What's Your Fantasy? (3/12)
- When is the right time to draft closers?
Todd: Closer is the riskiest position to draft in fantasy baseball and should not even be considered in the first 5 rounds. If you have some type of man-love for Lidge, Nathan, Rivera or Gagne, a round 6 or 7 is when you should let your brokeback feelings out during the draft and pick up one of these boys.
Derek: Wait until the middle of your draft, as the first rounds should be reserved for more reliable offensive production when someone as risky as even the best closers isn't worth taking. However, if you can get a closer who will get his save opportunities with an 80+ win team in the middle rounds your risk is lessened. Also, each year is filled with waiver wire closer work (think Ryan Dempster) during April and May. Why take the unnecessary risk?
NJV: If you can add a probable 40 save, 100 K closer in the fifth round, feel free to pull the trigger. A closer of that ilk allows you to forget about drafting another relief pitcher until almost 10 rounds later when you can grab a guy like Ryan Dempster. Preferably, grab 2 of these lower ranked closers and hope 1 works out. It is also critical to keep tabs on potential closers available on the waiver wire, probably more so than any other position.
- Philosophically, do you prefer the aging star with decent yet slowly declining production (for example, Brian Giles) or the talented young player who has not yet produced at a high level for an entire season (for example, Jeff Francoeur)?
Todd: Fantasy owners love to read into 2nd half numbers to predict the following season (hence Matt Holliday and Mark Ellis will be breakout stars this year while Miguel Tejada will fall off his fantasy pedastal). This is how people fall in love with the Ryan Howards and Prince Fielders of the fantasy world - they looked great for part of last season - so they should be able to do it again.
Generally you're going to get better production out of the aging veteran who has been there before - the Giles, Delgado, or Kent rather than the Francoeur, Fielder or Weeks. Long-term the latter 3 may be better, but for this year, you want to draft the players who have shown that they can withstand the rigors of a 162 game season (how the ban on greenies will affect play is yet to be seen, but that is an entire different article for the noobsports family to work on).
Derek: Every decision should be on a case by case basis, but if were speaking in generalities, I'll take the talented young player. The youngster is not proven, and may not have put up big numbers, but ask anyone how they did drafting David Wright last year or Mark Teixeira the year before. Sure there's risk involved, but for every Greinke-like bust, theres a mega drop in production from an aging superstar like Sosa just the same.
NJV: Give me the veteran. In this respect, good management of a fantasy baseball team can be the opposite of good management of a real MLB team. Investing heavily in an aging star is almost always a terrible idea in MLB because the player is unlikely to maintain his value over the years. In non-keeper leagues, you only need your veteran to put up stats this year. Every year, in every fantasy sport, owners get burned by drafting "can't miss" youngsters while productive veterans fall to the late rounds. Take advantage.
- What type of scoring system do you prefer: head to head, rotisserie, or points?
Todd: First of all, no matter what fantasy sport you're playing, be it baseball, football, golf, oscars, etc., points is the scoring system for grandmas, animals and those lacking a rudimentary knowledge of the sport they're managing a team for. There is no strategy in points.
With that rant out of the way, I will say that I like rotisserie the best for the following reasons:
You are in constant competition with each individual team. If you are last in stolen bases, but second overall, you are competing with each team in the stolen bases category - regardless of their overall position in the league. You are required to build a well-balanced team with a strategy. You don't have to win every category to win in rotisserie, but you'll be hard pressed to find first place overall if you're in last place in any one category (for all of you owners out there thinking about punting saves or stolen bases).
That being said, I also enjoy head to head: it is exciting each week - and makes fantasy baseball more like fantasy football. Bigger swings can take place - rotisserie baseball is much like the major leagues - by midseason, some teams have no chance of winning. The same cannot be said in head to head because if the matchups fall in your favor, you can make a big swing over the course of a few weeks.
And finally, remember that in the NFL, the rule is 'points is points.' But when it comes to fantasy baseball, points are straight busted.
Derek: Until MLB goes to a points or rotisserie scoring system in lieu of wins and losses, I'll vote for head-to-head. This is fantasy, and in my fantasy, i want to be a GM of an MLB team (without the 18 hour days of course). A head to head league allows you to play for a matchup, won't eliminate you after three weeks, and induces heated rivalries with fellow know-it-alls.
NJV: For leagues with little annual turnover and high levels of competitiveness, roto is the way to go. It forces you to field a balanced team and formulate a long term strategy. For younger and more casual leagues, perhaps head to head scoring will keep the entire league entertained, even the teams that struggle.
- Is it ever too early to start trading?
Todd: The answer is a resounding 'no.' You should always be looking at your roster to see where you can improve. Obviously trading before the season starts is riskier, but at the same time, trading for a player who starts the season on a hot streak can be very detrimental to your team when that player's statistics begin to gravitate back towards the mean.
Derek: No. Never. The minute the draft ends, the trading fun should begin... think of it this way, if you make a move that makes your team slightly better, then wouldn't you like to repeat that as early and as often as possible?
NJV: Nope. After every draft, you will inevitably end up with a couple players who you aren't particularly excited about. Trust your instincts and trade them now before they struggle, the rest of league catches on, and you develop a debilitating hatred for them. If you find a deal you like, pull the trigger as soon as possible.