Tue Feb 5 3:11pm ET
By CHARLIE WIEGERT
As I embark on my column, I though I'd give you a few reasons why you should regularly read these words of wisdom from the Godfather. My intent is to provide you with some ammunition to help you win your fantasy leagues. When I look at and analyze things, I'll be doing it from the perspective of what relevance it has to making you a better fantasy player.
I have been playing fantasy baseball for over 35 years, and still compete in some of the best leagues in the industry. There are things that can be learned from observing these leagues that can help you with your leagues, so this column looks at the SiriusXM/FSTA Experts League draft that is currently going on. (To view the draft, go to https://www.rtsports.com/fsta)
It's a standard 5 x 5 league with 23 starters and six reserves. My partner in this league is Vlad Sedler, a successful player with NFBC, CDM Diamond Challenge and many other leagues.
So the first lesson to be learned is no matter how successful you have been in the past (I've won this league three times and finished in the top-five eight times), when the opportunity comes along to get help from someone else who's been successful, take it!
Before every draft, you should plot out a plan. My pre-draft exchanges with Vlad helped us prepare to get the team we wanted. In this draft, it started with picking a draft slot, the spot we'd make our picks from each round. Our spot to pick our draft spot was eight (of 14), so we knew we wouldn't get our top choices. We wanted one or two first, then 12, 13 or 14. All gone when we picked, so we took 7, thinking we'd still have a good first pick and a preferred player with the second pick.
Things don't always go as you expect. After much debate, Vlad and I decided to take Max Scherzer, noting top pitching was more important than ever in a 14-team leagues, and Scherzer would give us a great base. But at pick five, Brent Hershey from Baseball HQ took Mad Max. The first thing I learned from that was we were entirely right in our thinking Scherzer was the pick. There's always an interesting debate of when to take your pitching. The lesson learned is if you can get a top pitcher, especially the top pitcher, take him with that first pick. The guys at Baseball HQ, Ray Murphy & Brent Hershey are among the best, if not the best, in fantasy baseball. They finished second in this league last year (I was third and Glenn Colton/Rick Wolf/Stacie Stern won it), so when they are willing to use their top pick, the number five overall pick in the draft on Max Scherzer, it should tell you something!
The dilemma for Vlad and I now becomes who do we pick? All of our pre-draft planning just got zapped. Do we take Jacob DeGrom or Chris Sale, the two next best pitchers and stay with the strategy? No, they don't seem quite same as Scherzer. In the two to three minutes we have before our pick, we quickly debate speed vs. power. We both agree speed is more important, and it will be harder to find worthwhile players for stolen bases than home runs later in the draft. So Trea Turner becomes our pick, a player we expect contributions from in all 5 categories and hopefully 45 stolen bases.
At this point, it's good to know what our plan is, and in every draft you do, you should have this plan also. I like looking at what numbers were needed to get third in every category last year. That should be your baseline for what you want to achieve with the players you select in your draft to comprise your team. So from this 14-team league last year, here are our goals; .267 batting average, 295 home runs, 1.000 RBIs, 130 stolen bases, 1,040 runs scored, 95 wins, 75 saves, 1,400 strike outs, 3.60 earned run average and 1.40 whip.
There are two things that jumped out at me when I did this exercise. First, stolen bases are down. The year before the goal was 160 stolen bases. As Vlad and I discussed, the total number of stolen bases in MLB was down last year, and the number of players that stole over 30 and 40 were down. There will be a premium for players that can steal over 30 and contribute in the other categories. Draft them early and often. Second, saves were down. Normally the goal is 95 to 100, but it's now 75. This creates an unusual situation, where you could draft just two closers to achieve that number? Something to think about!
My next article will go into more details about this draft and advice from the Godfather!
Charlie Wiegert was the sixth person to be inducted in the Fantasy Sports Hall Of Fame in 2001. He is a founder of CDM Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He has been playing and winning fantasy baseball leagues since 1984. If you have any questions for Charlie, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GFFantasySports.