (and possibly stashed away on the bench) rather than compete with everyone else in free agency later this spring.