What happens when you fill your UTIL spot too early?

By Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com

Never underestimate the power of mock drafts. Back in February, I caused a stir among the Fantasy staff when I selected both Edwin Encarnacion and Joey Votto with my first two picks in a roto draft. The move caused Adam Aizer to start referring to me as "Captain Chaos." In this sort of format, I didn't see the move as a big risk. Both players were the highest in my personal rankings, and I could use Votto at the CI spot. Plus, let's face it, this was a mock draft, and there would be no repercussions if my team was awful. That wasn't the case last week, when I utilized the exact same strategy in a real head-to-head draft.

The main disadvantage with taking both Encarnacion and Votto in this format is that one would have to fill my UTIL spot. There's a pretty big stigma attached to grabbing a UTIL player too early. Doing so means you're potentially missing out on drafting a player at a shallower position, and restricts your ability to improvise later in drafts. While I wound up being happy with my team overall, there were a few moments where I saw the benefit to waiting on a UTIL player.

I wasn't able to take advantage of players I thought dropped too low. After filling my outfield spots, I noticed both Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon were slipping in the draft. In a league where my UTIL was open, I would have pounced on either player and been happy. In this scenario, I had to watch them go to other owners at what I thought were highly discounted prices.

The other issue here was that I already had two first basemen. First is regarded as a fairly deep position, and I'm actually really high on later options, like Brandon Belt and Anthony Rizzo. This essentially took me out of the running for two players I really liked.

For the most part, Fantasy owners use first baseman or outfielders to fill their UTIL spot, and that's where I saw some issues with my approach. It prevented me from taking advantage of players who fell and sleeper targets I had at deep positions.

Despite that, I would do it again. I'm a firm believer in drafting the best player available early, and I'm happy I stuck to my guns. While there were moments of regret when I had to pass on Heyward and Rizzo, I realized I still had a superior player in my UTIL spot. The truth is, I may not have been willing to take this risk had I not attempted the same thing in a mock draft. You can test your mock draft strategies here.

There may not be as much use for mocks now that the regular season is quickly approaching, but I would highly recommend owners use them to test out unorthodox strategies. You never know when a real draft might force you to adapt to an unusual situation. By testing things during mocks, you'll be prepared for anything your league-mates throw at you.

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