Who is the best fantasy baseball player? There are lots of ways to look at that question of course, but one answer would be to look at the nation’s biggest, oldest, and most-discussed contest, considered by many as the premier contest for fantasy baseball.
As a result I’d nominate The National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) Main Event: 600 entries; Forty-three 15-team leagues; a $150,000 Grand Prize and a $1,700 Entry Fee.
The NFBC Main Event attracts participants not only from most of the 50 states but foreign nations as well. Entrants in 2021 include past champions (see below), experts from home leagues wanting to challenge their skills, fantasy baseball industry insiders, podcasters, projection creators, website developers, and fans of all 30 MLB teams. Solo entrants, partners, and boatloads of the smartest fantasy minds are involved. Each team competes in the NFBC Main Event overall competition, which pays extra to the top twenty overall finishers, ranging from a grand prize of $150,000 for the first place team down to $1,500 for 20th place. In addition, league prizes ($7,000; $3,400; $1,700) are awarded for the top three finishers in each 15-team grouping.
Rotisserie Categories are the industry standard and include: (Hitters) Batting Average; Home Runs; RBIs; Stolen Bases; Runs and (Pitchers) Wins; Saves; Earned Run Average; Strikeouts; and WHIP Ratio (Walks plus Hits divided by Innings Pitched). Each team is given from one to fifteen points in each of these ten categories to determine the league standings and then also from 1 to 645 points to determine the overall standings.
The NFBC Main Event contest started in 2004 with 195 teams and 13 leagues – premiering the industry’s first widespread 15-team format. Considering 231 teams was the grand total in ALL NFBC leagues, 195 entries was certainly not a bad start. The contest offered a chance at the industry's first $100,000 grand prize for baseball in exchange for a $1,250 entry fee and held live drafts in Las Vegas, New York, and Chicago. Artie Rastelli of Hoboken, New Jersey, won the NFBC's first Main Event overall title. Today, entries have more than tripled to an all-time high of 645 teams, 43 leagues and the grand prize has risen to $150,000. In the chart below you can see the growth of the contest as well as the pantheon of heroes who have been crowned champion since the Main Event’s inception:
This article series will follow the 2021 contest as we wind through the summer. Drafts, which started March 20th, are concluding on the morning of April 1st, just before the MLB season kicks off later that day. We’ll note the leaders along the way, try to give insight into winning strategies, and follow the 645 teams as they battle for prizes.
The goal will be to provide the reader, who may not even be entered in the Main Event, an idea of how fantasy owners in one of the most competitive contests approach the game. Who are they adding with their Free Agent Acquisition Budget (each team is provided with 1000 fictional dollars to bid for free agents every Sunday night of the season)? Which players are being dropped (Main Event teams have 23 active roster spots and only 7 bench positions, so it is often difficult to retain injured players or those sent to the minor leagues)? And what is the composition of the leading teams? Do the league-winning NFBC Main Event fantasy teams rely on a top pitcher or one particular star hitter? Did they take one of the highest-rated closers or rely on some particular late targets? We’ll look at those questions and see if we can gain some insights.
With that in mind, we can look at the first FAAB period – held for the 22 Main Event leagues that drafted before Sunday, March 28th. In this FAAB run six players were picked up in six or more leagues (see below) with Jay Bruce targeted the most as he profiles as the leading candidate to fill in for the sidelined Luke Voit of the Yankees.
Looking at winning bids over $100, just ten teams successfully bid a large amount in this first FAAB period, most likely depressed because not all the leagues were involved (22 out of 43) and the fact that the first Main Event draft was held on March 20th, so there were not as many targets for these recently-drafted leagues.
The players dropped the most were a combination of injured players like Eloy Jimenez, Nick Anderson, and Michael Lorenzen along with those failing to secure roster spots such as Alec Mills, Cal Quantrill, and Scott Kingery (see below):