Now that 2022 is over and let’s turn the page to 2023. If you are preparing for next season, you should be prepared and when I am preparing for something, I like to make a checklist to make sure I don’t forget something. Here is my off-season checklist.

  • Deep dive teams from the previous season.

I think the most overlooked part of preparing for next season is forgetting to look back. After the season, I take a deep look at what has happened to my teams. Did I win or lose? Were there flaws in my strategies? Was I lacking in the categories? Were there any positions that I completely sniffed at? This is especially important to do in your struggling teams. I know it can be painful, but “those who forget history are bound to repeat it”. You can read all about my 2022 teams in my Apology Tour series.

I think too often people take the ranks and projections of others without first inventing their own. I know the average player doesn’t have the time or inclination to do the job alone, but if you’re reading an article on fantasy baseball in November, you’re probably not the average player. I highly recommend doing your own ranks before seeing the ranks of other people or ADPs. This gives you a foundation of what you think before you are influenced by others. There’s nothing wrong with taking in other people’s advice (more on that later), but it’s important to start with your clean slate. If you are feeling really bold, I recommend that you do your own projections. This is a bit more difficult, but you can start with the 3-year averages and then play with it. Once you’ve set up your baseline, you should start comparing them to others.

  • Look at the other ranks, projections and ADPs

I know there are other people in the industry who say they don’t look at other ranks and projections. I think it’s silly. I want to compare my ranks and projections with others so that I can look at the outliers. If I have Cedric Mullins 100 points ahead of consensus or ADP like I did in 2021, then I want to take a deep dive on him and see if I’m missing something or if the market does. If I am much shorter on Corey Seager than everyone else, as I was in 2022, then I want to know and examine whether this is my bias or a shrewd analysis. This is why it is so important to do your basic ranks before you really start looking at others. I want to be challenged by the work of others because it makes me better, but I want to be influenced and not a carbon copy of others.

  • Read, listen and FILTER!

I read and listen to just about anything that has to do with fantasy baseball. I have a blackout period where I don’t listen to any fantasy baseball podcasts until I’m done with my ranks, but once my ranks and screenings are over in early October, I binge on podcasts and articles. I want as many items as I can get. If I just rely on my research, I will miss them. There are better people than me at diagnosing mechanics, making projections, and noticing things that are important changes for players and for the game itself. No, I’m not saying you should outsource everything, but I want as much information as possible and then filter it. Filtering information is the most crucial skill a fantasy player can have. There is a lot of negative, misleading, and useless information out there. If you can filter out what’s good and what’s not, you’ll be in a better position. When I read or hear something, I ask myself these questions as part of my filtering process:

1. Does the information make sense?

You think it would be easy and it usually is. Too often I hear or read things that don’t make much sense. Sometimes it’s the wrong application of a statistic or a logical mistake. These are common in the industry. If something doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t. If you hear / read something that doesn’t make sense, ask the author AND ask another analyst if it makes sense to them. Maybe you don’t understand the concept or maybe it’s flawed.

2. What data supports the assertion?

Does the author offer evidence to support their claim? We live in a world of hot shooting and are often overwhelmed by it in the fantasy industry. The best shots get clicks. Hot shots attract attention. Even the hottest footage is garbage. If the author can’t back up what he thinks with the data, ignore it.

3. Can the claim be proven or disproved?

Sometimes the data is also misinterpreted. Sometimes the data is misused. We can often see the errors if we take a closer look. There is a lot of data on Fangraphs, Savant Baseball, Brooks Baseball and many other sites. Use it to your advantage before you take someone’s word as the gospel.

4. Who is the source of the data?

This is especially important when you are new to filtering information from others. If I get information about the launch from Paul Sporer, Nick Pollack, or Eno Sarris, I can be pretty sure I’m not being misled. It doesn’t mean I’ll accept it, but I feel pretty sure it’s not bad information. If I get the information from someone I don’t know and trust, then I need to be a little more insightful. You still want to double-check the work of those you trust and don’t want to ignore anything that comes from a new or unproven source as there are some amazing analysts who have small following, but trusted sources are definitely safer. It is important to keep a list of good and bad sources of information. There are people in the industry that I definitely trust more than others. There are also some people in the industry that I won’t even click on their articles.

5. Are personal biases involved?

Prejudices are inevitable. I don’t care how good a player or analyst is, they have prejudices. We all do our best not to let our personal biases influence our work and decisions, but they come into play. Being able to see our own prejudices and the prejudices of others allows us not to fall into the traps.

6. Simulated draft (or real draft)

There is no substitute for drafting. You can prepare as much as you like, but until you walk into that room it’s just theory. The more you practice what you can do in a draft, the better off you will be. Now I prefer to do real drafts, but most people aren’t able to play in all leagues like me or don’t want to. There are great simulation drafting tools out there and a number of people performing teasing in the fantasy baseball community. Getting as many repetitions as possible before your big or important drafts gives you the opportunity to practice different builds and strategies. It also teaches you the player pool and drop offs in levels and categories. It is one thing to look at ADP on a spreadsheet and quite another to see the names come off the board in a draft.

Once your checklist is complete, you should be ready to master your drafts for the upcoming season. What’s on your off-season checklist?

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