Yahoo fantasy baseball mock draft results: An expert breakdown of a Roto, 5×5 default league

Having a borderline abrasive history with mock draft content in the past, seeing this assignment cross my desk put a huge smile on my face. Ah, poetic justice. Before spamming the comment section, hear me out. I get they aren’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea — but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from a mock draft if you take the approach seriously.

First off, before even looking at the board, check the settings. To properly prepare for any fantasy league, you must assess its uniqueness. Nothing is more important than reading the rules and understanding how they may affect a winning strategy. From a competitive standpoint, I always assume my competition prepares as vigilantly as I do, therefore creating an environment where winning happens on the margins via small edges. Using my fine-toothed comb, I scoured the Yahoo 5×5 league rules for irregularities and how we may benefit from them.

Dissecting The Rules


  • One Catcher — Having done a bunch of drafts this winter, the catcher position is as deep as it’s been in years. I can’t remember liking more than a dozen backstops before — so unless one of the true premium options slides 20 picks, drop back and punt. At a certain point, most catchers project so similarly that you can benefit just by taking advantage of the opportunity cost.
  • Three Outfielders — Coming from mostly NFBC formats (5 OF), this rule really shakes up my ranks. I’ll still stay firm on prioritizing at least one five-category outfielder, but there’s quite a bit less strain on the positional market.  This opens a window to pivot toward a commodity with actual scarcity. No way I’m heading home without an elite closer in this format.
  • No Middle or Corner Infielder Position — Not to overreact before doing my due diligence but that’s huge. I’d have to see the undrafted player pool to be certain, but it feels like there will be productive hitters with every-day playing time in the top third of lineups who won’t be drafted.


  • Seven Pitchers, No Designation — This more closely reflects a style of play I’m used to, so my gut is telling me to focus early on pitching demand. Not to automatically reach or wait, but to remain aware of the market temperature. It could be the second round, or it may be the fourth, but in this particular format, you cannot leave without an ace in the hole.


  • Three Bench Spots — As shallow a bench as I’ve encountered, with immediate impact on my personal style of streaming SPs from the bench. No platoon bats or minor league stashes allowed in this league.
  • Four IL Spots — Interesting to have more IL spots than reserve but you can steer right into this and take full advantage. List any and all injured players slated for mid-season returns that would command top waiver priorities. Don’t be afraid to dip multiple times into the pool of Max Meyer, Jacob deGrom, Shane Baz, Kodai Senga, Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray, Tyler Mahle, or Jasson Domínguez.
  • Daily Lineup Moves — From a glance, you’d think this rule would be in bold, but given how shallow the bench is, you have to be pragmatic. I’m thinking one multi-eligible hitter and high-leverage reliever would help maximize output by streaming into playing time gaps.
  • Trades Permitted — I’ve never been the type to draft with trading in mind, but it’s worth noting, and particularly useful in the save and steal categories. In fact, vocalizing it further reinforces my stance on holding a high-leverage RP with a path to saves. If you get off to a good pace with your drafted RPs, you could have a valuable trade chip. Plus, you can always find a rested, impact reliever off the waiver wire as a replacement with no competition.

Alright, let’s get to the matter at hand — analyzing the mock draft results of a Yahoo, Roto, 5×5 default league. In an attempt to keep it strictly academic, I removed all the names when scraping the results so I could give my blindfolded takes on the field… although I’d be remiss not to mention Jay Felicio, who put this mock draft exercise together so that I could dissect it.

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Team 1

Good offensive balance stands out, with an eye on batting average and proper stress on homers in the form of multiple premiere power hitters. Tons of starting pitching depth — perhaps too much considering the team only has one reliever, who hasn’t thrown a pitch yet this year (lat issue).

Team 2

Strong offense in terms of the all-important power and speed combo. Batting average projections aren’t a disaster but could be an issue down the road, representing a big part of the opportunity cost when drafting early aces. Personally, I’m struggling with the pitching build — there are only five total SPs, and three of them are currently slated to miss opening day. The bullpen’s quite strong, and perhaps that was all part of the build — draft a third RP to bank a trade chip and backfill the roster with SPs once Week 1 IL transactions are complete.

Team 3

This fantasy GM is certainly of my own heart, checking all the boxes I value most. Elite power-speed bats, positional fluidity up and down the offense with good rotational depth, starring multiple front-line SPs backed up by two lockdown closers. Yes, please. I also mentioned liking the idea of having an impactful high-leverage RP with a reasonable pathway to saves. If I had one question/complaint, it’s the second catcher — it’s likely unnecessary to carry a backup in this format.

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Team 4

An elite 1-2 punch with several multi-eligible guys on offense? Check. Two front-line starters and a pair of shutdown closers? Check. Team 4 is stacked with firepower in all the right spots to make a run at the title… if they can stay healthy. I know this league has IL spots but sometimes we can have too much of a good thing. My only concern is pairing Jazz Chisholm with Oneil Cruz (I like both, mind you) inside the first seven rounds. But, hey, what do I know? You only live once.

Team 5

The amount of really good fantasy squads speaks to the current wealth of MLB talent, but also to the fact that it’s going to take an absolute wagon to win a 12-teamer this year. Team 5 made one impact pick after another, highlighted by my favorite rotation. That said, the trio of Kyle Schwarber, Spencer Torkelson, and Esteury Ruiz could be disastrous for the AVG category with a sub-optimal runout — in my old age I’ve learned to not let ratios ever get too far away because they’re so hard to catch up on. Remember, in a standalone contest without an overall component, you can still win with one categorical deficiency… but not two.

Team 6

Team 6 is easily one of my favorite starting rotations considering the GM waited so long to draft a pitcher. They certainly won’t be short on speed — I just can’t help but wonder if they pushed the pedal too far. By taking Trea Turner, Ozzie Albies and CJ Abrams early, it could lead to a lack homers out of the gate. Perhaps the manager should have leaned into more late power than Steven Kwan and a second catcher with their reserve selections. However, I absolutely love the Spencer Steer pick in this format — the combination of positional eligibility and ideal hitting environment provides a built-in weekly boost.


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Team 7

Big stamp of approval as I found myself nodding all the way down this list. Team 7 feels like an instant favorite for the crown right out of the box. The offense boasts big time power-speed potential but also provides an all-important batting average floor. Waiting on starters can be tricky but, in my opinion, this rotation was handled masterfully. Logan Webb and Zach Eflin may lack some strikeout firepower relative to other aces, but they will protect ratios for the Michael King–Chris Sale upside combo later. The GM will need to keep an ear to the ground for in-season saves but it’s difficult to leave a draft without any holes when playing against such tough competition.

Team 8

This team appears to have read the rules pretty carefully, deploying a very league-specific approach. Knowing it’s only a 3-OF league allowed the GM to build from the inside out with an obscene trio of Freddie Freeman, Austin Riley and Elly De La Cruz to open the draft. Understanding there’s a ton of relief via IL spots, they leaned into impact players on a per-appearance basis like Mike Trout, Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, and Carlos Rodón. There’s plenty of good hitters with positional eligibility who will help maximize plate appearances all season. Finally, the cherry on top — a single, late-round catcher that could finish as a Top 3 backstop. If Alex Lange can secure the Tigers’ opening day closer role, this team’s going to be a handful.

Team 9

Our first helping of vanilla ice cream (!) and that’s in no way an insult. Particularly in tough rooms where very few value picks will slide, sometimes you just need to understand the assignment — pick good players. One after another, it’s a veritable conga line of fantasy production. Maybe there’s some personal bias creeping in because this GM clustered a bunch of my favorite early to mid-round picks. Freddy Peralta, Logan Gilbert, Camilo Doval, William Contreras, Seiya Suzuki and Josh Naylor all hold prominent places on my rostership page for 2024. Yuki Matsui’s status in the Padres’ pen looms large for Team 9.


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Team 10

Make room atop the standings near the pole position for Team 10. In full alignment with my initial assumptions regarding starting pitchers, this GM played the tenor of the room perfectly. Had you told me someone would be able to please a pitching snob like myself with only two SP picks in the first ten rounds, I’m not sure I’d believe it. I feared going back-to-back closers in the 5th and 6th would wind up as an overspend but it’s not the case. Personally, I’d swap the third closer for more daily flexibility but that was made up for with an excellent catcher… acquired in the last round! Since this GM waited on pitching, the hitting core’s excellent with lots of categorical balance throughout. Keep an eye on Team 10 come September.

Team 11

If you ask me, 12-team leagues are getting harder and harder to win at the draft table. Usually, I’d feel like two or three squads really stuck out in terms of roster construction but I’m already up to four or five. It’s become increasingly clear this league’s going to be hard fought the entire way, and won through the digital blood, sweat, and tears of the in-season grind.

The Team 11 rotation is stacked up top with two Cy Young favorites but also reinforced throughout, an important point to remember when prioritizing starters. I’d also like to highlight the great job addressing steals after starting with an essential zero in Yordan Alvarez, and then coming back in Round 14 to finish the power job with Jake Burger. If I had one concern, it’s the bullpen. While the GM did manage two closers, Jordan Romano went before several relievers I rank higher and, frankly, I’m a little worried Tanner Scott could get leapfrogged on the depth chart if spring training continues the way it has. Either way, a touch of elbow grease here or there and Team 11 has it all.

Team 12

Boy, I hope Team 12 isn’t one of my good friends because they aren’t going to like this. Starting with Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge off the top packs a punch but also clogs the UT in a league where daily flexibility could be the difference. I’m also noticing a few hitters on my fade list, so I have to stay true myself  on this one. Waiting until pick No. 84 to draft your first starter means relying on Dylan Cease for strikeouts, with potential challenges to WHIP as well as wins — which could come back to bite this GM in the end.

Thanks for reading and please follow me on X @JohnLaghezza for nonstop MLB musings and below-league-average puns.

(Top photo of Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts; Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

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