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Friday 19th Jan 2018

Like many fantasy players, I took in some of the proceedings from the LABR auctions last weekend. Held in Phoenix and broadcast worldwide on Sirius XM satellite radio, the annual American and National League auction drafts are sponsored by USAToday, with Steve Gardner at the helm.

These drafts provide a start-of-spring-games view of player valuations as demonstrated by an impressive cast of industry notables. The 2012 competitors include our own Perry Van Hook (AL) and Lawr Michaels (NL) with Don Drooker serving as a most capable auctioneer for the AL draft. Van Hook doubled up as NL auctioneer.

It is refreshing and exciting to see these drafts being opened up to the world in real time, not only on a one-way basis via online draft spreadsheets and the radio broadcasts, but also via two-way communication through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Fantasy Sports Radio commentators did a fine job in discussing the flow of the drafts, analyzing strategies of the bidders and conducting interviews. The online comments from the masses were not as valuable.

Following some of the reactions from the afar viewers as the drafts unfolded proved illustrating, but other commenters were downright mean-spirited as much as they were potentially misinformed.

It is easy from the relatively-anonymous position of one’s easy chair to question the amount paid for a player. Some seem to lack understanding that the dynamics of a draft require adjustment and those who stick doggedly to the numbers on their sheet will be left behind. Yet when done properly, these questions can open up some good dialogue and learning.

It is another thing entirely to completely rip into a selection without offering anything to back it up other than emotion. I can’t help but wonder why some of these self-anointed experts believe they are savvier than the industry league drafters. Sure, anyone can make a mistake, and they do, but who is truly qualified to define a mistake and when can they do that with any certainty?

Again, differences of opinion about any publicized draft is expected and encouraged. Yet when one distills these kinds of reactions to their essence, the core issue is generally a simple difference of opinion as to players’ values.

Who is to say who will be proven to be right and who will be wrong seven months from now? There are many, many sets of projections around, but no one will be accurate in projecting every player’s results. Ever.

Here are a couple of examples that remind me how real this is and how fine the line between success and being an also-ran might be.

In 2009, the season I won NL Tout Wars, one well-known industry competitor publicized his projected standings based on league rosters as drafted. I was last. Not surprisingly, he was at or near the top.

That was as it should be, he believed in his numbers and drafted his team accordingly. So did I. As the season’s various twists and turns presented themselves, the final standings ended up being very different from what he expected – basically reversed. Still, that doesn’t make either one of us wrong or right.

Last season, I did the same effort using our MastersDraft software – not for publication, but just for my own curiosity. A key point is that the basis of my study was Mastersball’s projections. Given that, the fact that our Rob Leibowitz was on top in the post-draft standings could be anticipated. (I was third.)

It was hardly foolproof, however. The eventual winner of the league in 2011, Gardner, was just ninth in our projected standings. Does that mean Steve’s projections were golden and ours were garbage? Of course not. When all was said and done, I finished second with Rob third.

What might you take away from this? If you think you nailed your draft, don’t sit back and put your team on auto pilot. Manage as if you were picked to finish last.

On the other side of the coin, if someone else believes your draft is terrible, don’t take it to heart. Stick to your plan. Use the perceived snub as motivation to prove him wrong.

There are immeasurable ways to reach the top, and as you know, draft day is only the beginning. A winning strategy might even include paying an extra couple of dollars on draft day than someone else might think is prudent.

Expect it and most importantly, be able to put it into proper perspective and perhaps even learn from it. Just maybe that other guy knew something you didn’t that you can file away for future use.

If there is nothing to be learned, just keep quiet and hope that he is in your league so you can beat him. Ultimately, winning your way is all that really matters.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com and in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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