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FANTASY SPORTS: Draft advice: Don’t overvalue strong players at weak spots

One of the biggest mistakes fantasy baseball owners make is to overrate the production of players at a weak position.

For years, Mike Piazza was selected much higher than he should have been, because he played catcher and so few catchers could hit.

Piazza’s best year was 1997, when he hit .362 with 40 homers, 124 RBIs, 104 runs and five stolen bases for the Dodgers. Clearly, Piazza’s numbers that year justified a first-round selection.

But in most of the other years in which he was a first- or second-round pick, you could have found dozens of outfielders who would have matched his numbers.

The trick is to remember that all the statistics go into the same pot. The goal of the fantasy manager is to draft the player who will have the finest year every time. There is a slightly different strategy in auction leagues, in which you have to consider not only a player’s production but how much of your budget he’ll cost to acquire.

Draft leagues, however, are based simply on production, and the only time position scarcity should be a factor is if you think two players will wind up with similar statistics.

You might be looking at Indians catcher Victor Martinez, thinking there aren’t too many offensive catchers. But don’t jump too early to nab him.

If you don’t think any of the remaining outfielders will surpass his numbers, however, the smart move is to take Martinez because of player scarcity at his position.

Third base, particularly in National League-only leagues, is a  agen poker online terpercaya position at which owners will have to be careful not to jump too soon. There simply aren’t a lot of quality third basemen in the National League and it could be hard to resist the urge to select one too soon.

The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez had an off year last season by his incredibly high standards. He hit 11 fewer homers than he did in 2003 and 21 fewer than in 2002. His RBIs dropped from 142 in 2002 to 118 in 2003 to 106 last year. And his batting average declined from .300 to .298 to .286.

Those are pretty significant drops. But he did run much more, stealing 28 bases. That helped cover up for some of the lost production.

Regardless of how his statistics dropped, Rodriguez is far and away the best fantasy third baseman. St. Louis’ Scott Rolen holds that position in the National League, but the cupboard is very bare after him.

How many National League third basemen would you rather have than the Mets’ David Wright, who didn’t reach the majors last year until August? Rolen, for sure. Aramis Ramirez and Mike Lowell, too. But after that, there are a lot of question marks.

The best thing to do when preparing for the draft is first to come up with a master list, regardless of position. Simply rate the players by how you believe they’ll do in 2005. While past performance has to be a guide, throw that out if you think a player is in a steep decline. Because what a guy did in 2003 won’t do a thing to help your fantasy team in 2005.

After you have your master list, break it down by position. That will help you identify which positions are weakest and when to use position scarcity to determine worth in the draft.

If you stick to your master list and forget about position, you’ll have a much more solid team and won’t have to hope that Albert Pujols hits 79 home runs for your team to contend.…