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Sunday 18th Feb 2018

The #MockDraftArmy--as curated by @RotoBuzzGuy (Howard Bender, of Fantasy Alarm)--is alive and well, and this past week the Army completed the first drafts of 2016.

I participated in two: a 12-team mixed on Wednesday, and the next evening, a 15-team mixed (see links for results), and while I wound up with basic strategies for each format, I think this time it is important to take a look at just how different things are with the addition of three teams to the mix.

On Wednesday, I selected in the nine slot, while Thursday, in the seventh slot. Off the top, seventh in a 15-team league is a tough place, for it is just far enough to project, but too close to plan much effectively long-term. 

For both teams I tried to focus enough on pitching such that I was willing to grab starters despite pitching depth. On Wednesday, I waited late for closers, selecting Roberto Osuna (18) and Arodys Vizcaino (19), while Thursday, with 15 teams, I went Kenley Jansen in round six and Jeurys Familia in nine.

Uncharacteristically, I went for outfielders with three of my first four picks in the 15-team set up, while waiting and assembling a great cluster of young flychasers over rounds 8-12 with a break at 10 for Lance McCullers.

Looking at both make-ups, remember that 66 more players go off the board in the 15-team set up, making a 12-team format feel pretty shallow. For example, my last pick Wednesday was filling my second catcher slot with Jason Castro, who can hit with power, but not a lot more, while Thursday I made a last ditch scramble for saves with Hunter Strickland. Strickland was not selected Wednesday.

OK, so let's look at a few guys and see if we can derive anything that might help us get a feel for our pending March drafts and auctions. Mind you, I still have no use for ADP; however, I do understand ADP does provide a window into when opponents favor a particular player, whether I covet the guy or not.

Michael Brantley: The Indians outfielder, who is out until May following shoulder surgery, was a 5.5 selection Wednesday while he somehow dropped to 14.2 the next night. That is weird for though Brantley misses a month, imagine where Troy Tulowitzki would be taken were he to miss a month, especially in a deeper league. I might have jumped on Brantley Thursday, but as stated, I loaded on power and speed in the outfield early so I looked to fill holes elsewhere. That is almost 100 picks later.

Stephen Piscotty: Kind of the same, as I nabbed Piscotty at 13.9 Wednesday, while Steve Gardner could wait till 17.9 the next night to grab the fine young Cardinals first sacker/outfielder. Again, I was not looking at first and the outfield, so Piscotty was not on my wish list or queue, but in retrospect, he should have been. This comes out to a 60-pick difference. Odd.

Zack Greinke: Selected as the second starting pitcher, at 2.2 Thursday, but dropped to the fifth round (5.3) with seven hurlers preceding the new D-back on the Wednesday pick list. There were 45 picks in between.

Danny Valencia: I like the Athletics third sacker and had planned on him as a late corner/utility type player. I did grab Valencia with the 22.4 selection Wednesday, but he was long gone by then Thursday, going 17.5, almost 75 players earlier.

Miguel Sano: Ok, so there was a bit of a gap with a lot of the players--stars and filler alike--but what about the youngsters we love? Well, Sano was 10.7 Wednesday, and Thursday, just ten picks later at 11.5.

Carlos Correa: Best for last? I don't know. I do like Correa, but as a first-rounder, the young shortstop really needs to generate $35-plus of value to make the pick worth it. That is a lot to ask, especially when Josh Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP, was taken after Correa in both instances. But Correa went 1.5 on Wednesday, and just two later at 1.7 on Thursday. Correa might be good, and have upside. He could earn those $35, but what taking Correa that early does is give lower drafters in the snake a better shot at safer bets.

However, remember that the function of mock drafts is three-fold. First, it reinforces a broad-based knowledge of the player pool, which is always a good thing. Second, mocks do give a chance to see how others value guys like Correa, for better or worse. But third, and most important, mocks offer a chance to try some things, mix it up, and see what falls. Like a Michael Brantley in the 14th.

Remember, you can follow me @lawrmichaels.

Note: If you are reading this, that suggests more than a passing interest in fantasy games. Please do write to your local lawmakers and tell them of your love of playing and desire to keep on playing, while keeping the game fair--and regulated--for all. Visit the FSTA site for more information (and thanks).

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