Unorthodox draft strategies: An introduction

by on March 19, 2010 @ 00:00:00 PDT


For many Rotisserie leaguers, their D-Day strategy is to come out of the draft alive and intact. They tend to draft balanced teams, knowingly or unknowingly, just due to the laws of probability. They'll land a few power hitters, a few speedsters, a rotation ace and a closer. They'll have a few $30 players and a bunch of $1 end-gamers. They might even have tucked away one hometown favorite, just to make reading the boxscores more fun.

And the focus is purely on themselves.

But a Rotisserie draft is a group event, and one of the most interesting draft table activities is to monitor the dynamics of your competitors. Can you figure out their goals? Do you know what types of players they like to target? And the most important question of all... is there anything you can do to toss them a curveball?

One of the best ways to gain an edge on the other owners in your league is to go into your draft with a strategy that has the potential to shift the balance of power at the table.

If you employ the right strategy, you can gain a dual benefit - you can assemble a team that optimizes your own investment, plus you can control the draft by forcing other owners to react to the things you do. Those owners that are easily rattled will start shifting into desperation mode. Those that can maintain composure will either ignore what you're doing or be forced to adjust their own strategies. Either option puts them at a disadvantage.

Probably the most notorious display of draft control was in the 1996 LABR national experts league. Larry Labadini took everyone by surprise by rapidly filling his offensive roster with $20 and $30 players. By the time the other owners realized that he was going to draft a $9 pitching staff, the balance of value had shifted. Offensive players became highly sought after while pitchers became devalued. Owners that were able to adjust their bid limits survived. Many did not.

And Larry traded his way to a 4th place finish, just 6 points from the title.

Some of the strategies are a bit unorthodox, and others you might find yourself falling into without even trying. They all can work given the right draft table dynamics. But if you are in a league that trades freely, these strategies do not have to work to perfection - all they have to do is throw that curveball.

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Ron Shandler began publishing statistical reports for baseball analysts and fantasy leaguers in 1986. Since then, his enterprise has grown into one of the largest information providers in the industry, producing quality products continuously and over a longer period than any other fantasy baseball company.

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