This week’s question
What do you do over the break to get ready to manage your teams the rest of the season? Please feel free to answer in context – this is what I do to protect a lead, this is what I do when I need to make up ground, etc.
Derek VanRiper (Rotowire, @DerekVanRiper): Unfortunately, I’ve got a lot more experience trying to make up ground than trying to protect a lead, but this time of year, I’m looking for similar things regardless of my position. I begin by looking at the category standings to determine where I can gain or lose the most points in the shortest amount of time. If I’m protecting a lead, I’m looking at pickups or trades that will help me out in the categories where I’m most likely to lose points. If I’m trying to make up ground, I’m making those moves to try to upgrade roster spots in those categories. The All-Star break is typically a time where I’ll begin shifting resources on my pitching staff to go more starter-heavy if wins and strikeouts are an opportunity to gain points, and if my position in saves is relatively safe.
Rob Leibowitz (Rotoheaven, @rob_leibowitz): When I’m ahead in the standings, unfortunately not the case in Tout Wars this particular year, I will often look at the standings and see where I can block my competitors by trading away stats in categories that will have greater impact by stifling or slowing down my competitors chance of moving up in those categories, rather than hoarding them for myself. I especially look to do this as close to the league trade deadline as possible for categories, such as saves, stolen bases so there is limited opportunity to counter such a move. In Tout this year, i”m just kinda desperate to climb my way back as best I can to the 60 point level. So longshot faab picks and trades will be necessary.
Seth Trachtman (Rotoworld, @sethroto): Generally, I find the All-Star break to be a good time to assess where I am in each category and make trade offers to assess those needs. Let’s face it, the break is torture! If there are needs I can address easily via trade, the break is a great time to evaluate other rosters and come up with potential trade offers for the stretch run. It’s also a time to reassess where my injured players are in their timetables, and in Tout I’ve had more than my fair share over the last month.
Perry Van Hook (Mastersball): The most important first step is to look at every category and see how many points you have now and what is required to gain the point. Look at the weekly rate stats for the teams you need to catch and perhaps those close behind and not just yours. You want a very realistic guide that may change your lineup or free agent pickup or help you with trades. You should end up with a plus minus chart for any team you have that has the ability and motivation to improve (I would say all teams but I understand the drag if you have several teams who are out of it – still in fairness to the league you should always be looking to improve your team’s performance.
Rudy Gamble (Razzball, @RudyGamble): While the ASB doesn’t hold any great significance, it is helpful to take a step back around this time of year from week-to-week roster optimization to gauge your chances at winning a league. Maximizing category points is always the goal. But the slimmer your chances, the greater your risk tolerance should be. The biggest risk/reward is through trading but roster construction opportunities include: 1) changing up SP/RP mix depending on points to gain/lose in pitching, 2) being more aggressive in FAAB on a rookie power or speed bat, and 3) changing up your hitter/pitcher bench mix to prepare for pennant runs.
Ray Murphy (BaseballHQ, @RayHQ): Lots of people giving the right answer about category/standings assessments. That’s obviously critical work, and needs to be done by anyone in contention entering the second half. A little more philosophically, I make a point to try and sort of “clear my cache” of recency bias, preconceived notions about players on my roster / free agent pool based on how they have done recently. Basically, try to reboot (geez, second computer metaphor in one graf) my own impressions of my team. As others have said, marinating with the league standings/overall 1st half stats helps to do that. Just unplugging a bit helps too. Basically, I tend to develop blind spots over the course of half a season, and I’m trying to clear them and prepare myself to make more sound decisions down the stretch.
Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru Elite, @BaseballGuys): I’ll be the one to say it… I work on football over the break. I wish I had more time to devote to in-season baseball management, but the truth is I really don’t. My job is to help others succeed, which often means I do so at the expense of my own squads. With the rush of fantasy football in July, there really isn’t any more time for fantasy baseball during the A.S.B. than any other week of the season.
Scott Engel (RotoExperts, @scotteRotoEx): I am assessing the team and league throughout the season, and the break does not give me any more time to examine anything more than I normally would. But I my get anxious without any daily action, and some others may feel the same, so it’s n ideal tie to make trades
Ron Shandler (RonShandler.com, @RonShandler): In my 30+ years of playing this stupid game, this is the first time ever – in ANY league – that I find myself headed into the Break in dead last. Odds of winning = 0%. Odds of making a run into contention = maybe 10%. I would follow Ray’s lead and start planning for football, but I’d be scanning cheat sheets for Fran Tarkenton and Terry Bradshaw. I’m committed to being a good fantasy citizen, however, so I’ll keep plugging away with small, incremental goals. Goal #1: Get the heck out of last place. Goal #2: 75 points, which preserves my FAAB for 2019. Goal #3: Figure out how to accomplish #1 and #2 after having already traded my Machado-caliber chips. Last thing I ever thought I’d be doing is likening myself to the ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. There’s a first time for everything.
Fred Zinkie (Years in Tout Wars: 8, @): This answer will come as little surprise to people who play in leagues with me, but I love to talk trade during the ASB. Trade talks are often impacted by daily results. For example, an owner wants to trade you a certain starter until that starter throws eight shutout innings, and then he suddenly wants to keep him and deal a different starter instead. The ASB is the only time in the season when we get an extended time with static stats and no new injuries. For this reason, trade talks that are started on Sunday night have five full days to reach completion before anything happens that will cause either owner to change their player valuations. Additionally, with no game action to occupy our time, owners should have plenty of available minutes to work through trade talks.
Gene McCaffrey (Wise Guy Baseball, @WiseGuyGene): I take a look at possible trades and then I take a break. If I didn’t already know what I need to do to hold a lead or make up ground, I would be ashamed of myself. And sometimes a break gives me a new idea or a fresh perspective. And my family is happy to see me. Usually.
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Generally, I’ll go over my own roster, see where my statistical category shortcomings and redundancies are, then look at other rosters to see if there’s a potential good match with another owner. I don’t alter my approach much based on where I currently sit in the standings. I’ll also spend some extra time reading about minor leaguers who stand a good chance of being called up to the majors to see if that might be another source of help.
Steve Gardner (USAToday Fantasy Sports, @SteveAGardner): First off, it’s a bit of a relief to do nothing over the break. Worrying every day about lineup changes and standings positions can be a bit overwhelming. Like Fred, Gene and others, I like to use the break to find potential trade partners who can help me reach my goals of making a championship run … or building for next year. The great thing about the break is no one’s generating any stats, so we don’t have to worry about a big game or a potential injury impacting players’ values in the middle of any trade talks.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I focus a lot more effort in July in my dynasty league. It is a good time to assess the remainder of 2018, but also start to consider 2019 and 2020 (and 2021) and set goals, figure out how to marshal resources for those goals. Redraft leagues–it really is no different from every other week of the season–trying to consider where I can gain/lose points in the standings, fill holes, who may be traded and what opportunities get created from that, how other teams’ moves affect my position, etc. I try to have the most up-to-date set of projections (making my own adjustments and following multiple sites that update themselves–like BaseballHQ.com) to help me assess.
Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): I agree with most of the ideas above, but there’s no reason to wait for the ASB to access your roster, think about potential trades, etc. There’s only about 40% of the season remaining at the ASB, so whatever I think I need to do, I want to do that ASAP. I often use this time to take a break. It’s nice to have a few days not looking at box scores and thinking about any of this. In fact, I just recently started my football prep!
lawr michaels (CreativeSports2, @lawrmichaels): obviously, my spot in the relative standings is important. and, i will never roll over. eg, my LABR AL team is awful, but there are still 10-15 points i can gain if my players do what they are supposed to do, and if that means moving up in the standings, i will stick with it. plus, i think we owe it to our league-mates to play out the season as best we can so ideally the best team wins because they were the best team: not because a ghost team left Aroldys Vizcaino on the DL. but, i try to really–fearlessly and objectively–look at my teams and what are my chances and what do i need to do relative to the league and rules and my spot in the standings. and, if the answer is “five points in steals, four in runs, four in strikeouts, and four in wins” would put me among the contending teams, the question is can i realistically look to get that production, and if so, from what source? will the steals points cost me in saves and how much? and bearing that in mind, am i realistic when i think i can win? so, from there it is a question of what can i manipulate relative to my rosters–and my league-mate’s–that are reasonable that might push me to the top. and, then I try to achieve just that. but, i also try to do this concertedly, for there are still a lot of games to be played, so no time to panic just yet if I am hanging with the top teams. and, if i have not had a hot period for a while, all the better. finally, do make sure your reserve list is exploited to the max of your options so you have the max of choices when something goes wrong. for it will.
Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @glenncolton1): There are so many things that one should do to re-evaluate one’s fantasy baseball team in the calm of the all-star break. For me, I look at which players’ value is going to change by the trades that will occur over the next 2.5 weeks. Who is going to get traded to a better situation? Who is going to get traded into an “only” league? Who is going to benefit from a teammate being traded away (i.e., get a closer job). Foreseeing those changes a week earlier than everyone else could be the key to victory
Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): The main thing I do is take a couple of days to ignore the standings, etc. About the time the All-Star game begins, I’ll take a look at the standings. In redraft leagues, I’ll try to determine what categories I can gain multiple points and whether there’s a path to achieving that goal. In keeper leagues, I make the final determination of whether to go for it or make trades to improve keepers .
D.J. Short (Rotoworld, @djshort): It’s always nice to take a breather during this time. Especially if you are in a league with daily lineup changes. It can get overwhelming. This season is a little different in that so much of the schedule has already been played out by the All-Star break that ideally you have been thinking about where you are a bit earlier, but if not, it’s important to look at categories you might have a cozy advantage in and try to leverage that in other areas. Nothing groundbreaking here. This is said time and time again for a reason. It works. Even with more than half the season behind us, many people still evaluate potential trades based on where players fall within website X or Y’s rankings. Please throw that out. Make your decisions based on what you need. Your own context.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): Over the break, I always use this opportunity to measure my team’s strengths and weaknesses in each statistical category. I look for the best possible scenarios before performing any drop/adds or trades. I never want to make any moves to where I gain a point in a category, but end up losing 2 or more points in another category. Like most of the Touts, we play in more than this league and most likely are either at the top, the middle, or towards the bottom of our league standings. For me, the higher that I am in the league standings, the more conservative I tend to be with making any moves or trades. I also keep a keen eye on prospects that may get the call up to the major leagues that can immediately make an impact.
Michael Rathburn (Rotowire, @FantasyRath): Depending on where I am in the standings will be how aggressive I will be with trade offers/FAAB. If I’m way back, I will look at the categories in which I think I can gain the most ground the fastest. If I have to overpay for a trade on paper so be it. I try to look at positional depth and where am I the strongest/weakest. If I can upgrade categories while also doing it in a positional sense, all the better.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I’m with those saying they’re already aware of where they stand within each league and have a feel for the category math. What I like to do is catch up on what some of my competitors are doing. Are they dumping saves? Ignoring steals? Whatever the case may be, I’ll make sure I’m not missing anything with respect to one of my competitors. The other thing I do is go through my DL and farm players to get the latest on their return or promotion. Knowing where I may get some internal help shapes my impending FAAB bids, especially in AL or NL only formats.