5 Tips for your First Fantasy Draft

Fantasy Baseball drafts are a lot like blogging. It’s not as easy as it looks, it takes practice and you’re not going to hit it out of the park on your first try. (Note: An earlier version of this post did not include this lede. A better lede came to me the day after I posted it so I added it) 

After sitting on the sidelines for many years, I have taken the plunge and joined a fantasy baseball league. For years I’ve been telling myself that it’s too much work to manage a team, too hard to put together and way too much of a commitment to see it through the whole season. Well, not this year. This year Ernie’s Whitts will be taking Yahoo Fantasy Baseball by storm.

I’ll share my team at the end of this post and will share updates throughout the season.

Fantasy baseball, and fantasy sports has become big business. There is no shortage of fantasy leagues to choose from, whether it’s ESPN, Fox Sports or Yahoo. For those just getting started they all offer a free version and you can join leagues that have open spots. The great thing about these platforms is that they will host your draft so it can be done from the comfort of your own home and will tabulate all the stats for you. The managing of your team – from injuries, trades and setting match-ups throughout the year is up to you.

Here are 5 tips that helped me get through my first fantasy draft.

  1. Research Like anything you are going to do for the first time, research is important. You might think you know everything about baseball and talk a good game at the bar watching the game. But if you’re going to put your name next to a group of players for the next 6 months, you’ve got to do your research. It’s okay to know that Mike Trout is the best player in the league but there is only one Mike Trout and he is probably not going to end up on your team so you need a game plan.There are all kinds of fantasy sports experts who can give you players to look out for and who to avoid. There is nothing wrong with faking it till you make it. These same websites can keep you up to date on players’ injuries so you know if they are out day-to-day, a month or for the full season. There could be nothing worse than using one of your slots on a guy who blew an ACL after fielding a bunt.
  2. Mock Drafts Most of the websites that will host your draft will let you practice with mock drafts. This is a great way to get to know how the platform works and what you can expect for the day of your draft. In the last week I participated in about 5 mock drafts to prepare. The other great thing about doing this is it gives you a sense of trends and who other people are focused on this year.
    Mock drafts are a free an easy way to hone your fantasy skills before picking your team.
  3. Make Picks for the Pool You’re In
    This might sound like a pretty obvious piece of advice, but many leagues will have different levels of scoring and statistics that help your players to earn points. If you’re in a league that is using advanced stats like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) you might need to do a bit more research (See my first tip). But if you’re in a starter league, the scoring is using basic statistics like home runs, RBIs, ERA, wins and Strikeouts. However your league is set up for scoring can make a difference on who you take and what you focus your research on.
  4. Keep Focused
    Your fantasy draft is one of those times to turn the TV off, turn off email notifications on your phone, maybe visit the washroom 5 minutes before the draft and get yourself focussed. If your draft is anything like mine was, each member of the league will have about 1 minute to make a selection per round. That sounds like a ton of time but it moves quick with most selections being made in less than 30 seconds. Taking your eye off the screen could mean the difference between Miguel Cabrera and Melky Cabrera.
  5. Always Have a Back Up Pick
    Things move quick during the draft. You might have had your eye on a player that you fell in love with and then your buddy takes him in the pick right before you (this happened to me with Andrew McCutcheon). Don’t let it rattle you, just move on. There is nothing you can do about it and you have a team to focus on. It’s a long season and lots can happen…and maybe he gets one of those season ending injuries I mentioned earlier!

Follow along this season with the Ernie’s Whitts. What do you think of my picks? Any question marks?

Position Player Team
C Salvador Perez Kansas City Royals
1B David Ortiz Boston Red Sox
2B Jose Altuve Houston Astros
3B Mike Moustakis Kansas City Royals
SS Troy Tulowitzki Toronto Blue Jays
OF Jose Bautista Toronto Blue Jays
OF Lorenzo Cain Kansas City Royals
OF Michael Brantley Cleveland Indians
Utility Brett Gardner New York Yankees
Utility Curtis Granderson New York Mets
SP Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
SP David Price Boston Red Sox
RP Mark Melancon Pittsburgh Pirates
RP Dellin Betances New York Yankees
P Jon Lester Chicago Cubs
P Mike Leake St. Louis Cardinals
P Marco Estrada Toronto Blue Jays
P Gio Gonzalez Washington Nationals
Bench Colby Rasmus Houston Astros
Bench Pablo Sandoval Boston Red Sox
Bench Wil Myers Tampa Bay Rays
Bench Chris Colabello Toronto Blue Jays
Bench Ubaldo Jimenez Baltimore Orioles

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