Saturday, April 04, 2009

FDH Fantasy Newsletter: Volume II, Issue XIV

Welcome to our 30th edition of the FDH Fantasy Newsletter, as we continue to bring you weekly fantasy sports updates in addition to our usual content on In case you missed it, here are the previous issues: Volume I, Issue I (September 4, 2008), Volume I, Issue II (September 13, 2008), Volume I, Issue III (September 19, 2008), Volume I, Issue IV (September 27, 2008), Volume I, Issue V (October 4, 2008), Volume I, Issue VI (October 11, 2008), Volume I, Issue VII (October 18, 2008), Volume I, Issue VIII (October 25, 2008), Volume I, Issue IX (November 1, 2008), Volume I, Issue X (November 8, 2008), Volume I, Issue XI (November 15, 2008), Volume I, Issue XII (November 21, 2008), Volume 1, Issue XIII (November 30, 2008), Volume 1, Issue XIV (December 7, 2008), Volume I, Issue XV (December 14, 2008), Volume I, Issue XVI (December 20, 2008), Volume I, Issue XVII (December 28, 2008), Volume II, Issue I (January 3, 2009), Volume II, Issue II (January 11, 2009), Volume II, Issue III (January 20, 2009), Volume II, Issue IV (January 24, 2009), Volume II, Issue V (January 29, 2009), Volume II, Issue VI (February 8, 2009), Volume II, Issue VII (February 17, 2009), Volume II, Issue VIII (February 23, 2009), Volume II, Issue IX (February 28, 2009), Volume II, Issue X (March 8, 2009), Volume II, Issue XI (March 15, 2009), Volume II, Issue XII (March 21, 2009), Volume II, Issue XIII (March 31, 2009)In this week's issue, we bring you a special Draft Day/Auction Day roundup for fantasy baseball. This is a compilation of our big-picture material from this spring, a best-of-the-best look at strategic considerations. You surely need to have the only guide you’ll need for fantasy baseball this year: FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFTOLOGY 2009. But we’ve also pulled out some features from that publication, as well as our recent newsletters, so that you are focused on the most relevant thoughts as you prepare to assemble your team.

^ The FDH Draft Philosophy: Win By Obtaining Value With Every Pick
^ 2009 Fantasy Overview
^ Strategic Observations From the Two FDH Mock Drafts
^ Don’t Be That Guy

The FDH Draft Philosophy: Win By Obtaining Value With Every Pick

We at always emphasize the wisdom of our VIP approach to drafting: information and process lead to value. Of course, value is the single most important component of drafting or auctions. Even in the fantasy industry, this point is often overlooked. In most cases, titles are won by patiently accruing value throughout a draft or auction. During the Information stage, fantasy owners compile information about players at individual positions. Process involves comparison of players across positions.

We put a tremendous amount of hard work into our draft board, and you do as well. As such, you need to trust the fruits of these labors and adhere to your draft board as much as possible. The surest way to be able to extract maximum value is to prepare extensively ahead of time and then refrain from jumping around on the board on Draft Day. Approach the draft with an actuarial mindset, determined to squeeze maximum value out of every pick, and you will be poised for success.

2009 Fantasy Overview

^ Two trends that we’ve been monitoring over recent seasons continued to materialize in 2008. The first is the narrowing ratio between home runs and stolen bases. Taters will always be more plentiful than steals, but the gap between the two is narrowing, meaning that power is SLIGHTLY more valuable relative to speed compared to the height of the steroid era. Speed still has value, elite speed much more value, but it’s harder to make tradeoffs than it used to be, especially for players at traditional power positions like Chone Figgins and Ichiro. The second trend that continues is the rising number of strikeouts per game almost each season recently. We predicted starting back in 2006 that with MLB’s implementation of amphetamine testing that elite heat would take on more value because players no longer able to “bean up” to play would not be catching up to it, especially in the dog days of summer. Strikeout numbers are more important than ever for big-time pitchers and your team needs to reflect this trend. Pitchers who are largely dependent on the defense behind them are losing a lot of value in this climate.

^ The middle infield and catcher positions tend to be lumped together in terms of relative scarcity from year to year, but of course no two seasons are completely alike and the availability of desirable starters at each position will vary from year to year. In 2009, the pool of starting-caliber shortstops is as deep as any of these positions have seen in recent memory. On the FDH draft board, we have eleven players listed as desirable starters (including a player who should be dual-eligible in all leagues this year in Alexei Ramirez – and admittedly, he makes a better second baseman for your team because of the smaller pool of top-level talent there). All things being equal, it should be much easier to wait and pick up a good talent at shortstop relative to catcher and second base this year.

^ Balance continues to be a key watchword for fantasy success in 2009, especially in roto-based leagues. With few obvious exceptions such as the speed-challenged Albert Pujols, hitters who deliver no value in any of the standard fantasy categories should take a back seat to other, more well-rounded contributors. If it becomes necessary to “sell out” to pick up a player in the middle-to-later rounds with good value but who is lacking in a few categories, try to find pick up their “offset twin” – a player with mirror-image strengths and weaknesses. A few possibilities would include Adam Dunn/Ichiro and James Loney/Mark Reynolds (an actual combination of players owned for $1 apiece in a 20-team, long-term keeper league by FDH Managing Partner Rick Morris).

^ The pool of available ace starting pitchers is within the range it’s been over the past few years (eight-deep on the FDH board), but the group of potential #2 starting pitchers is quite strong (14-deep on the FDH board). Plenty of upside can be found rather cheap at this level, with such potential Cy Young award winners as John Lackey, Chad Billingsley, Chris Young and Felix Hernandez being available in the upper-middle rounds in many leagues.

Strategic Observations From the Two FDH Mock Drafts

Before we get started, we need to remind you again, for your own good, to check out FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFTOLOGY 2009, a free joint electronic publication from and our pals at Sportsology. It was released at the beginning of March, so it is up-to-date in a way that other publications are not (i.e. factoring in the A-Rod surgery). This guide has a mock draft that we put together on March 1.

The second mock draft we are referencing here was held as a special edition of our FDH LOUNGE program on (Wednesdays, 7-10 PM EDT) on March 11. Normally, THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER exists as a “show-within-a-show” from 9:00-9:30 PM EDT, but this 49th episode of THE LOUNGE was completely given over to this event. We recapped it in full in last week’s newsletter.

With many of the same owners, and the drafts held a mere 10 days apart, many elements of the two events were similar – but since the first draft fell just before A-Rod’s injury was revealed, his draft status was much different from the initial one (third pick overall) to the second one (11th pick, 7th round).

^ While the conventional wisdom holds that Matt Holliday is worth far less in ’09 due to his transfer from a big hitting park to a big pitching park, our participants begged to differ in both mock drafts. Remember that this superstar is not going to be fazed by the dimensions, merely the carry of the ball, because the Rockies compensate for the altitude not only with the humidor but also with fence location. He may have more doubles and less homers, but that doesn’t translate to lower numbers across the board in a dramatic way.

^ Grady Sizemore is the first outfielder to go in many drafts this year, but he lasted until the late first round in the first draft and early second round in the other.

^ Folks weren’t inclined to take starting pitchers very high unless they were aces. That’s a sound approach to take this year.

^ In both drafts, owners heeded our notion that shortstop was far, far deeper this year than the other traditionally shallow positions of catcher and second base.

^ Even with many of the same owners involved, human nature does not always yield predictable results. We already established why there would be a big range in A-Rod’s point of selection in the two drafts. Much less apparent is why Jay Bruce would go at the top of the 8th round in one draft and in the mid-15th round in the other! Sometimes players will rise and fall in different leagues even with many common owners due to factors that cannot be forecast, such as different strategies being applied by the same owners.

^ Our lectures on how the power/speed gap has been closing in MLB were apparently absorbed by the participants, as drafters in both events were unwilling by and large to overpay for stolen bases.

^ Given that both drafts had strict mandates on positions that had to be taken, it was no surprise that owners waited until late to satisfy the middle infield slot. Additionally, they tended to stagger their last remaining need to differentiate from other owners so that they could get players earlier at positions still being actively contested.

Don’t Be That Guy

^ Don’t Be That Guy who forgets that power is the true separator at catcher, not batting average. That Guy is going to overbid for Joe Mauer — again!

^ Don’t Be That Guy who over values unlikely 2008 success stories like Ryan Dempster. It’s a new year – pay for what you get this year.

^ Don’t Be That Guy who sleeps on (or holds unhealthy grudges against) last year’s falloffs. Bargain shopping in the middle and late rounds can bring you a championship. So don’t hate on Francisco Liriano!

^ Don’t Be That Guy who enters the draft or auction with ironclad gimmicks. Rotisserie category “punting”! Only $1 apiece for all pitchers on the roster! All younger or all “proven” talent! The fact is that inflexible doctrines lead to failure, while nimble, think-on-your- feet reactive ability brings great success. Choose the latter approach and thank us when you’re hoisting your trophy at the end of the year.

^ Don’t Be That Guy who doesn’t fully understand the nuances of your league’s scoring
system. Be fully prepared!


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