2019 Fantasy Baseball: Draft Strategy - PAPS
One of the hardest things for Fantasy owners to figure out before a draft is a draft plan or philosophy. In today Fantasy games, most owners know the player pool. Many times winning or losing comes down to planning your attack. Sometimes you can't come up with a plan until you know your draft position. I thought I would take the time to write about a couple of draft styles to help Fantasy owners better understand the pitfalls or opportunities each style of drafting would offer.
The first is a common theory shared among many of the top players in the high-stakes baseball market. I'll call it PAPS. Their core philosophy is built around power, average, starting pitching, and saves. A Fantasy owner may land speed early, but it isn't a target skill for them.
A Fantasy owner with this draft style tends to push the catcher and the middle infield positions back in a draft. By waiting to add these two positions, they create a buying opportunity for additional starting pitching while willing to roster a third closing option inside of round 17 in 15-team drafts.
It is important to understand this theory when you are cheating saves as an opponent. When a Fantasy owner owns one closer heading into the middle rounds of a draft and decides to pass on a second closer when competing against this draft style, a PAPS drafter will be looking to steal a third closing option to help solidify his bullpen.
If you own one closer say at pick four in round 16, you notice all the teams sitting behind you in seats one, two, and three have two closers. At first glance, you think it makes sense to pass on the last available closer until round 17. What you may not see is one of the teams has no catchers and only one middle infielder. This team will have two extra picks on most teams to freelance within the draft. They will look to strengthen their pitching staff or even add a solid third closer. By having three closers, they avoid committing bench spots to closers in waiting plus they save free agent dollars if they are right about their closing options.
In the past, a typical team will have this draft structure after ten rounds: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, SP, SP, and CL. A team with a PAPS approach with look like this: 1B, 3B, MI, OF, OF, OF or CO, SP, SP, CL, and CL. There's even a chance they add a third starter inside of the top ten rounds and push the middle infield position until the round 11.
With this approach, they are looking for two catchers that can hit 20+ home runs combined. If they come out of the draft with one solid middle infielder, they will have plenty of opportunities to upgrade the MI position as the season goes on. In most leagues, you can always find a middle infielder with plenty at-bats on the waiver. This type of owner’s success will come down to finding that right skill sets to keep this team balanced.
A PAPS team will look to be strong in four offensive categories with speed being the weakest category. A Fantasy owner with this draft style would be happy to finish in the middle of the pack in steals. Many Fantasy owners feel they can find steals on the waiver wire. Their starting staff should be above average and saves also should be a strength.
It is important for this type of strategy to stay in the game in speed. At the same time, you can't commit to more than one Judy type base stealers (one-dimensional speed player) as you don't want to give away your power edge. Before 2017, power was on the decline which made it easier to own a pure base stealer with the right price point. The jump on home runs over the last couple of seasons will force a Fantasy owner to be more creative to reach their category goal in speed in 2019.
There are certain draft positions in each draft that favor this type of style. If you can land a rock-solid corner infielder with plus power and average in round one, you have an excellent base for your plan. If you start with a weaker player than expected, the road to success may be tougher. This type of Fantasy owner will be attracted to players with power while excepting some batting average risk later in the draft.
This type of owner gets in trouble when he adjusts his game plan early, and he leaves himself in uncharted territory. A PAPS owner needs to find speed from the middle infield position late while needing to hit on their backend catchers. If PAPS drafter fails to finish their offense late in the draft, they will fall short of their offensive target numbers within the draft requiring a high level of success on the waiver wire to deliver a winning season.
By doing this plan, a Fantasy owner will be shopping in different areas in some round later in the draft. Each year the player pool changes, and it is important to see the best players available in rounds 16-23. A team with this style may jump a pure base stealer if he feels he is running out of speed options.
This plan may have more success in individual leagues than an event with an overall prize. It may even have more value in a 12 team league where the inventory runs deeper at the key positions. I've seen this strategy win many times, and it is one I need to respect. If this is your style, you need to look at the ADPs to see if you need to adjust a couple of rounds of players to help you better execute this strategy.