Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Meticulously constructing a flawless draft strategy

It's what I've been doing for the last several hours (three and a half and counting). I generally reserve four to seven hours, seclude myself in an enclosed space (not encouraged if you're a claustrophobe), and tackle each of my drafts with a seamless thoroughness that would impress even the finest of linebackers.

This draft was different. And so you adapt.

I always keep a pad of paper around. A pad and a pen. I've tried making notes on my Sony laptop and the results were epically disastrous. Not encouraged.

First, I jot down the settings. You want to know your settings inside and out and play within them to your advantage. I think the most important thing to note is the number of teams in your league. You base your draft strategy entirely around this.

In a holds league, holds carry the same significance as saves. In NL leagues, you bite the bullet and jump the gun on established and capable closers.

The second step depends on if your draft order is determined prior to the draft or randomly decided 30 minutes before.

If it is predetermined and you know you're drafting at 7., write down all your picks. You'll have a rough idea of how the first few rounds are going to play out so go through the available players page and list all the guys who will presumably be unclaimed for each round. Contingency plans are encouraged. I list three or four guys at each tier, in order. To play it safe I give myself a 5-10 pick opening (like if you wanted to make a reach at that pick). Also you'll have the luxury of finding complementary pairings. Longoria and Crawford at the turn, for example.

If your draft randomly determines the order, write down each round as tiers. 1-12, 13-24, 25-36 ... then list all the hypothetical situations which intrigue you. You'll go into the draft with a vague sense of what you're going to accomplish. A step ahead of those who don't consider the endless outcomes of each round going into the draft.

Create a: Sleepers, Speculation and Under-ranked table. Go through the entire player pool at least twice filling out each heading. Mark down the players' O-Rank.

I also manually create a table featuring every pick of the draft highlighting where the turns of each rounds are (or, where "snaking" occurs). I number the picks. The exercise is a strong visual standout.

I also stick to a strict plan. If I've got down that I'll start my pitcher run in the ninth because there's good value in that round, that's how I'll go about things. If I've got my sights set on taking a catcher in the 14th, that's where I'll target them. Experts say you shouldn't get married to a draft plan. I find that if I break away from a plan early - like drafting Mauer in the second - it throws my rhythm off and compromises my strategy. Playing it by ear, I'm not a fan.

Then construct a list of player injuries and keep notes.

If you're unclear about an injury or a player's status, search three or four alternative resources.

Going through the player pool, find where to extract positional value.

That's all I've got for now. Back to Hour Four of this endless cram session. Here's where the unpleasantness commences. Staying highly caffeinated: encouraged (one Red Bull, two sodas in).

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