Imagine Woody Allen arriving on-stage at the Academy Awards (“Zoinks, he never comes to these award shows! What a get!”) three minutes past the time the broadcast was scheduled to end to present the final award for Best Sound Effects Editing to “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Coblah.” That’s what fantasy drafts are like. They get trickier and less important the closer to the end you get. LeBron was gone 90 minutes ago. Durant? Paul? Wade? They were picked so long ago you can’t even remember who drafted them (you got Paul. Wait … no, I’m sorry. It says here you drafted Pau! Your exclamation mark looked like an “L”. My bad. Gasol’s good too). Anyway, forget the first round of your draft. It’s easy and it’s boring. Let’s also forget about sleepers and reaches and whatever the hell Gilbert Arenas is and look at the unsung succubus of many drafts: Round 2.
Round 2 is all about building out the identity of your team. When they carved Lincoln’s face into the side of Mt. Rushmore, no one knew what it was all about until they added people around him. Before Washington and Roosevelt and Jefferson were added, Lincoln’s head could have signified anything. It could have been a monument to presidents, historical men with beards, fellas named Abraham. Hell, it could have been a full-body statue of just Lincoln, who knew? That’s my point. In Round 2, it’s still generally considered the time in which you pick whomever is the best player still available and leave the strategizing for Round 3. To some degree, that’s true. Don’t overthink it. But also, don’t underthink it either. Remember, you’re adding Roosevelt’s head here, bro.
A lot of fantasy owners don’t mind the idea of building a one- or two-stat powerhouse right away. You get Brook Lopez with the final pick of the first round and burn your round 2 pick on David Lee because that’s the next name on your draft list. After two picks, having Lopez and Lee isn’t a bad thing (assuming we’re not talking about Robin and Courtney), but right off the bat your fantasy team has holes in it and it’s likely that you’re going to burn a bad pick while trying to make a small recovery. Like a truck fishtailing on an icy highway, you cut the wheel to right yourself in the third round. This is what usually happens: You’ll pick a guy in Round 3 – probably a guard to balance out your first two picks – with a high threes, high steal rate. You’ll look for those stats first because you can’t go three rounds without addressing those issues. You just can’t. It’s one thing to punt one stat, maybe even two, but you’re punting three unless you pick up an above-average guy in the categories you spent the first two rounds ignoring. So maybe you reach for a guard earlier than you should because there wasn’t a natural exact match.
What most people end up doing is making an even worse third round pick to make up for their slightly imperfect second round pick. There’s nothing wrong with building a team that is heavy in one stat or another, but that will develop (if you want it to) in the middle rounds. The sooner you build that one- or two-stat powerhouse the more difficult it is going to be to make a dent in the stats you ignored early on. Your goal for the second pick should be to take the best complement to your first round pick from the three or four best available players.
Wait! Don’t go yet! Here’s a reminder to sign up for the Razzball Commenter Leagues if you haven’t already. Just e-mail one of the organizers listed at the bottom of yesterday’s post and give them three dates and times when you might be available for a live draft between October 4-10. Okay. Now you may go.