Draft Review: Head-to-Head

Jean-SeguraSome of my favorite leagues are head-to-head because you don’t have to be the most consistent throughout the year like you do in rotisserie. There really is no huge bonus for having closers, and in any given week if you have a couple of hot players it could make the difference. Head-to-head formats also feature playoffs, which are always interesting as well. What does this mean for you come draft day? Well, the most important thing for you is deciding on the best offensive player in round one to base your team around. And it all comes down to your draft position.

In one of my leagues where we drafted this week there are 10 teams and I drafted third. That means I had my choice of a really good offensive player to anchor my lineup. Luckily for me, the two teams ahead of me chose pitchers (Clayton Kershaw, and Adam Wainwright), so I had my pick of anyone. With that third pick I chose the best offensive player in the league, in my opinion — Mike Trout from the L.A. Angels. I think he will have an MVP year this season, and I have absolutely no regrets on building my team around him. It’s from there that it got tricky. Here is how my first 16 draft rounds went…

Player Position
Round 1:  Mike Trout  OUTFIELD
Round 2:  Madison Bumgarner  STARTING PITCHER
Round 3:  Julio Teheran  STARTING PITCHER
Round 4:  Patrick Corbin  STARTING PITCHER
Round 5:  Greg Holland  RELIEF PITCHER
Round 6:  Sonny Gray  STARTING PITCHER
Round 7:  Kris Medlen  STARTING PITCHER
Round 8:  Matt Holliday  OUTFIELD
Round 9:  Jason Kipnis  SECOND BASE
Round 10:  Jason Heyward  OUTFIELD
Round 11:  Shane Victorino  OUTFIELD
Round 12:  Ryan Zimmerman  THIRD BASE
Round 13:  Jean Segura  SHORTSTOP
Round 14:  Jose Abreu  FIRST BASE
Round 15:  Nate Jones  RELIEF PITCHER
Round 16:  Brian McCann  CATCHER

As you can tell, after setting the tone with the offensive player, my focus shifted majorly to pitching. While pitching is secondary in head-to-head it shouldn’t be overlooked, and in this draft it was imperative to go early and often with pitchers for the simple reason that everyone else in the league was going pitcher-crazy. This is why you make adjustments, and the reason I told you before that live drafts are important vs. automated drafts. This way you can adjust. Since so many first-rate pitchers were flying off the board, I had to grab as many as I could early. That’s the glory of that live draft.

And here is my final team:

Player Team
Catcher  Brian McCann  Yankees
First Base  Jose Abreu  White Sox
Second Base  Jason Kipnis  Indians
Third Base  Ryan Zimmerman  Nationals
Shortstop  Jean Segura  Brewers
Outfield1  Jason Heyward  Braves
Outfield2  Matt Holliday  Cardinals
Outfield3  Mike Trout  Angels
Utility  Everth Cabrera  Padres
Pitcher1  Madison Bumgarner  Giants
Pitcher2  Patrick Corbin  Diamondbacks
Pitcher3  Sonny Gray  A’s
Pitcher4  Kris Medlen  Braves
Pitcher5  Julio Teheran  Braves
Relief Pitcher1  Neftali Feliz  Rangers
Relief Pitcher2  Greg Holland  Royals

Admittedly, I’m taking a chance on Feliz, hoping he returns to form as the closer for the Rangers, but I actually picked him up after the draft so he could be the steal of the season if he pans out and does return to form. I pieced together my infield, too, after solidifying a dynamic outfield, with bits and pieces I found that fit. I really like Zimmerman at third as a sleeper, and I think Segura’s first half last year was the real Segura going forward.

But that’s the glory of head-to-head. I don’t have to have the most complete team from top to bottom. I just need to be able to mix and match when needed, and I think my pitching staff accomplishes that. They’re not all the big names, but they are an eclectic mix that I think will be consistent enough to keep me competitive, if not an outright leader, in this league.

Just keep this in mind when drafting in a head-to-head league: always be able and ready to adjust to get yourself complementary players who give you the best chance to win. Don’t just go for the “name” guys. It can really hurt you in the long run. Happy drafting!

The Fantasy Ace

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