Commentary

Head-to-head points draft strategy

Updated: March 22, 2012, 3:40 PM ET
By Todd Zola | Mastersball.com

Fantasy baseball leagues come in many shapes and sizes. One of the fastest growing formats is head-to-head using points scoring. In fact, about one-third of all ESPN leagues play this way, as opposed to the more traditional rotisserie scoring. Perhaps the reason is that head-to-head points is very similar to fantasy football.

Yes, to many players, it can be very intimidating to play a 13-team National League-only auction using 5x5 rotisserie scoring, with a category called WHIP. What the heck is WHIP? Points-based scoring, in which the common box score stats are assigned point values, is a great alternative to become familiar with the nuances involved in fantasy baseball analysis. Before you know it, WHIP turns into BABIP, VORP and xFIP.

Playing in a head-to-head points league can be a great companion or alternative to rotisserie leagues. Granted, there is merit to the contention that head-to-head scheduling introduces an element of luck devoid in rotisserie. However, other than the thrill of the last day of the season, rotisserie cannot match the feel of a weeklong mano-a-mano matchup against your buddy that will be decided during the Sunday night ESPN game. It is scary how often you have one team's starting pitcher and leadoff hitter while he has the other team's cleanup man and closer. And isn't that what this game is all about: the interweaving of competition and camaraderie?

But it is a competition, and in order to beat your buddy, you better be prepared. While fantasy points simplify the game, compared to categorical rotisserie scoring, there are some intricacies and nuances that can lead to advantages. Most understand the first step is applying your scoring system to a player's projected performance, resulting in the projected points per player. What many do next is set up their cheat sheet based on these projected points, perhaps making a mental adjustment for a player's position. Unfortunately, they are omitting a crucial step. Or maybe, if you are reading this, their omission is fortunate, as you will soon understand the key to setting up a points-based cheat sheet.