Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Draft Prep: Dynasty strategies

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

If playing the game of Fantasy Baseball makes you a nerd (a line of thought I don't subscribe to, but just play along), playing in a dynasty league makes you ... something way beyond nerd. I'm not even sure there's a word for it. You not only have to know every player in the majors, but at least 100 prospects -- and then you have to track their stats over the course of the season. On top of that, playing in a dynasty league requires a constant struggle with the ages-old, "Do I play for this year, or do I play for the future?" question, while living with the paranoia that any add, drop, trade or draft pick you make could have decade-long ramifications.

It's not for the weak of heart. But it's a pretty awesome format if you have the time for it. Fantasy Baseball is a grueling exercise over a 162-game season. A dynasty league is that, multiplied by 25, cubed, divided by .001 and then multiplied by 25 again. Which makes victory so much sweeter.

What follows are some guidelines for dynasty noobs (and perhaps some fresh perspective for the dynasty pros among us).

1. Get to really know the prospects. I know that sounds obsvious and trite, but don't just take MLB.com's Top 100, print it out at work (because it's free!) and work off that. Study the list, check out Baseball America's top 10 for each team, read Scott White's list of 50 top prospects and then go to milb.com and take a look at who led the minors in home runs, steals, average, ERA last season -- all that fun stuff. Then cross-reference the players you like with Baseball Reference to get a better idea of what they've done to this point in their careers. Then take a look at the parent club and figure out where there's a crack in the lineup. Age, experience and success in the minors all play a role. As does opportunity (Aaron Hicks got his shot last year, maybe a little early, because the Minnesota center field job was open).

Get your Custom Draft Kits!
Download your Draft Kit for Draft Day 2014 that's customized to your specific league scoring system, format and player pool!
Download your Draft Kit today!

In most dynasty leagues, the top prospects are already owned (because we're hoarders), but there's plenty to mine as far as prospects who slip through the cracks (like Kole Calhoun or Patrick Corbin). Don't make the mistake of drafting based solely on top prospects lists. They're well-researched and solid places to start, but they are based on talent and skill, not necessarily proximity to the majors. Take some risks with players you like, and you may be rewarded halfway through the season with a callup.

2. Dig a little deeper to find some fringe prospects you like. Jeremy Jeffress is a great example of this (despite being just one major league inning away from losing his "rookie" status). He was lights out with the Blue Jays last season, with a 0.87 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. And in 32 1/3 minor league innings in 2013, he had a 1.39 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, with 30 strikeouts. But he has a career 4.10 minor league ERA -- something didn't add up. I googled him, looked through news articles, read old updates ... and stumbled upon a gem. Jeffress had been misdiagnosed and wrongly medicated for an anxiety problem, when he actually had juvenile epilepsy. He'd been taking the wrong medication for years. In June, the Blue Jays sent him to a doctor who figured it out. The new diagnosis and prescription (along with a tweak in arm slot) changed everything. Heading into 2014, Jeffress, 25, looks like he has a real shot to relieve for Toronto, and could be converted to a starter (although the Jays have already squashed the starter idea for spring training) down the line. I will own him in most of my dynasty leagues, and can get him with a late-round pick.

Similarly, in January, I was shuffling through pages of winter league leaders and came across Mitch Lively, who has spent seven seasons in the minors and has never thrown a major league pitch. As a reliever, Lively has just one season with an ERA over 3.25, with a sub-2.15 ERA in three seasons. He was named this season's Venezuelan Winter League Pitcher of the Year, with a 1.70 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. So I went back and looked at his 2013. The Giants were stretching him out to be a starter (he hadn't started a game in his professional career before last season), and he struggled in the Pacific Coast League, with a 4.72 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. But over his last eight starts, Lively had a 2.54 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. The Giants look to have a full rotation heading into 2014, but injury (or regression) could strike at any time. Lively will probably find his way onto all of my dynasty league teams, probably as the pick right after Jeffress.

For a minor investment, I could have two very cheap starters by July 2014 (this is being very optimistic). And if Jeffress stays in the bullpen and Lively never gets a shot, there's still hope for 2015, assuming they keep up their recent success. These types of quiet minor league gambles can be huge boosts to the fortunes of a dynasty league team. I'll get my top prospects early, but these late picks could be difference-makers, especially in deeper leagues.

3. You don't have to go fully into "play for next year" or "play for this year" mode. In a 24-team Head-to-Head dynasty league last year, I lost in the championship game. But while I sent out some young talent for playoff push help, I also made a couple smaller trades that jettisoned veterans (where I had roster depth) for some younger talent. In a league this size, with eight teams making the playoffs, you can be both buyer and seller to plenty of other teams. The result is a mish-mash of keepers that have me in a great spot for this season's auction. Adam Eaton, Ryan Zimmerman, Kole Calhoun, Jon Lester and Michael Pineda (among others -- we have unlimited keepers, as long as we're under budget) are on my roster. I'm keeping them all.

While it's tidy and time-honored to have one strategy for a dynasty roster, variety is going to allow flexibility for the following season. If I traded away all my bats for young, cheap talent, I would have to wildly overspend at the auction to get veteran bats for this year. If I went all-in for a playoff push, I'd be stuck with overpriced veterans and no future talent. Keeping a nice mix, though, allows me to control my own fate at the draft, with the flexibility to take the best value picks, instead of having to scramble to pick up certain players who I would otherwise want to pass on. As a bonus, I enter 2014 already owning youth to trade to rebuilders, and veterans to trade to contenders.

4. Don't go overboard with drafting youngsters. We get it dude -- you know your prospects. But the way to really prove that is to win, not to use all your picks to show your friends that you read a few articles. It isn't so much reaching for a Francisco Lindor in the fifth round. I can understand that as part of a balanced strategy. But going Lindor in the fifth, Bubba Starling in the seventh, C.J. Edwards in the eighth, and Kyle Zimmer in the ninth is a bit much. You're passing up a chance to win in 2014 for a core of unproven -- but promising -- commodities. Look at the 2011 top prospect list, for example -- Bryce Harper and Mike Trout led off Baseball America's top 20, but Jesus Montero was third, Jeremy Hellickson was sixth, Mike Moustakas was ninth, Dustin Ackley was 12th, John Lamb was 18th and Mike Montgomery was 19th. These players could all still turn a corner, but if you were reaching for them in dynasty drafts, they aren't looking like great picks three years later. And taking all of those players probably caused the owner to pass up on veterans who could contribute that season.

I like to force myself to take prospects only in certain rounds. It's a strategy that has worked well for me the past few seasons. I'll pre-determine some rounds for prospects -- in one league last year, I targeted the first (technically the ninth after eight keepers), eighth, 10th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd as my "prospect" rounds -- and I promised to not stray from that strategy. It resulted in me being a more focused drafter, and allowed me to worry about building a team at certain points, and building a farm at others, instead of playing ping pong with the two strategies and having to decide between a prospect and Brandon Belt as the draft clock ticked down.

5. Go look at old prospect lists for post-hype sleepers. That 2011 list may have produced some disappointment if you chased them that season, but Lamb (who hasn't been the same pitcher since Tommy John, but did make it to Triple-A last season) and Montgomery (who peaked at No. 19 on Baseball America's top prospect list but hasn't been able to get his ERA below 4.80 the last three seasons in the minors) still have some hope, and could make decent late-round gambles in dynasty leagues. All it takes is one astute pitching coach to tweak one thing in a delivery (maybe Montgomery changes where his foot lands on the rubber) and all that talent just comes rushing back.

The 2012 Top Prospect list features plenty of possible diamonds in the rough. It includes: Trevor Bauer (who worked through mechanics changes last season), Danny Hultzen (who will miss 2014 after undergoing shoulder surgery), Bubba Starling (whose progress has stalled in the minors, but has been a top prospect in the organization), Manny Banuelos (a former top prospect who could make the Yankees in relief this season), Brett Jackson (who took a major step back in 2013 but still has a good deal of talent) and Gary Brown (like Jackson, took a big step back, but was a top-40 prospect in 2012). It's likely owners of these prospects in dynasty leagues discarded them after patience wore thin. But it sometimes just takes time for talent to win out. Look at Domonic Brown last year, or even Khris Davis. Smart baseball observers deemed these players top talents, and there may be reasons (swing tweaks, arm slot issues, injury) that stalled the progress. Swooping in with late-round dynasty picks on former top prospects is a gamble worth taking, and allows you to focus your early and-mid-round endeavors on established major league players.

6. Don't propose crap trades for top prospects. Say you own Miguel Sano in your dynasty league. You've had him since 2011 and you've been waiting for this big break -- there's a very real chance he could open the 2014 season with the Twins, at which point he will hammer home runs all year. But your buzz is now worn off, because a fellow owner in your dynasty league just offered you Coco Crisp and Yovani Gallardo for him.

Lowball offers for prospects don't just get rejected -- they get the owner of the prospect legitimately angry. I know, because I've been on the receiving end of these offers. And I view anyone who has given me a lowball offer with a level of scorn and venom unmatched in my everyday life. When future deals are proposed from this other owner, not only will I reject the deal, but I will wait three days to reject it, just to play aloof and leave the trade offerer in a state of will-he-or-won't-he anxiety. If I drafted Sano two years ago, I know the kind of player he is and what he's capable of. I've watched him destroy the ball in the minors. I am genuinely excited about what he can do this year. Sano is not a mystery to me; if anything, I am more intimate with the potential of Sano than anyone outside of the Twins organization and, probably, the makers of Ballplayer: Pelotero . So when you come knocking with two players you probably weren't going to keep anyway, I take that as either an insult to my intelligence or laziness.

So don't be that guy. If you want my Sano, be prepared to give up something significant for him. Don't insult owners with offers that you would laugh away with a swift rejection. You have to play in a league with them for many more years.

7. OMG! Have fun!! The most important tip of them all!

Dynasty leagues are awesome. It's basically like getting a puppy, and then having to feed and care for it correctly in order to nurture it into a healthy dog. Except it never has to die! The more work you put into your dynasty league team, the better it will be. It's one of the more fulfilling rewards in the Fantasy universe, expanding the sample size of your Fantasy expertise from one season to several seasons.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando at @NandoCBS .

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Zack Greinke records four Ks in one inning, cruises past Giants
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:56 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke recorded a rare feat while picking up his 12th win of the season Friday night against the Giants in San Francisco. He became the fifth pitcher in franchise history to record four strikeouts in an inning.

Greinke struck out Hector Sanchez swinging and Tim Lincecum looking. He struck out Hunter Pence swinging, but the pitch was low and got past A.J. Ellis, as he reached safely at first. Finally, Greinke struck out Gregor Blanco. The pitch was low and got past Ellis, but the catcher was able to throw Blanco out in time at first base.

Greinke allowed four hits and one walk while striking out 10 in seven shutout frames in an 8-1 victory. Of his 106 pitches, 65 were strikes.

Greinke has recorded double-digit strikeouts four times this season. He owns a 2.74 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP over 21 starts. His next start will come Thursday at home against Atlanta.


Yasiel Puig rips out three triples in win over Giants
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:56 am ET) Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig came up with a historical performance at the plate in his first game back from injury against the Giants in San Francisco.

Puig tripled in the first, doubled in the third, tripled in a run in the fifth and tripled again in the sixth. He finished 4 for 5 with two runs scored and two RBI in an 8-1 victory.

Puig’s three triples are the most by a Dodger since Jimmy Sheckard in 1901 for Brooklyn. He also became the first player in team history to record at least two triples and a double in a game since Sandy Amoros in 1956. His 11 total bases were the most by any Dodger without ever hitting a home run.

Puig owns a .315/.402/.543 slash line with 12 homers and 54 RBI in 352 at-bats this season.


Tim Lincecum gets roughed up in loss to Dodgers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum was hit hard Friday night at home against the Dodgers, dropping to 9-7 on the year. The right-hander permitted six runs on nine hits and no walks while striking out six over 4 1/3 innings of an 8-1 defeat.

Lincecum has allowed nine earned runs over his last 19 innings of work. He owns a 3.96 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP over 125 innings of work this season. He will look to pick up the pieces and get back on track Wednesday at home against Pittsburgh.


Charlie Furbush serves up go-ahead HR in extras
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:54 am ET) Mariners reliever Charlie Furbush (1-5) took the loss without recording an out Friday night against the Orioles in extras. Furbush allowed a go-ahead home run to Chris Davis in the 10th inning before he was pulled. It was the only batter he faced in the game. He owns a 3.90 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP over 30 innings of relief.

Zach Britton slams door shut on M's in extras
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:52 am ET) Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton struck out one and needed only 11 pitches to retire the side in order to close out a 2-1 win over the Mariners in 10 innings. Britton has converted 19 saves in 22 tries, with a 1.74 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP over 51 2/3 innings of relief.

Darren O'Day Ks two, picks up relief win
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:50 am ET) Orioles reliever Darren O'Day struck out the only two batters he faced and picked up his third win of the season. He needed only 10 pitchers to retire two batters in the ninth, while the team scored the go-ahead run in the 10th to win the game. He owns a 1.00 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP over 45 innings of relief.

Huston Street notches second save with new club
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:24 am ET) Angels closer Huston Street struck out one, worked his way around a hit and needed only nine pitches to complete a scoreless ninth inning for the save Friday night at home against the Tigers. Street has struck out four and has not allowed a run over his first three innings of work for his new club. He has converted both of his save chances over that span.

Mike Morin picks up relief win Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:22 am ET) Angels reliever Mike Morin entered Friday's game in the sixth inning against the Tigers.

Morin came in for Tyler Skaggs with two outs in the sixth and struck out Torii Hunter for the final out of the frame. The Angels scored two runs in the bottom of the frame, which proved to the difference, giving Morin his third win of the season. He owns a 2.61 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP over 38 innings of work this season.


Tyler Skaggs settles for no-decision
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:18 am ET) Angels starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs fell one out shy of a quality start in a no-decision Friday night at home against the Tigers. The right-hander permitted one run on five hits and one walk while striking out five over 5 2/3 innings of a 2-1 victory.

The Angels scored both runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Mike Morin, who recorded the final out of the sixth for Skaggs, picked up the win.

Skaggs owns a 4.49 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP over 17 starts (108 1/3 innings). His next start will come Thursday at Baltimore.


Drew Smyly Ks career-high 11 in losing effort
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Tigers starting pitcher Drew Smyly(6-9) posted a career-high 11 strikeouts, but it wasn't enough in a tough-luck loss Friday night against the Angels in Anaheim. The right-hander was charged with two runs on four hits and one walk over 5 2/3 innings of a 2-1 defeat.

Prior to this game, Smyly did not strike out more than seven batters in a game this season. He owns a 3.77 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP over 100 1/3 innings of work. His next start will come Thursday at home against the White Sox.


 
 
 
Rankings