Jayne Kamin-Oncea

Fantasy Baseball Reader Response: 14-Team H2H League Help

Shawn Childs, the Fantasy Rainman, responds to a reader's question about his 14-team H2H Fantasy Baseball league.

(Editor's note: Senior Fantasy Baseball Expert Shawn Childs received a note from one of our readers regarding H2H leagues and how to strategize for his league. Shawn went above and beyond with this response article. That's just the Scout Fantasy way. If you aren't already a premium member, take your game to the next level by JOINING NOW!)

From: A Scout Fantasy Premium Member!

Most of your articles are talking about the NFBC drafts/leagues, which I find fascinating, though I don't think I have the knowledge to join just yet. I am wondering how you would work a weekly H2H category draft and if it would deviate from your high stakes leagues.

Little background of the league: 14 teams, h2h, category. Hitting: R, RBI, SB, Total Bases, Average. Pitching: Wins, K's, ERA, Whip, Net Saves, Quality Starts. Roster: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, OF, OF, OF, Utility. Pitching: 3 SP, 2RP, 3P. Bench: 5 slots. DL: 3 slots. NA: 1 (minor league that doesn't take up bench until called up)

Most teams end up with one bench hitter and the rest pitchers. As you can see hitting seems very shallow (even with 14 teams). Possibly having eight starting hitters and the ability to roster 11 SPs (even more if you punt saves and don't draft RP's). Adam (Ronis) has always talked about punting a category in this type of format. Do you feel the same and if so which category would you punt?

I have the fourth overall pick and am planning to go with Paul Goldschmidt if he's there but am in love with Harper which might be too early for him.Would you be more inclined to attack pitching earlier seeing that I only need eight hitters (punting catcher till really late in 1 catcher format)? (This is a Yahoo league, and Schwarber is C eligible.)

I know it's hard for you to answer who to target per round as every draft is different but how many pitchers should I aim to have before the 10th round pick? Sorry for the long message - I know you are busy and have other stuff to read! Thanks again!

Shawn Childs' response:

I’ve only played in one to head-to-head league in my life, and it was on Yahoo. So here’s my run at your rules and my thoughts:

Based on this league favoring starting pitching, I would be very interested in Clayton Kershaw with my first pick. With overall pitching fading some in 2016, he has even more of an edge. Of course with any starting pitcher, a Fantasy owner is excepting more risk than many batters. My goal would be pitching strong while drafting as many balanced players as possible on offense.

If Kershaw is drafted, Paul Goldschmidt is a great five-category player to start your team. If you believe in Bryce Harper, there is nothing wrong with moving him up. The Nationals’ lineup will be improved, and he can add value in all categories. Here’s my write-up:

Don’t let the huge drop in batting average for Harper fool you. His game had plenty of growth in 2016 despite regression across the board in the counting stats. His downtick was due to bum shoulder leading to a massive drop in his CTBA (.316 - .441 in 2015). Bryce had the lowest K rate (18.7) of his career with two straight seasons of improvement. He maintained an elite walk rate (17.2). His swing had value in batting average in every other month (April – .286, May – .200, June – .280, July – .176, August – .310, and September – .210). Harper had his best power month in April (nine HRs and 24 RBI over 77 at bats). His HR/FB rate (14.3) was well below 2015 (27.3). Bryce lost the rhythm of his swing path leading to fewer line drives (17.2) and more fly balls (42.4). It’s almost like he tried to hit more fly balls in his quest to raise his HR total. I like his improved value in his RBI rate (16). Harper is one of the best players in the game, and he should be treated that way on draft day. He’ll have speed in front of him in the batting order with stronger overall skill sets. I expect Harper to have the most RBI chances of his career. The growth in his approach points to a potential huge edge in batting average with a healthier shoulder. I’ll set the bar at the top shelf: .320 with 120+ runs, 40+ HRs, 120+ RBI, and 20+ steals, which is worthy of being the first pick overall. Bryce is a complete steal in the early draft season (ADP of 11).

If you have a stronger foundation in aces, your team should be excellent in starting pitching in weeks when Kershaw and your other top arms have double starts plus the fifth category added to starters (qualify starts) adds even more value starting pitching.

Another thought by being pitching strong would be an opportunity to use your bench better to add more at bats in some weeks. If your best arms have double starts, you shouldn’t need to add three pitchers off the waiver wire in multiple weeks. This would be important in weeks when a lot of teams play seven games.

First, here's the color code key so you understand each list's highlights:

Here’s a look at the top 20 players at all the infield positions and top 60 outfielders based on ADPs to give you a feel for your options to build your offense:

I agree on waiting on a catcher. They don’t play every day plus the top catchers don’t offer enough of an edge of drafted early. For the record, Kyle Schwarber would be a serious consideration for the top option at catcher in your format. I would still need to draft him at a fair price.

You should have decent options at first base in the second, third, fourth, and fifth rounds if you decide to pass on Goldschmidt.

Tough to believe you can get away with a Dee Gordon in this format unless he goes much later in the draft. There will be two teams with edge base stealer with complementary power.

You mentioned possibly punting a category earlier. In a H2H format, you could get away with dumping batting average. Your team will still hit will in some weeks. This would allow you to target say a Chris Davis and Todd Frazier later in the draft. Frazier would add speed as well. Depending on draft flow, you may be able to land a better option at first base rather than take on Davis if you thought the plan was overkill. Third base is strong up top, but it does have upside depth.

On the same theory with fading batting average, Trevor Story and Addison Russell could make sense plus Brad Miller may be viable if he can hit 20+ home runs again.

If you went for Kershaw in the first, you would be shopping in this aisle in round two or three. There will plenty of power through the fifth round in the outfield.

The best power options with middle of the order opportunity will be gone after Jose Bautista is picked. This will force many Fantasy owners to look for a balanced outfielder as their third outfielder.

In the next 20 outfielders, there is some upside and possible breakout candidates plus low average power.

If this were me in this draft, I would figure out what my goal for my team should be on offense each week. In knowing what the targets are for 12 and 15 team leagues with 5 X 5 Roto formats. I would look at back at the top 14 players at each position to give me a feel for what kind of team structure I would be looking for to be competitive each week in hitting.

The bottom line is to have a plan while understanding the best opportunities to build you roster. This format dictates starting pitching, but you can’t win without having a solid offense. I would look at each offensive position to see where I can make drop downs to help my team in another area. This would point me to game plan as far when to pick which players. Every draft is different, and these ADPs could be way off a home league or even one used on a different site.

If you feel you know pitching very well and you have an edge in knowledge in this area over your league mates, it may push you back toward Goldschmidt or Harper. Sometimes there aren’t wrong answers to start your Fantasy roster; just different paths to the finish line.

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