If you’re even an occasional reader of this space, you know that the Old Duck is a 35+ year veteran of Rotisserie Style (Fantasy Baseball) Auction Keeper Leagues. With over 30 championships in about 80 Drafts, it is what I relish and look forward to each year. However, once a year, the dreaded Snake Draft enters my life for one very good reason. The young man who hosts the league (on ESPN.com) is like a son to me and if he asked me to join a Camel Racing Fantasy League hosted by Al Jazeera, I’d probably say yes.
Even though I know a beautiful girl who once had a pet Boa Constrictor named “Julius Squeezer”, I hate snakes…both in person and of the Fantasy variety. To me, having 10 or 15 or 20 players go off the board without the opportunity to bid, just penalizes me for doing solid research. And, if one of the Roto combatants forgets to show up on-line, you can bet the “auto-draft” spot will be right in front of me.
This time of year, if you follow Fantasy Baseball at all, it is impossible to avoid Snake Draft advice. It comes at you from everywhere…newspapers, websites, magazines, Satellite Radio and friends. The number of strategies is mind-boggling and include…
> Memorizing the average draft position (ADP) of every player in the universe.
> The “Don’t Take Pitchers Early” philosophy.
> The “Take Juan Soto Now” philosophy.
> The “Don’t Take Closers Until Later” philosophy.
> Prioritizing position scarcity
> Getting 50 HR’s & 50 SB’s from your first two picks (50/50 Plan).
> Getting 75 HR’s & 75 SB’s from your first three picks (75/75 Plan).
> Picking two stud starting pitchers early, also known as the “Dual Aces” plan.
> Drafting players for their future instead of their past, also known as the “Upside” plan.
> And this year’s favorite, “Get One Of The Big Four”…meaning deGrom, Bieber, Cole or Bauer.
In order to avoid having my brain explode, I’ve used none of those strategies and still managed two championships (including 2020), two 2nd place finishes and a 3rd place finish in the 10 year history of the league. In 2020, the Long Island Ducks finished in a tie for the title despite picking Yordan Alvarez in the 3rd round and having ESPN projecting the team to finish last!! The keys were Trevor Story (Round 1) and Jose Abreu (Round 5).
Part of my occasional past success is from a fairly good knowledge of the player pool, as I’m boning up for NL & AL only Drafts that take place in late March and early April. Logically, however, it seems that the overall approach of the last 30 years still works and it is a mind-set of “balance”. So, while the Ducks do have a tendency to wait on pitching, it is more about balancing the roster to leave flexibility as the Draft progresses. I also pay little or no attention to ADP (Average Draft Position) because I’m more concerned about my opinion of players than that of the “crowd”. This will be quite obvious when you see how many of my choices seem to be a “reach” compared to ADP. Ideally, after ten rounds, the roster should include at least one player at each position (C, 1B, 3B, 2B, SS, OF, SP & Closer) along with a 2nd OF & 2nd SP. After that foundation is established, looking for value is the priority. If you’ve already read columns from multiple sources about the players they drafted, this might be a cure for insomnia. With that disclaimer, my hope is that the strategies and player choices will be of value to you in your upcoming draft.
This is a 15-team mixed league with 22-man rosters (1 Catcher) and three reserve picks. One hour prior to the festivities, the randomizer gave the Ducks pick #5. I felt good about the position because there were at least 10 players worth $35+ in an auction format and it seemed like #5 could be as valuable as #1. Is there really a consensus #1 this year? My projections had Tatis, Turner & deGrom at the top but no clear choice. As we work our way through the results, you’ll see both the ADP and the Roto$ projection for each player as a point of reference. The ADP and dollar projections rankings are as of the date of the Draft (3/14).
Fantasy players are always interested in the first round, so here’s how this league shook out…1) Ronald Acuna Jr….2) Mookie Betts…3) Juan Soto…4) Fernando Tatis Jr….5) Mike Trout…6) Gerrit Cole…7) Trea Turner…8) Jacob deGrom…9) Jose Ramirez…10) Trevor Story…11) Shane Bieber…12) Cody Bellinger…13) Freddie Freeman…14) Francisco Lindor…15) Christian Yelich.
Here’s the Ducks’ roster for 2021…
* Round 1, Pick 5 – Mike Trout (ADP 6, $38)
Despite the fact that SB’s don’t seem to be part of his game any longer, getting this generational talent was too much of a temptation. Would you have picked Turner or deGrom instead?
* Round 2, Pick 26 – Lucas Giolito, P (ADP 19, $24)
In addition to Cole, deGrom & Bieber in Round 1, Bauer, Darvish & Buehler were gone in Round 2. Couldn’t wait on an elite SP.
* Round 3, Pick 35 – Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF (ADP 40, $25)
Trying to squeeze one more season of 20-25 SB out of these 32 year-old legs. Multiple position eligibility doesn’t hurt.
* Round 4, Pick 56 – Gleyber Torres, SS (ADP 68, $16)
A young star in a productive line-up, he was the 10th Shortstop taken.
* Round 5, Pick 65 – Rasiel Iglesias, RP (ADP 92, $13)
Seems early for a Closer, but this season seems to have a shortage of ones you can count on. Hader & Hendricks were already gone.
* Round 6, Pick 86 – Anthony Rizzo, 1B (ADP 102, $18)
A consistent producer in his walk year.
* Round 7, Pick 95 – Zach Wheeler, P (ADP 98, $13)
A solid #2 SP.
* Round 8, Pick 116 – Kris Bryant, 3B (ADP 127, $10)
A healthy year might earn a new contract.
* Round 9, Pick 125 – Willson Contreras, C (ADP 123, $10)
The third best backstop after Realmuto & Perez.
* Round 10, Pick 147 – Dylan Carlson, OF (ADP 154, $10)
A top prospect that should get everyday AB’s.
At this point, the original strategy was exactly in place…the Ducks had a 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, C, 2 OF, 2 SP & 1 Closer.
* Round 11, Pick 155 – Andres Gimenez, SS (ADP 176, $14)
Looking for speed, he’s only 22 and could swipe 20+ bases. Qualifies at three positions.
* Round 12, Pick 176 – Brandon Nimmo, OF (ADP 265, $6)
A significant reach but he’s a great lead-off weapon in a loaded line-up.
* Round 13, Pick 185 – Kevin Gausman, P (ADP 136, $7)
Seems like a bargain here, as he resurrected his career with the Giants.
* Round 14, Pick 206 – David Price, P (ADP 186, $7)
Sorry, I just don’t think the Dodgers will pay him all that money to pitch in long relief.
* Round 15, Pick 215 – Zach Eflin (ADP 195, $9)
Just starting to reach his potential.
* Round 16, Pick 236 – Hector Neris, P (ADP 322, $3)
Half of the prognosticators have Bradley closing…we shall see.
* Round 17, Pick 245 – Nick Senzel, OF (ADP 267, $4)
Winning Fantasy teams usually have at least one “post-hype” prospect.
* Round 18, Pick 266 – Evan White, 1B (ADP 447, $4)
Once in a while, you just get a hunch. The Mariners gave him a big contract and then rushed him to the “show”.
* Round 19, Pick 275 – Daulton Varsho, OF (ADP 167, $3)
Could also be Catcher eligible?
* Round 20, Pick 296 – Freddy Peralta, P (ADP 350, $3)
The Brewers gave him a nice extension, so he’s in their plans.
* Round 21, Pick 305 – Wilmer Flores, 1B/2B (ADP 381, $2)
Had 12 HR’s in 2020’s 60-game season.
* Round 22, Pick 326 – Carlos Martinez, P (ADP 416, $1)
In the rotation but it might be his last chance.
* Round 23, Pick 335 – Christian Pache, OF (ADP 409, $0)
Could be the Braves CF.
* Round 24, Pick 356 – Madison Bumgarner, P (ADP 373, $0)
The velocity seems to be back in March, just a flyer.
* Round 25, Pick 365 – Nico Hoerner, 2B/SS (ADP 485, $1)
The Cubs everyday 2B?
The site’s projections once again have the Ducks finishing last. Thanks for the motivation.