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It seems to me that many folks are looking at a few issues in fantasy baseball in a manner that I don't deem to be the best way to handle things. In this article I'm basically going to be telling you to do it my way cause I'm the expert. Wildly arrogant on my part no doubt. Am I right with my theories and protestations? You can be the judge of that. Do me a favor and read what is to come before coming to your decision. If you read what I have to say and think I'm an idiot than so be it. At least give me a chance to change your opinion if you are predisposed to think of me that way.

I received two tweets at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account this week, and they prompted what follows in this article.

16th round. I'm about to pull the trigger on Nelson Cruz. Y or N? (Avail also are Dexter Fowler, Ben Revere, Coco Crisp, Will Venable,- need SB).
– @Tommy29gun

First of all, if you want to know how I rank all the outfielders, and for that matters all players at all positions, you need to grab a copy of the fantastic 2014 Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide where I rank over 600 players (it's well worth it for a mere $10 that also gets you plenty of in-season goodies for Free).

Second, taking Cruz in the 16th round... ? You have to take players when the tiers at the positions get thin. Too often people worry about ADP numbers or what round they got a player in. You're not stupid if you took Nelson Cruz in the 15th round, 16th round or 22nd round if you played the draft you were participating in properly. By that I mean you have to amend your strategy/plan based upon how the draft is unfolding. In one league outfielders might go off the board early. In another draft there might be outfielders everywhere to taken in the later rounds. Every draft is unique. This why I'm a big fan of the tiering model (that's how players are ranked in The Guide). Grouping like level players together to help you to decide when to jump in at a position. If there are six players left on the last tier you're comfortable with at a certain position then you can wait a round to take one (it's extremely unlikely that all six will go before you pick next). If there are only two guys left on that tier it's probably a good idea to grab one now so you don't get shut out. Make sense?

Third, the answer to this question is in the question itself. If you need speed then why would you take the power bat of Cruz? Sometimes we all get tied up in 'But Ray, you have Cruz ranked higher than Ben Revere so obviously he's the guy I should choose.' This is not always true. If you have no speed on your team then you need to draft speed. Adding another power bat does you no good if you have the power categories covered. Remember, we're not playing fantasy football here where are players just produce points. In fantasy baseball we are working with categories that need to be filled. It does you no good to lead homers by 36 bombs. You get the same amount of points if you win the category by six as you do if you lead by 36. Draft what your team needs. It's why I don't suggest that anyone drafts off an ADP list or from a top-300 or whatever list (for more on that line of thought there's an article in The Guide that goes into more detail on draft strategies).

Hi Ray can you rank these players for me? Yan Gomes, Michael Bourn, Brian Dozier, Brett Gardner, Christian Yelich, Michael Brantley thanks.
- @jokerchad

My initial thought plays right off what I wrote above – what do you need? Look at the collection of players here.

A catcher.
An all speed outfielder.
A middle infield with decent power/speed.
An all speed outfielder.
A youngster with tons of potential but little that stands out for fantasy.
A solid five category outfielder that doesn't stand out.

How can you compare those guys to each other? In my opinion you shouldn't try, at least in the context of trying to figure out who to draft.

What does your team need? Power, speed, batting average?
Does your league start two catchers or one?
Does your league start five outfielders or three?
Do you have middle and corner infielders?
Who is already on your roster?
How many teams are in the league?

Obviously “Joker” was asking on Twitter so there is no way he could possibly send a question with all of that information, so I'm not judging him for that. It just wouldn't be fair to do that. However, I do think this is another example of the how people look at players that needs to be tweaked. People want ready made answers, it's just the society we live in (I received a call recently on The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio – I'm on 5-8 PM EDT on Sirius210 and XM87 Monday through Friday – where a guy wanted me to explain the proper draft strategy in two minutes. How can I possibly be expected to do that?). However, there aren't as many black and white answers as some would lead you to believe. The fact is that context is everything. Nothing really occurs in a vacuum. As such, all of the questions I noted above really need to be known to render the best possible answer. So be honest with yourself and the club you are constructing. If you already have five outfielders do you need really need a sixth at this point? If you don't have a middle infielder yet doesn't Dozier look like a solid option? If you have little speed maybe you take a shot on Gardner and hope he can stay healthy and return a big steals number? Are you in a dynasty league where you can roster Yelich as a 21st round draft selection and keep him at that cost for the next three years?

Context is everything in life. If you take nothing else away from this piece remember that.


By Ray Flowers

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