Fantasy writers sit behind the pulpit and preach all the time, but sometimes it can be tough to follow their sermons. A mock draft with 12 industry analysts can reveal some of their inconsistencies, and this writer is guilty of that -- with an explanation why.
In a mock draft held on March 19, the writer you have been going to for sleepers and breakouts through 27-year-olds, third-year starting pitchers, injury-risk sleepers, contract years, overlooked sophomores and rookies found it was nearly impossible to get the players he hyped. Instead, a team of veteran injury risks was drafted. And, interestingly, a number of talented players coming off down years slipped a bit.
See, each draft is different and going in with a plan is a good idea, but all plans need to be scrapped when you see how things evolve. You can hope to catch a team full of breakout candidates, but if everyone is overhyping the same under-hyped players, you have to grab the players that actually do wind up falling. A sleeper that doesn't sleep doesn't do you much good.
The best drafting tools this writer swears by are the average draft positions and his own rankings (highlighting those reviewed in the sleeper/breakout categories above). Putting those two pieces of content together, you don't really need a concrete plan other than to look for falling value.
Here are the results of a 12-team, 5x5 rotisserie mock draft conducted with 12 industry-wide analysts March 19. The league will rank the traditional categories in hitting (average, homers, RBI, runs and stolen bases) and pitching (wins, ERA, strikeouts, WHIP and saves). One variation in this particular format is there is one less active starter in lineups (one catcher instead of the traditional two).
The draft below can be a third solid tool to cross reference with the average draft position data from the major fantasy sites and SI.com's Top 300.
Here is a blow-by-blow account of this writer's picks, including where they ranked in SI.com's Top 300. You will notice few -- just two -- picks were taken before their suggested time.
That is a good sign -- little reaching.
You cannot play favorites too much in drafts. You have to consider each player's value separate from personal bias.
Here is the pick-by-pick review of the draft and the touts represented.
• Hanley Ramirez's promising spring has him back in Round 1. The risk seems to be dissipating as he is proving healthy. He just might be a swing pick now in most leagues.
• Rightfully so, Fielder's move to Detroit knocks him out of first-round status, particularly in rotisserie formats. He is still a solid second-rounder, though.
• I have seen a number of drafts where Justin Verlander wasn't the first pitcher taken, this one included. He probably still should be, even if he is coming off a career year that will be difficult to duplicate as Cy Young and AL MVP.
• Alex Rodriguez has fallen all the way to Round 5 now. He is moving into the potential value area, if he has one fully healthy season left in him.
• Adam Wainwright goes No. 100 overall. That is about right. He has proved healthy this spring and there is little reason not to expect him to post a full 200-inning season coming off Tommy John surgery.
• Joakim Soria at No. 157 looks headed for Tommy John surgery, so Jonathan Broxton, Greg Holland are replacement candidates -- and perhaps even Aaron Crow should have been picked later in the draft. Soria is a big loss for the position, but the Royals have themselves some solid fallback options.
• Bryce Harper did not get picked. With him getting assigned to Triple-A, he might go undrafted in many leagues. Expect him in the majors around June 1, though. He just needs to prove capable defensively in center field.
• Note how far pitchers drop all around in rotisserie formats. And also note closers don't go in the top 60 picks. Rotisserie is more about those five-category hitters, so expect to pick up value on pitchers in the middle to late rounds as always. If this was a head-to-head draft where pitchers get three points per inning, you can expect the big-time aces to get picked up frequently in the first three rounds.
• Yu Darvish at No. 86. Yoenis Cespedes at No. 191. Those are about right for the top imports this year.
• Emilio Bonifacio went at No. 165. His versatility, steals potential, career breakthrough in 2011 and potential full-time job in center field will make him an interesting player to track in drafts. He could be valued as high as the top 80 or fall as low as 200. He might be the most wide-ranging player picked from draft to draft. I wanted him when he went off the board at 165, so 150 might be a decent time to jump in on one of the most versatile players on the board (shortstop, third base and outfield eligibility). Those multi-position players have amped up value in leagues that limit transactions and player movement, because they can fill in-season gaps at multi spots.
This Saturday is the annual meeting of the top minds in fantasy baseball at Tout Wars. We will be competing in a 15-team mixed rotisserie auction Saturday at 3 p.m. If you wish to attend, join us at Foley's, N.Y. (across from the Empire State Building) for happy hour Friday evening to get instructions on where to see the events unfold. Also, get a chance to meet some of your favorite fantasy baseball analysts.
If you are not in the New York metropolitan area, you can tune in on Sirius/XM satellite radio. Go to ToutWars.com for further details.
Reviewing an auction can be a bit tricky at times, but we will break down the mixed auction and make some notations on the touts' player valuations.
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. You can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).