Five years ago, almost to the day, fantasyassembly.com went live. It seems so long ago, and at the same time it feels like only yesterday. None of us imaged that five years later, not only would we still be going strong, but expanding to cover football, basketball, hockey and DFS. It just goes to show you what a little hard work and determination can do.
Speaking of hard work and determination, those two words apply to your fantasy league as well. While the season may be over, the simple concept in which this site was founded on still applies today: “It’s what you do before the season starts that makes a champion”. With that in mind, and in honor of our five year anniversary, I have decided to revise my very first article written here, most of which is still relevant today and will be for years to come. If you think there is not work that can be done right now for the upcoming season – you’re wrong.
The 2018 fantasy baseball season ended yesterday. Right now some teams are celebrating their championship win as the opposing manager licks their wounds from an agonizing defeat. If you won your league, Congratulations are in order for a season well-played. However, if you were one of those teams that were lucky enough to sneak into that final playoff spot, or worse yet, one of those bottom teams, hope is still out there for you. Maybe there is nothing you can do about this season, but you can do something about next season and beyond. First let’s start by asking one simple question. What went wrong?
Let’s start off by taking a look at your draft.
- Did you draft too many injury prone players?
- Did you take too many chances with rookies or upside players while ignoring more established veterans?
- Did you wait too long to draft starting pitchers or draft pitchers too early and wait too long on hitters?
- Did you jump too early to fill a position and miss out on a better player who could have helped you more?
- Did you stray from your rankings – did you even prepare your own rankings and go into the draft with a game-plan?
Granted it’s all 20/20 hindsight, but if you see a pattern and you’re able to look back at past seasons and see a similar pattern, it might be time to change your strategy or way of thinking. Go back to your original draft – look at who you took and who you passed on. Then run down the checklist above and see how many players fall into one of those questions.
How many players did you lose to the dreaded disabled list? All of us at one time or another have lost a player, or multiple players, due to injuries – it’s all part of the game. Some owners will sit there, complain, and point to those injuries as the reason why they lost. That’s just an excuse. That being said: how many of those injuries were a fluke and how many could have been foreseen? I posed the question above, “did you draft too many injury prone players”? It’s fine to gamble on one or two players with a DL history, but the more risks you take the more blame you have to absorb.
Injuries happen, but it’s how you react to those injuries that separate the good managers from the average ones. So if you had injuries on your team, how did you react? Did you point fingers and make excuses, or did you move forward with the aid of free agents and the trade desk – both of which are covered below.
The next thing you need to look at would be the free agents that you’ve acquired, but first a quick question. We’re you active enough on the waiver wire, and more importantly, were you active early? The waiver wire is basically your minor league system, and it needs to be monitored as closely as your own roster. If you acted quickly on a player with a hot start you might have been rewarded with several months’ worth of very good numbers. If you waited too long or looked at a player and said to yourself “he’s never going to keep this up”, you watched as your opponent scooped them up and reaped the rewards.
Also, how well did you monitor the players you picked up? You can look at players overall numbers, and they may seem good, but their week to week and monthly splits may tell you a different story. That player batting .350-.400 over the first 2-3 weeks of the season with 8 home runs can make an impact. Sadly that same player will follow that up with 3-4 weeks of batting .200, but he still sports a .300+ average with solid power so the slump goes unnoticed. You probably could have gotten better production from one of your bench players or someone else from the waiver wire.
And while we are talking about free agents, this rule should apply to everyone on your roster. Granted higher caliber players deserve a longer leash, but there comes a time when you need to accept a player isn’t doing what you paid for and make the necessary changes.
Now when I first mentioned free agents I asked a question, “were you active on the waiver wire?” Some teams can get away with only making a few moves, but if you’re going to be successful, you have to be active on the waiver wire. If you made less than 20 moves and your team finished on the bottom, odds are you had some dead weight on your team that you could have traded in for something else. You don’t need to be the owner who finishes the year with 100+ transactions. You do, however, have to make some moves or the league will pass you by. Take some chances and throw some darts at the board – a few of them will stick.
Free Agents aren’t the only way to improve your team. Did you make any trades this year, and how much did they improve your team? Trades are not necessary, but the waiver wire doesn’t always have what you need. If you did make a trade, did you need the player you were getting in return or was it a player at a position where you were already strong. I can’t tell you how many times in the past somebody would offer me a very good first baseman when I already had 2 of them in my starting lineup. The trade being offered may have been fair on paper, but trading a player that is in your starting lineup for a good player that has no place to play in your lineup makes no sense.
Also trading a strong player at a weak position for a better player at a position you’re already strong at makes little sense. You may have 2 good shortstops, but if someone offers you an outfielder for one of them and your outfield is above average, this doesn’t help you if you have a weakness someplace else. Examine your trades and see if they were just big name trades or if they actually help improve one of your weaknesses (or helped fill a hole).
Player stats and fantasy points
Now you’ve examined your draft, picked through your injuries, looked at the free agents you picked up (or missed on) and covered trades, so now we move on to players in general. Good fantasy owners know what most players are doing in general. Unfortunately there are those that don’t venture out much past their own team (or beyond the waiver wire). Sure they may check out their opponent’s players during their matchup, but if you play a team in week 12 and ignore what the players on that team are doing in fantasy from that point on, you’re already at a disadvantage.
If you didn’t keep up during the season, take a few days and do so NOW. Go back to your league and sort the players by how they finished in fantasy scoring. Sort them out by position so you can see where the most fantasy points come from. Also see whose numbers were down or who was injured and make a few notes – you may be able to get a few bargains come draft day.
Also, if you have never done something like this before or you’re somewhat new to fantasy baseball, click on a few of the names of players you’re not too familiar with. Look at their age and history and see if this is someone worth remembering or someone you might want to pass on next season. Remember that you’re not going to learn everything about everyone, but if you do this enough over the years you eventually have a good idea which makes things easier.
Now if you do all of this between now and the World Series you should have a pretty good idea of maybe what went wrong and what you might have to do to improve. But guess what, you’re not done yet. Baseball may end in October, but for true fantasy players it’s a year round sport.
Rankings and Research for Next Season
Some sites will start printing articles with projections and rankings for next season. Find a few that are making these early lists and read through them. Yes, it’s early and anything can change between now and March, but at least you’ll have a better idea on who may go where in the draft. You may also see some names that could be late round sleepers that you might not have considered.
Granted you can do what you’ve always done and wait for the rankings to come out in January/February, but that’s like waiting until the day before a test and trying to cram as much information in the night before. You remember when you did that? You got a C if you were lucky. If you’re only looking for a passing grade then by all means continue on with the way you were doing thing. However, if you want a better grade, you’re going to have to do a little extra homework and maybe some extra credit.
Free Agent Signings and Trades
So is that it? Well… almost. Once the baseball season comes to an end the free agent signing period begins, and over the years the trade activity has become just as important. Some of the players will only have minor implications in the world of fantasy, but others could be very important in planning your draft strategy.
Every player signed or traded not only has their own value at stake, but potentially other players as well. How many times have we anticipated a prospect would get a roster shot during spring training, only to see the team sign a veteran, taking away one of your favorite late round sleepers. And more recently, how many times did we plan on seeing player X at third base on a strong offensive team, only to see said team acquire another third baseman and then ship away their third baseman to a bad team with a bad park. That player you planned on reaching for may now be someone to avoid.
Keeping an eye on the free agent signings isn’t something that is time-consuming. You can easily find this information on MLB, ESPN, MLB Rumors, Twitter and a variety of other sites. It only takes a few minutes a day, and you know you’re going to be online anyway so just make it part of your daily routine.
So if I do all that will I win my league? Maybe not, but I can almost guarantee you won’t be one of the bottom feeders anymore. Remember that good fantasy teams are created during the draft, improved through trades, and maintained through the waiver wire. If you buy a new car but don’t keep up on the maintenance it’s going to break down before it’s supposed to. Just like that new car your roster needs regular maintenance.
And if you do all of these things and still end up on the bottom, maybe it was just bad luck and it was your time to lose. This year I crawled out of the basement in one of my H2H leagues to finish in 10th place (out of 12), but if you add up the roto points I should have finished in third. Sometimes you can do everything right and still have everything turn out wrong. The only thing you can do is go back to the drawing board, start at the top of this list and begin the process all over again.
Anyone can make a team good enough to make it to the playoffs; a good fantasy owner can make a team that can get you to the World Series. How good do YOU want to be?
If you’re not visiting Fantasy Rundown for all your fantasy baseball needs – you’re doing it wrong.