January 15, 2014 posted by Dan Strafford

Fantasy Baseball 2014 – The Strategery Dept. – Tiers From Heaven

Fantasy Baseball 2014 – The Strategery Dept. – Tiers From Heaven
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Eric Clapton once laid down the melancholy tune Tiers in Heaven, about a fantasy baseball owner who learned too late in life that tiering his rankings was the most effective way to prepare for a fantasy baseball draft.  Alright, maybe that wasn’t the correct title of the song and just maybe, the song was about something else, but creating tiers will greatly enhance your chances of getting to fantasy heaven; winning a championship.

The act of tiering your rankings is as important to your fantasy baseball draft preparation as knowing what 5×5 represents or making sure to uncheck “auto-draft” before each pick.  Tiers allow you flexibility, peace of mind and a consistent approach.  This applies to both serpentine and auction drafts.  It can certainly also apply to daily fantasy baseball as well.

Creating your tiers depends on understanding your format and having a customized ranking system for your league.  While taking rankings and tiers from a website or magazine may get you by in your league, it’s important to recognize that these are done from the highest level and may not account for the smaller intricacies of league’s format.   It may seem glaring, but does your league track batting average or on-base percentage?

You might rank Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo differently in each of those leagues.  Does your league count batter strikeouts as a negative? You have to think of the impact on guys like Adam Dunn. If you simply use a standard rankings template, your tiers won’t accurately portray correct value.  If your tiers don’t have accurate valuations for your league, then they will be of no use to you come draft time.

Now, let’s discuss the art of creating your tiers. There is no set number of tiers you need to create per position.  You’ll want to focus down on what stat you want to mark as you difference maker.  Each league and scoring structure will force different lines to be drawn from tier to tier.  Auction drafts and point leagues provide an easier metric by which to tier.  In a serpentine roto draft, you will have to value players individually and compare them against one another rather than having specific statistical marker.  To even further evaluate your rankings, tiers and strategy take some time to strip out the names.  This will allow you to see how closely players may be, even if they don’t have the same star power.

It’s this ability that will serve you best come draft time.  You need to be flexible during both auction and serpentine drafts.  If you can plan out your wants and needs round by round, you will never have to reach or fumble for a pick.

Let’s take third base as an example. There is Miguel Carbera and then there is everyone else.  So, in creating tiers, Miggy is in the first tier all by himself.  Tier two will be where you have to start to evaluate players against one another and see what your cut off is.  Some tiers will have Adrian Beltre on his own in tier two while others will push David Wright and Evan Longoria there with him. If we are in round three of a draft and Wright was your desired pick, you would be able to adjust quickly on the fly if he went before you got too choose.  Rather than watching your time to pick tick down while you scramble for a new player, you can be safe in knowing you evaluate Longoria at nearly the same level. 

Now, as you can see below, there will be individual changes made comparatively to whatever projections you have.  We’ll use a custom report from a CBS league for the chart below. 

This becomes an invaluable process, as you get further down in your rankings.  Positions like outfield can become muddy very quickly with star names dropping down due to injury and age.  If you are able to quickly and adeptly evaluate several players of similar value, you will never pull the trigger on a name simply because they are available.


Player       Points
Cabrera Miguel 3B DET


Beltre Adrian 3B TEX


Longoria Evan 3B TB


Wright David 3B NYM


Prado Martin 3B ARI


Donaldson Josh 3B OAK


Seager Kyle 3B SEA


Zimmerman Ryan 3B WAS


Sandoval Pablo 3B SF


Headley Chase 3B SD


Machado Manny 3B BAL


Alvarez Pedro 3B PIT


Frazier Todd 3B CIN


Dominguez Matt 3B HOU


Moustakas Mike 3B KC


Ramirez Aramis 3B MIL


Lawrie Brett 3B TOR


Arenado Nolan 3B COL


Middlebrooks Will 3B BOS


Plouffe Trevor 3B MIN




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