Fake Teams Official H2H League Draft: Initial Thoughts

USA TODAY Sports

Brian Creagh offers a quick recap of the Fake Teams H2H League Draft and how to react when your strategy is tested.

Wednesday night, Alex and I hosted the Official Fake Teams H2H Points League draft and spent 2.5 hours matching wits with 12 other readers of the site. I had a blast as not only was it my first official draft of the season, but I'll be defending my title this year as I transition from a reader to a writer position. We had girlfriends making picks for managers at work, talk of how our colleague Craig Goldstein is handling his new found stardom, and even managed to discover a curse to rival those of the Great Bambino and Billy Goat. I know you all come here to read about other people's fantasy leagues and the banter that you aren't apart of, but let's see if I can come up with some actionable information for you all to digest.

Here are the league settings we used:

Offense

Points

Pitching

Points

Runs (R)

1

Innings Pitched (IP)

3

Runs Batted In (RBI)

1

Wins (W)

5

Stolen Bases (SB)

1

Losses (L)

-5

Walks (BB)

1

Saves (SV)

5

Strikeouts (K)

-1

Hits (H)

-1

Total Bases (TB)

1

Earned Runs (ER)

-2

Walks (BB)

-1

Strikeouts (K)

1

My first observation was that Pitchers were not only slightly favored, but had a wide range of outcomes. A great line if 7 IP, 1 ER, 6K's, 6 H's, 2 BB's, 1 W would result in 22 points while a dud line of 5 IP, 5 ER, 4 K's, 8 H's, 2 BB's, 1 L would net (-6) points. Compare this to hitters where the absolute worst you can get is an 0-4 with 4 K's which gets only (-4) points and likely will never happen more than once in a week. You start to see how not only can pitchers earn you a lot more in a given week, but they can kill a week. To validate my initial thoughts, I looked at the 2012 results and found the following information: The Top 2 scorers in this format were pitchers, and 8 of the Top 10 scorers were pitchers - and this in a season where we saw a historically great performance on offense and nothing quite as comparable on the pitching side. With this information in hand, I had my strategy: Attack pitching early, often and load up my bench with SP's in order to optimize match-ups as the season progresses. I also hoped to avoid hitters with high K% as that is the only way to lose points, and I was hoping to minimize my downside risk, likely at the expensive of my upside potential.

I prayed for a late pick in the 1st Round. It set up so well with my strategy. I could grab Kershaw and Strasburg (assuming no one else was on to my strategy) and dominate every week. Of course, Yahoo's randomization process had different plans and saddled me with the 2nd Overall Pick. Now, not only would I miss out on Strasburg, Verlander, and King Felix in Round 2, but dedication to my strategy was going to be tested as I would have to select Clayton Kershaw on pick 1.2. As one of the new guys on the staff here at Fake Teams, I feel I have a duty to look smart, especially in a draft room. Surely selecting Kershaw with the 2nd Overall Pick runs counter-intuitive to that notion. As Ryan Braun went off the board at 1.1, I decided if I was going to go down, I was going to do it riding the strategy and research I put in to my preparation....and so up on the draft board went Clayton Kershaw. Then Cole Hamels in Round 2, and Mat Latos in Round 4. I stuck with my strategy the entire draft and here is what resulted:

1.

(2)

Clayton Kershaw(LAD - SP)

2.

(27)

Cole Hamels(Phi - SP)

3.

(30)

Hanley Ramírez(LAD - 3B,SS)

4.

(55)

Mat Latos(Cin - SP)

5.

(58)

Anthony Rizzo(ChC - 1B)

6.

(83)

Alex Gordon(KC - OF)

7.

(86)

B.J. Upton(Atl - OF)

8.

(111)

Jon Lester(Bos - SP)

9.

(114)

Nick Markakis(Bal - OF)

10.

(139)

Ángel Pagán(SF - OF)

11.

(142)

Alcides Escobar(KC - SS)

12.

(167)

Neil Walker(Pit - 2B)

13.

(170)

Trevor Cahill(Ari - SP)

14.

(195)

Brian McCann(Atl - C)

15.

(198)

Yonder Alonso(SD - 1B)

16.

(223)

Glen Perkins(Min - RP)

17.

(226)

Dustin Ackley(Sea - 1B,2B)

18.

(251)

Wandy Rodríguez(Pit - SP)

19.

(254)

Brandon Belt(SF - 1B)

20.

(279)

Ernesto Frieri(LAA - RP)

21.

(282)

Jeff Niemann(TB - SP)

22.

(307)

Chris Tillman(Bal - SP)

23.

(310)

Zach McAllister(Cle - SP)

24.

(335)

Patrick Corbin(Ari - SP,RP)

25.

(338)

Chad Billingsley(LAD - SP)

Overall, I came away pretty pleased. I reached for a couple of guys (Rizzo, Markakis, and Latos mostly), but with this strategy I couldn't afford to wait for some guys to fall in to a better value range. My rankings gave a distinct advantage to pitchers and it would've taken until about Round 12 until I felt I was getting appropriate value for a hitter, so I felt I had to reach some times to get a guy I thought played well for this format.

Outside of B.J. Upton who fell incredibly late at pick 86, my offense is set with guys who should provide a K% below 20%. I love my top 4 of Kershaw, Hamels, Latos, and Lester, and I should be tough to beat on weeks these guys get two starts.

The draft was an awesome experience and the 12 managers last night representing the readers of this site, did an incredible job. I was begging someone to take Adam Dunn off the draft board so I could stop looking at him and he still fell to pick 312, probably still too early in a league of this format. Alex and I will offer a more in-depth analysis of the draft on Friday and in to the weekend as well as regular updates throughout the season. We'll look at the best and worst picks of the draft and give you some valuable insight in to where players are going in drafts and how to evaluate rosters post-draft to see what moves need to be made going forward.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@BrianCreagh)

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