Draft Strategy: Don't Sleep on Using Your Disabled List Spots in the Draft

Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Hunt reminds us that your disabled list spots can have a lot of value within your draft.

One of the questions asked during my oldest league's draft on Sunday night was a very simple one, and yet leads to a very unique piece of strategy. The question was very simple: How many disabled list spots are there in our league? Now obviously, this was a piece of information that is available in our settings, but that doesn't always make it easy to find in the midst of a draft. Knowing your roster spots and unique settings can afford you some unique drafting strategies, if you're paying attention at the time.

In the league in question, the answer to that question is 2 disabled list spots. The key to this information though is the fact that it is a keeper league where we keep 5 players each season, and they are kept a round ahead of where they were drafted, or as a last round option if they are picked up via free agency. As a result of this, you saw the following players taken that, at the time of the draft, were already expected to start the season on the disabled list:

Hanley Ramirez - 7th round (68th overall pick)
Jason Motte - 9th round (85th overall pick)
Curtis Granderson - 10th round (92nd overall pick)
Brian McCann - 16th round (155th overall pick)
Derek Jeter - 17th round (161st overall pick)
Andrew Cashner - 18th round (173rd overall pick)
Brandon Beachy - 19th round (186th overall pick)
Mark Teixeira - 20th round (193rd overall pick)
Alex Rodriguez - 21st round (202nd overall pick)

The Upside

The goal with this strategy is two-fold: First, you are getting a player that has been devalued as a result of both the time missed due to the injury as well as the risk of poor performance associated with them once they return from the disabled list. Second, you have also potentially added a very nice keeper value going forward at a point in your draft where you may be primarily looking for upside.

I personally drafted both McCann and Beachy for my own team, and if both return to form from their injuries, they will both be very nice values either to keep for myself this year or as a trade chip to a team for something else I may need. An added wrinkle for this league is the potential to pick up another player I may be interested in to fill their empty roster spots, who would have a last round keeper value as well.

The Downside

Well, in this particular league I am already seeing the biggest issue come up. I have locked myself into two different disabled list spots, one for McCann and one for Beachy. McCann is anticipated to be back sometime in May most likely, but Beachy will be out for most of the season. Looking at the rest of my roster, since the draft it has been announced that Brett Lawrie will start the season on the disabled list. Clearly, with two players already taking up my two disabled list spots, I have to leave him on the bench, or drop one of the other two players to allow me use of that roster spot. I have the flexibility within my roster to deal with this, but in this particular league (head-to-head), I could really use that spot for another streaming starting pitcher spot.

A New Wrinkle for Yahoo Players

Something that came to my attention for Yahoo players specifically is that they have added an option for commissioners to add "NA" roster spots to their leagues. These roster positions can only hold players who are not on major league rosters, specifically players not on 25-man rosters currently. It is possible, as a result, to potentially stash prospects that might appear during the season (like Trevor Bauer or Tyler Skaggs), without costing yourself a complete roster spot. It's more of an item of food for thought than anything, but something to be aware of.

Overall, this may not help you all that much in some leagues, but is another spot for you to potentially stash value or game the system to a small extent. Taking even these little slight improvements can make that last little bit of difference between a championship and a second place finish.

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