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How many times during a fantasy baseball draft, real or mock, have you heard the phrase, “I wouldn’t normally take a starting pitcher this early, but I just couldn’t pass up the value here”? Too many? I’m sure. It’s about as cliché as a player telling the media that he’s in the best shape of his life on the first day of spring training. The only difference is, the guy who just drafted Clayton Kershaw in the third round was, sort of, telling the truth.
As we gear up for our fantasy baseball drafts, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the growth that we’ve seen in the fantasy sports business and what the impact is on drafts from year to year. More specifically, I’m talking about the immense coverage and the disappearance of sleepers, an annual favorite of nearly every fantasy owner. In the past, the fantasy baseball magazines and the few web sites that were out there would have their lists of players who were considered far from mainstream but expected to perform at a much higher level. It was fine back then as the circulation wasn’t what it is today and those of us who actually did the research on our own and unearthed these hidden gems actually saw it as a chance to gain an alternate opinion on these lesser known players. But with the crazy amount of coverage there is today, these sleeper lists have turned the unknown commodities into the trendiest picks of your draft and the players are losing their overall return value because every Neanderthal who can point and click is now taking them far too early in drafts. And because of that, those of us who go that extra mile in the research and draft prep need to start fighting back. We’re not going to be able to stop the hordes of writers from outing our sleepers, but what we can do is change our strategy and use our competition’s herd mentality against them.