Fantasy Baseball: Seven pieces of draft advice to ensure success in 2024

I can’t say that I was in on the ground floor of fantasy baseball, but I was pretty close. I’ve been playing this game since shortly after I gained access to the internet, and along the way I’ve experimented with nearly every imaginable strategy. Every league is different, but here are my best strategies to ensure success in 2024 Yahoo leagues.

1. Five-Category Contributors

With the league-wide increase in stolen bases, there has also been a rise in hitters who contribute in most categories. These players are the safest ones to draft, as they could experience a decline in one area and still retain most of their value. During the COVID-shortened 2020 season, I completed some research on players who produce extreme totals in one category, and the findings were clear that these men rarely meet expectations the following season. For example, a roster constructed with many 20-20 players is more likely to finish with strong overall totals in both homers and steals than one who ties all their power hopes to a few sluggers and all their speed expectations on a couple base stealers.

2. Two Closers

After briefly flirting with the idea of a bullpen-by-committee, most MLB teams have returned to having one reliever in the traditional closer’s role. The slight shift in strategy resulted in a dozen men earning more than 30 saves last year and another 11 pitchers surpassing the 20-save plateau. Many teams are using their best reliever in the ninth inning, which increases the chances that their closer will fare well enough to keep the role. Managers should be prepared to leave their 2024 draft with two locked-in closers from a group that is at least 15 pitchers deep. My 2024 draft plan is to let my competitors pull about six closers off the board before jumping in and grabbing two in consecutive rounds. One of my favorite targets in that scenario is Alexis Díaz. I also like Craig Kimbrel, who you can admittedly get much later.

[Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for the 2024 MLB season]

3. Near-Ace Trio

Starting pitchers may be harder to predict than ever before. Teams are managing workloads carefully, and there are few hurlers who have truly separated from the pack. There are several potential stars on the horizon, but many of these youngsters likely need another year or two before they can maximize their effectiveness across a large volume of innings. For these reasons, this is a great year to attack starting pitchers through quantity rather than quality. I’m fine with the idea of selecting Spencer Strider in Round 1 or grabbing Corbin Burnes in Round 2. But after that duo has disappeared from my draft queue, I’m likely to wait a few rounds before selecting a trio of starters between Rounds 5-10.

4. Superstar Hitters

By now, you can piece together my plan for 2024 drafts. My best advice is to draft hitters in most of the initial rounds of your draft. As a rough estimate, I plan on taking hitters most of the initial five rounds before selecting pitchers with most picks between rounds 6-10. There are plenty of hitters who can significantly contribute to all five categories, and I want a few of them. And if I can offer a tip within a tip — I couldn’t care less about the position of the hitters I take in the early rounds. Position scarcity isn’t a factor in the current fantasy landscape, and there are late-round options that I can live with at any position.

5. Devalue Catchers

This advice is specifically for those in default Yahoo leagues or other formats that use just one catcher in the starting lineup. The catcher pool is deep this year, with more than 12 backstops who should produce a serviceable stat line. And although there are a few men such as Adley Rutschman and J.T. Realmuto who are more than simply serviceable, they are not true fantasy stars. I’m ready to be the last team in my league to draft a catcher, which is part of a bigger plan to stream the position through the waiver wire until I find someone special.

6. Prime Players

Many major leaguers follow a pattern of improving during their early 20s, achieving peak production between the ages of 26-32, and then slowly declining during the remainder of their career. Although it’s fine to grab a couple high-ceiling youngsters or ageless veterans, a roster that is predominantly filled with players in their prime provides the best odds of enjoying plentiful production.

7. Get YOUR Guys

My final piece of advice is a big one for me this year. We are deep into the information age in fantasy sports. We know more about each player than ever before, and there are plenty of algorithms and projection systems that are publicly available and provide sensible estimates for how each player will perform. But the essence of fantasy sports — the reason these contests originated — is the quest to benefit from correctly identifying players who are set to succeed in the coming season. My challenge to every manager this year is to identify a few players you believe in, and make sure you get them in your drafts. Watching those players succeed will be more enjoyable than any other feeling you can experience in this great game.