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Must Read Draft Day Tips
Written by Randy Marquis

On draft day, you need to be the man (or woman) with a plan. You need to rank players, both overall and by position. You need to scour the trade publications and websites for nuggets about up-and-coming rookies and down-and-out former stars. You need to load up on the carbs and be prepared for the marathon that is your league's draft day...

..and then you need to be prepared to scrap it all and improvise.

OK, maybe not "scrap it all," but before we plunge into this week's Fly 5, remember that the most important tip for a successful draft day is to pay attention to what your fellow owners are doing. If you're so caught up in your charts and magazines that you miss Chase Utley dropping into the second round...or the owner before you stocking up at catcher but neglecting the gaping hole he has at third base...or your buddy Joe having his fourth beer before round'll miss out on the handful of opportunities where the right decision will be the difference between a Yoohoo shower and drowning your sorrows in Ovaltine.

Without further ado, this week's Fly 5, Draft Day Tips edition...

1. Go for value. The favorite word of everyone from Mel Kiper to Bill Belichick on draft day is "value," perhaps followed a close second by "upside." What is value? It's the contributions of a player relative to the round they were drafted. In other words, Matt Kemp has greater value if you got him with your third round pick than with your second. Why? Because you presumably were able to nab an even better player in round two. The moral is, no matter how much you might think of Lastings Milledge, don't go off the charts and spend a sixth round pick on him. He might ultimately give you third round production, but your team will be better if the price was an eighth or ninth round pick.

2. Know your enemy. I play in a few different leagues, some with a bunch of buddies and some with perfect strangers in a public format. When you're playing with friends, remember their likes, dislikes and tendencies. If everyone is from the New England area, you can bet a significant number of your fellow owners will be Red Sox fans. That means two things: first, if you really want Dustin Pedroia or Jonathan Papelbon, you'll probably have to reach to get him. Second, many owners will loathe the idea of a Yankee on their roster and you can probably snatch up a Robinson Cano or Johnny Damon a lot later than you otherwise would expect...even if it makes your own stomach clench. While not all owners will have those obvious biases, they will undoubtedly have some, so don't be afraid to play to them where you can.

3. Always think at least one pick ahead. Most drafts follow the serpentine process whereby the owner who picks 1st in the first round picks last in the 2nd round and so forth. That means that usually there will be more or fewer owners picking between your picks depending on the round. As the draft progresses and your choices get tougher, you'll want to notice who stands between you and your next pick. For example, let's say you're in the eighth round and you're torn between grabbing Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit and shoring up your SS slot with JJ Hardy. Between you and your ninth round pick are four teams and all have viable starting catchers in Victor Martinez, Russell Martin, Geovany Soto and Brian McCann, but only one has filled their SS slot with someone better than Hardy. In other words, you've got a better chance to nab Doumit in the ninth round than Hardy, so you might take Hardy now and hope Doumit is there for the taking on your next turn.

4. Beware of drafting for "need." As your roster takes shape, you may find yourself spotting categories where you're lacking stat fillers. Some of the worst draft day decision are usually made when you decide you "have" to take the best base stealer left or because you reach for Brian Wilson three rounds too early because you need the saves. Remember, championship trophies are not handed out immediately post-draft. You'll have six months to patch those holes with free agents and shrewd trades.

5. Save the risky business for the end of the draft. My last couple of picks are almost always guys with a lot of upside that I think could pay off huge. Some years it works (Josh Willingham), some years it doesn't (JR Towles). But no matter how highly you think of a rookie or a veteran returning from injury, you don't want to find yourself counting on a high level of production. By filling out your roster with as many sure things as possible in the early rounds, you can take a couple risks towards the end, knowing that you can always drop them and pick up someone else if they don't live up to your lofty expectations.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 March 2009 19:12 )