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From Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports

Three Tips for Fantasy Baseball Salary Cap Drafting

Fantasy baseball is a grind. It’s a marathon that tests your decision making day-in and day-out for six straight months. A lot of players crap out in May or June. Turns out, the dog days of summer affects players in real life and in fantasy. This is a game of elaborate planning and constant tinkering, with a lot less luck involved as fantasy football.

The draft is no different, specifically salary cap drafts (née auction drafts). You get around $260 worth of virtual money with which to build your perfect Opening Day roster. You bid on players until every roster is filled. Salary cap drafting is an art, especially when it comes to baseball, as individual players do not matter as much as in other sports. If you’re getting ready to draft in a salary cap league for the first time, I suggest you pay attention to these three simple tips. Write them on a sticky note and set it on the side of your computer. Set them as the background of your phone. Do whatever you can to remember them, because a poorly-executed salary cap draft can dig you in an inescapable hole before the first pitch is thrown.

1. Be Patient

The beginning of fantasy baseball salary cap drafts are usually the same. People nominate the best players and go balls to the wall to get them, damn the cost. For reference, the elite of the elite usually go for around $50, give or take a few bucks either way. But guys get reckless, they always do. Someone really wants Mike Trout, and he or she has been outbidding people since he was worth $1. Someone else just jumped ahead at $56. Is that person just gonna concede defeat? After nominating Trout and bidding on him from the very beginning? No shot. That person will go to the ends of the Earth to secure Mike Trout’s services.

Let them.

These people are usually sitting at only $110 remaining after drafting their first handful of payers. Remember, stars don’t win fantasy baseball leagues. Not like fantasy football. Teams do. You need a collection of talent in order to win, not four or five studs and a bunch of mediocre players. Let these people burn themselves out. Don’t get sucked into the Mike Trout extravaganza if the price climbs too high. Hold onto your money, then start spending once you know other guys are a little tight on draft cash. That will lead to bargains on solid players, as less people will be willing and/or able to bid against you. Patience is a virtue in salary cap drafts.

2. Have a Plan

You’re probably thinking, “Have a plan? Fucking duh, Sheehan.” Well I’m not talking about your ordinary plan, like making a list of sleepers and players to avoid, something you do for a snake draft. Salary cap drafting allows for another level of planning. These types of drafts allow you to literally map out your entire roster. I suggest you do so.

Go position by position and identify what you think it will take to win your league. Determine how you can assemble to best roster for $260. This will require you project players’ salaries; there are plenty of resources for that. Nevertheless, there’s always the human element to deal with, so some players will be highly overpaid while others will be major steals. Due to this, don’t be afraid to go a few bucks over your projected salary for a player (but no more). Odds are, you’ll be able to snag another one of your guys for cheaper than you thought, so it’ll even out. If you want to be safe, have a backup plan at each position, ideally someone with a similar skillset. If you can start your draft with a clear picture of your roster at hand, you’re one step ahead of everyone who’s going in blind.

3. Mix Up Your Looks

People are ruthless in salary cap drafts. No one wants to let you get a player for a fair price if they can help it, especially if they know you want him. They’ll drive the price up on you before pulling out. Sometimes this is unavoidable, like in a league where everyone knows each other well, i.e. they probably know who you like and don’t like. But if they don’t have any kind of inkling as to who you’re looking to draft, the best way of guessing is by who you nominate and who you’re actively bidding on at every opportunity. Use that against him.

Nominate players you have no interest in. For added effect, bid on them hard and fast in the early going. Everyone’s thinking “whoa, so-and-so must really want this player.” Remember, they’re ruthless, so they’ll try to use this against you by jumping into the bidding war, even if they don’t want that specific player. So what do you do? You pull out. Let someone else take the player once he’s past his appropriate salary figure. Now they’re stuck with a bad deal, all because they thought you really wanted him. It also makes them less likely to come after you the next time you bid aggressively on someone, as they don’t know if you really want that player or not. Mix up your looks. Don’t let your opponents in on your strategy or inclinations.

Do these things, Daniel-san, and you will be in good shape after your fantasy baseball salary cap draft. I can promise you that.