Written by Jonathan Leshanski
Published: 17 April 2009
We’ve barely started the fantasy season and in leagues far and wide people are panicking and making bad decisions. Don’t be one of them.
I hope you didn’t throw away your draft sheets, because at this time of year you can still get a lot of use out of them. Provided you did your research before drafting, you probably already have the core of a pretty good team. That doesn’t mean you don’t have weaknesses or places you’d like to be a little bit stronger, but so long as you have a good core you have plenty to work around.
Don't press the panic button just yet.
What makes up a good core? A good core typically is a group of proven players who put up consistent statistics year after year. A great core is the exact same thing but with players young enough to have more upside than downside.
There also is room in a core for can’t miss youngsters without long track records -- that would include guys like Evan Longoria. Sure he might hit a rough spot or two, but he’s likely to outperform most third tier, and even most second tier, players at his position.
These aren’t the guys you should be worried about at this time of year. They’ve got plenty of time to right their ships and produce numbers similar to their historical norms. The worst thing you can do at this time of year is to drop players like this for guys who are just hot hands right now -- especially when it comes to rookies and players whose career histories don’t line up with the numbers they are putting up this April.** However, don’t think that this means your team should be all core players. Core players provide, as implied by their name, the backbone to your stats for the season, but it’s the guys who outperform expectations who often are the difference when it comes to winning championships. With that in mind, every team should have a couple of spots for speculative picks. Just remember to use them wisely by picking up guys with low risk and high reward and a lot of upside.
Every year, a whole bunch of rookies explode onto the scene in April, but by June all but a handful have essentially faded. Most of the time that’s because pitchers have fallen into their normal high end pitching routines and overmatch the youngsters or that the “book” has been written on how to pitch to the rookie.
Older players who don’t have a track record of big production or have been in serious decline but who are red hot right now will fall back to earth 90-plus percent of the time. Occasionally you’ll see someone put up career numbers late in their career, like Mark DeRosa did last year, but from a true statistical point of view the most accurate set of projections for any player is based on the average of their last three years of production. Thus betting big on players who are having a big April, but have not shown this level of production before, is generally a sucker’s bet.
And right now is the time when you’ll see a lot of managers making stupid decisions chasing those hot hands and dropping core type players for guys who are likely to be pie in the sky. That’s a huge opportunity for you, and it’s also where your draft sheets will come in handy.
Every time a player is dropped you should be seeing just where they ranked on your depth chart (this is especially valuable if you use a tiered drafting structure). This will tell you two things: first what the trends are in your league (are third tier outfielders consistently available?) and are players who you ranked higher than guys you drafted being dropped?
Obviously this affords you two big advantages. It allows you to upgrade if you still believe in the players being dropped, and it gives you a gauge as to what the replacement level (guys you’d pick up if you had an injury to your core) talent is likely to be during the season. It might also give you an idea of what positions and players are valued more, or less, when it comes to trading later in the year.
That can give you a HUGE advantage -- providing you aren’t the one making panicked decisions.What do you think of our fantasy expert’s advice? Let us hear your feedback below.