|Monopolizing a Victory|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on January 23, 2008
In auction based leagues, there are lots of strategies and plans that can be used to force fantasy owners to overpay and overvalue players.Â One of the simplest is to trigger a run on a certain position or even to gain a monopoly on the top players at a position.Â
Of course gaining that kind of positioning takes a strategy, and having that plan before the first bid of the day can give you an edge over the opposition and force them to spend more than they want on players you donâ€™t.Â That of course will knock some owners out of the bidding for players you might want.Â
First, choose the position youâ€™d like to try to monopolize of force a run on.Â Clearly trying to monopolize outfielders wouldnâ€™t work, nor will starting pitchers, relief pitchers or certain other positions.Â
An ideal position would have only a handful of true top tier stars, a small middle plateau of good players than a huge fall off in quality.Â The logic for this is fairly simple.Â To create a run on a position there has to be a perceived value to the remaining players -- if the talent bottoms out too quickly then the value of the remaining players becomes negligible.Â ÂÂ
Based on last yearâ€™s numbers in the American League for example, there were seven better than average catchers but only two really stood out so much that youâ€™d likely classify them as the top tier who contribute in four categories (all stats are â€™07).Â
Those two were Victor Martinez (.301-25-114-78) and Jorge Posada (.338-20-90-91)Â
After that there were several good players before the fall off -- Kenji Johjima (287-14-61-52), Ivan Rodriguez (.281-11-63-50), A.J. Pierzynski (.263-14-50-54), Jason Varitek (.255-17-68-57) and Joe Mauer, who spent most of the season injured and will be rated highly but not as a top tier catcher in â€™08.Â
After these guys, the quality fell down significantly and that creates fantasy opportunity -- and that value increases with the number of teams in your league.Â
Second, remember your league format.Â To make a monopoly or force a run on a position you need to create a sense of urgency about a position.Â That means you ideally need to make your monopoly at a position where you can utilize all of the players you end up buying.Â Â Thus if you are chasing catchers in an AL only league and you can use two, grabbing two of the best off the list above will create a scarcity for everyone else and force them to either pay more or opt for someone who wonâ€™t help their team as much.
However if in that same AL only league you can only use one catcher at that position and grabbing a second means heâ€™d have to take the spot of a player who could help you more (by choosing perhaps an outfielder whoâ€™d have much better stats at the end of the season) it would be silly to try to create a monopoly.Â However grabbing one of the limited supply of catchers early might still trigger a run at the position and force a few dollars extra out of some ownerâ€™s payroll.Â
Third, and hand in hand with being able to use a second (or third player) at a position, comes the most important thing to remember.Â Â Donâ€™t overpay as those players get scarcer and prices rise.Â Remember you are trying to make other owners spend extra dollars, not spend them yourself.Â This is where you have a number of strategic options and how you value players on your list will come into play.Â
In an ideal world, every player will go for at least the value youâ€™ve put on them (Helpful hint - many owners draft with a cheat sheet from a fantasy guide, having a copy of that same sheet could give you the â€ślimitsâ€ť that some owners will go to) but ideally more.Â To get them to that point you need to take stock of the other owners and figure out what you want to do.Â If enough of them are rapidly bidding a player into the stratosphere you might just sit and let them slug it out, but you might also choose to add some additional pressure by bidding yourself.Â
The more people seeking a commodity and the more desperate those who donâ€™t have it get, push the prices higher.Â The key is not to push the last of the would-be buyers out of the auction and getting stuck with the player at an above value price.Â That sometimes means that your evaluation of the other owner better be good, as you donâ€™t want him to say, â€śwell for $32 you can have him,â€ť right after your $32 bid when you value that player at $26.Â
Lastly, if you do end up trying to corner the market on the top players at a position make sure they fit into your overall plan.Â Grabbing two of the better catchers who only help you in four (or even three) categories isnâ€™t better than grabbing one and choosing another player from a different position whoâ€™ll contribute in five categories.Â
Of course, donâ€™t plan your whole draft around this strategy - like any other it might very well need to go by the wayside as soon as the draft starts and something gets a little crazy.Â But if you can use it to your advantage, or recognize that another owner is trying to do the same thing, it may give you an edge.
Good luck on draft day!