Moves become magnified since there is less margin for error. With that in mind, the Touts were asked:
What is your favorite piece of advice to offer those seeking tips on roster management down the stretch?
Perry Van Hook (Mastersball, @): At the end of the year whether you are trying to finish first or just improve in the standings, your focus should be on you positions in each category in your league Where can you gain points? Where do you have to make sure you aren’t losing point? If you have categories where you cant’ gain or lose points you might want to replace players you have whose strongest contributions are in those categories with players who can help you in others.
Ryan Hallam (Fighting Chance Fantasy, @FightingChance): Play like there is no tomorrow. Because there aren’t many more left. Guy dealing with a nagging injury, replace them. Guy on a hot streak, ride it! If you are in a roto league look at the standings and see where you can improve the most the quickest and go for it. No time to lose now, play that last month like your hair is on fire and hope your competition is paying more attention to their fantasy football teams.
D.J. Short (NBC Sports Edge, @djshort): I’d be careful about carrying dead weight on your roster. That could range from a player with a day-to-day type of injury, a veteran who is underperforming, or even an exciting prospect. It’s all about maximizing your roster for today. It’s not about a player’s perceived value or what they could be in the future. I’d also be honed in on which teams are playing the most games, possible two-start pitcher options, and where and who certain teams will be playing to close out the season. That value in the margins could ultimately be the separator in a league.
Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): Forget “Mr. Right” and find “Mr. Right Now”. Those who have the role you need at the moment are the players to target, even if you have doubts about their long-term future.
Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): Any scratch is a flaw. Every at bat or inning counts, so you don’t have the luxury to carry a guy around while waiting for that sore hammy or tweaked ankle to get healthy. Churn and burn until the end.
Brian Walton (CreativeSports2, @B_Walton): Know your league’s trade deadline. It may be your last chance to pick up a player who can contribute in key categories in which you are in need.
Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): Cut ties with injured players or minor leaguers unlikely to make an impact in September. Every roster spot is precious so accumulate depth and flexibility if possible. Focus on matchups and schedules because certain teams will be punching bags as they play out the stretch with weak pitchers and lineups.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Don’t dismiss the ability to make up ground in ratio categories (BA, OBP, ERA, WHIP). While it all depends on where you are within each category, on average, more points are gained and lost the final week in ERA and WHIP than the other categories.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Do what you gotta do. Anything goes. Scrape up every point you can. Use every means possible. Hail Marys allowed.
Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): Bank as much production as you can. There isn’t enough time left to chase the “perfect player” – If something is helpful now, go after it.
Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @Scott_Pianowski): Just showing up will go far this time of year. With football here and back-to-school dominating many households, some of the non-contenders in your league will start checking out. Every September I’m shocked at the good players I can land for small or even minimum bids. Another key is to carefully audit the categories, see where you can easily gain or fall. Vacuum value no longer matters, we’re no longer playing for the big inning. Your winning path is much more specific now, and that needs to be incorporated in your pickup and starting strategy.
Ron Shandler (RonShandler.com, @RonShandler): Those in keeper and dynasty formats should maintain a close eye on September call-ups all month, and speculate. That’s what I did last September and now own Spencer Strider.
James Anderson (Rotowire, @RealJRAnderson): Don’t be afraid to drop someone in your redraft league if it makes your team better over the next 1-2 weeks. Playing time is always king, and that becomes an even bigger challenge in September.
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): Playing time is king. If someone is day-to-day or might go on the IL and you have a viable replacement, use the healthy player. If you don’t have limited IL slots don’t be afraid to cut a player unless it’s an obvious superstar. It’s easy to overthink these decisions but if you’ve put yourself in a position to win in September you should already have a strong feeling for who should and shouldn’t be starting for you right now.
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): Its all about the format. In roto – play the categories, not just the raw player value. A 40-SB type player could be useless or more important than Aaron Judge depending on your situation. In points with playoffs – take a look at upcoming schedules and act in advance to get players on your playoff roster, regardless of wat had transpired thus far in the season. Also … take into account risk. Play safer options with a lead, and take risks when trailing. Finally … its all about playing time. Seek out players with playing time.
Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): Don’t look any further ahead than a week or two in redraft. Move on from hitters and pitchers if you don’t plan on using them over the next two weeks which is half the season.
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Throw out your preseason values. All that matters now is your position in each of the categories standings. Good in home runs and RBI, but could gain several stolen base points? Then sure, go ahead and trade Yordan Alvarez for Jorge Mateo or Cedric Mullins!
Andrea Lamont (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @RotoLady): Be willing to drop historically good players if they aren’t performing. Josh Hader comes to mind. Don’t bother with names, find players who are getting at bats every day. Pay close attention to categories to target areas you can gain points.
Alan Harrison (The Fantasy Fix, @TheFantasyFix): In roto, take a long look at your standings and assess your ability to gain points in each of the categories. If you can still trade, don’t be afraid ot make a trade that includes your preseason stud for their midseason waiver addition if you believe it will help you gain ground in said categories. Maximize ABs, tinker with matchups/platoons until the very end. Money or not, moving up a couple spots at the end of the season is worth the small investment of time. Finish what you started and have fun.
Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): Remember that MLB front offices are always “thinking” similar to how we operate in dynasty leagues — always with at least one eye on the future. The teams that are ‘out of it’ are preparing for next year, giving chances to young players or reclamation projects to sink or swim, to see how players respond. That’s where some of the suprise opportunities and results are going to be found in the final weeks. Identify these opps. Plug the players in for your final push. May the hot streaks find you.
Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Navigating the mine field is tough! Keep an eye out for opportunities, like Herget getting saves for the Angels. Managers are going to six man rotations, and cutting innings for pitchers. Playoff teams will rest stars, non playoff teams will bring up rookies. Stay alert!
Matt Truss (Razzball, @MattTruss): Be flexible and you have to look at the standings to see where the most points can be gained. If I’m dead last in stolen bases in a league and have a HR cushion, I’m likely benching a bopper for a guy like, Bubba Thompson in hopes of making up points.
Nando DiFino (The Athletic, @nandodifino): Go nuts and try to win. You can still do a lot of damage in September — and other teams can, conversely, get hurt by injuries or bad stretches of play. Be aggressive with moves, pay attention to daily lineups, BOP and “last 7 days” and go for the title instead of playing things conservatively
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): You are all in!!! Anyone is droppable and anyone is addable if it means helping you win the league.
Chris Blessing (Baseball HQ, @C_Blessing): I’m consumed by the waiver
Frank Stampfl (Fantasy Pros, @Roto_Frank): Don’t be afraid to cut struggling “stars”, especially in shallow leagues. If you play in Roto, pay close attention to which categories you can most easily move up AND down in when making waiver moves. If you play in H2H points, pitching will be key. Try and gobble up as many two-start pitchers as you can, whether to start them yourself or prevent your opponent from starting them.
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Spend more time analyzing (if not agonizing over) pitching matchups, especially if you’re trying to balance ratio management w/ chasing Wins and Strikeouts. It might be tempting to throw caution to the wind and just look at the counting categories for pitching, but a couple of ill-advised pitcher selections could do serious damage to your WHIP/ERA without having much time to recover at this time of year.
Vlad Sedler (FTNfantasy, @rotogut): Don’t allow football to take away from your focus down the stretch. Keep up with daily MLB transactions, playing time, lineup orders, splits and opposing matchups. Keep grinding!
Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): Go week to week. Move on from hitters that are slumping or have bad matchups. Same goes for pitchers. If some lands on the injured list, it might be a good idea to just drop them.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): What they said: Look for opportunities in the categories (don’t forget you can trade from any position if you’re on an “island” where you can’t gain or lose points), in redraft, don’t worry about “losing” the trade by the names involved if it means making gains in categories where those opportunities present themselves. Of course, in keeper/dynasty formats, if you ain’t winning, you need to be dealing for keepers.
Sara Sanchez (bleedcubbieblue.com, @BCB_Sara): What everyone said above. Stay active. Keep making moves. Scour the free agents for people that can help you where you can make up the most points. So many people get distracted in the final few weeks of a season and those are all points you can make up on your competition.
Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): Don’t be afraid to drop any player, even if you had high hopes for him entering the season and have stuck with him through his year-long struggles. If he hasn’t figured things out by now, there’s a good chance that 2022 will end up being a lost season. Roster spots have value and if you can use that roster spot to address a specific area of need, stubbornly holding on to a player simply because dropping him would be upsetting doesn’t make much sense.
Jeff Barton (Scoresheet Sports, @JeffScoresheet): Your place in the standings matters as the season closes. If you are ahead you can/should play it safe, and take the surer stat performers (generally veterans, or guys who have at least played all season and have been consistently good.) But, if you are lagging, then this is time for gambles. Maybe a guy who just got called up (Henderson?), or a pitcher on a losing MLB team who might get promoted to the rotation for the final 4-5 weeks, is the kind of guy you need to gamble on.
Tim Heaney (TheGameDay.com, @TeamHeaney): WAKE. UP. EARLY, in September. Read EVERYTHING you can in the final month about streamers, platoon matchups, and category targets. NFL kickoff can’t get in the way of the final month. When everyone worries about their RB1, you worry about what team’s fifth starter will face the Tigers.
Chris Clegg (Fantrax, @RotoClegg): At this point of the season, staying focused can allow you to make moves in the standings. Don’t be afraid to drop a player you drafted high if they are on an extended cold streak. You should be paying attention to standings to see what categories you can make gains in and hammer those categories when looking at waivers and lineup decisions. Small boosts in several categories can lead to changes in the overall standings.
Rob Leibowitz (Rotoheaven, @rob_leibowitz): It is all about the standings and the incremental changes you can make or defend against. Look for gains and vulnerabilities. If you have a shot at contending, that last trade or two you can make at your league’s trade deadline is crucial with a last minute move other teams can’t then counter. So wait as long as possible to announce any of those deals. I like to focus on saves and stolen bases and generally the other counting stats where a change or two can make a big difference over the last few weeks while using defensive measures on the derived stats if wins are not an issue (taking out that 4th or 5th starter type for a reliever, etc.) While this may not be as true as the days of the 40-man September when players were out for the season, even if not on the DL. It is time to cut bait in redraft leagues and keeper leagues if you’re in go for it mode.