Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Finding values with 'Hotspot Drafting'

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Now that you have your player projections in hand (such as the ATC Projections) along with their calculated auction values, it is time to start preparing for your drafts. In my previous article, I introduced a very useful tool to help you in snake drafts -- Replacement Level Drafting (RLD).

Now I will introduce a strategy/planning exercise good for both snake drafts and auctions. I call this method Hotspot Drafting.

Hotspot drafting is a preparation exercise that will strongly prepare you for battle at the Fantasy table. There are three basic steps:

  1. Get your auction values / draft rankings
  2. Get the market values – ADP/AAV
  3. Find the Hotspots!

Step 1 has already been covered in my previous articles (here and here).

For step 2 -- get the Market Values -- we are looking to download either:

  • The current Average Draft Position (ADP) for serpentine drafts.
  • The current Average Auction Values (AAV) for auctions.

ADPs/AAVs can be obtained from sources such as the CBS Average Draft Position (ADP).

Assembling information about where everyone else (AKA, "the market") is drafting players is extremely valuable for draft preparation. Comparing both lists (from Step 1 & Step 2) will help you find the players who are undervalued. These are the players our projections view as more valuable than what the market is willing to pay. (For drafts, it is when our projections tell us to draft a player earlier than the round in which the market is currently drafting them.)

Simply knowing which players are undervalued isn't enough. Our projections, for instance, may find that outfielder David Peralta should come at a discounted cost. But if another team is still willing to pay more for him than you are, you won't be acquiring him. If another team drafts Peralta five spots ahead of your turn, you will miss out on drafting him! We need a more methodical way to prepare our undervalued players.

That is where Step 3 comes in – Find the Hotspots.

First, let's define the term.

A hotspot is a group of players who are similarly valued by the market, where each player is a potential bargain (an undervalued player) AND either:

  • All play the same position (Example: All are third basemen)
  • All have a similar base of projected statistics (Example: All are projected for 20 homers and five steals).

Let's illustrate an example of each:

Same Postion

Below I have found a hotspot for second basemen:

Name

Position

CBS ADP

Value Rank

Diff

Rougned Odor

2B

129

68

59

Robinson Cano

2B

138

118

16

Brian Dozier

2B

142

123

15

All three are players whose value rank (using my valuation method shown here) for a 12 team rotisserie league is higher than the current CBS ADP. All three second baseman are undervalued and should be available close to rounds 11-12.

There may be an owner who loves Cano. There may be an owner who loves Dozier. Perhaps one owner is willing to draft Odor earlier than Round 11, etc.

However, the likelihood that all three players will be selected early in the same draft is low. In other words, the likelihood that at least one of the three players will be available to you (at market pricing) is high.

When planning your second base position, you can pencil in an 11th/12th round selection at 2B. You can bank on rostering one of the three.

Similar Projected Statistics

CBS Name

Position

HR

SB

AAV

Auction Value

$ Diff

Jorge Polanco

SS

16

12

2

5

3

Chris Taylor

SS

18

12

4

8

4

Andrelton Simmons

SS

12

12

4

8

4

Joey Wendle

2B

10

16

4

8

4

Above is another hotspot, this time, in an auction context. For the example above, I use calculated 12-team rotisserie auction dollars and compare them to average auction dollars (AAV). The AAVs come from the NFBC (National Fantasy Baseball Championship) website and are adjusted to be comparable to the format of our auction prices.

The hotspot is made up of the four players:

Polanco, Taylor, Simmons, Wendle

(Yes, three of the players in this hotspot play shortstop. This was merely by coincidence. The three shortstops could have also been part of their own SS hotspot)

From a statistical standpoint, all the players above are projected to hit approximately mid-teens homers, and collect mid-teens stolen bases. If our market pricing information is correct, the quartet can all be bought for roughly $2-4 at the auction table.

If you are looking to acquire a player with about 12-13 HR & 12-13 SB at this point in the auction, you may initially allocate $3 to this roster slot. With high probability, you can be assured to purchase one of these players, with these statistics, for just $2-4.

Had you targeted any one specific player on the above, you may or may not have been able to buy him at a discounted cost. However, because these hotspots are groups of interchangeable players, there is a high probability that at least ONE player from the hotspot will be available at a bargain (Auction = at an undervalued cost; Draft = at a later round than valued).

Summary:

Hotspot Drafting is a great strategy and planning exercise.

First, it aids in draft preparation. Find the undervalued players and plan to draft certain positions (or acquire specific statistics) at a certain cost. Create a specific strategy to tackle the night.

For example, you can plan to draft lots of stolen bases in a round where you find a 20 SB hotspot. Or, you can gauge the appropriate budget for an undervalued catcher, etc.

Second, hotspots ensure a profit for each roster slot. Not only are you planning ahead, you are intentionally baking in a margin into each player slot acquired by this method. Each hotspot can afford you a multi-round profit. The more hotspots you can find, the more expected profit you can plan for.

Hotspot drafting lets you better build a blueprint for a disciplined draft.

So which Fantasy Baseball sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued pitchers can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Baseball rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Scooter Gennett's huge breakout last season, and find out.

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