It's that time of year again when the smell of grass; yells for popcorn, hotdogs, and beer; and the cheering of fans fill the air in ball parks all across the nation. It's the time of year when the great American past-time comes back to the faithful everywhere. Yet, even though there is nothing better then being in the stadium, cheering with friends, new and old, rooting your favorite team to that final victory, there is a new trend that is catching hold everywhere. This is not for the fans. This is for the fanatics! For those people that need to get that daily dosage of their favorite players stats and statistics. For those people that want more then to just let the professionals play the game. It's Fantasy Baseball. Where even your everyday Joe, can take his team to the world series.

Worried about who you should take with your first pick? Or how long you should wait before picking a reliever over a position player? Don't worry your not alone. Fanatics across the nation are already looking over stats and trying to decide who they should pick up and when.

It is the general consensus, as LaDainian Tomlinson was for football; Alex Rodriguez is the #1 pick in the 2008 fantasy draft. With the unfathomable numbers he put up in 2007, and the fact he is still getting better, there is no better choice to be made. Now for all those that follow from #2 all the way to #20, your choices are going to get a lot more difficult. The distance between the #2 and the #20 pick are closer then ever for 2008. This is where depth starts to play a role.

In the top 20 players there are 6 outfielders and 4 first baseman, but there are 0 catchers and only 1 second baseman. This is where preference and performance have to walk hand in hand. Being willing to take a slightly weaker player in one position further down the draft so you can boost another position is what smart drafting is all about.

Fantasy sports is not about who your favorite players are, but rather what will the players bring to your team. This means, just because you love Derek Jeter, you would be crazy to pick him in front of Jimmy Rollins. This sport is all about numbers and consistency. Be sure to pick those guys that will bring you the most points, consistently, for the longest period of time.

Another thing to remember; big names do not equal big numbers! Take for instance, Gary Sheffield. He is an all-star player, but in fantasy baseball, he does not ever break into the top 50!

Breaking down each position and just how much your willing to give in each position to get the better players in the other spots will determine if you can put together a contender, or if you are going to march out a pretender for every game.

Some things to consider when picking your players:  How healthy is he? Will he be around enough to be work picking him up with the first round pick or should he slide to the third. What type of ball park does he play in this year? This type of question is big for those off season trades (Johan Santana went to the Mets, a very pitcher friendly ball park with its deep fence line. So now he is one of the best pitchers in the league, in a new home made for pitching.). What type of trend does he have over the past three years? If the player has been declining over three years, it is unlikely he will be making a change for the better any time soon.  Where does he bat in the line up and who is his supporting cast around him? (A very important question for big hitters.) Albert Pujols is a great example of this. With the loss of Rolens and Edmonds he will be batting in a very new looking line up.

When it's all said and done, there is only one thing that matters. Will you be the one with bragging rights till next year, or will you be the one wish you did?  Best of luck to you and happy drafting!


2008 Fantasy Preview: Top 50

Stats listed are 2008 projections

Player POS TM $$ Notes
Alex Rodriguez 3B NYY 41 Best fantasy player ever at this position.
David Wright 3B NYM 37 Already among the best and still getting better.
Jose Reyes SS NYM 36 SB champ should recover from second-half slide.
Hanley Ramirez SS FLA 36 Unlikely to match '07 production.
Albert Pujols 1B STL 36 Skills still there for 40-plus homers.
Matt Holliday OF COL 36 Great park, great hitter ... what's not to love?
Miguel Cabrera 3B DET 36 Elite young masher joining a top-shelf offense.
Jimmy Rollins SS PHI 35 Should come close to '07 MVP numbers.
Johan Santana SP NYM 35 Top starter could shine even brighter in NY.
Ryan Braun 3B MIL 34 Budding star, even if he declines after historic debut.
Carl Crawford OF TB 34 Don't think twice about grabbing him in first round.
Chase Utley 2B PHI 33 Fantasy's top 2B worthy of first-round pick.
Alfonso Soriano OF CHC 32 Likely first-rounder remains great all-around threat.
Grady Sizemore OF CLE 32 Power-speed potential too impressive to ignore.
David Ortiz* DH BOS 32 Even injuries couldn't stop Big Papi last year.
Ryan Howard 1B PHI 31 Could challenge 60 HR, 150 RBIs.
Carlos Lee OF HOU 31 Hitting machine reliably delivers big numbers.
Carlos Beltran OF NYM 31 A little brittle but still all-around elite player.
Prince Fielder 1B MIL 30 Best young power hitter in recent memory.
Jake Peavy SP SD 29 Challenging Johan for No. 1 starter spot. half, look out.
Aramis Ramirez 3B CHC 29 Consistent slugger still capable of a career year.
Magglio Ordonez OF DET 28 Added protection should help keep numbers lofty.
Vladimir Guerrero OF LAA 28 Veteran superstar to deliver more of the same.
Ichiro Suzuki OF SEA 27 Expect elite AVG, R and SB from Mr. Consistency.
Jonathan Papelbon RP BOS 27 Young, gifted and bulletproof.
J.J. Putz RP SEA 27 Last year's dominance no fluke.
B.J. Upton OF,2B TB 26 Potential 30-30 player offers multi-position eligibility.
Derrek Lee 1B CHC 26 Wrist no longer bothersome, should increase power.
Justin Morneau 1B MIN 26 Don't read too far into second-half slide.
Alex Rios OF TOR 26 Expect talented youngster to continue improving.
Francisco Rodriguez RP LAA 26 Lives up to nickname, but command is iffy.
Joe Nathan RP MIN 26 As reliable as they come.
Troy Tulowitzki SS COL 25 Capable of approaching .300-30-100.
Eric Byrnes OF ARI 25 Expect repeat of '07 breakout production.
Lance Berkman 1B,OF HOU 25 Starts slowly but usually finishes north of 100 RBIs.
Ian Kinsler 2B TEX 25 Should become all-category force.
Manny Ramirez OF BOS 25 Future HOFer likely to bounce back.
Brandon Phillips 2B CIN 25 Could turn in second straight 30-30 campaign.
Curtis Granderson OF DET 25 Last year was no fluke, but SB may fall.
Garrett Atkins 1B,3B COL 25 Last year was no fluke, so expect more of the same.
Victor Martinez 1B,C CLE 24 Durable, consistent All-Star in prime of career.
Russell Martin C LAD 24 Catching's lone five-category threat.
Adam Dunn OF CIN 24 Another 40-HR season in store.
Chipper Jones 3B ATL 24 A force when healthy, but have a backup plan.
Mariano Rivera RP NYY 24 Still an elite option.
Ryan Zimmerman 3B WAS 24 Move from RFK could lead to breakout season.
Brandon Webb SP ARI 23 Consummate ground-ball pitcher.
Derek Jeter SS NYY 23 Veteran Al-Star showing slight signs of decline.
Bobby Jenks RP CWS 23 Has joined upper echelon.


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