Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: How to construct your roster, find values in auction drafts

Fantasy Alarm's Matthew Selz explains the best strategy for allocating your budget, constructing your roster, and finding values in fantasy baseball auction drafts.

Ever sit down at a poker table and think to yourself, "I’m gonna blow my whole stack on the first few hands?"Of course not. Why would you? Same goes for an fantasy baseball auction drafts. Making sure to have enough money to successfully fill a roster can be trickier than you think, but lucky for you, I’m here to give you advice for a winning strategy.

When figuring out just how much to spend on each side of the ball,I prefer a 65-35 breakdown between hitting and pitching. That may change during the draft depending on what I see happening on the board, but I never go higher than 35 percenton pitching. Keep in mind these splits revolve around a $260 budget in a standard league.

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Fantasy baseball draft strategy: Auction tips

Why a 65-35 split and not a more balanced approach? Simple. Hitters perform, pitchers get hurt. Yes, I hear you out there saying, “Well, hitters get hurt, too,” but not at the rate or for the length of time pitchers do. Based on 2016 figures, 57 players spent at least 180 days on the DL, but only 13 of those where hitters. Point made? So, spending a large portion of funds on pitching simply doesn’t make any sense if it's only going to go up in smoke --or elbow surgeries.

With $170 in hand for hitting and $90 in hand for pitching, we have to figure out which players get that money.

Position and category scarcity can help us figure this out.

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL RANKINGS:
Catcher|First|Second|Third|Shortstop|Outfield|Starter|Closer| Prospects

In layman’s terms, position scarcity is the notion that certain positions are not as stacked with talent as others. Middle infield, for example, is flush with five-category producers this year whereas first base is more lacking in production the further down the positional depth chart you go.

Category scarcity involves knowing which stats will be harder to find during the auction. For example, there were just 28 players in the majors with 20 or more stolen bases last year. That’s it. So, paying up for speed will take a larger chunk of the budget as opposed to getting power, which is an easy commodity to find. Budget for that.

Landing an ace for the pitching staff is important, but in a 12-team league, that can be done fairly easily. However, filling out the rest of the staff with worthy pitchers is a tougher task than it may initiallyseem. Putting between $25-$30 on the table for a top-of-the-rotation pitcher is wise and should leave more than enough to get upside starters the rest of the way.

On the other hand, please, whatever you do, wait on closers. Names like Alex Colome, Cody Allen, David Robertson, Sam Dyson, Kelvin Herrera, A.J. Ramos, and Jeurys Familia sit in spots 12-18 in my closer rankings. All of them are very good options but don’t have to be reached for like KenleyJansen, Zach Britton, and Aroldis Chapman. For that matter, waiting on a catcher, or two if need be, is also a useful and almost necessary strategy in an auction format. There is no need to pay high prices for the top two or three catchers considering that same money could be spent on a more valuable corner infield or outfield bat.

MORE: Auction strategy, Part II| 2017 Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide

Fantasy baseball auction values

Not to add more to your already-filling plate, but position flexibility is a must.

Your best friend during a draft is a multi-position qualifier. I'm talking about guyswho can play in at least three spots. Javier Baez, for example, qualifies at second, third, and short (plus MI and CI, of course). That’s great flexibility. Getting one of those guys will cost more, but you will be happy you paid up for them when injuries and roster moves occur that leave you in a lurch.

Aside from the multi-position guys, players who help in unexpected categories give you flexibility, too. Marlins' catcher J.T. Realmuto is a great example of this, as he can get you 10-15 stealsto go along with 15 or so homers. Who gets steals from a catcher? You do. Getting those steals means you can save money elsewhere by not having to get that speedy outfield type and simply get a solid contributor to round out the roster.

Every year we hear the term late-round or late-draft value with regard to certain players, but that definition has to change based on the league format.

Drafting for a league that allows keepers must change your strategy for value picks. You need to be more mindful of value pickups that may not be for this year but for the next couple. Ryan Dull is a good example here. He is slated to be the setup man in Oakland behind closer Ryan Madson, but he looks to be the closer of the future there. Picking him up cheap this year, say for a dollar, or perhaps in the bench rounds after the auction, gives you that cheap closer everyone will be jealous of the next few years.

Do your scouting/ research here. Three years ago I was able to pick up both Addison Russell (when he was still an A’s prospect) and Noah Syndergaard in the bench rounds of the draft. Now those two are returning more than triple their value this season.That’s free money for me to use at the draft this season. Why wouldn’t you want to be in that spot?

Between dividing the budget appropriately, paying mind to scarcity in positions and categories, and getting those sneaky players, you should be set strategy-wise for your auction.

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