Every year I see at least half the managers in my leagues drafting players that I make every effort to avoid. These are players with questionable history of performance, league scoring format, history of injuries, and changing teams in the off-season. While I love the research that most fantasy sports sites provide, it is easy to see the managers who do little or no other research or simply don’t know much about the game. Now, I want to keep this as short and simple as possible, but I couldn’t do it. So, I’ve broken down the main topics that I feel are most important to research to give yourself the advantage over at least 50% of your competing managers.

1. SCORING SYSTEM Before you draft, head to the scoring system and the free agent pool (which should include all players since it is pre-draft). If you are in a points league, then sort Safeco Agent login all players by total fantasy points. Don’t worry about position or any other subcategories. You need to separate the real sports world and the fantasy sports world. Tom Brady may be the best NFL player in real life, but he is far from the top in the fantasy world. The point (yep, pun) is to have the most points at the end of the year. Early on in the draft, say the first 3-5 rounds, this factor (overall highest points) should weigh heavily into your decision-making process. You need to focus on what positions and players historically gain you the most points. Just because a player is the best in his position, doesn’t mean you should hurry up and draft him. For example, the 15th best running back is probably going to gain you more points than the 1st or 2nd ranked tight end. I always cringe when I see Joe Mauer or another catcher come of the board early. Catchers almost always get drafted too early in leagues. I save catcher for the last pick of the draft. You always over-pay and the return is much less than any other position at that point in the draft.

In head-to-head leagues, you will be able to rank most players according to that website’s criteria. So, after you sort the players (#1) being the best overall player, you will start to see what positions have the deepest pool of talent, what positions will build up your team in the most categories, and where you need to focus on. Make a check-list or mental notes of the deepest positions and shallowest positions. Also, look to see which positions have the highest-ranked players. After some analysis, you will see where you can wait longer to draft a position and what positions need attention earlier in the draft.

At this time, I want to re-emphasize that you should always focus on getting the best player available in the first 3-5 rounds as long as you have an open spot to put them(meaning, they won’t be riding the bench because you don’t have an active roster spot to give them). I typically let these first few rounds determine the direction of the rest of my draft. Find the strengths and weaknesses on your team. DO NOT BUILD A BALANCED TEAM. Balanced teams are mediocre. You need to be strong in a fixed number of categories. If you drafted a bunch of guys who hit.300, average 25-30 stolen bases, and score 90-100 runs, don’t start drafting a few of the remaining big power guys. Keep filling positions with similar players.

2. INJURIES Now, let’s take a look at injuries. I always avoid players who have multiple trips to the DL in the last 2-3 years. This takes a little research if you’re unfamiliar with the sport and not following current events. After you’ve gone through the trouble of identifying the players you would consider drafting, start pulling their profiles up and see how many games they’ve missed the last few years. This isn’t a fool-proof method and it doesn’t mean they will for sure head to the DL in the future, but I typically avoid them like the plague unless I can get them much later than they would typically go.

Players that fall under this category for me are Josh Hamilton, Troy Tulowitzki, Donovan McNabb, Ronnie Brown, etc. Yes, they can have a high-side and typically play at a high level when healthy, but they are also frustrating to own and can cripple your team. It typically isn’t a large number of players, but the goal is to have these guys the entire year, not for part of it.

3. PROGRESSION Next we’ll touch on a player’s history of performance. Typically, many fantasy baseball sleeper lists will tell you what rookies will have a big impact this year. I seldom find rookies to have any sort of significant part of my team’s success. With baseball, I prefer to look at young players who have a year or two in the league and maybe were on a sleeper list one or two years earlier. This is where your research is really going to pay off as this type of research applies to all rounds of a draft.

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