Common players on my 2011 fantasy teams

With draft season over and my final draft recap posted yesterday, I thought I’d resume my yearly tradition of reviewing my rosters and seeing which players ended up on more than one of my teams. With 24 players making the list this year, I’ve far eclipsed the totals from previous years (of course, I’m also in one extra league this year).

The strategy of having common players

Having so much overlap between teams can be a good thing or a bad thing. As Chris Liss of Rotowire noted a couple days ago when he engaged in the same exercise, “I’ll win because I picked the right guys, or I won’t. If you have six leagues, and you roster all different players, you almost can’t help lucking into a win just because you have an investment in every possible scenario. And at the same time, there’s almost no way all your teams will do well. But this year, I have a chance if five or six players pan out.”

I’m comfortable with this scenario because I have confidence in my judgment on players. In years that it works (like two years ago), I’ll end up doing well in most of my leagues. In years that it doesn’t work as well (like last year), I won’t excel in any of my leagues, especially if the reason these players underperform is because they get injured (I’m looking at you, Nelson Cruz). A couple of injuries to a couple of key cogs could torpedo several of my teams.


As I mentioned last year, just because a player is on here doesn’t mean he was a “have to have” guy for me or that I was targeting him specifically. Take this list for what it’s worth: Simply that these players, for one reason or another, wound up on my fantasy team multiple times. Some guys I targeted specifically (like Napoli, Lewis, Uribe, Scott, Valverde and Pierre) while others merely happened to end up on my team through no real preconceived plan (like Votto, Byrd, Nolasco, Betancourt and to an extent Stanton). Then there are others that I thought would be on more of my teams but, for whatever reason, aren’t (Jay Bruce, Tim Stauffer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Adam Dunn, Vladimir Guerrero, Seth Smith, and Ryan Raburn, among others).

Finally, note that there is some bias here in that there wasn’t an equal chance of me selecting every player. I play in two mixed leagues (Tout Wars and Yahoo! Friends & Family), two NL-only leagues (LABR and FSIC), but only one AL-only league (Cardrunners). If it seems like there are more NL players on this list, there probably are. I had four opportunities to select NL players compared to three chances for AL players.

The rosters

If you want to recap each of my drafts, here are the links to all five articles I penned about them:
Cardrunners AL
Tout Wars Mixed
Yahoo! Friends & Family Mixed

The players

Hitters — 3 teams
Mike Napoli: TOUT, CR, YAHOO!
Juan Uribe: TOUT, LABR, FSIC
Ryan Theriot: TOUT, LABR, YAHOO!

Pitchers—three teams
Colby Lewis: TOUT, CR, YAHOO!
Frank Francisco: TOUT, CR, YAHOO!

Hitters—two teams
Joey Votto: YAHOO!, FSIC
Jose Bautista: TOUT, YAHOO!
Juan Pierre: TOUT, YAHOO!
Mark Reynolds: CR, YAHOO!
Aaron Hill: TOUT, CR
Adam Lind: TOUT, CR
Mike Stanton: TOUT, LABR
Luke Scott: TOUT, CR
Dan Johnson: TOUT, CR
Marlon Byrd: LABR, FSIC

Pitchers—two teams
Ted Lilly: TOUT, FSIC
Ricky Nolasco: TOUT, YAHOO!
Phil Coke: TOUT, CR
Joel Hanrahan: TOUT, LABR
Jonathan Broxton: LABR, FSIC
Jose Valverde: TOUT, YAHOO!
Sergio Romo: LABR, YAHOO!
Rafael Betancourt: YAHOO!, FSIC
Alex Sanabia: LABR, FSIC

Concluding thoughts

What do you think? Are these players you’d want to bet your season on? And if you have any questions (maybe about a specific player on the list), as always, feel free to comment.

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Urban Shocker
13 years ago

I participate in only one league, a deep head-to-head mixed keeper league with very experienced owners.  I don’t have a single player you listed on my team. In my view your common player list is loaded with guys with highly variable outcomes; they could win you a championship or have you planning your football team by June. It is easy to identify your first round pick—Votto—but I don’t see another guy worthy of spending an early round pick on, or a lot of money on at an auction. My goal is to win my divison every year and I would not feel comfortable starting the season counting on guys like Hill, Lind, Scott, Bautista, Reynolds, and Theriot.

13 years ago

What do you like about Phil Coke?
What do you like about Alex Sanabia?
Why Betancourt vs. other middle men, he would appear to possibly not even be next to close with Lindstrom there?

Blair Wendell
13 years ago

I disagree with the premise. 

I finished with 109 points in my NL Only league last year, and finished with 98 points in the NFBC NL-Only league (13 team, standard roto).

I had 1 player in common.  Jon Garland.
(now I hate to use personal examples to illustrate a point, but…)

Both teams has an estimated $40-$50 in value before the season started.  That’s where the success came from, by taking what the auction gave me and capitilizing on opportunities that presented themselves.

If you end up with a lot of similar players, that might be luck, but if anything it shows that your valuation of those players is in disagreement with a very large number of Owners, and you are LESS likely to succeed, rather than more likely.

This year, ironically, I have 3 players in common, but I believe it is a symptom of where they tend to be nomininated in the auction, and the resulting Value they have from being under paid.  (James Loney, O. Hudson, Jose Lopez).


Derek Ambrosino
13 years ago

If you end up with a lot of similar players, that might be luck, but if anything it shows that your valuation of those players is in disagreement with a very large number of Owners, and you are LESS likely to succeed, rather than more likely.

That’s an interesting point, and I’m interested to see Derek’s take on it. But, in your disclaimer you sort of rationalize your deviation from this idea. Looking at Derek’s players, I think some players may qualify under the ‘undervalued due to when they get nominated” caveat you mention, and then others are more a product of Derek being higher on that player than others. Still, that’s not necessarily what matters most – what matters most is being right when you do differ from the pack. So, we’ll see if he was.

One other point here is that if you have a consistent team building strategy, sometimes that also improves the likelihood you get repeat players. Like, if you say, I intend for most of my starting pitchers to cost between $6 and $10, or I plan to draft most of my staff in rounds 11-15, then that improves the likelihood you get repeat players.

Also, as you get deeper into the draft/auction, players are more and more flawed, so if you have an opinion regarding which flaws your more comfortable with taking on, that also affects your choices.

Remember, when it comes to players who are costing $1 – $3, it’s not necessarily just an issue of differing expectancies, but also of differing preferences and team needs.

Brad Johnson
13 years ago

Derek A touched briefly on the point I wanted to make in response to Blair’s post. It is difficult for all fantasy participants to follow such a deep pool of players. As such, sometimes personal scouting can create opportunities that other owners don’t notice. For example, not everyone knew about Ben Zobrist’s back injury last season because he played through it. A guy I have on all 4 teams, Will Venable, got there because I saw some of his spring at bats and noticed the changes he had talked about making. Many of my other repeat appearance are guys I’ve scouted and thus formed a high opinion on relative to my competition. The key to this approach is “Can I scout?”

This is not to say I agree with all of Derek C’s choices. However, they generally fit the profile of players who seemed to be undervalued in my opinion.

Will Hatheway
13 years ago

The only thing I don’t want to see later is a post wailing about players getting injured that you should have known were that sort of risk, as happened in cardrunners last year: you risked their list, and lost; that goes with the territory. But you seem much more conservative, insofar as it’s more of role-issues (Broxton, etc.) than health.

It might be cool if you wrote a piece about what you learned when it wasn’t the everytime-I-see-your-bio year when you won very young… I just read in your piece now that it took conviction to play such an all-in hand, and how that worked but also didn’t; that’s cool. Maybe making explicit what you thought you knew from a successful year that didn’t pan out in one less so might be really insightful. I remember that co-host of cardrunners that isn’t there this year was silent all year despite stating that he’d constantly blog. If it were me, I’d blog about what he was silent about: when things DON’T WORK.

Anyway, as for your picks, I’ll say in a third post that Lilly is a good bet, am worried about Theriot’s playing time, love Votto but wondered if it was because you had fewer AL drafts that you didn’t have A.Gon, whom I think is kinda underrated in a lot of auction drafts (I’m not saying yours, I didn’t look, but in mine…)

Ultimately, maybe it would or wouldn’t make fiscal sense to spread the risk, but I think the essential issue you raise by having so many common players is whether or not you should hedge against your own best analysis. And with the steep payout curve of most leagues, I say go for it and do what you did: when the opportunity keeps coming up for a desired but undervalued player, take it!