We saw a handful of moves made over the offseason that will have a positive or negative effect on their fantasy production. A shift in leagues, parks, and new teammates all have influence on fantasy p... Read More
If you like season long fantasy leagues, you'll love keeper and dynasty leagues. For starters, the draft process will be familiar to seasoned veterans of season long leagues. Snake drafts and auctions are the norm in these long-term leagues. The twist, you ask? Keeper and dynasty leagues require gamers to carry players over from one season's team to the following year's roster. The rules for keeping these players from season to season vary wildly from league to league, but the basic principal of retaining players is the same. Understanding more about keeper leagues and dynasty leagues will give you a better idea of why they just might be right for you.
Poke around the Fantasy Baseball Cafe forums and you'll see countless posts about keeper and dynasty league strategies, trade and free agent questions and everything in between. Rules that are common for keeper leagues include forfeiting a draft pick for the round a player was selected in, or forfeiting a pick that's inflated by a set number of rounds. For example, a player selected in 20th round would cost a 15th round pick to keep the following season if that league used a five round inflation rule for keepers. The same idea applies to auction drafts, and players are kept for their auction dollar amount or an inflated amount. Other formats are simpler and allow a for a set number of players to be kept with no cost attached. Conversely, more complex formats can require gamers to award contracts to players. For instance, two players could be kept for three years, another two for two years and four players for one year in this hypothetical format. Basically, if you can dream it up, there is probably already a keeper league out there created by someone else who had the same vision.
Dynasty leagues are like keeper leagues on -- errr -- an energy drink. Instead of keeping just a few players, dynasty leagues require owners to keep the vast majority of their roster. They are basically the closest thing the fantasy baseball community has to running a real team. Offseason trades are commonplace, as there is basically no offseason in dynasty leagues, in many instances.
Both keeper and dynasty leagues require careful planning not only for a current season but also for future seasons. Do you want to go for broke this year? You can, but it'll cost you for future seasons. That feeling of excitement you get drafting a breakout player in season long re-draft leagues can be multiplied by roughly 100 when doing the same in these formats. A keen understanding of the minor leagues and prospects is also great for gaining an edge over your competition in keeper and dynasty leagues. Gaining this knowledge can be fun, too. Think about it, you're trying to determine who the future stars of Major League Baseball are before they become stars. It's always a lot more fun to be driving the bandwagon than to be hopping on it.
This is by no means an exhaustive explanation of keeper and dynasty leagues, but if you weren't aware of them before you are now. The Fantasy Baseball Cafe forums are the perfect place to better familiarize yourself with these league formats in greater detail. If you're looking to setup your own league from scratch, pick the brains of others in the community who are already playing in keeper and dynasty leagues. Also, if you're looking to join a league or advertise openings in your own league, be sure to check out the classifieds section. As a keeper league gray beard having been playing in one for over a decade now, I'd advocate giving at least one a whirl. They are a blast.
The foundation for a winning fantasy season doesn't start at the draft, it starts before you it. You can't "win" your draft if you don't research. Tools like the mock draft and player comparison ones available here at the Fantasy Baseball Cafe are a great starting point for getting ready for "The real McCoy." There is more that can also be done to get ready for your drafts, though.
Creating position-by-position rankings is a great starting point for all drafters to adopt. They can be in-depth, or simply tiering like players together with a loose ranking within the tiers will help you immensely on draft day. Putting these rankings together is the time consuming part, but it's fun. Digging deeper into predictive statistics on the FanGraphs' player pages, looking at PITCHf/x data available at Brooks Baseball and looking at PITCHf/x leaderboards at Baseball Prospectus are a good way to lose track of hours researching players in a sport you love. Furthermore, chatting with Cafeholics on the forums and reading the articles published here are musts when creating your rankings.
Entering drafts with rankings are the bare minimum for drafters. Knowing what others think is a good way to maximize getting the most highly ranked players from your lists. You can gain insight into what others think by checking ADP data at sites such as FantasyPros. You'll also find expert rankings which will give you a more thorough understanding of who your opponents might be targeting. There is little worse in the fantasy sports world than getting sniped on your breakout player because you weren't aware of where they projected to go in drafts.
The idea of getting sniped segues nicely to the usefulness of reaching. You'll often hear pundits decry reaching as a negative thing. Yes, it can be. Not trusting your rankings, though, is worse. Why spend time constructing rankings if you're simply going to fold to the consensus? You shouldn't be reaching on players to the point where they need to hit your projected breakout in order to be a good pick. For instance, if you peg a player as a second round value and their ADP is in the eighth round, don't spend a second round pick on them. You do still need to account for risk. The sound strategy is finding a happy medium. That happy medium could come in the form of a fifth round pick in this example. If you miss out on a breakout player because someone is willing to reach beyond that, that's okay. Your rankings won't feature just one breakout player, they'll feature a few. Move on to the next one.
The name of the game is drafting the team that can win the most games in head-to-head leagues or accumulate the most points in roto formats. Don't lose sight of the goal. Having a plan will help you reach this goal, but following it rigidly when your draft throws you a curveball -- hardy har har -- won't allow you to do so. Build some flexibility in to your plans. If you don't plan to draft a pitcher early and your number one ranked starting pitcher is available at the back of the first round or top of the second, you can still snatch that surprising value up and return to your plan. Rigidity is the enemy of gamers. Folks who are willing to roll with the punches while not entirely abandoning their strategy are the ones who consistently end up with rosters they're happy with at the end of drafts.
At the end of the day, fantasy drafts are meant to be fun. You only get to draft once for each league each year. Be sure to engage in playful banter and trash talking with your league mates. Give it back to league mates who harass your "reach." Most likely those giving you a hard time about selecting a player too early are the ones who are jealous they don't own him. When the draft is over, be sure to follow Larry Legend's lead and ask who's playing for second place.