Yesterday, my esteemed and handsome colleague Jeff Quinton wrote a solid preamble to our annual positional series, highlighting just some of the many ways BP readers should be able to use this series to dominate their drafts and auctions in the coming months.
Today, fearless leader Bret Sayre published a comprehensive guide to the next three months that will be BP fantasy, highlighting some features that will be familiar to long-term readers and some new initiatives from our ever-growing staff, too.
This is all well and good. It’s nice to know that you’re going to get your money’s worth over the next few months, and for real fantasy die-hards, I hope there’s a sense of excitement that stems from seeing what’s to come.
However, I believe Jeff and Bret are putting entirely too much faith in our readers. I read your 400-word Bat Signals. I see you showing interest in Alex Avila on Twitter. I rudely dismiss your weird effing formats on TINO. I’m not ready to give you too much credit.
With that in mind, I want to break down a few common mistakes I see fantasy players make in terms of how they think about these rankings, forecasts and overviews we push out, as well as take potshots at my fellow writers in a format that doesn’t allow them to fight back.
Here’s what not to do with our coming positional series:
1) Use three-year or dynasty rankings without considering your contention cycle
This is an important point that was recently illustrated to me during a debate I was having with Bret and Craig Goldstein over the top 2015 newly eligible players. Essentially, our argument centered around Rusney Castillo and Kyle Schwarber, and how they compare both to each other and to Yasmany Tomas and Carlos Rodon.
Now, Bret thinks Schwarber is better than Mike Trout and I’m a Red Sox homer who’s bought in to Rusney, but to me, the most interesting takeaway didn’t stem from simply debating “who’s better?” between these two. Instead, they came from my ultimate conclusion that who you should take first between these four players really depends on when you’re trying to compete.
If you’re all in for 2015, Castillo or Tomas are the clear choices here, with the former providing you with a higher floor and the latter higher upside. All things considered, I think I’d go with Castillo.
If you’re planning on competing in the 2016-2017 window, Tomas or Rodon are your best bets, depending on team need. Tomas should be in his prime during this period, and Rodon should be an MLB starter throughout the entirety of this seasons.
Finally, if you’re a ways away from competing, you can make the case for Schwarber, who’s a nice high-upside play as a potential top-five fantasy catcher. There’s a chance he’s nothing more than an OF4, too, but it’s tough not to like someone who could catch enough to retain eligibility for a few years who also has a 25-plus homer bat.
Really, this discussion is microcosm for how you should weigh players who are in the same tier. “Best player available” is a good default strategy in most drafts, yes, but you need to add some personal team context to that basic rule to truly succeed.
2) Blindly follow our 2015 rankings once your draft is underway
This ties in nicely with point no. 1, but it’s a mistake I know a lot of newer fantasy players make. Bring our rankings (or better yet, adjust our rankings to better suit how you play/what you think about players) to the draft. Use them frequently, and rely on them to ensure no valuable players slip through the cracks.
But don’t become a complete rankings slave once the draft is underway. Drafts are like snowflakes in that each one is different and when a bunch of them fall in one week you don’t want to go outside. Depending on whether you’re drafting with experts or beginners, who panics and starts that closer run in the fifth round and your league format, a draft that starts out normally can force you into some interesting maneuvers by the middle rounds.
Be aware of positional scarcity and runs on categories (specifically saves and steals) and make adjustments based on how your team is shaping up. If we have Neil Walker ranked one spot ahead of Dee Gordon but they’re in the same tier and you are in desperate need speed, take Gordon. If the 30th-best starting pitcher is on the board but pitching you’re down to the 36th-best outfielder and you already have a few good starters, it’s ok to go get the outfielder instead.
You showed up at the draft for a reason. Don’t become a human autodrafter.
3) Ask anyone other than Mike Gianella about dollar values
Mike’s the best of the best with this stuff. Definitely direct all dollar value/PFM questions his way. Also ask him about my eyes.
4) Forget about positional eligibility changes
We’ve thematically grouped our series around positions because it’s a good way to break down an insane player pool into bite-size chunks, but be aware of players who are gaining new positional eligibility, have lost eligibility or look to be enjoying their final year of eligibility at certain spots. We’re going to hit on these players as we progress through our series, of course, but the earlier you start factoring in positional shifts, the better prepared you’ll be.
You know that guys like Hanley Ramirez, Evan Gattis, and Ryan Zimmerman are likely going to lose their respective shortstop, catcher, and third-base eligibilities after the 2015 season, but are you adequately factoring that value when it comes to three-year and dynasty league rankings? We do our best to in the lists we push out, but it’s up to you to understand that a lot of the value they produce will be upfront.
This concept also holds true when it comes to forecasting positional changes that could happen down the road. Sometimes, defense does matter for fantasy, like when a player is so bad at it (Wilin Rosario) that it’s tough to project him retaining positional value two years into the future. When you’re planning long-term, you need to start thinking about this early.
Those of you who only play in redraft leagues … you have it easier. You get to fully enjoy weird quirks like Brett Lawrie being eligible at 2B, and Ramirez still being eligible at SS and Carlos Santana still being eligible at 3B, and you don’t have to worry too much about the future. Just be sure to remember that thanks to multi-position eligibility, some seemingly shallow fantasy positions can be just a bit deeper than you might think.
5) Listen to FFF before operating a vehicle or TINO in public
Flags Fly Forever may cause drowsiness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery immediately after/during use. TINO can get you fired if your headphones pop out and the speakers kick in. Especially in Dubai.
6) Consider the dynasty prospect rankings and BP 101 interchangeable
They’re really not, at all. Austin Hedges could be a top-25 guy on the latter and miss the former altogether. The opposite could be true for Dan Vogelbach.
All too often, we see top MLB prospects severely overrated in dynasty drafts because they possess names that many are familiar with. But there’s truly a big, big difference between Bret’s list and the BP Prospect Team’s list, and you ignore the former at your own peril.
Also, keep in mind that fantasy rankings do take some contextual factors into account, while the regular 101 largely evaluates players in vacuum. That’s a huge, huge differentiator, and you’re not going to be able to adequately evaluate your fantasy assets if you don’t remember that point.
7) Read reliever rankings
Maybe if you agree not to read them, Bret won’t make us do them.
Thank you for reading
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