If you listened to the most recent episode of FanRag Fantasy Baseball, you know that I am looking to shake up the way I manage my fantasy teams in 2018, and how I offer analysis based on what I learn from my own teams. I started realizing that I have not tested some of my basic assumptions about how to best assemble and manage a team, and that realization blossomed into the following full-blown New Year’s Resolution.
I am taking myself off autopilot.
What this means in practice is that I’ll be questioning many of the guiding principles I have used in making decisions relating to my fantasy teams. That said, I don’t think I’ll be straying from my most fundamental core principle: to find surplus value with every draft pick, bid or transaction. If I dig just a little bit beyond this principle, I see that the means I’ve been using to get to this end may not be the best ones.
The first assumption up for closer inspection is that my rankings have to be driven by my projections. To be clear, when I have done projections — which is most years since 2011 — they haven’t determined my rankings, but they have been the most influential factor. Yet there is often not much that separates certain groupings of players within my rankings, and the difference can often be traced to a subjective call on something like how much weight to devote to changes in a player’s batted ball profile or contact rate.
That means, particularly in the earlier rounds, tiers should take on added importance. Like many owners, I have put a premium on targeting players in tiers that were on the verge of emptying out during a draft, but there may be a more time-efficient way to arrive at them than the process I have been using for the better part of a decade. For the later rounds, I have relied on sleeper lists for finding surplus value, and in turn, I have relied on my projections to help generate those lists.
There are probably quicker ways of producing tiers and sleeper lists without sacrificing quality, but that doesn’t mean the process of creating projections is without value. It is how I have usually unearthed interesting trends that I missed out on during the previous season. For example, if I hadn’t worked on a projection for C.J. Cron, I wouldn’t have realized that he got aggressive and pull-heavy in the second half or that he posted a .244 Iso during that time. It remains to be seen how Shohei Ohtani will affect his playing time in 2018, or if he will even carry this approach at the plate over to the new season, but at least now I have the choice of what to do with this information.
Not everyone has the luxury of spending weeks or months on projections, but everyone can benefit from well-researched tiers and sleeper picks. In the coming weeks, I’ll be looking for ways to fine-tune these processes. At the other end, not only will I have identified key players to target in 2018, but I hope to also be able to outline a process that owners can use to identify potential targets in-season and in future years’ drafts.
Check out the latest show episode, with a discussion of my Fantasy New Year’s Resolution, along with a sampling of some listeners’ guiding principles, just below. I would also like to hear what your Fantasy New Year’s Resolutions are, either in the comments below, or on Twitter (@almelchiorBB).