We dedicate a lot of our time and prep discussion on the larger 15 team NFBC-style drafts. We also have a lot of discussion centered on the many AL and NL only leagues the staff participates in. Still, the reality is the vast majority of fantasy players, including myself, still play in numerous 12 team leagues every year. For me, it is always a challenge to recalibrate my thinking after being immersed in 15 team prep and drafts for months, but being as two of my big industry drafts are 12 team leagues, it is entirely necessary.
Yesterday I was scheduled to take part in the RCL Champions League, a 12 team league that is part of the overall competition of subscriber leagues at Razzball.com. The league, as the name suggests, consists of owners who won their leagues last year and all leagues are hosted on ESPN. As the reigning champion of the “Experts” league last year, I was invited to jump in and draft with this group as well, and I welcomed the chance to get a little “preview” before I draft with the Razzball.com “Experts” tomorrow night.
As the draft date approached, I unfortunately had a conflict. I would have to partake in a Dynasty Auction on the same day as this league. Not wanting to drop out, I enlisted the help of my buddy Nick, to be my co-owner and most importantly my proxy for this draft. Working with a teammate in fantasy is always a delicate balance, but after a quick strategy session, I turned the keys of the draft over to my partner. Since the auction I was in was a 24-team online draft, I was able to open this draft in a separate window and we actually were able to communicate on every pick and talk about guys we liked. It actually worked out better than I thought it would, and helped that we were actually in a part of the auction where I was sitting back a bit anyway.
For context, this was a 25 round draft (1 C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI, 5OF, UT, 9P, 3 RES) with standard 5x5 categories. One wrinkle in these RCL leagues is a 180 games started limit and a 1000 IP minimum. This helps neutralize streaming a bit while also discouraging All-RP strategies.
Our strategy going in was fairly loose, but the basic goals were to get three quality 1B eligible players for our 1B/CI/UT slots, wait as long as possible to grab a catcher, try to get at least two Top SP’s in the first 10 rounds, and grab three quality closers if we could. The closers have a little extra value in this format thanks to the games started limit, and my experience last year says there will be plenty of offense and back-end starters on the wire thanks to the shallow benches. There is also quite a bit of player movement and trades. So getting extra saves at the draft table is a solid investment.
Here is the team we drafted from the ninth spot, pick-by-pick:
1.9 – Prince Fielder – We went in thinking Fielder, Joey Votto or Albert Pujols with this pick. After Votto went fifth, I was happy when Nick suggested the guy at the top of my list.
2.4- Clayton Kershaw – We were hoping for either Giancarlo Stanton or Justin Upton, but neither made it. Jose Reyes and Troy Tulowitski went as well. We had discussed prior to the draft that 3B would be somewhere we might wait and briefly flirted with Bryce Harper. We decided to grab Kershaw which would allow us to delay our second SP a bit.
3.9 – Jay Bruce – We missed out on Adam Jones by one pick. I actually advocated Chase Headley and Allen Craig as fallbacks. Craig was buried down the rankings, so we were confident he would make it around. My partner preferred Bruce, and I didn’t argue.
4.4 – Allen Craig – Craig was my target here, although he may have made it to my next pick. Ben Zobrist was intriguing as was Paul Goldschmidt. We went Craig after noticing Jason Kipnis and Brandon Phillips would likely be there next round, while 1B options were going fast. Craig OF eligibility nudged him ahead of Adrian Gonzalez and Goldy, who went with the next two picks.
5.9 – Jason Kipnis – Both Kipnis and Phillips were there, so Nick took my hometown favorite for me.
6.4 – Desmond Jennings - Brett Lawrie was our first thought here, but Nick argued for Jennings speed. I was fine with this since I like a lot of 3B later on.
7.9 – Kris Medlen – I had us locked on Jordan Zimmerman for this pick but he didn’t make it. Medlen was Nick’s fallback option after Zimmerman was snatched. We debated catchers since Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana were all available, but decided to stick with the plan to wait.
8.4 – Jason Motte – I’ll admit if I was in the draft room I likely would have drafted Santana here, so good thing Nick was there to keep us on point. He actually suggested grabbing Motte, as the second closer off the board, in hopes of starting a run. I fully endorsed getting the Cardinal as our bullpen anchor. Four closers went after, so a mini-run if you will.
9.9 – Yovanni Gallardo – Gallardo was the arm that slid in this draft, and we decided to scoop him up. We had a good trio up top and would focus on bats and bullpen for awhile.
10.4 – Mike Moustakas – We found the board a little stale at this point, and 3B was drying up. Kyle Seager was there, but Nick doesn’t share the MB enthusiasm on him. Nick asked if I wanted him to grab Mooose for me, and I texted back “Sure”. I think the breakout is coming, but concede this was a slight reach.
11.9 – Josh Rutledge – We went in looking at SS at a position to wait on possible, and were looking either Erick Aybar or Rutledge. After Aybar closed out the 10th Round we decided to pull the trigger on Rutledge as the ninth SS off the board. He’ll also provide dual eligibility after a couple week and nice 20/20 upside.
12.4 – Adam LaRoche – Not an exciting pick, but we got our third CI, to provide some coverage and added punch at a bargain price considering Eric Hosmer, Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo
were all drafted 5 rounds earlier.
13.9 – Addison Reed – The second run of closers started at the end of Round 11. We waited and scooped up Reed, who profiles as a perfect second closer.
14.4 – Corey Hart – We discussed Will Middlebrooks and Michael Cuddyer here, but opted for the sneaky grab of Hart, giving us yet another 1B eligible player. We will have a DL spot to stash him on early, and with a shallow bench, that will give us an extra roster spot to play with early in the year.
15.9 – Miguel Montero – We were waiting on Montero or Salvador Perez. When Perez went to start this round, we took the cue and grabbed Montero as the 10th C off the board.
16.4 – Rafael Betancourt – Our plan coming in was to get a third closer if possible, and Betancourt fell into our lap at a point where we couldn’t pass him up. Honestly I don’t think he should’ve been there for us to steal.
17.9 – Coco Crisp – We opted for the best stolen base threat left on the board in Crisp. At least he can chip in a little more power than your average “Judy”.
18.4 – Marco Scutaro – We needed a MI and there wasn’t a ton left. I lobbied for Jedd Gyorko, but Nick preferred the versatile Scutaro. I let him take the lead on this one.
19.9 – Lance Lynn – We had waited a long time to get our fourth starter. Lynn fits the profile there.
20.4 – David Murphy – We opted for Murphy over some other options primarily for the batting average balance he will bring to the end of our roster.
21.9 – Wil Myers – Drafting two weeks ahead of the season, and with a short bench to boot, we decided to use some of our final spots on top prospects. They have value in a trading league as someone is always willing to stash one.
22.4 – Shelby Miller – Nick loves Miller and I like him as well. There is a lot of player movement in these leagues, especially at the back-end of pitching staffs. We like Miller’s upside.
23.9 – Justin Maxwell – A MB sleeper, this was actually Nick’s call all the way. We need a body while Hart is on the DL, so Maxwell was the choice to start out.
24.4 – Jurickson Profar – We both agreed that MI was the weak spot in the lineup, and decided to roster Profar and see what happens down in Texas. We will try to hang onto him as long as possible I think.
25.9 – Wade Davis – Last pick of the draft was my call, and I went with Wade Davis. I have a feeling about him to start the year, but truth be told, this will likely be a fungible spot on our roster.
We achieved a lot of our goals going in, and think we have built a team that will contend in this league. I definitely was glad to get familiar with the default rankings in the ESPN draft room, and hopefully that will serve me well in the “Experts” draft tonight. I will likely publish those results tomorrow in my regular column.
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