Sunday, March 24, 2013

ZFL 2013 Pre Draft

Since so many of my friends are Fantasy Baseball nuts, I'm going to use this blog to keep a record of my performance in the ZFL: the ultra-competitive 16 team head-to-head points fantasy baseball league I'm in.

For a variety of reasons detailed by league commissioner Joe Pisapia in his best selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book, I believe this league to be an example of the optimum fantasy baseball format and scoring system. You must start C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, UT and 6 pitchers, of which at least one must be a starter and one a reliever. The scoring system rewards solid pitching with bonuses for wins, saves, holds and quality starts; penalizes poor pitching with negative points for losses, blown saves and ER and penalizes batter strikeouts. There are 23 man rosters with a 3 man keeper, meaning a 20 round draft. Players and draft picks can be traded before and after the keeper deadline, though you must designate 3 keepers at the deadline and return the rest of your roster to the draft pool.

I finished the 2012 season just missing the playoffs due to some significant injuries after having made them each of the prior 3 years the league has been around. I kept CC Sabathia, Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre and had the second overall pick in the draft.

There are a few wheelers and dealers in the league, and two very savvy owners (including the commish) adopted the strategy of trading away draft picks for other teams' surplus and marginal keepers. These two teams had put together pre-draft rosters that in some cases had 3 or 4 starting pitchers (all well above average) and often one or two decent hitters. It also left their counter-parties in the trades with an excess of draft picks, creating some situations where they'll be picking several times in the early and middle rounds.

My sole off season move was to get in on this, trading Fielder to the commish for his 2nd and 3rd round picks. I'm usually not one to trade draft picks (I tend do well in drafts by being reactive and drafting for value) and Fielder is a top 5 fantasy player, but I made this move for a few reasons:

1. The commish was already sitting with 3 elite or solid SP options (he has since traded picks for a fourth) AND his 2nd and 3rd round picks (he'd already traded away his first round pick for one of the SP). That much pitching talent plus the players he'd get with those picks was scary. He now has Fielder and his great pitching staff but doesn't pick til the fourth round.

2. While Fielder is great, he's at such a deep position. I figure I can get 80% of his production in the draft while ending up with a better team overall. The depth at first base also softened the blow of giving him to someone with a strong team entering the season.

3. Having the overall #2 pick, I wouldn't have picked again until the late second round. That left me concerned about being below average at scarce positions. I now have 5 of the first 36 picks, which I think will let me be above average at a number of positions (including maybe even 1B), rather than very, very above average at 1B but average or weak elsewhere.

We'll see if it pays off. The draft is later today and I'll post a recap once it's done.

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