Preparation is always important if you want to do something well, or at least if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of doing something well.Â Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail, as the saying goes.Â However, you need to be careful not to take that too far in the wrong direction.Â
Itâ€™s easy to out-think yourself in fantasy baseball.Â You need to be careful that your ranking sheets and mock drafts donâ€™t simply become a recital process in which you practice precisely what you want to do.Â The preparation is there to help you make good decisions when the real draft comes along, not for you to â€˜learn your lines’.Â Itâ€™s a small distinction, but a very important one.Â All it takes is a couple of unforeseen events and your carefully rehearsed plan suddenly falls apart.
The main unforeseen events that can impact a fantasy draft are injuries and as noted in my recent Rounding the Bases column,Â players are dropping like flies.Â
This can be an acute problem for casual fantasy players, like myself, if you donâ€™t take it into account.Â While I have a fair idea of how plenty of players have performed in recent years, I donâ€™t study them closely through a â€˜fantasyâ€™ pair of eyes.Â I rely on ranking sheets from fantasy experts to form the foundations of my own lists.Â Now, at first glance it might seem that getting your ranking sheets in order well in advance of your draft would be a diligent, sensible thing to do.Â Thatâ€™s true to a great extent, but clearly you need to keep a close eye on how the expert ranking lists change as your draft approaches.
This isnâ€™t always as straightforward as it appears.Â Some websites publish their rankings in February and then donâ€™t change them, while others will make amendments without making it immediately obvious that they have done so.Â The printable sheets on MLB.comâ€™s fantasy section all still have â€œ02/08/2010 8:00 AM ETâ€ on them, but they are being updated on a regular basis.Â For example, Joe Nathan was originally 4th on their overall list of relief pitchers and now he is a long way down the rankings with a note to warn you that he is a risk to miss the whole season.
Nathan perhaps is not the best example because his â€˜star closerâ€™ status and the potential severity of his injury ensure that his situation is well known and understood.Â Lower profile players or those who will not be fit for the start of the season are the guys you really need to concentrate on.
A good player who is currently struggling for fitness may still be a valuable contributor in 2010, you just have to weigh up the risk and factor that into your decision on when you select them and what back-up plan you put in place.Â Joe Mauer was an excellent example of this last year.Â Not only was he still injured at the time of most drafts, there was no firm timetable on when he would return.Â That dropped him down the rankings, but if you were able to draft him in a good spot (i.e. not so early that you missed out on selecting a strong contributor who was winning you points from day one, rather than from May onwards) and picked up a serviceable temporary catcher, you were on a winner.Â Keeping a check on the expert rankings and any associated columns can give you some useful pointers on when players are likely to take the field and at what point it make sense to draft them.
Injuries are inevitable so there’s no point in worrying about them, indeed they can create some excellent opportunities.Â You just need to keep a check on all the latest news, right up to the draft itself, to make sure that any decisions you make are based on as much information as possible.
Where to look
The Yahoo Fantasy set-up includes a note icon next to each player and if itâ€™s yellow with a red star, youâ€™re best to click on it because that means thereâ€™s an important update that you might need to be aware of.Â The Injury Reports page doesnâ€™t seem to help very much though.
MLB.comâ€™s fantasy section includes a handy team-by-team injury list.Â This tells you when the update was last amended, gives an indication of when the player is due back and offers a brief note on their progress. Their â€˜Fantasy Player New and Updatesâ€™ page provides further injury details and other useful information, such as position battles, while including various different navigational tools that allow you to check up on specific players or positions.