So, I’ve drafted my team. Now what? [FBB]

A successful climb to a fantasy baseball championship doesn’t end with a good showing at your respective draft. Whether or not you spend hours and hours prepping for your draft, and make great picks, you feel, at every position — managing a successful fantasy roster takes constant upkeep. Perhaps nothing is as important as properly evaluating your post-draft team and developing a strategy for moving forward.

After every draft, there are three things that should be done …  Evaluate your team, evaluate the competition and evaluate the available talent

1. Evaluate your team. Don’t let anyone fool you — the key to most formats of fantasy baseball is balance. Short of points-based scoring used only in a handful of leagues, most every scoring system is based on categories and how well you fare in those categories. Teams don’t have to dominate one or two categories to win the league — in fact, it is better to be well-rounded. If you are in a 12-team league, you should make a general goal of being in the top four or five in each category. This is why multi-category studs such as Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano were so valuable in years past to fantasy baseball owners.

When evaluating your team, then, it is a matter of projecting, roughly, what sort of stats you’ll get from each player on your roster. Then, add up your projected stats at each category.

Is your team more home-run heavy, speed-heavy (stolen bases), pitching heavy? With a little work, it doesn’t take too long to get a decent idae of where your team will fare well, and where it needs some attention. Seasoned fantasy owners can evaluate your team’s balance by a quick look at your roster. Many times, a fantasy owner is too close to the situation to be totally unbiased in evaluating a team — so it always helps to get other trusted fantasy owners to give you some feedback.

Here at chinstrapninjas.com, we’d love to take some time and evaluate your team. Just drop us a line.

2. Evaluate your competition. Once you get a feel of where your team’s strengths and weaknesses are (any every team has them — if you look at your team and think it is perfectly balanced, chances are that you need a second opinion), it is time to look at the trends in your league. In every league, there are teams that are power-heavy, speed-heavy, loaded at pitching, etc. Evaluate each team, much like you did in step one, and then put them in categories. I like to jot down teams on a piece of notebook paper based on what categories/stats that define the team.

This information is critical for a number of reasons. For one, it will give you a better benchmark for deciding where you need to be in each category. Perhaps looking at other teams will help you realize that you need more speed or to improve your team batting average. Also, in head-to-head leagues, it will help you develop week-to-week strategies on how you want to play your team. For example, last year in my main league, I owned Jacoby Ellsbury and Adam Dunn. I was really deep in the outfield, and I was able to platoon these players in my final outfield position based on what stats I need any given week depending on who I was playing against. When I played against a team that was more speed-driven, I’d insert Ellsbury for the week. When I was up against a power-based team, I’d run with Dunn.

Lastly, perhaps the main importance of taking the time to evaluate other teams in your league is to better pinpoint which teams will make solid trading partners as you look to improve your overall team’s balance,. More on trading soon in another post.

3. Evaluate available talent. It never fails. No matter how prepared I think I am at every draft I attend, there are players I forget about. Many are snatched up by more aware owners, but there are usually a few that slip between the cracks and land on the league’s waiver wire.

I’ve played most of my fantasy leagues through Yahoo, and have grown to appreciate the server’s stat listings for each player. With a few clicks, it is easy to re-order a group of players based on stat projections. So, let’s say you feel your team is really lacking in stolen bases. Simply sort the remaining free agents by stolen base production (until games start meaning something in 2009, you’ll have to sort by 2008′s numbers), and you’ll find some of the best available options to plug the hole in your scoring. For example, in my main league, which has just eight teams, there are a number of guys that I wouldn’t mind snagging to help my team speed. Taking a few moments to compare that list with one based on runsscored and batting average, I was able to find a handful of serviceable guys to help in several key categories.

The other talent that needs evaluating involves potential rookie call-ups who could be quickly gobbled up by other aware leaguemates. Watch how these players fare early in the season in the minors, and also keep  watch on opportunities that may open, such as a position player injury that leads to the all-important call-up.

Finally, make sure to watch the talent on other teams. If a player starts the season in a slump, he may be a cheap trade target. See which players your competitors are quick to sour on, and you may have an opportunity to make a big splash in your league. More on trading strategies soon.

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