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How To Win

I would like to get back to basics for this post.  Time to discuss my strategy for winning a fantasy baseball mixed league of normal size and conditions (H2H or roto).  All of my title-winning fantasy teams were built this way.  Feel free to add your methods in the comments.

  • Use conservative projections.  Ideally,  you should average preseason projections together from five different sources.  This drastically reduces the risk of overrating or underrating a player.  It also reminds you that last year isn't everything and players like Jermaine Dye and Jason Bay can bounce back.
  • Don't consider starting pitching until the eighth round of the draft.  The following starters went within the first seven rounds in March of '07: Erik Bedard, Josh Beckett, Justin Verlander, Aaron Harang, and John Smoltz.  Sure, I cherry-picked the bad ones.  But early-round picks on starters have been and will always be very dangerous, capable of ruining your season.
  • Pursue power/speed threats whenever possible.  Corey Hart, Bobby Abreu, Matt Kemp, Ian Kinsler, Nate McLouth...these players give you a balanced attack.  You don't want to be drafting Willy Taveras for speed, Placido Polanco for average, and Adam Dunn for power.
  • Don't pay for closers.  Most experts harp on this point, but you still see J.J. Putz drafted in the fifth round ahead of Kinsler.  It's not that this never works; closers routinely provide tons of value.  It just increases your risk unnecessarily.  Wait until after the tenth round to draft a closer.
  • Heed position scarcity.  In particular, respect position scarcity for shortstops and catchers.  Note where the dropoff occurs for these positions and don't miss out on all of the top guys.  Sure, you could pluck a Geovany Soto or a Ryan Theriot.  But again, you increase your chances of busting.
  • Be a waiver wire maniac.  Some will tell you to leave your team untouched until May, because early stats can be deceiving.  This is bad advice.  Leave your stars alone, but aggressively pick up decent-looking players.  Every roster has a few spots to allow for turnover.  If you're not aggressive, you miss out on Cliff Lee and Ryan Dempster.  Pick up now, ask questions later.  Waiver wire aggression is also how you accumulate closers.
  • Trade pitching for hitting.  You'll find pitching easier to find on the waiver wire, so trade pitchers for star hitters whenever possible.
  • That's all I can think of for now; maybe I'll add more later.  None of these strategies are radical.

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