No matter what aspect of life, versatility is key. Do you want to stand out at work? Be able to handle as many different responsibilities as possible. You want to ensure playing time on your sports team? Be able to play a number of positions, that way, you can get moved around to accommodate the substitutes coming into the game. You may agree, but be wondering why you are hearing how to be most useful at your job when you came to read a Fantasy sports article? Well, versatility is certainly key in Fantasy Baseball.
Think about it, if one of your outfielders go down, you are forced to search the waiver wire for another one. However, if you had a player like Ben Zobrist, you could search the waiver wire for players at a number positions, add the best player, and move Zobrist to accommodate the change. Yeah, it is nice to have multi-position eligible players in Fantasy Baseball. But, just how valuable is it?
To me, the versatility should give just a slight boost to those players, or be used as a tiebreaker. While you would like to have these guys on your team, your ultimate goal should be to put out the best possible roster. While owning Zobrist would be nice, if there are better second basemen and outfielders on the board, you take the better player. However, if there are two closely-ranked players that you are torn over and one is multi-position eligible, that is an instance in which you take the guy that gives you lineup flexibility.
It is important to spend some time going over the player pool in your draft and identifying the players that are multi-position eligible. Every Fantasy site, and league for that matter, has a unique set of
eligibility rules. Some require that five games be played at a position the previous season, while some require 10 or 20. Knowing this will not only give you lineup flexibility during the season, but in the draft as well. For instance, my co-host Frank Stampfl is participating in an NFBC draft and took Kris Bryant with his first pick. He was all set on using him at third base, but needing five outfielders, the position dries up quickly. Later in the draft, he quickly realized that there were better third basemen available than outfielders. He threw Bryant into his outfield slot and ended up taking a different third baseman. This is the way to exploit multi-position eligible players.
It is also important to follow the news and know players who will be playing different positions this year. Two big examples that come to mind are Trea Turner, who will quickly gain shortstop eligibility, and Ian Desmond, who is penciled in as the Rockies everyday first baseman. Why is this important? Because these players will not head into the season with these positions (although Turner should have second and outfield), but still allow you the flexibility in the draft that I discussed. Can you actually slot those guys into those spots in your lineup during the draft? No, but if you play accordingly, you can after a week or two of the season. For example, I drafted Hanley Ramirez in a number of leagues last year to fill an outfield spot. However, I waited on first base and did not like the options that remained on the board, so I took an outfielder that I liked more than any of the remaining first baseman. After the first week of the season, I slotted HanRam into my first base spot, and that’s where he stayed the remainder of the season. All I had to do was find a first baseman to stream the first week of the season. This is an advantage that Fantasy owners often overlook.
My piece of advice for owners looking to take advantage of this is use the multi-positional eligible player that you draft at the position that shores up the quickest. Do not feel you have to have that player locked into one spot. That actually takes away the advantage of having one of these players.
This advice comes with one caveat: never, and I mean NEVER, play a catcher anywhere but the catcher position. Yeah, you may think Buster Posey or Jonathan Lucroy get a bump in value because they can be used at first base and at catcher. Nope. Using them anywhere but the catcher position completely saps them of the whole advantage you get by drafting them. For instance, in points leagues, they finished as the Top 2 catchers. But at first base? Posey finished 16th and Lucroy 20th. So not only are you losing the advantage at catcher, but you are actually putting yourself in the hole at first base.
Let’s use Posey as an example again for Roto leagues. Here is how Posey ranked in 2016 amongst catchers: 14 homers finished tied for 11th, 82 runs finished first, 80 RBIs finished tied for second, six stolen bases finished tied for third, .288 batting average finished seventh. How would he fair amongst qualified first basemen? He would have ranked 21st in homers, 12th in runs, 18th in RBIs, tied for sixth in steals and seventh in average. Again, you are wasting the advantage of taking a top catcher using them at another position.
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