Ah, the points league. If there's any format where it still makes sense to load up at starting pitcher after last year's misdirect, it's this one.
To some degree, that's always been true. The format is more forgiving of starting pitchers since it rewards volume over efficiency. It also puts less strain on the hitter pool, both because there are only nine lineup spots to fill and because there's no balancing act to perform between the various hitter contributions. All production goes into the same bucket, so you just want the most of it, whatever "it" happens to be.
Moreover, the size of the league matters. When there are 12 teams and 21-man rosters, which translates to only 252 players being drafted, the waiver wire abounds in quality replacement options. It means you can take a more radical approach that fully appreciates the difference between assets and redundancies. By that, I mean it's OK to overstock your roster in some areas while understocking it in others.
The most obvious area to overstock is, of course, starting pitcher. While the position has more potential for impact in this format, it still suffers from the same volatility as in any other, which means you can't expect all of your picks to pan out. Even if you wind up with five quality options (enough to fill out a lineup), you'll want to swap them out according to matchups and two-start status. Most teams in this format devote most of their bench spots to starting pitchers precisely for that reason.
You'll also want to overstock your roster with upside plays, whether at pitcher or hitter. In a league this shallow, the team that distinguishes itself is the one that maximizes the impact of every lineup spot. So particularly in the later rounds of the draft, when the "safe" plays aren't so different from whatever you'd expect to find on the waiver wire, you need to go big or go home. Don't fixate on injury risk (Luke Voit), playing-time concerns (Marcell Ozuna) or fears of a decline (Kyle Hendricks). If there's reason to believe a player could be more than just serviceable, he's the one you want. "Serviceable" will be available for free later.
That's especially true for the outfield, which makes it the position I'm most inclined to understock. Only 36 outfielders are needed between the 12 teams, and again, you're not looking for them to meet specific category needs. They just need to produce in some form or fashion. Maybe a couple dozen have the sort of upside worth paying up for, but the idea that we're going to nail down the right 36 on Draft Day, considering the vastness of the position, is laughable. It's not at all uncommon for my entire outfield to consist of waiver wire pickups due to sheer excess and interchangeability. If you're the vigilant sort, you can invest nothing in your outfield on Draft Day and still eventually settle on one that can more than hold its own.
That's the basic script I followed in this draft -- going heavy on starting pitchers and light on outfielders while loading up on late-round upside in anticipation of a bountiful waiver wire -- though I'll admit I may have taken it too far. Building an outfield on the fly feels riskier when you've also gone the bargain-basement route at third base, as I did by settling for Eduardo Escobar with my last pick.
I got a little panicky about my starting pitcher situation in Rounds 6-9, which led to me taking Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, Clayton Kershaw and Pablo Lopez in succession. I would have been served taking Alex Bregman in Round 6 and maybe also an outfielder with one of those picks -- say, J.D. Martinez in Round 8. Then again, I'd be putting more pressure on Zack Greinke or Hendricks to bounce back in that scenario. I do think they've been written off prematurely after one down year -- each has been regarded as a top-20 type for basically his entire career up to this point -- but I'd rather not stake my season on the idea.
Bottom line is that I'd rather overdo it than underdo it at starting pitcher in a format where so few hitters are rostered, with so little to distinguish between half of the ones who are.
Here's who all took part in this draft:
1) Micah Henry, New Life Fantasy (@FantasyCentral1)
2) B_Don, Razzball (@RazzBDon)
3) George Kurtz, Sportsgrid (@GeorgeKurtz)
4) Jason Boudrow, Lineup Legends (@lineup_legends)
5) malamoney, Razzball (@malamoney)
6) Phil Ponebshek, Patton & Company
7) Frank Stampfl, CBS Sports (@Roto_Frank)
8) R.J. White, CBS Sports (@rjwhite1)
9) Kayla Walz, former Podcast League participant
10) Tim Kanak, Fantasy Aceball (@fantasyaceball)
11) Scott White, CBS Sports (@CBSScottWhite)
12) Chris Mitchell, FantasyData (@CJMitch73)
A couple more observations before we get into the full results:
- Reigning NL Cy Young Corbin Burnes was the first overall pick, which I believe is a first for our mocks, regardless of format. Gerrit Cole is still the consensus No. 1 starting pitcher this year. Personally, I'd take both Juan Soto and Vladimir Guerrero ahead of any pitcher even in this format.
- This draft was also the rare sort in which Pete Alonso went ahead of Matt Olson. The two are practically interchangeable in my eyes, but it's worth noting Olson was the No. 2 first baseman in this format last year, ahead of even Freddie Freeman.
- Marcus Semien, one of my bust picks for this season, lasted to late in Round 5, so I went ahead and took him. It generally pays to embrace value even when it conflicts with your biases.
- The top two closers, Josh Hader and Liam Hendriks, lasted to the end of Round 6. They generally go in Round 4 in Rotisserie leagues, where the demand for saves is higher.
- Starting pitchers with relief pitcher eligibility are a hot commodity in this format, given the premium placed on volume. Among those taken in this draft were Ranger Suarez (Round 9), Luis Severino (12), Michael Kopech (12), Cal Quantrill (14) and Aaron Ashby (14).