Last week, I wrote a piece introducing the addicting best ball platform, Underdog Fantasy. The small format drafts with an overall component are an extremely fun way for a more casual fan to play best ball without needing intense knowledge of league depth. Combined with the low price point Underdog Fantasy has easily become one of my favorite fantasy platforms. Today, I am going to peel back my own personal thought process a little bit and I’m going to give a glimpse into the strategies I like to use.
As I stated in last week’s article, the first thing I will always do in a best ball/points format is run the scoring through projections. I used The BAT for these to have both hitting and pitching projections from the same source but you could use whatever system to prefer including our very own RotoFanatic projections.
|Ronald Acuna Jr.||ATL||1645|
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||SDP||1557|
Above are the top 20 projected hitters for 2021. What you’ll see is that this top-end looks much different from the first round of most fantasy leagues. Players like Trea Turner and Fernando Tatis Jr appear lower than most Roto leagues and as you get more towards the back of the top 20, guys like Anthony Rizzo begin to sneak in. This is largely due to the depressed value of stolen bases. Since the SB is not valued nearly as highly as hitting for power, those guys who get a significant value bump from SBs are going to drop in leagues like this. Additionally, Mike Trout and Juan Soto appearing 1-2 is a good indication of how valuable OBP and drawing walks are in this scoring.
Looking at pitcher projections, things near the top don’t look too different. However, a huge shock is Robbie Ray projected to finish as a top 20 pitcher. This is largely a function of the scoring system. Strikeouts are just as valuable as innings pitched and there is no penalty for hits or walks allowed. The only negative value is for earned runs. This helps flawed strikeout artists like Ray and can help make him a steal in this draft. One thing you will notice though is that pitchers are projected significantly fewer points than hitters. This may make it seem like taking an early pitcher is a waste but I look at it slightly differently.
|Ronald Acuna Jr.||ATL||1645||1.70|
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||SDP||1557||1.61|
The above table shows the top 20 players by what I am calling RelValue. This is a shorthand for Relative Value and it shows how much better a given player is than the 80th ranked player pitcher and 160th hitter. This is essentially a shorthand for a replacement level. Why did I choose those numbers? Well, assuming 3 starters for IF/OF/P and then 9 bench spots I am operating off the fact that each team will likely roster around 6 pitchers and 12 hitters. With 12 teams in each league, this means around 80 pitchers rostered and 160 hitters.
So when comparing deGrom and Trout, although Trout is expected to heavily outscore deGrom, deGrom is twice as good as a replacement-level pitcher which Trout is projected to be 80% better than replacement. In my eyes, this makes deGrom the easy top pick in any draft. I tend to loosely follow these guidelines for team and roster building.
The second major piece to the puzzle is positional allotment. In any best ball format, you need to make sure that you have the necessary pieces to cover any potential injuries. The drawback of the format is that there are not any multi-positional eligible guys but regardless we can still build out a rather string bench to cover any concerns. I have usually gone one of two ways with bench construction. The first is a fully even approach, rostering 3 additional OF/IF/P each to have 6 of each spot on my roster. This will likely lead to me avoiding zeros all season but I feel it may be the safer approach. If I do not land a super high-end pitcher early, I will likely be pivoting to the second approach, 2 bench OF/IF, and then 5 bench pitchers. This is mainly because once I do not get a top-end guy I am attacking pitching from a more is more approach. Instead of trying to remain balanced, I will front-load my offense and then take several different high-k flawed pitchers chasing the big point weeks. Overall, this should afford me some more upside potential especially if a few of those arms take a leap.
This is just a general idea of my personal Underdog Fantasy thought process and approach and I think it should be extremely helpful for you in building your rosters and for making a run at those big overall titles. Best of luck in 2021 in every league you do.