Fantasy Baseball Dynasty League Strategy
One of the allures of playing fantasy baseball is the opportunity to act like a real-life baseball GM with control over roster moves and player personnel. Who hasn’t at one point or another criticized a move their team’s GM made and said “I would’ve done this instead,” or “I’d sign this guy over this guy.” And of course, we’ve all blurted out something along the lines of, “What the (Censor) is this GM doing?” While re-draft leagues are a good start to getting our own personal general manager fix, dynasty leagues are truly where it’s at. You have total control over your roster, prospects, and trades. Your say, no one else’s. That’s where this Fantasy Baseball dynasty strategy article comes in. While they’re incredibly exciting to be a part of, dynasty leagues are a lot of work. I’m here to help makes things a little easier on you.
Get ready to dive into the fantasy baseball part of my brain. Please keep all arms and legs inside the coaster at all times and enjoy the ride.
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Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Strategy
Before we get going, it’d be foolish to not mention fantasy baseball dynasty rankings. Whether you create your own rankings or go off some industry list, rankings always help. I put together my top-300 dynasty rankings which hopefully can lend you a helping hand during your initial draft or when making trades.
While these rankings weigh current value, future value, and proximity to the Majors leaving guys like Wander Franco lower than some MLB-ready prospects below him, my top-250 prospect rankings do not. These combine upside with floor with proximity playing a lesser role. If your focus is taking the best prospects, regardless of if they’re two months from an MLB debut or two years, my top-250 can be of some assistance in your prospect hunt. And yes, of course Vladdy is No. 1.
This might seem obvious, but preparation is key when starting a dynasty league. Coming into a dynasty draft unprepared is a cardinal sin and can set your team back for years. I’ve also been in leagues where a manager quit after the first year due to their team being so bad from poor initial draft prep. Do not be that person. Those people are mocked for all of eternity and bring great shame upon their ancestors. You don’t want to do that, do you?
Now, there are many different ways to approach a dynasty draft. Okay, really there are three main ones. You can use a win-now approach, go young with plenty of prospects, or somewhere in the middle. Me? I prefer the middle ground. I want to try and build a competitive team for my first season while setting myself up well for the future. It might sound difficult to do but it definitely can be done. Here’s how.
In the first 10 rounds or so, I like to target 3-4 prospects with at least two of them being Major League ready. For example, in a dynasty mock draft I did this offseason, I took Eloy Jimenez and Peter Alonso as those two MLB ready prospects within the top-100 picks. They might not be in the White Sox or Mets opening day lineups, but they’re going to be up very early in the season and have the upside to produce handsomely for your squad. That’s just one example too. You can target guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Victor Robles, Garrett Hampson, etc and have the same effect. Mixing a few guys like this in with your core MLB assets gives you a strong chance of competing right away and sets yourself up nicely for the next few seasons as well.
Going with the win-now or build for the future modes are fine too, but just try not to go too far on those ends of the spectrum. Going into full win-now mode can win you a championship your first season, but if you ignore prospects, the future will likely not be as rosy for your team. Building some sort of core of prospects in dynasty leagues is always key, no matter what your initial strategy is. Wow, what a perfect segway into the next topic. It’s almost like I planned that or something…
How you approach prospects can make or break your dynasty team. Whether you’re looking to be a contender right away or building for the long haul, establishing a solid core of prospects is crucial. To do this, I like to go with something close to a 60/40 MLB to prospect split in the first 10-15 rounds, but again, only if the value is right. Basically, I want to build a competitive team in year one with the potential to be dominant in years 2-5.
Like I said above, we’re seeing a higher percentage of prospects find success right away, so just because you may draft a bunch of them in your initial draft doesn’t mean you’re not going to be competitive for years. In several dynasty mocks lately, I’ve drafted guys like Eloy Jimenez, Joey Bart, Peter Alonso, Bo Bichette, etc, that all aren’t far off from the Majors and can help me as soon as this season while being big assets over the next few seasons and beyond.
When it comes to prospects, I like even more of a hitter to pitcher split than I do with my MLB assets. As we know, pitching prospects usually don’t pan out as often as hitting prospects. For that reason, I’ll usually grab a few stud pitching prospects to build around, then work in upside pitching prospects later on. That allows me to focus most of my prospect resources on hitters and establishing a rock-solid core there. Ideally, out of my first 10 prospects, eight will be hitters and 15 of my top-20. That’s not an exact number and can fluctuate depending on draft values, but it’s a goal to shoot for.
When/How to Rebuild
Nobody ever wants to have to rebuild in a dynasty league, but unless you’re Bill Belichick over there, you’re going to need to do so at some point. Maybe not a full-fledged rebuild will be needed, but it’s difficult to continuously remain a dynasty juggernaut. So, when will you know it’s the right time to rebuild? The answer is actually pretty simple and easy to recognize. It’s when you start finding yourself in dynasty league purgatory. That means your always fighting for the playoffs year in and year out. Whether you make the playoffs is actually a moot point. But if you’re fighting for playoff contention as a middle team, it’s time to rebuild, at least a little bit.
Being a middle of the pack team for multiple seasons in a row is terrible. Now say it with me in a Charles Barkley voice… T-U-R-R-I-B-L-E. A middle team has a better chance of staying in the middle than making enough moves to get up into dynasty contention. It’s not impossible but usually involves trading off many young assets and setting yourself up poorly down the road. If you don’t mind years of crap finishes following MAYBE a league championship, be my guest and go this route. It’s just not one I advise taking. I’d much rather rebuild with young players and enjoy a much longer stretch of success down the road. And with how quickly prospects are succeeding at the Major League level these days, your rebuild time might not be as long as you think.
The next step is knowing your roster and figuring out just how much of a rebuild you need to do. If you have a solid core and think you can contend in a couple years, a whole ton of moves don’t need to be made. Revert back to what I said in the previous section, find a contending team or two, and trade off the appropriate number of veterans for some prospects in return.
This can often be a sore spot for managers and cause rifts in leagues. Don’t be a you-know-what during trade negotiations. Dynasty trades are completely different animals than re-draft trades. Obviously, you want to improve your team or fill an area of weakness, but so does the other owner. Do yourself a favor and take a look at the other team first. Could they use a position you have a surplus in? Are they looking to rebuild while you’re looking to contend? Finding a trade partner that can use something you’re willing to trade is half the battle and a great place to start.
Respect Your Elders
Actually, embrace them. Target them if you will. Older players make for great short-term targets due to the fact that most owners have already written them off and moved on to the next young star. Players like Edwin Encarnacion, Nelson Cruz, and others might not be the sexiest names in dynasty league due to their age, but their price is likely to be cheap and they can give you solid production at least for this season.
Other Quick Strategy Hits
Pitcher’s Command: Personally, I can’t stand drafting pitchers with bad control/command. A personal rule I set for myself many years ago was to never roster a starting pitcher with a K/BB ratio of less than 2/1. If their ratio is less than that, they either have crappy control or don’t strike out many batters. If it’s the latter of the two, I occasionally make an exception if the ratios are solid, but you’ll never find a guy that might walk 80-100 guys on my team. Not unless they’re giving me 250 strikeouts along with it.
Hitting Early: I touched on this above, but it’s a big strategy piece for me. Obviously, league settings can alter this a little, but for most normal league settings, going hitter heavy (Around 70% of first 12-15 picks) has worked out very well for me over the years.
Know When to Let Go: This can be tough but it’s necessary. You get attached to players or hold onto prospects too long and miss out of the opportunity to sell at peak value.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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