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Fantasy Baseball: Ten tips to a successful draft: #9 and #10
by: Jamey Codding
Pg 2 of 2

Tip #10: Be flexible

The final tip in this five-part series is a great one, something that not too many owners consider on draft day. We all know injuries can severely damage your championship hopes -- losing a couple key players in one week can ruin an entire season. And while there's no way to avoid injuries, there is a way to at least make sure the effect they have on your roster is minimized:

Draft flexibility.

I always laugh when owners waste valuable bench space on washed-up veterans with no upside and long-shot rookies with virtually no chance of contributing early on. Of course, if you've got an expanded reserve roster or you play in keeper leagues, veterans and rookies carry much more value, but everyone else usually has just a precious few bench slots to work with, meaning stashing a prospect for a couple months while he gets more seasoning in the minors isn't really an option. Instead, bench spots should be used to back up the weakest areas of your roster, and the more positions you've solidified the better prepared you'll be when an injury hits.

So instead of taking an average outfielder or first baseman who will hit maybe .280 with 15 or 20 homers, why not select a guy who qualifies at two, three or even four different positions? Maybe he's not quite as talented as that outfielder you were looking at, and maybe he doesn't have the big name that some other players own, but assuming he's a capable hitter who plays on at least a somewhat regular basis, he'll likely bring much more value to your roster than those other guys because of his versatility.

Think about it for a second -- say you've got three bench slots filled with two pitchers and a reserve outfielder. You can only activate that position player as an outfielder and, if your league allows it, a utility hitter, leaving you with few options. So what happens if your stud second baseman gets hurt and you don't have a backup? Either you drop someone to pick up a replacement or you simply live with that dead roster spot until he returns. Neither option is a very appealing one.

But if you have someone like Oakland's Mark Ellis on your bench, who likely qualifies at second, third and short in most leagues, you suddenly have a backup for three different positions, making it much easier for you to deal with an injury in the short-term. He may not seem like a very good permanent solution but Ellis is the kind of guy who will give you some solid production while in your starting lineup, allowing you to look for a better replacement either through trades or free agency. Plus, with that added flexibility, you may not have to make a panicked roster decision because, at least as a stopgap, your bench player will work just fine. And if you've got a couple of these super subs on your fantasy pine, you just may find yourself with a capable backup at nearly every position.

But drafting someone like Ellis or Anaheim's Scott Spezio, who qualifies at first, third and the outfield, is even more appealing if you play in a league that allows daily transactions. You may have a one-position player sitting on the bench when he breaks out for a two-homer game because you didn't have an active roster spot open for him that day, whereas with Spiezio, a .280 hitter who often gets overlooked because of his mediocre power numbers, you can slide him into several different positions if your starters have the day off, increasing the chances of you cashing in on a career day at the plate.

Of course, you just may find it too difficult to pass on a particular outfielder or third baseman who somehow slid to the back-end of your draft, and I'm certainly not suggesting you should overlook a potential late-round steal because he only qualifies at one position. But if you're hoping to fill up your final bench spots and the available options aren't very attractive, why not save yourself some potential mid-season hardships by drafting a backup for two or three different positions with just one player? That kind of roster flexibility can be a priceless commodity throughout the season.

Hopefully, these 10 tips all offered some valuable draft-day insight. Please feel free to e-mail me at with any questions you may have throughout the season, and don't forget to check out the recent columns from Chuck Papenfus, our fantasy writer. He'll be providing fantasy tips every Monday or Tuesday this year while also giving regular updates of the league we're competing in together this season -- we drafted this past Sunday so be sure to read through Chuck's new column for a rundown of the festivities

Good luck in all your upcoming drafts!

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