Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FDH Fantasy Newsletter: Volume IV, Issue XI

Welcome to our 124th edition of the FDH Fantasy Newsletter, as we continue to bring you weekly fantasy sports updates in addition to our usual content on FantasyDrafthelp.com. Our archive of past editions is available right here on The FantasyDrafthelp.com Blog and specific links to past editions are available at FantasyDrafthelp.com.

This week, we serialize more features from our huge FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFTOLOGY 2011 guide.

2010 Legitimate Breakthroughs/Reclamation Cases

NOTE: These players all reached another level last year, whatever level that may be, and should be considered “for real.”

C: Buster Posey, Carlos Santana

1B: Mitch Moreland, Buster Posey

2B: Martin Prado

SS: none

3B: Martin Prado

OF: Carlos Gonzalez, Martin Prado, Michael Stanton, Drew Stubbs, Delmon Young

SP: Brett Anderson, Daniel Hudson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Mat Latos, David Price

CL: Neftali Feliz, Carlos Marmol, Chris Perez, Brian Wilson

2011 Fantasy Overview

^ The proclamation that “2010 was the year of the pitcher” meant that value on the top pitchers was down relative to what it was in the previous few seasons. While those with great heaters still have value (see below), the almost-tripling of legit aces in the game in the past three years has lowered the worth relative to other positions proportionately.

^ Two trends that we’ve been monitoring over recent seasons continued to materialize in 2010. 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, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ichiro. Shockingly, the fantasy baseball industry has yet to catch up to this truism, such that the most important note about the present landscape that you need to know entering your draft is this: SPEED IS VASTLY OVERVALUED!

^ The second trend that continues is the rising number of strikeouts per game almost each season recently. We predicted 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 suffering in this climate. As FDH Managing Partner Rick Morris said awhile back on THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER (Tuesdays, 9:30-10 PM EST on SportsTalkNetwork.com): “You cannot be an ace if your best pitch is the ‘I hope he hits it right at someone’ pitch.’”

^ 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, we labeled the pool of starting-caliber shortstops “as deep as any of these positions have seen in recent memory.” What a difference two years makes! The position is more pathetic than it has been at any point since the emergence of the ARod/Nomah/Jeter emergence in 1996-97. Second base and catcher both have decent depth and as such, Hanley and Tulow have supremely inflated value in this climate — as do the few other starting-caliber shortstops relative to the second base crop.

^ Balance continues to be a key watchword for fantasy success in 2011, especially in roto-based leagues. With few obvious exceptions such as the speed-challenged Miguel Cabrera, 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 Carlos Pena/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).

Don’t Be That Guy

^ Don’t Be That Guy who forgets that power is the true separator at catcher, not batting average…

^ Don’t Be That Guy who overvalues unlikely 2010 success stories like CJ Wilson. 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 & late rounds can bring you a championship. So don’t hate on Matt Kemp!

^ 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! Your choice of this draft guide is, frankly, an awesome start!

Suggested League Guidelines

Unless you are a first-time participant, you have either played rotisserie baseball (a game in which players accrue points based on their performance in different categories) or fantasy baseball (a game in which different achievements earn various amounts of points). Here are our recommended formats for each (keeping in mind that for each format, if you have less than 10 owners, you should utilize a single-league format — and regardless of anything else, use a $100 Free Agent Acquisition Budget, or FAAB, to allow for distribution of players):

^ Rotisserie baseball: We urge you to use the standard 5X5 setup, in which BA, HR, SB, Runs and RBI are used for hitters and Wins, Saves, WHIP, ERA and Ks are used for pitchers (4X4 leagues drop Runs and Ks). For example, if you are in a 12-team league, the team scoring highest in each category earns 12 points, on down to the lowest team earning 1 point. Rotisserie baseball is traditionally associated more with the auction format, which works well here. Each player is given $260 of figurative money to purchase 23 players (2C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 SS, 1 3B, 5 OF, 1 CI, 1 MI, 1 Utility, 7 SP, 2 RP), with a 5-round standard serpentine draft afterwards to fill out a taxi squad.

^ Rotisserie/fantasy hybrid: This is probably our favorite form of competition, because it combines the traditional roto style with head-to-head play. Each week, you play against an opponent, competing in roto categories, with the winner of the most categories taking the victory (a tiebreaking category is established as a backup). Either an auction or the standard serpentine draft format works here.

^ Fantasy baseball: These categories should be used, with the number of points awarded for each in parentheses: Single (1), Double (2), Triple (3), HR (4), Hitter K (-1), Run (1), RBI (1), SB (1), Win (10), Save (5), IP– ER (1), K (1). For this format, a standard serpentine draft is preferred.


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