Anatomy of a Draft: Head-to-Head

I went into each of my fantasy drafts this year confident that I could draft a quality team from any position, and that belief was challenged straightaway when my first draft had me positioned at the 10th place out of 10 teams. Because I always go into the draft room early I found out approximately 20 minutes before it began that I would be last. That’s what you should do as well so you’re as prepared as you can possibly be. Then I took those 20 minutes and I created a plan completely based around that 10th spot.

One great thing about being last in the draft is that you get two picks in a row, so if two top-tier players are available by the end of that first round you can grab both of them. If you pick somewhere in the middle (and definitely if you pick first) then that probably won’t be an option when the second round comes around.

So, what did I decide during those 20 minutes? I realized that basing my team around two top-tier pitchers was the way to go. Because I knew that Kershaw, Trout, Cabrera, Hernandez, Stanton, Goldschmidt, and Price would all be gone (and they were) it was either go with second-tier hitting talent or top-tier pitching talent. Top-tier pitching talent is hard to come by, so I decided to go all in. Here is how my first 10 picks of that draft ended up:

Round 1: Max Scherzer, SP (WAS)
Round 2: Chris Sale, SP (CHW)
Round 3: Zack Greinke, SP (LAD)
Round 4: Brian Dozier, 2B (MIN)
Round 5: Jered Weaver, SP (LAA)
Round 6: Albert Pujols, 1B (LAA)
Round 7: Trevor Rosenthal, RP (STL)
Round 8: Kyle Seager, 3B (SEA)
Round 9: Melky Cabrera, OF (CHW)
Round 10: Ben Zobrist, 2B, SS (OAK)

As you can see, I placed a premium on pitching, not only in those first two rounds, but in the ones that followed too, going with pitchers in rounds 3, 5, and 7 as well. Most of those decisions were based on what others did ahead of me in draft order, which shows once again why live drafts are so special, the ability to make adjustments. I didn’t think Greinke was going to be available when my spot came up in the third round, so I jumped on him even though I wanted to get a top-tier hitter instead. Luckily for me Dozier was available in round 4.

So, with my top 10 picks I got two top-tier pitchers (Scherzer, Sale), two second-tier pitchers (Greinke, Weaver), a solid first-baseman (Pujols), second-baseman (Dozier), third-baseman (Seager), and shortstop (Zobrist). In addition, I got Melky Cabrera for good value in the ninth round, so overall I was pleased with my draft, especially from the 10th position. Here is my final starting lineup for that team…

Catcher: Evan Gattis (12th round)
First Base: Albert Pujols (6th round)
Second Base: Brian Dozier (4th round)
Third Base: Kyle Seager (8th round)
Shortstop: Ben Zobrist (10th round)
Outfield: Melky Cabrera (9th round)
Outfield: Curtis Granderson (14th round)
Outfield: Mark Trumbo (15th round)
Utility: Lucas Duda (21st round)
Bench: Hunter Pence, Jayson Werth (starting the season on the DL)

Starting Pitcher 1: Max Scherzer
Starting Pitcher 2: Zack Greinke
Starting Pitcher 3: Jered Weaver
Starting Pitcher 4: Wily Peralta
Starting Pitcher 5: Kyle Lohse
Relief Pitcher 1: Trevor Rosenthal
Relief Pitcher 2: Huston Street
Bench: Chris Sale (should miss only two starts), Mike Minor, Homer Bailey

Positive: I was able to get several injured players lower in the draft because they’re injured right now, but most of them should be back before April is over and can positively impact my team when they return. Players like Pence, Werth, Sale (obviously), Minor, and Bailey should be well worth the wait.

Negative: Because I placed a premium on pitching my outfield suffered as a result. I couldn’t have both, so players like Duda, Trumbo, Granderson, and Cabrera were honestly piecemeal depending on when they fell in the draft. I’m hoping that my pitching can make the difference in close games, or that the outfielders I have step up and play more like they can instead of how they played last year.

Later today I’ll break down one of my rotisserie drafts so you you can see the similarities and differences.

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