Dynasty league drafts are awesome. They’re not quick hit events like a standard baseball draft – they seemingly move in slow motion, leaving you to obsess about the differences between a couple of players left on the board for hours (and sometimes days). And depending on the size of the league (or the nature of contracts), you could be looking at a huge pool of talent available. On the other hand, you could be looking at almost only the previous year’s draftees to choose from. What the expected player pool of your draft is can severely affect how you should plan for it.
In the example we’ve been using, 25-man minor league rosters with no contracts, there are going to be very few players of interest available in the draft who are not 2012 draftees. And with it being a 16-team league, that means picks in the third, fourth and fifth rounds are not going to carry very much value. This is why when I’ve been getting picks in trades, I’ve been getting first and second round picks. Plus, if you’re active on the waiver wire with minor league players, those third round picks are probably not even going to be worth the roster spot you’d need to clear for them. For example, some of my guys on the chopping block to make room for those later draftees are Adys Portillo, Christian Friedrich and Jose Campos. And thirty-something picks into the draft, I may be staring down an ugly draft board.
This brings us to the actual mechanics of the draft. The best advice I can give you for a dynasty league draft is ALWAYS BE ACTIVE. It’s one thing to sit back, wait and see who drops to you – but my M.O. is to create my own action like an antsy NFL general manager. I will generally make at least three to four trades during any given draft – whether it’s trading up, trading down or acquiring more picks to add to the pot. If you’re on the clock and have three or four guys you are having trouble deciding between, gauge interest in moving down in order to move up later on in the draft. If you have one guy on your list who you really like and you’re not picking again for another 6 or 7 picks, e-mail the team that’s on the clock – you never know what you might be able to work out with them.
Generally speaking, being active is the easy part. It’s just sending out some e-mails, discussing ideas, etc. The more difficult part comes with your draft preparation. I know we’re sort of working backwards here discussing the draft prep after the draft strategy, but it’s extremely important to know how you want to operate once the draft starts in order to maximize your preparation time. Research begets preparation, preparation begets confidence and confidence is what will allow you think quickly on your feet once it all gets going.
My personal process starts with creating a spreadsheet of major league and minor league targets for the draft, and I separate them out so that I can focus on each group individually before I start to weigh them against each other. For the major league talent, I rank them by what type of value I think they will provide in the coming year ONLY. That means, if I’m comparing a 25-year old and a 35-year old, I’m not focused on their ages unless they’re essentially in a dead heat. It’s not that age isn’t important when looking at these players, it’s just that you’re already inherently taking some of this into account already when you’re doing your upcoming season ranks. On top of that, these dynasty draft major league picks will likely turnover more than any other part of your roster during the upcoming season.
The most difficult part of the draft prep comes next: putting together your minor league war room board. The reason? There’s no way for the site you use to help filter the available prospects from the ones who are already owned. When you’re dealing with major league players, you can sort by the previous year’s stats and eventually by the upcoming year’s projections. You won’t catch everyone that way, but it’s a great start. When dealing with prospects, you essentially have to search through your league’s rosters one-by-one. Some leagues will have owned players all on one list in your off-season forum – this makes it much easier. But regardless, it’s worth the leg work to see who’s there because there’s always a guy or two who would assume to be owned, that is available.
So search and search thoroughly. You don’t want to be the guy who didn’t realize that Aaron Sanchez wasn’t owned when you decide to take Courtney Hawkins in your draft this year (nothing against Hawkins – I actually like him as a fantasy prospect). This happened to me once in a dynasty draft back in 2009, and although it worked out pretty well for me in the end, I have not forgotten that lesson. I had the 15th pick in the 1st round that year and I took a high school draftee who had yet to play in more than a handful of professional games. Meanwhile, two of the next three picks were players I really liked, but assumed they were taken since they were pretty highly regarded: Carlos Santana and Logan Morrison. I was bummed, but fortunately for me, the guy I selected was Eric Hosmer – which I still think is going to work out very nicely long-term.
I will come back to this this topic again (and the ones after this) when I have an update on the league that has been the focus of the series. Obviously, we have not yet had the first draft in that league yet. So for the remainder of the series, I will likely be talking either in generalities (for now) or talking about examples from the league I mentioned drafting Hosmer in above — an 18-team dynasty league that I’ve spent the better part of three years rebuilding.
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 1: Setting the Table
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 2: Establishing Your Time Horizon
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 3: The Evaluation Stage
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 4: The Opening Trades
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 4a: Wait at Your Own Peril
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 5: The Free Agents
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 6: The Re-Evaluation Stage
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 7: The Secondary Targets
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 8: The Waiting Game
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 8a: The Challenge Trade
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 8b: Know Your Waiver System and Draft Rules