This past Saturday 390 Fantasy Baseball players converged on 4 cities (Las Vegas, New York, Chicago and Orlando) to simultaneously draft their teams for this years upcoming National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Players compete individually within their 15 team leagues and then compete for the Grand Prize of $100,000 against the other 389 entrants.
This was my first year participating in the Main Event, and I would be drafting here in my hometown of Manhattan at the ballroom of the Sheraton on 52nd St. That's right, home cooking before the big event. Needless to say the biggest challenge was tempering my excitement and getting a good night sleep on Friday.
My preparation for this year began early in December, when I was chosen to participate in a Champions Draft for Fantasy Sports magazine. Since then I had also done a 30 rd slow draft, a 20 team mixed league draft and a final NFBC Satellite league on March 14th. I knew the player pool, knew who I was targeting and had constructed for myself a fairly elaborate draft tool/sheet to take in with me.
My sheet had a section devoted to Player Rankings, with Tiers and $ values. Next to that was a list I created which I called my ADP/Position Scarcity Report. Here I again ranked players at various positions, but also incorporated the most recent ADP data available to NFBC drafters. The goal of this list in unison with my Rankings list would be to help me gauge and exploit pockets of value throughout my draft. In the upper section of my sheet I had an up to date Depth Chart for all MLB teams next to a Roster Tracker for the 15 teams in my league.
In addition to my sheet I had 1 magazine, Rotowire's, for quick look ups of any players I needed to do some quick research on. I chose this mag, because it listed it's player write-ups in alphabetical order, a must for quick searching. Also, they had previews of 1,500 players - more than just about any magazine in the marketplace.
I also had another chart, which broke the draft down into 5 sections, looking at 6 rds at a time. Here I listed players using the ADP data available, with color codes to help me at a glance identify which positions might be more heavily targeted at certain points. It would also help me identify certain players that were rising and falling in relation to their pre-draft ADP's. Lastly, I had a clipboard, with my own personal Roster Worksheet. After picking a player, you enter his name and projections and work toward you pre draft goals/targets in the 5x5 categories.
I arrived early, and entered the draft room. We were in the ballroom at the Sheraton and the room was already buzzing with excitement. Eight leagues would be drafting here in NY, with another 18 happening simultaneously in the other 3 cities. Las Vegas had the largest room, with 11 teams I believe, Chicago had 4 leagues, Orlando 2 and the NFBC even added 1 Online league this year to the Main Event. Everything was very well organized and our New York coordinator Tom Kessinich had everything under control. I found my U-shaped draft table, and took my spot at #8, smack dab in the middle. I introduced myself to the guys sitting to my right and left and proceeded to unpack my stuff and lay it all out. Needless to say, my elaborate set-up garnered more than a few looks from my league mates. Just as planned. Yes I was new to the competition, but I was ready to rumble! I had made the decision early on to forgo my laptop, mainly because the NFBC doesn't allow plug-ins. But, I was still surprised that I didn't see more computers. It would seem that the NFBC has more Old-school pen and paper guys than I was anticipating.
Okay, everything was ready to go. I started going over my strategy and somewhat scripted attack plan for the first few rounds. At #8, I had a good idea of who would be available to me and that initial pick would go a long way to determining who I chose in the next few rds. In my mind my choices would be Jimmy Rollins, Mark Teixeira and Ian Kinsler. There are many different plans of attack in the NFBC - and where you pick in the first rd helps narrow it down.
My goal was to draft 5 category guys with my first 3 picks. So for my plan, Teixeira was out. That left Rollins and Kinsler. SS and 2B. I really liked them both. They both brought power and speed to the table at scarce positions. Kinsler slightly more power and Rollins more speed.
For me the deciding factor was reliability and injury risk. Who was more reliable and less of an injury risk. That led me to stick to my pre-draft plan and select Jimmy Rollins as my first pick in this years draft. Now I'd just have to get the rest of the guys I wanted to make it all work.