Draft Strategy for Tout Wars 15-Team Draft and Hold
By the time you read this the draft for the newest Tout Wars format will be well underway. I figured I’d take this opportunity to talk about the draft strategy I’ll be using for their 15-team, 50-player Draft and Hold League. This format mirrors the setup for the NFBC Draft Champion contests so my takeaways that follow may offer some insights on that if you’re thinking of jumping in that pool.
I was in Tout Wars previously in their H2H format but had to step away for a couple of years so I could interfere in the lives of my children a little more. Now my kids notify me every day that they know more than me, so I was eager and fortunate enough to claim a spot in the Draft and Hold league. I say fortunate because Tout Wars can be a bit like the mob; once you get out, there’s no getting back in. But get back in I did, and I didn’t even have to pull a Gillooly on anyone.
Normally I wouldn’t discuss my draft strategy for a specific league, but there’s no way the participants in this league are worried about what I’m gonna do. When you see the field of owners you’ll know why.
The time is now! It’s time to start thinking fantasy baseball. Leagues are already forming at Fantrax.com, so head on over and start or join a league today.
Tout Wars Draft and Hold Basics
Draft and Hold leagues seem to be gaining steam as a way of still experiencing the joys of draft day, without some of the time-consuming tasks of in-season management. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be drafting 50-player teams via slow draft on Fantrax. You can follow the draft live here. The draft better go well, because those 50 players are all I have to use over the entire season. There are no trades and there is no waiver wire. What you draft is what you get.
The Tout Wars Draft and Hold league is a traditional two-catcher league with 23-player active rosters. It’s 5X5 with on-base percentage in place of batting average.
Draft and Hold Participants
Check out the field of experts from all around the industry I’ll be participating against. For a new league, the names on this list are pretty damn established. This also happens to be the draft order… Maybe I was the one who got Gilloolied…
- Michael Florio of FantraxHQ – @MichaelFFlorio
- Alan Harrison of The Fantasy Fix – @TheFantasyFix
- Jon Hegglund of Baseball Prospectus – @JonHegglund
- Jeff Boggis of Fantasy Football Empire – @JeffBoggis
- Anthony Aniano of RotoBaller – @AAnianoFantasy
- Mike Sheets of ESPN Daily Notes – @MikeASheets
- Brad Johnson of The Baseball A Team – @BaseballATeam
- Matt Modica of The Athletic – @ctmbaseball
- Jeff Mans of Fantasy Guru Elite – @Jeff_Mans
- Michael Stein of Fantasy Judgment – @FantasyJudgment
- Vlad Sedler of Fantasy Guru Elite – @rotogut
- Ryan Hallam of Fighting Chance Fantasy – @FightingChance
- Ariel Cohen of FanGraphs – @ATCNY
- Doug Anderson of FantraxHQ – @rotodaddy
- James Anderson of Rotowire – @RealJRAnderson
Draft and Hold Draft Strategy
Maybe draft strategy is the wrong way to phrase it. You can see more how I like to build my teams in my articles on hitting strategy and pitching strategy. The following paragraphs are more a list of considerations in dealing with this format. There won’t likely be any Fantasy Einstein moments, but hopefully, it gives you a few things to think about if you play in a similar format.
Draft Two Aces?
I’ve been spouting off for months about the increased value of elite starting pitchers and how it’s crucial to roster two of them in the first four rounds. Tout Draft and Hold is a 15-team league. That means it’s going to be harder to get two pitchers out of the group I am targeting and the hit on offense will be more severe. I can adapt to deal with the loss in offense, but I may have to lower my standards for my second starting pitcher. Ideally, though I’d still like to get two starters from the Sweet 16 of starting pitchers as Matt Modica called it.
I agree there is the big three and everyone else. Aaron Nola is my #4 but from four on, I think a persuadable argument can made for rearranging this order with many different outcomes.
Here are Sweet Sixteen of SP according to NFBC ADP and their last two seasons of data. pic.twitter.com/gMqgwcocXo
— Matt Modica (@ctmbaseball) February 17, 2019
Good Environment for Middle Relievers and High Upside Starters
You know I like to use high-K, low-WHIP middle relievers. If you’re not onboard with using middle relievers in mixed leagues, here are 7 reasons you should be. Fifteen-team leagues are very favorable to middle relievers. There are going to be a lot of questionable starters drafted. They can ruin your ERA and WHIP, which can be extremely hard to correct without the ability to trade. For that reason, I’ll be looking to roster at least three middle relievers.
While I will largely stay away from the ugly underbelly of starting pitchers, that doesn’t mean I won’t take a few shots at high upside starters. The large bench means I can put them on my bench and let them prove themselves. They key in this draft will be to gauge when to pounce on this type of pitcher. If I use two early picks on top starters, I’ll need to focus on offense for most of the middle of the draft. Will my upside targets be available? Hopefully, I can get the feel for how that goes, but with so many experienced players, I’m not sure there will be a real pattern to this draft.
Roster Flexibility and No Holes
With no ability to add to my team, two things are going to be very important. One is that I can’t afford to have any holes on offense. I can use middle relievers as safety valves on the pitching side, but I need to have every position covered on my offense, plus reserve players to slot in when injuries inevitably happen. That brings into play my second point. It’s going to be very beneficial to draft good players eligible at multiple positions. Tout uses 15 games played for eligibility purposes so that adds a few options. Either way you can bet I’ll be targeting these types of players to make it easier to roll with the punches when my starting players take a hit.
Catchers and Closers
This kind of meshes with the previous paragraph, but covering all the positions and all the categories will be huge. Wait too long on catchers or closers and you are sacrificing production. The middle relievers I’ll target will hopefully chime in with a decent amount of saves, but I’ll need at least one reliable (is there such a thing?) closer.
I won’t likely reach for a top catcher, but I would very much like to stay away from the lower levels where negative value lives. Hopefully, the league waits on catchers long enough for me to build a good offense and grab a couple useful catchers. Because if I get locked out of the position, it’s not likely a good catcher is just going to pop up from a reserve pick.
The Need for Speed
As far as speed goes, I’m hoping one of the multi-category studs will still be there at pick 14. I’ll draft the most valuable player at that point regardless, but all things being equal I’d like to get at least 20 SBs as a base. After that, I’ll try to draft players who get me at least a handful of steals each. I likely won’t chase the one-category wonders unless they fall pretty far.
It’s an OBP League
I’m not counting on it, but much of the content we provide in the fantasy baseball industry is geared toward batting average. I expect the people in this draft to account for that, but I still expect a few values to fall through the cracks. In fact, I’m actually working on an article that highlights the players that gain and lose the most when moving to an OBP league. I’ll be using that data heavily for this draft.
Everyone likes to boast about how they don’t jump in on the runs on certain types of players that happen in pretty much every draft. I set no such rules. In a 15-team draft you can quickly get locked out of a position or category. Sometimes it’s okay to zig when everybody else is zagging. Ideally, I’ll start those runs, but that’s easy to say and hard to do. The key will be in not waiting so long that I put myself in a bad situation.
The Hitting/Pitching Split
Normally this term is used to talk about how you’ll allocate your money in a fantasy baseball auction. In this case, I’m speaking on roster construction. A 50-player roster leaves a lot of leeway in how I build it. As far as I know, there are no limitations on how I fill my roster, as long as I can field a legal active roster. It’s gonna be a little tricky. I want to get enough depth on offense so that I can weather any injury storms that come along. But I also want to roster plenty of pitching so I can stream in for favorable matchups and cover up any duds. Right now I’m thinking my reserve roster will mirror my active roster as far as makeup. I suspect I’ll be able to grab a few middle relievers I like pretty late, so I may build up offensive depth first.
What else should I be thinking about? Am I missing anything? I’ve played in plenty of deep leagues, and many that didn’t allow trades. With no waiver wire either this is something new for me. Reach out to me on Twitter @rotodaddy with your suggestions.
*P.S. The draft is through four rounds as this goes to publish. My first four picks were Jacob deGrom, Trevor Story, Whit Merrifield, and Starling Marte. Was looking to add another near-elite starting pitcher, but as I suspected there was a big run on starting pitching between my second-round pick and my third. We talked in the draft chat about how drafting in the bottom 5 in a 15-team league means you pretty much have to grab an elite pitcher with one of your first two picks if you expect to get anything close.
You buying in on Doug’s Draft Strategy for Tout Wars Draft and Hold? For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2019 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!
Doug Anderson is an 11-year veteran of the Fantasy Sports industry. His work has appeared on RotoExperts.com, Yahoo.com, SI.com, and NFL.com, as well as in the pages of USA Today’s Fantasy Baseball Weekly and various other magazines. Doug has participated in both LABR and Tout Wars, the two preeminent expert fantasy baseball leagues in existence. Doug was formerly the Executive Editor at RotoExperts and is now Managing Editor here at FantraxHQ. You can follow him on Twitter @RotoDaddy.
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