Reach Or Sleep

If you participate in snake or circular drafts, you’ll have asked the following questions. Do I need to reach for Player X? Can I wait on Player Y? Once you’re in the draft room, the meta game revolves around guessing upon which players your leaguemates will and will not pounce.

Yesterday, Chad Young and I had the 15th pick in the dynasty league The Devil’s Rejects. It’s a 20-team league with 28 keepers, 45 player rosters, and a circular draft. We can select any player in the world regardless of affiliation. While very few of you will be faced with similar decisions, this league creates a lot of reach or sleep scenarios.

The top of our draft board read Carson Fulmer, Hyun-soo Kim, and Delvin Perez. Draft prospects like A.J. Puk and Jason Groome were kept while others were selected before it was our turn. Fulmer was the first selection of the draft while Kim was snagged eighth overall by Ben Duronio. Perez was still available at number 15, as was the recent Cuban defector Yulieski Gurriel (his brother Lourdes was picked earlier) and another top 2016 draft name.

Chad and I briefly talked about targeting 31-year-old Gurriel first even though he wasn’t atop our draft board. Perez is one of the least hyped candidates for the first pick of the draft. I felt there was a chance he could last until our second pick. Chad talked me out of it, saying that one of the other 19 owners would surely share our valuations.

Sure enough, our selection of Perez elicited a groan from the guy with the 17th pick. Not only was Perez not going to make it back to us in the second round, he wasn’t even going to escape the first. Our decision to play it straight paid off.

Here’s a more common scenario. Let’s say you own the 10th pick in a 12 team snake draft – meaning you also pick 15th. When it’s your turn, let’s say your draft board reads Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, and A.J. Pollock. Let’s also say the other big third basemen – Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, and Kris Bryant were already selected.

This is a situation when it could benefit you to take Arenado over Betts. There’s a decent chance Betts or Pollock will fall into your lap at pick 15. Even if they don’t, the top of the outfield market is well populated. Depending on your opinion of Miguel Sano, third base falls off a cliff after the fourth or fifth name.

Later in the same draft, let’s say you’re on the clock with pick 39. Kyle Schwarber is atop your board. You happen to be extremely bullish about Schwarber, projecting a top 10 season with the help of his catcher eligibility. You prefer him to Buster Posey. Both Xander Bogaerts and Francisco Lindor are also still available. Your next pick is number 58. There’s no chance Schwarber, Posey, Bogaerts, or Lindor stick around. You have to decide if you’ll reach for your fantasy crush or stick with a safer pick.

If you’re on the book ends of a snake draft, the reach or sleep decision is informed largely by your position. If your next pick is soon, sleeping looks safer. If it will be awhile, then you may be forced to reach. Owners in the middle of the draft will constantly be tempted to sleep on their favorite guys. Sometimes it will pay off, sometimes you’ll get burned.

As Chad pointed out to me when we had our own decision to make regarding Perez, the size of the league matters. You might think you have the most bullish projection for Rougned Odor. If you’re in a 20 team league, chances are somebody shares your lofty opinion. A 10 team format makes it much easier to play the waiting game. Not only is it less likely somebody shares your valuation, the opportunity cost of missing Odor is low. You’ll be left with someone like Ben Zobrist, Joe Panik, or Kolten Wong. Those are nice consolation prizes.

We hoped you liked reading Reach Or Sleep by Brad Johnson!

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Mike Podhorzer

Brad, what’s your definition of reaching? I see the term used all the time and my perception is always “paying more than you value him because you don’t think you’ll get him if you don’t pick him now”. That is a terrible strategy, but because of this, I get the feeling this isn’t what is meant by the term reach. If it is, I don’t understand how this is a decision. There is rarely ever a time it makes sense to overpay for a player in a snake draft based on your valuation (there are some occasions that do occur, but not often).


I thought the reference was to a situation where you (not ADP) valued a certain player lower than you chose to take him because the remaining options likely to exist at the position next time you pick are so much worse, while other positions should still be flush with decent options. So I disagree that it is always a bad option to reach beyond your absolute valuations when contextual issues relating to who remains available at what position comes into play.


There always seems to be a round where I’m not a fan of the next 20 or so players by ADP. Do I grab the guy 21 spots down the board that I like? That’s how I would see a reach.