Fantasy Baseball 2023: Last-minute tips heading into 2023's biggest draft weekend
We’re getting ready for the biggest draft weekend of the 2023 Fantasy Baseball season. Here are some last-second swing thoughts to help get you ready.
• You know your league and your draft context better than any outsider ever could. Your neighborhood knowledge and gut feel should supersede any advice an outsider can offer you.
• I want my early offensive picks, all else being equal, to be tied to plus offenses. Generally this isn’t a problem, but this might be a reason to draft Mookie Betts over Bobby Witt Jr. or, say, Pete Alonso or Austin Riley over Rafael Devers.
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• I’ve been a fantasy player and analyst for the entire Coors Field cheat code experience. It’s less of a cheat code this year because this is the worst Colorado lineup in some time. And don’t forget the hangover these bats generally face on the road, when they have to readjust to breaking pitches all of a sudden having bite again.
• Unless I get a major discount, I’m unlikely to draft into injury optimism. I won’t be the Tyler Glasnow guy or the Bryce Harper guy. You have to draw that line for yourself. In my experience, someone usually wants to pick players such as that with a wildly optimistic streak.
• If your format requires only one catcher, you shouldn’t have to select one of the vanity ones. You can find someone outside the top five with a strong case for a top-five finish. Tyler Stephenson is my favorite angle for this, but there are several others.
• Save striation might feel like an emotional tax to pay, but it actually means we need fewer saves in season to compete. But also remember that the more competitive your league is, the more you want some kind of saves base at the draft. If your league is more casual and likely to check out midseason, sure, you can assume you’ll dominate the waiver wire, but I would not make that assumption in a competitive league.
• Stolen bases are expected to spike, which means you’ll need more of them than usual. Rather than attacking one-category specialists later, I like a worker bee approach, in which most of my players chip away at the category.
• I don’t know how much offense will spike with the new rules (especially the shifting regulations), but some kind of bounce is to be expected. We always want to target pitchers who collect strikeouts and miss bats, but that’s probably more essential this year than in recent seasons. (If you won't take my word for it, take his word for it; Ron's been pounding that drum this spring.)
• In most of my deeper leagues, it makes sense to target a few players who qualify at multiple positions. With that in mind, it allows me to almost play positionless fantasy, especially when injuries pop up and I’m able to activate the best player available, no matter his position. Two particular players who fit this theme: Thairo Estrada of the Giants and Brendan Donovan of the Cardinals.
• The ethos from the legendary TV series "The Wire" was that All the Pieces Matter. That’s how I view the lesser MLB teams in a mixed league; some teams are more important than others, but you need to audit the regulars in all 30 cities. Yes, the Nationals, Pirates, Tigers and even the Athletics will offer some fantasy utility this year. Every box score matters. Every starter matters.
We've done some work to help identify possible targets on every team: NL East | NL Central | NL West | AL East | AL Central | AL West.
• Offensive ADPs tend to crystalize and merge together, while pitching ADPs generally tend to have more variance. This is why your middle-round pitcher picks will be surprisingly friendly to your cheat sheet, but your hitter picks might not be.
• Know where the buried treasure is, aka the players outside the top 200 and top 300 and top 400 who interest you. Some managers like to adjust their applet before the draft, but I prefer to be looking at what my opponents are, so I know what players are top of mind. Instead, I’ll have a separate file open (or even a piece of scratch paper) with a few of my favorite late-round targets. Know what positions you can likely attack well from the lowest possible buy-in.
[2023 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP]
• Motivation varies for everyone, but often the first year after a big contract in a new city is the wrong time to invest (shout out to Colton and the Wolfman, who have played this card to their benefit for years). Xander Bogaerts is probably the biggest stay-away if you follow this theme; he’s also going to miss Fenway Park terribly.
• Most if not all of your late picks should be about upside, about what can go right. And hopefully most of those stories are quick-releasing ones. We want the bottom 10-25% of our roster to be fluid. Although we want to make our best possible guesses today, guesses in-season will always have more value because there’s more information then.