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Friday 24th Mar 2017

It is that time of year - following the various expert league drafts - when we industry members invariably brag about our astute roster selections and our teams in their entirety (and sometimes gripe about the same). As there are lessons to be shared and learned through thoughtful analysis of both good moves and bad, this process can hold value - so I don’t mean to dismiss it out of hand.

On the other hand, I don’t find it particularly illustrative when folks proudly share their version of projected league standings based on a comparative view of rosters as drafted.

Guess what? Most of the time - though not always - the team drafted by the owner that originated the projections is expected to finish on top!

No kidding. If you can’t put together a team that maximizes the value inherent in your own projections, what does that say about your drafting preparation and execution?

On the flip side of the coin, if someone else’s stats identify your team as a sure bottom-dweller, so what?

Last year at this time, my honeymoon period as National League Tout Wars champion was abruptly truncated when one well-known industry report projected my then newly-drafted 2010 team to be solidly positioned in 13th – in other words, dead last.

Later, I gained some measure of satisfaction. When all was said and done, I finished in second place while that predictor was mired deep in the second division. It didn’t change my motivation, however, as I always play to win.

Whose projections are best is an ongoing and unanswerable debate which should provide fuel for everyone preparing them to never be satisfied. For you as the consumer, it is far less about the numbers themselves and much more about how you use them. In fact, I went into the National League Tout Wars draft last weekend with only tiers - no exact player dollar values - and felt I had more flexibility as a result.

As noted, the end game of who actually wins a league is what matters, but many variables water down the initial effect of the draft. Six months of considerable changes follow, spun by injury, ineffectiveness, emergence, promotion and the like.

Even on draft day, given the same base projections, different drafters may deploy wildly varied roster composition strategies. They will assess different levels of risk, make different spending decisions deployed at different rates and the like.

In other words, anyone taking solace from or being discouraged by preseason projections should immediately abandon this approach.

For reasons that will be explained below, I ran the NL Tout Wars rosters through our MastersDraft software using Mastersball standard projections dated March 17. In this view, our own Rob Leibowitz came out of the draft with the highest-scoring team. I am third. (I have to wonder if the projected second-place team owner is a Mastersball subscriber. He shall remain anonymous to protect his business.)

Having had lunch with Rob after last Sunday’s draft, I can assure you that neither of us is planning to take off the next six months.

Even if you believe you have the best team coming out of your draft, does that mean you still shouldn’t try to do everything possible to win? Overconfidence offers an almost sure recipe for failure.

Once your draft is over and the initial and expected excitement is past, don’t take your foot off the pedal. Spend a bit of time to evaluate your roster in a calm, detached manner. This process is important to help you set a course for the early months of the season.

Some will tell you to not take corrective action until Memorial Day, and I can understand that if the possible changes are drastic. On the other hand, even if your club appears sound out of the gate, why not anticipate potential problems and be ready to take pre-emptive action? Spending FAAB wisely early on will provide a better opportunity for return.

To be honest, the only reason I took the time to run the numbers for NL Tout was to assess in which categories my team may fall short. You can bet my early spending will be oriented toward correcting those potential weaknesses.

The nature of those particular areas on my specific roster is not going to be interesting to this audience. Your take-away is my advice to follow a similar thought process in your league, doing everything possible to get out ahead of the pack and remain there. After all, the draft, while an important first step, is only that.

Most importantly, may you be successful in your drafts and leagues in 2011!

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 13-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC that season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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