It's my favorite time of the year. The time where I could be coming up with new material, but instead I recycle an article that I've been posting for about five years now. That's right - it's fantasy baseball season. (I actually updated most of this article, so it's not completely recycled. I don't know what got into me this year.)
March is by far my favorite month. NCAA tournament. St Patrick's Day. Nicer weather. Spring Training. Fantasy baseball drafts. Sure, "real" baseball is why we're all here, but fantasy baseball is like bacon wrapped around a filet. You know the filet mignon would be good by itself, but the bacon enhances the dining experience, and makes you a winner in life. That sentence made me hungry.
You may lean towards fantasy football, but I like fantasy leagues where you know your entire team won't be out for the season in three weeks, nor do you have to overreact and make a move after every single game. Oh and no bye weeks! I fucking hate drafting around bye weeks.
Fantasy baseball is a six month long daily battle, while fantasy football can be won by any idiot you happen to invite to the league. The same applies to the NCAA pool. For example, the lady who won the big office pool three years ago (100+ people) won because she picked all blue teams to the Final Four. "Strategy" like that won't win fantasy baseball leagues - although my blatantly racist 'No Japanese Players' policy has done just fine over the years.
But it all starts with the draft, which is usually the most fun part of the entire league, so you might as well enjoy it as much as possible. Here is my step-by-step plan that you should use to wreck everyone at your upcoming draft:
1) NO Online Drafts
This isn't really a piece of strategy, it's just a forceful suggestion. Note that "No" is written in caps, red, bold, underline and italics. Unless it's a free league that nobody gives a shit about, don't have a draft where ten people are in ten different locations. It's just not fun when you have to rush things and can't talk shit in-person. And you can't gorge yourself on booze and five pounds of meat, which is half the purpose of draft day. Even though it's 2011, someone always has a terrible internet connection, or doesn't have Java 1.0 installed on their Gateway computer, and ruins the day for everyone.
Find a way to set aside two or three hours and get it done. If you've got that one loser friend who claims to be busy every Saturday and Sunday for the next month – revoke their invite to the league.
And if you've got all that, but don't have a room to hold ten people, factoring in food, bathrooms, smoke break areas, etc? Dairy Queen has wifi. Buffalo Wild Wings has wifi. Six million other places have wifi. Figure it out.
2) Whatever You Do, Don't Buy A Draft Magazine
This is the best piece of advice throughout the entire internet.
It's your decision whether to use a laptop or your own printed out materials. But don't bother paying 8 bucks for an outdated mag when you can go online and get everything in there for free. That's 16 Jack in the Box tacos you're throwing in the garbage.
Last year's stats can easily be copied onto an excel sheet, or printable if you're keeping it old school (your boss knows you're pissing away half the day on Facebook and YouTube – use your time there to print out tons and tons of info). If you need pretty pictures to make up for a lack of a draft magazine, send these to the color printer at work and tape them over the Royals' team stats, since you won't need that page.
If you leave the laptop at home, go with a ranking list of the best 200ish players, a list of current closers and someone else's mock draft. I fancy myself as an expert when it comes to fantasy baseball, but my rule of thumb is: you are not as smart as the guys who get paid to write about fantasy sports. Trust them, not you.
How will you be able to concentrate on an empty stomach? More importantly, how will you handle the fact that your OF is comprised of Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Magglio Ordonez, and there isn't enough duct tape in the world to hold that team together?
Be sure to stock up on a bunch of food, preferably something greasy and/or deep fried. The majority of you are guys, so that statement should be a given. The draft is going to take a while, so be comfortable, and be lenient on that belt, fatboy.
The amount of booze is your choice. If for some reason you're relying heavily on Carlos Beltran, you can't drink your sorrows away with water. I'd suggest drinking by the case. Or maybe fake a heart attack to get out of the league.
4.) Draft Attire
Wardrobe is another key component of draft day, and getting inside the head of your league-mates. Do you go with a plain old t-shirt? No, that doesn't get anyone's attention. Tommy Herr powder blue jersey? Now we're talking. The barf-tastic glow off a powder blue jersey cannot be avoided, no matter where you're located in the room. Plan B: If you're real desperate, go with the "just out of jail" look. Handcuff on one of your wrists and a teardrop tattoo under your right eye. A lot of good picks could fall into your lap if you threaten to kill someone's grandma. Write that down.
5.) Be A Jerk
Smack talk is always encouraged, and you get better with practice. Not all one liners will be winners, but lay it on your opponents early and often. Be sure to back that up by not making stupid decisions of your own.
If talking smack isn't your forte, maybe play some Katy Perry songs five minutes before the draft. It'll really piss everyone else off – and hey, if the guy next to you takes his third closer in round five because he's still humming 'California Girls', job well done.
Of course, the ultimate would be to buy a championship belt – even if you didn't win the league last year. Just pull a Million Dollar Man circa 1989, and create your own title. We all know the guy who won cheated, or got really fucking lucky. You don't have to take his shit any more. You're a champ whether he likes it or not. It's extremely cocky and makes a big statement that you're a jerk, but at least it appears that you know what you're doing at the draft, and it's all about the image.
There you have it - everything you need to know to dominate your draft this year.
Except a basic strategy, what players to take and how to work the waiver/free agent pool. You're on your own there, buddy. Good luck!