So – you want to draft with someone else? You’ve got that friend in fantasy, the person you’ve known for a while, you’re doing a tag team draft . . . whatever it may be – drafting a team with another manager is not something to enter into lightly – be it just for a draft, or running a team with a friend – you better think long and hard before jumping into this. You don’t want this to be the classic group project where you do all the work (unless of course, you were the one who did none of the work, in which case – don’t be that person), and have this experience:
Instead – the trust needs to be there when you are working with another manager. I have three experiences co-managing/drafting. I co-manage a team as of this season in the Prospects 365 Expert League with @Cubbynole – my longest-tenured living friend in the fantasy baseball world. I co-drafted a TDBC 20-team league with the great Chris Clegg (you can find the draft here), and am currently drafting a dynasty mock put on by @gatorsosa with @Mags (draft board here).
Through doing these I’ve learned some things about co-managing, and especially co-drafting that are important to think about and some things that are crucial for deciding if you SHOULD co-manage and if you decide to co-manage, then how to handle the draft and team building and figuring that out.
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Shawn and Gus
In the great USA show Psych, Shawn and Gus are inseparable friends with a back and forth banter and chatter, and this is the sort of fist-bumping relationship you need if with your co-manager.
Every good relationship has communication and plenty of it. And that is certainly the case when you are working with another manager. You have to communicate. And this means figuring out what the best way to communicate is, and how frequently that communication needs to happen.
This obviously can be a little bit slower when you are in season and are talking trades (more on that later) – but when you’re doing a slow draft you need to know and be in communication so that you can 1) be clear on priorities and 2) know what the other is thinking. So you first figure out the best way to communicate with each other, make sure you have multiple means of communication (ie – don’t rely on Twitter or some other DMs, get each other’s numbers), and always always always let each other know when you will be unreachable.
When I worked with Chris, he and I would often call one another to discuss picks in our draft, while Mags and I have never needed to call during this process – but this is all about what the best way/process is for each of you. When I was drafting with Chis we ended up getting the first pick in the draft so we also had the turn for the whole draft, making it a lot easier because, with the slow draft, it pretty much meant once a day we needed to decide what two players we wanted to pick and then we were done. With Mags in this draft, as you can see on the draft board, we are close to the turn, but far enough away that they are two different, but connected, decisions. If you end up in the middle of a draft, especially a 20 or 30 teamer TDBC style draft . . . well . . . have fun and make sure communication lines are open.
The communication around a pick is crucial, but so is planning ahead. When TDBC was drafting I spent some time on a family vacation getting beat up learning how to snowboard so while I was on the slopes there was, of course, less time to communicate. We fortunately ended up getting on the clock seemingly only when I wasn’t actively snowboarding (which to be fair really means actively falling and getting back – cue Thomas Wayne )
But I digress – because during that time, even with that, Chris and I still needed to have a plan – knowing when we were going with prospects/major leaguers/pitchers/etc and decide with a deep queue and a list of preferences of who we would take when. Mainly – the moral of this story is communicate. Have a plan, make it clear, and trust each other so that if all of these other things fail, the person can pick the player they think is best in that situation and you aren’t going to want to kill them later.
The Big Plan
In addition to the obvious communication during the draft – you should know your plan before the draft as well. The nuance of this will vary between dynasty and redraft, but in either case, know how the other person likes to draft and how they want to manage it. This conversation should – also – happen before you officially commit to co-manage. Think of it as the dating part of the relationship before you commit to the long-term relationship of co-managing your team. If you’ve played against this person before, or in the case of some of the co-managing I’ve done, commissioned the league, you should have a good idea of how the other person drafts, managing, etc. But even if you have that – STILL TALK.
This conversation should involve all sorts of things that may include:
Do you want to upload custom rankings if you’re drafting on a site like Fantrax that allows that?
Do you tend to prefer going pitching heavy or offense heavy?
In a TDBC or a best-ball, what is your “ideal” breakdown of the number of hitters or pitchers?
If you’re in a redraft league especially – do you want to do pocket aces?
What is your approach to relievers (in saves only or save holds)?
Are catchers worth caring about (and is the league masochistic and has two catchers)?
In a dynasty league do you try to win now – win year two – go prospect heavy?
And – perhaps most importantly – what are your strengths in drafting?
So, for example – when Chris and I were prepping for our TDBC draft, I knew that his prospect knowledge went WAAAAYY deeper than mine (no duh), and so we were gonna lean on that as we got later in the draft and went with the prospects we wanted to take. We also discussed how both of us tend to lean bats – and we knew that about ourselves, and so we made an effort to adjust appropriately. In this ongoing (mock) draft with Mags, I knew, having drafted against Mags in some leagues and seen his team in all of my 30 team leagues, that he is great at pitcher evaluation and finding some deep prospect values (and also great at everything else), so when we’ve needed that he’s been invaluable, and we balance each other as I may want to hit some more MLB depth, even in dynasty, and so we figure it out at the end of the draft.
As with any functioning relationship, compromise is key. There are a number of times in a draft where you may want to go one direction and your co-manager wants to go another direction, and there is a valid case for both and so sometimes. It may be a “we’ll take your guy here – but I’d like to take this guy when we get here.” And you HAVE to figure out how you will do that. So you need mutual respect, mutual understanding, and figure out what your approach will be. So again, communicate and make sure that the relationship you have with each other creates space and ability to challenge an idea, and that the power dynamic is equal (at this point you may be wondering if I’m giving relationship or co-managing advice . . . and the answer is yes – respecting and listening to people and not being defensive or aggressive is always a very important thing in life – and good fantasy leagues/partnerships, etc exist because of good interpersonal relationships. Anyways, care about people. I digress).
Once you know what your strengths are and how you want to build your team – then you need to dive into player evaluations. If you have some sort of ADP or ranks list to use as a guide (just as a guide remember) then you can use that as a starting point for players you may like or want to target and where in the draft you think you can target them for your roster build. Then, as the draft progresses, monitor and, as mentioned, keep a list of the players you want (both specific players and specific types of players/skillsets), and know who you are looking at as your pick nears. While some of this also comes down to slow draft etiquette, I am of the mentality that a slow draft gives you the ability and permission to take a long time with your pick, but is not an invitation to be slow and take forever, burn out, etc. In addition to also being something to know about your co-drafter, you will also need to recognize that sometimes it will be unavoidable if your plan got blown up or you got on the clock faster than expected and don’t have a plan yet for those picks. I’ve had a few times where one of us are in a meeting, had an appointment, etc and we got on the clock before we thought we would, hadn’t talked, and had to burn more clock than either of us would like. If that is the case, and one of you is free – just post something in your league’s chat or something so people know you’re on it and this will most likely be an isolated event. But – as much as possible – know your plan. Even if the plan is “one of these three guys” but you should both be able to chat that’s great. Or if it’s “one of these three guys and if I’m slow to respond I trust you – make the best pick for the team.” Just be sure to establish these guidelines so that everyone is on the same page.
Finally, co-managing. Running a team in a draft together is one thing, running it in season is another and depends a lot on the style of league. The day-to-day stuff can be pretty simple. A few texts about – “hey should we claim this player?” “Do you want to start this player or this player?” If it’s a weekly league with weekly moves it’s even easier – just have that chat on a specific day.
Where this can get tricky is with trading – so figure out how you want to handle it. For example, in the 365 league there are a number of teams that are co-owned. Some of them create group messages to discuss potential trades, others I’ve had conversations with just one of the managers, and then if we are getting close to an agreement, we both throw things by our co-managers, and get their approval/thoughts/veto/etc. You should have an idea about how your co-manager values certain players on your team and most of the other guys around the league. The trickiest thing is when you and your co-manager value a player you may receive in a trade differently. Generally, I lean towards the approach of – if you aren’t both happy with the deal you don’t make it. You’re running the team together – so do it together – even if one of you may be primary in trade talks. This also can be very helpful in just getting a second opinion on your trade.
Mainly, in all of this, communicate respectfully. I find this is best done if you already have a relationship to some degree with a manager and know that you think about things similairly, but as long as you function with respect and value each other then you should be able to make it work. Find your Gus and Shawn pairing and remember – don’t be the annoying member of the group project who gets the A because of the work other people did. If you’ve got any interesting co-managing stories drop them below or hit me up on Twitter @dynastyonestop – I’d love to hear them!
For more great Fantasy Baseball check out Mick Ciallela’s Rest of Season Rankings! Mick was the No. 1 Ranker on FantasyPros.com for the 2020 MLB season.
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