Points leagues are essentially the rawest version of fantasy baseball. These are not players, these are stat-lines and you want to put up as many points per week as possible. Do not get too attached to underperforming players who have name-value and potential.
There is a stark difference in draft strategy when it comes to leagues with H2H/roto styles versus points. Rather than focusing on an array of categories, points leagues are a simpler, more direct version of fantasy baseball. Players with deficiencies in any particular category can overcome them by performing extraordinarily in others.
Unlike roto leagues where heavy home-run hitters can be forgiven for poor averages, there is typically no singular category acting as a saving grace for players. Everything you need in the player is averaging out, and being spit into one number weekly and if that number is not satisfactory, they may not be worth holding onto after a few months.Editor's Note: Love the strategy of season-long fantasy sports? Live for the short term gratification of DFS? Try Weekly Fantasy Sports on OwnersBox - a new weekly DFS platform. Sign up today for a FREE $50 Deposit Match. Offer expires Thursday night! Sign Up Now!
General Points League Strategies
Let's begin with the most important point - knowing your league's settings matters more than anything. If doubles are weighted relatively close to home runs, you can circumvent missing out on big power guys by focusing on strong hitters who are not as flashy. Quality starting pitchers running thin as the draft goes along? No problem, just draft guys with high strikeout percentages that can compensate for shorter outings and/or high walk rates if strikeouts are weighted disproportionately. Study your league's settings and become comfortable with the idea that you may be zigging while your league-mates zag.
Someone like Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton sounds appealing come draft day given their big power ability and notoriety, however many points leagues penalize hitters for strikeouts. Given their tendency to whiff often, it may not be prudent to invest early on in such hitters and allow someone else to make that mistake. Other hitters of note who may fall in the same realm include Matt Olson, Joey Gallo, Jorge Soler, and Eugenio Suarez.
Of course, any player could be the right player, assuming you get him at the right price. Almost every database you can draft from is flawed in some manner. There are inefficiencies galore in player pricing/ADP. End-of-bench pieces who should be drafted in the top-200 can be found at the bottom of the barrel in the 300-400 range. Digging for players coming off of down/injured years is the best way to navigate this for the most part, but also, using your knowledge of your league's settings, you can find random hitters who happen to have high averages and don't strike out a lot but fail to put up typical counting stats. These players' ADPs are in the sunken place due to it.
Someone like Luis Arraez, for example, will not be the most popular asset in rotisserie formats given his lack of home runs and RBI but because he can get on base consistently and not mess up, he could be a valuable points league option. Andrelton Simmons is another unsexy name who can consistently provide great value in points leagues given his minuscule strikeout rate and propensity to hit. Diamonds can always be found in the rough of points leagues given that they are not as popular as roto or H2H categories leagues and therefore, strategies are discussed far less online.
The biggest mistake to avoid is taking a speedster like Adalberto Mondesi or Victor Robles too early. Their ADP is inflated because of the rarity of SB nowadays. Do not fall for this ADP trap. Their per-game average will look like hitters you can nab deeper in drafts unless stolen bases are weighted heavily, in which case, they would be worth the pick. Again, know your settings.
Pitchers are not too complicated to navigate. In fact, they are more valuable and the good ones are easier to identify. Streaming pitchers is also less painful than it would be in other formats. Mediocre performances still oftentimes lead to at least positive point gains rather than painful hits to multiple ratios. The occasional negative performance may sting but you can usually recover if you have reliable innings-eaters and/or pitchers who can collect strikeouts.
Host Website Variance
From format-to-format, there are different weights placed on hitters versus pitchers, even deeper, there are differences from website to website.
ESPN's standard scoring format weighted a fair mix of hitters and pitchers at the top of their rankings, however, the top-two scorers, Houston's Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole outscored the next highest scorer, Alex Bregman, by over 100 points each. That is a massive margin akin to how Christian McCaffrey who outscored the RB2 in 2019, Aaron Jones by nearly 200 points. This means that while ESPN does not have too much bias in their scoring settings if you hit on the correct aces in any particular year with their scoring settings, you should have a much better shot at winning making those top-end starters not only anchors but also lottery-tickets.
Fantrax's scoring settings allowed for Cole and Verlander to remain atop their leaderboards. However, the next 23 players on the board were all hitters, and those just behind the pitchers were hardly even behind compared to ESPN. The takeaway here is that while starting pitching still has value, it is best to go into drafts with a hitter-heavy approach and wait on pitching, or punt it all together and take a heavy streaming approach as to not miss out on any potential top-25 hitters.
On Yahoo, the top-nine individual points leaders were all starting pitchers. Unfortunately, according to fellow RotoBaller Nicklaus Gaut (@Nt_BurtReynolds), Yahoo is undergoing a massive change in their points settings for 2020 and presumably beyond which would require you to familiarize yourself with a new system, rendering these old rankings useless.
The point remains that every website is different and you should know what you're getting into beforehand. It is little edges like this that help you consistently win your leagues (along with paying attention to the waiver wire in a laborious fashion, unfortunately).
The best strategy is to roll with the best player available come draft day. That does not mean going with whoever is at the top of ESPN/Yahoo/Fantrax's ADP but finding good projections for 2020 (conveniently available in RotoBaller's Draft Kit) and using your own intuition to grab the players most likely to produce consistently. Best of luck!