Fantasy Baseball Strategy Tips
Before your draft/auction
- Don’t let your player rankings be influenced by “experts” who dismiss veteran players coming off a career year (e.g. – Yoenis Cespedes, Zack Greinke) with a remark along the lines of “this player is overvalued this year – you can’t expect him to repeat what he did last year!” As long as you are projecting statistics for the player that fall somewhere between those of his career year and those of his previous career norms, you’ll probably be just fine.
- Conversely, do not assume that a young player coming off a breakout season (e.g. – Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel) will continue to improve. It could happen, but again, you are better off projecting statistics for that player that fall somewhere between those of his breakout year and those of his previous career norms.
- Know your league’s scoring categories! For instance, if your league uses On-Base Percentage (OBP) instead of Batting Average (AVG), don’t rely on a set of player rankings that includes AVG! Players like Brian Dozier and Jose Bautista are much more valuable in a league that uses OBP than they are in a league that uses AVG!
- Use player projections and rankings that are customized to your league’s characteristics (e.g. – eligible players, roster requirements, scoring categories) and reflect Position Scarcity. The Position Scarcity adjustment should reflect both the number of players your league requires at each position (versus the available supply) and the drop-off in player values between tiers at each position.
- If your league allows Keepers, give preference to players at positions with relatively little depth.
- If you are participating in an auction, prepare a budget ahead of time. Tier players both by position and the amount of money you’re willing to spend for them. Develop several sample rosters ahead of time so that you can anticipate alternatives should your auction take an unexpected turn (and it always will)!
During your draft/auction
- Track all teams’ remaining roster needs by position. If you are participating in an auction, also track how much money each team has remaining.
- During an auction compare each player’s actual price to your predicted price for that player. Keep track of the cumulative overspending or underspending for the auction, by team if possible. Your goal is to purchase the majority of your players at points in the auction when other teams have previously overspent on cumulative basis – this will mean less competition for your targeted players. Generally, this condition will exist during the middle stages of an auction (i.e. – after the inevitable overspending on some of the big names thrown out early, but before the final stages, when teams seek to spend all of their remaining funds).
- Take advantage of players who are eligible at several positions and slot them at the position that has the least depth. For example, use Kyle Schwarber as a Catcher rather than an Outfielder, particularly in NL-only leagues.
- Do not draft/buy players who figure to miss more than the first month of the season. Use your roster spots on players who are healthy to begin the season.
- Make sure to get at least one Closer you feel very comfortable with. However, rather than taking additional Closers who are mediocre or below-average, opt instead for a top-notch set-up man.
- For Bench spots give strong consideration to players who are eligible at several positions (e.g. – Yasmany Tomas, Wilmer Flores), since you are essentially putting multiple players in one roster spot. This tactic allows you to increase your depth at other positions.
- For Bench spots target unproven players with high potential (e.g. – Byron Buxton, Tyler Glasnow), but give strong preference to players who are currently starting over those who are currently languishing on the bench.
- If your league does not limit the number of innings pitched, use at least half of your Bench spots for young, promising starting pitchers. In addition to guarding against the inherent variance between pitchers’ actual vs. expected results, this strategy also gives you more opportunities to exploit favorable match-ups and take advantage of pitchers with two-start weeks. However, do not speculate on pitchers who have yet to pitch in the major leagues!
- Even if you are playing in a Keeper league, keep your focus on the current season rather than trying to speculate on possible mid-late season call-ups. Better to win with Starlin Castro on your roster than lose with Orlando Arcia on your roster.
After the draft/auction
- Analyze your roster by scoring category to identify your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Also analyze as many of your competitors’ rosters as time permits to determine their strengths and weaknesses. This will give you a big head start in initiating and evaluating potential trades.
- While you should be concerned if you enter the season with only one bona fide Closer and your league uses cumulative roto scoring for the whole season, it’s not as big a deal if your league uses head-to-head scoring or roto scoring for weekly periods.
During the season
- Designate each player on your roster as either someone you will start all the time or someone you will start only in case of an injury or an extremely favorable match-up. Generally, it makes much more sense to play favorable match-ups for pitchers than it does for hitters.
- If you find yourself in need of an additional Closer, don’t panic and put yourself on the wrong side of a lopsided trade. Once the inevitable game of Closer musical chairs begins during the season, additional Closers will emerge. Some (but not all) will prove to be better than the man they replaced – it happens every season! If you opted for a top-notch Middle Reliever instead of a mediocre to below-average Closer (see above), you may sacrifice some Saves initially, but in the meantime you will hopefully pick up a few vulture Wins and avoid the ERA and WHIP damage that often accompanies a sub-par Closer’s Saves.
- When evaluating potential trades, make sure to include the deal’s impact on your entire roster, not just the players directly involved. You should include
- Players directly involved in the deal.
- Players remaining on your roster whose roles will change as a result of the deal (i.e. – starters moving to your bench and vice versa).
- Players remaining on your roster who will change positions in your starting line-up as a result of the trade.
- Players who will be added as free agents or cut as a result of the trade. If time permits, perform a similar evaluation on the rosters of the other teams involved in the deal to gauge its probability of being accepted as currently proposed.
- Don’t overreact to players who perform much better or worse than expected early in the season (particularly the latter)! Consider what the player was expected to do before the season began, not just what he’s done season-to-date. The earlier in the season you are, the more weight you should give the expected results versus the season-to-date results in forecasting the player’s results for the rest of the season.