10 Unorthodox Tips to Win Your Fantasy Draft

Nolan Arenado

General Tip – Offset early risk with undervalued commodities later.

The common thread among ‘reaching’ in a snake draft and over-paying in an auction is that both rely on your ability to build a team around your aggressive moves.

Revisiting the example of 2014’s Cory Kluber, he may have performed like a top-ten fantasy pitcher, but he certainly wasn’t drafted as one at the time. Because of his performance relative to his draft position, he was a major contributor for any fantasy team.

Conversely, a player performing at a mid-draft pick level is acceptable if he was, indeed, selected in the middle of the draft. If an early pick was used on Chris Davis, his output, however respectable his final numbers, was still far below the price paid.

Even with the understanding that when a player is drafted is arguably more important than if he was drafted at all, the common belief is that input and output are directly related. For one player, compared against himself, this is actually false. Comparing third-round Cory Kluber to tenth-round Cory Kluber has no bearing on his final numbers. His value to your team is, therefore, only tied to the what you do with your remaining picks. Herein lies the tipping point as to whether or not your early risks will pay off.

The ‘safe’ advice, as we have come to know it, is to take more proven commodities early, and aim for risky upside later. Understanding that we want to separate ourselves from the conventional thinking, we aim to do the exact opposite. Granted, your first two picks in a snake draft cannot be missed – so much so that it might be worth passing on any injury-risk, regardless of his ceiling – but the rest of the draft is fair game.

Joc Pederson, Kris Bryant, Masahiro Tanaka are all considered ‘high risk, high reward’ players. Great! Fantasy leagues aren’t won by those who performed at their baseline level; they are fueled by the ‘home run picks’ that connected. Take your ‘sleepers’ before everyone else does, and watch the tide shift. Unsurprisingly, players left behind that have proven track records – even if they have clearly slipped, lately – will still be available.

Suddenly, your roster is filled with the top level of sleepers – some of them will pan out- and your risk is mitigated by veterans that could prove disposable. Why grab Mark Trumbo at his ‘average value’ and hope to land a Khris Davis or Rougned Odor late when you can lead with Pederson and Mookie Betts, offsetting them with Carlos Beltran and Aramis Ramirez?

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Mario Mergola
Mario Mergola is a writer, avid sports fan, former ESPN Radio producer, husband, and father who specializes in finding the hidden gems of the less-explored option. Follow @MarioMergola