I received an e-mail a couple of days ago from Jay in Ohio who after reading the first three parts (part I, part II and part III) of my Basic Draft Planning Series who wanted to know how I personally set up and determined my rankings for an auction draft.
I must admit that auction drafts are my all time favorite - especially when you get to sit down with a bunch of guys you know, talk a little trash, and try to psych out my opponents. So with just nine days before pitchers and catchers report I’m getting for my annual fantasy draft in the Continental League (named after a baseball league that never actually played a game but brought teams like the Mets and Astros back into existence back in the 1960 - article). I’ve got bucketfuls of strategies, dollar values established by my own systems (and modified now and again based on some guide projections), and a master plan on how to win on auction day.
I know which of my opponents are die hard fans (Yankees, Mets and Red Sox) respectively and will overpay for those players, which guy will drink a little too much during the auction and can be goaded into buying a bad player or two (as well as make a bad trade or two immediately after the fact), and I can project almost with certainty who will bring what guide - and who won’t bring one at all.
Since the draft takes place in my living room annually and we make an event of it (even utilizing a video screen to show taken players, who’s up for auction and last years numbers). I definitely use the home field advantage, by offering up a pile of what I think are the worst, most biased, and skewed (usually by valuing players for a different sized leagues) fantasy guides that I consulted or reviewed for At Home Plate, as well as some of last year’s guides for those who might want to use them. I’ve been surprised many times by people deciding to use of these guides, instead of the one they brought and since I only put out the worst guides and those from past years I’ve seen it disrupt their whole strategy.
For me, my final set of draft tools boil down to homemade spreadsheets and a solitary guide which I use for number checking or backup in case I missed something. I have tried using a computer for this but I’ve found that while the computer can crash, my paper copy never does.
I walk into the draft with 11 charts and one list - A chart for every position, a chart for starting pitchers, for relievers (closers and next in line to be closers), one for guys who mostly are Designated Hitters and my list of bait players. My list is nothing more than a list of players I don’t want but who WILL entice others to spend some of their precious draft dollars on. Some of these guys are at the end of their careers and have declining skills, some I think are injured and won’t be at full form, some I think will be vastly overvalued. These are the guys I’ll nominate in the auction to get others to spend their money.
On in my spreadsheets position gets it’s own page (or set of pages) and each has a list of players divided into four different groups or tiers. I highlight each tier in a different color to keep them easily clear and sortable on draft day (crossing each player off with a marker when he has been auctioned off).
Tier I are the elite players (in fantasy terms) at their position usually five category studs and the elite players at a position when the position doesn’t have many five category guys (first base, catcher)
Tier II are the guys who are just below the elite players (Usually four category guys)
Tier III are better than average (usually three categories or light four categories)
Tier IV are the average guys who I might want in the final rounds of the draft if I still have holes to fill. It’s also where I list the question marks - sleepers, guys coming off severe injuries, or who I think could break out of the average category this year.
My lists are by no means comprehensive but are just deep enough (plus a few extras) to fulfill the league requirements for every fantasy owners at the table for my league (thus since we play with just one catcher per team I might go so far as to do 14-18 - The extra is in case someone decides to grab two or to try to corner the market). That means most of the below average producers won’t make my list - but I make sure to have enough to compensate for the players who qualify at multiple positions and thus are thus repeated on several of my pages.*
Each player has a nine columns after their name - using the following format (we play in a standard 5x5 league)
| Mr. Z
|| huge upside
In the draft I can use these sheets to easily identify players and how badly I want them - grabbing upper tier guys at acceptable or bargain prices, knowing where my stop limits are on high priced talent and within a tier identifying who’ll have a good upside or be a good risk. It also allows me to figure out the numbers and make sure I have solid balance in each of the categories with just a minute or two of analysis.
Even after the draft these sheets can be useful for a while - letting me know who’s available as a replacement if someone doesn’t work out.
Jay, I don’t know if that answers your question but that’s the nuts and bolts of how I organize my final draft sheets. I hope it’s helpful to you and to anyone else who was thinking of using a tiered draft system.
Please post any comments in our forums over at MLBcenter.org.