The Touts continue to knock it out of the park. Here is this week’s discussion:
Please share one step of your weekly free agent research which you find crucial to the process.
Dan Strafford (MoonshotsMLB, @DanStrafford): I read Vlad Sedler’s article.
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): The first thing I always do is review my team and take note of all the injured guys, as there always are several! Make a list of the positions I need to pick up a replacement for and then cross my fingers my options aren’t vomit-inducing.
Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): For most of my leagues, it is the Rotowire league management tool which allows me to look at who is available and how they stack up against who I have. The service doesn’t work with Onroto, but it’s a huge help with the NFBC and CBS-based FAAB leagues I am in.
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): If there’s a guy I’m particularly interested in, I’ll go over my league mates’ rosters to see who might need to replace a player at the same position who recently went on the IL. Combining that information with recent winning bids for players of similar quality gives me at least a rough idea of how much I’ll need to bid to add that player to my roster.
D.J. Short (NBC Sports, @djshort): Step one for me is usually taking note of the players who were dropped in a league during the latest run of FAB. In some cases, they are logical and not relevant. But in others, it might have been a tough decision for some, which allows you to speculate on an underperforming and/or fringy player. If they were rostered in the first place, there’s likely some modicum of upside. In other words, the research begins before the week even begins.
Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): This may sound simplistic but making sure every week I look at the report of players released, so I know who is now available. Once in a great while I forget to do this and didn’t know somebody, I would have wanted was available.
Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): Look at schedules/matchups for the following week. It’s a good way to get ahead of any soft two-start SP or favorable hitter schedules at a fraction of the FAAB price.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I look to see if there are any 2 start pitchers that won’t kill my ERA or WHIP that I can stream in weekly FAAB leagues. In daily drop/add leagues, I like to look at how a player is trending, along with weighing their last 14 days, 30 days, and season to date.
Scott White (CBS Fantasy Sports, @CBSScottWhite): Every week, I evaluate which five prospects are most deserving of stashing in redraft leagues, which changes more often than you might think. I do this as part of my editorial responsibilities for CBS, but it gives me such an advantage when entering my bids for the week. If you can anticipate which player is about to get the call rather than reacting to the one who just did, it’s pennies on the dollar as far as FAAB goes.
Matt Williams (The Game Day, @MattWi77iams): I research possible two-start pitchers for the following week in order to secure each player at a discount, if I have available bench space. The same goes for available hitters with a favorable schedule the following week (perhaps on the road in Colorado). This is an vital step to save valuable FAB.
Grey Albright (RazzBall, @razzball): Check the Hittertron or Streamonator on Razzball dot com, thank you for your patronage
Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): I check the +/- trends of seeing who has been added in case there is anyone I haven’t been paying close enough attention to. If someone appears to be an upgrade over a player on my roster, I do a deeper dive into my player to make sure it is the right call to cut bait with them. It has happened to everyone, but it is never a good feeling when you drop someone who gets hot right after or is scooped up by someone else and catches fire.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): Deciding on your corresponding cuts can be as critical as evaluating your pickups. Never waste a bench spot, and knowing exactly how many spaces with which you have to play can help guide your pickups and, more importantly, your contingencies. There’s always someone out there worth speculating on, even for that $0 bid, but how much room to you have to do that?
Steve Gardner (USA TODAY Sports, @SteveAGardner): I have a weekly calendar reminder set a few hours before the first bids are due that I use as a notepad to add names I come across throughout the week. That way, when I see something that might have an impact on my FAAB bids, I have someplace I can keep it until I need to put that knowledge into action.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Review my team and try to make a reasonable realistic assessment of what (not whom) I need, what kind of player, position, category contribution, etc. Then I use the needs list to look through the FA list for matches.
Doug Anderson (Fantrax, @rotodaddy): One thing I do to find some temporary help in my deep NL- and AL-Only leagues is comb through the latest injury news and IL placements. Then I look at the players most likely to gain playing time because of those injuries. I’m not likely to hit it big on any long-term fantasy value (though it has happened) but it is a way to squeak out a bit of production when the alternatives on the mono league waiver wire are pretty bleak.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I learned this from Friend of Tout Wars Rob Silver. At the start of the season, decide how much you need to spend each week for maintenance. That is, how much is needed to replace injured players and streaming each week. By means of example, in an NFBC league, that may be $20. If you spend $20 a week on general team management, that leaves around $480 for luxury items/upgrades. Each week, I adjust the ledger, based on how much I spend on needs and upgrades. For me, what this does is keep reckless bids in check. Anyone spending more than $500 this early on one player may not leave themselves with enough to make needed moves down the stretch.
Dr. Roto (DrRoto.com, @DrRoto): I go through the list of available free agents on Saturday and write down a few names of interest. I then go back Sunday to make sure I didn’t miss any key names on the first pass.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I keep a chart of who bid, on which players, and how much in every league. I keep track of which teams lost active players during the week and which teams are getting back players off the IL. I choose my targets (that is its own process–typically aimed at playing time) and compare to the chart/other teams’ needs.
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): This year I started diligently tracking who is dropped in all my leagues. When I used to only be in 1-2 leagues, this wasn’t necessary, but now that I’m in multiple (way too many) leagues it is easy to lose track of who got dropped, particularly if is a “surprising” drop who should be rostered in all formats. This step is particularly important in NFBC-style leagues with no IL and/or limited reserves. It is easy to lose track of a key IL drop who might be back in 6-8 weeks who “should” be picked up in 4-6 weeks. This step has allowed me to up my game this year and improved my process.
Michael Govier (FTN Fantasy, @mjgovier): I have to agree that Vlad’s article at FTN is the cornerstone for top notch free agency analysis. However, before I go there I review my roster for my team to see which injured players need a replacement. Then I look at my categories of need. If it’s roto, I want to add players that can improve the category where I need help. If it’s H2H, I am looking at the upcoming schedule for next week to see which teams have the friendliest schedules for streaming pitchers and hitters. For H2H I then look at which pitchers will have 2-start weeks because they give me a leg up in volume for a weekly matchup depending on the roster size and number of moves available within your league. Next I go to the free agent pool in each league to see which players are available based on rostership percentage. I start from the highest and peruse the lowest. That coincides with my needs and the upcoming schedule to form my list of free agent additions. I also rely heavily on my own Pallazzo Discord for prospect rumblings in anticipation of new arrivals who could help my team. Then, after I have formed my own opinions, I head over to FTN to read Vlad’s article to see where we agree and disagree. I make adjustments accordingly from there.
Sara Sanchez (bleedcubbieblue.com, @BCB_Sara): I have a notebook that is with me at almost all times (this is a trick I learned from Jenny Butler at FPAZ) and jot down the names I’m interested in as I listen to pods or come across them on Twitter. I also add names of drops each week. On Friday as I’m resetting my NFBC lineups I make note of what I need stats wise AND position wise, then I put in early bids at some point on Saturday to reflect those needs. I usually return to my lists to tweak a few times on Sunday (bumping amounts for guys who may have had great performances, triple checking I didn’t miss any injury news from late Saturday/Sunday). Then I sit anxiously on Twitter and wait for bids to run so I can kvetch with all of you about what worked and what didn’t, often while listening to Jeff & Scott on the Rotowire podcast on Sunday night.
Vlad Sedler (FTN Fantasy, @rotogut): Time management is of the essence. Especially if you have FAAB for multiple teams. One key part of my process is to make sure I have bids set at least one hour before the deadline, then STEP AWAY to a reset/brain refresh, then return to adjust dollar amounts.
Scott Chu (Pitcher List, @ifthechufits): I don’t have data for this, but I’m pretty sure April is the month with the craziest FAAB. The most important part of my early season process is to remember it’s early in the season. While it’s true that early season adds theoretically could provide the biggest lift, they can also be the biggest duds. 100 or 1000 is less than it feels early on.
Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman): Step one is always to set my lineup for the following week. That keeps me focused on the needs of this specific roster (important if you’re in a few too many leagues) and also helps determine whether this will be a FAAB period where I’m focused on filling immediate needs or one where I’m thinking more long-term. In many situations, you won’t have enough players you’re willing to drop to do both.
Dave Adler (BaseballHQ, @daveadler01): Keep regular track of AAA players to see who’s performing well – in particular K/BB and making sure that their BABIP is reasonable. That way, when a hitter goes down late in the week, you have a sense of who might come up to take his place. Targets who have had a cup of coffee in the majors are another plus. Pitchers, well, harder to judge, but track their progress and peripherals, too.
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): For pitchers on the waiver wire I like to look at a few components. First is upcoming matchups. If you are pitching against Oakland, I am interested. Second is K rate and third is XFIP. Also, it is important with pitchers to look for an outlier. One bad outing can skew numbers so be sure to get a true picture of the player.
Sky Dombroske (Fantistics Insider Baseball, @SkyDombroske): I think making sure that you’re not treating FA pickups as “rest-of-season” adds is a critical step, which I think all of those mentioning checking upcoming schedules are alluding to. Whatever issues your team may have don’t all have to be solved for the year with every pickup.
Eric Samulski (Rotoballer, @SamskiNYC): I write a weekly FAAB-centric Substack called Samulski Sunday Tribune where I give the previous weeks stat leaders and provide context for their stats to determine if we should add them. So for that I’m always looking at SwStr%, hard hit data, plate appearances, minor league numbers etc. It’s probably too much work but it gives me a good sense of the pool. Check it out to see if it helps you. Otherwise, I look recent stats but then make sure to check plate appearances and also the rolling breakdowns on Statcast for batted ball trends
Chris Clegg (Pitcher List, @RotoClegg): I first go and set my lineups for the upcoming week to see where I may have holes or injured players. That is the start of my research. Then I hit the available player pool and start with positions of need or injury replacements. I look at speculation of prospects who could get the call and could contribute right away, even if I have to stash them for a week. I then check Vlad’s FAAB article to see recommended values as I know every player is reading that. If I really want a player I know I’ll have to spend 5-10% more than suggested.
Carlos Marcano (Triple Play Fantasy, @camarcano): I mostly works on a “per needs” basis, going through my priority leagues and down. It’s usually two things: underperforming players or injured players replacements (or temp subs). Then the process goes through checking advanced metrics and all the way to the cats needed for every particular metrics. A lot of discussion with my partner in crime, Mark. And then, more checking. Honestly, it’s a process that never ends, and it’s draining but extremely important for success.
Zach Steinhorn (Steinhorn’s Universe on Substack, @zachsteinhorn): During my daily perusal of the box scores, if I notice that a certain player who is available in my league had a great game, I write down their name on my notepad. By the weekend, I’d hopefully have a decent-sized list of players to take a closer look at when making final bidding decisions. I add more players to this list on Sunday when I sort by the various roto categories, usually focusing on the last two weeks, but I think it’s important to begin compiling a list of possible FAAB targets early in the week to lighten the weekend load.
Brian Entrekin (Fantasy Pros, BaseballHQ, @bdentrek): There are many steps to locking in your free agent bids for the week. One of my first things I do is look at the upcoming schedule for possible streamers. Then it’s about recent playing time trends and overall performances.
Peter Kreutzer (Rotoman.substack.com, @kroyte): We usually know who the big names to bid on are each week. How hard to go after them depends on a balance between their opportunity and your team’s needs. Many weeks, however, there are also under the radar names that don’t trigger that burst of excitement that real prospects do. Most of these aren’t going to be worth much, but it’s worth digging into their recent minor league record for clues about those who might help your team. A speedster or a guy who is making a lot of Triple-A contact (or even better a speedster who is making a lot of Triple-A contact) can be a cheap add if you have even a temporary hole. Don’t overvalue 28-year-olds having minor league success, but in many cases your opponents will be undervaluing them.
Tim McLeod (PattonandCo, @RunTMc59006473): I spend a lot of time scouting the Minors, looking for both breakout players, the “hot hand”, and top prospects likely to get called up. I’ll especially focus on teams where the incumbent is struggling and a callup becomes even more likely. I play an aggressive game, but over the years have found the rewards exceed the costs. The early bird can get more than just the worms!
Greg Jewett (The Athletic, @gjewett9): Tracking relievers so closely, noting their roles within their high-leverage ladder, seeing who warms up for a save chance, but does not receive it when the team pads its lead, and daily performances changing roles as the season ensues. This prevents overreacting when an injury presents itself or when roles change on the fly. Most make the mistake of adding a reliever for saves which happened when they were on the waiver wire, not ones in the future, creating a vicious cycle on one’s FAAB resources.
CJ Kaltenbach (Fantasy Guru, @TheSeigeDFS): Weekend playing time on teams with recently promoted prospects or 2nd chance guys; can get to a Nick Pratto type a week early by just checking PT before submitting bids
Glenn Colton (SiriusXM, @GlennColton1): Taking advantage of having a truly talented fantasy player as a partner (yes you Rick Wolf). They key to our free agent research is building a set of bids, and then each of us analyzing the players, prices, and team needs to continue to hone to the best possible result. If you find a good partner, use that person to make each of you better and most importantly in this context, your fantasy team better!
Phil Hertz (Baseball HQ, @prhz50): A lot depends on the depth of the league that you’re looking at. In Tout, for example, the pickings are slim, so you have to be careful about cutting someone who’s been in a deep slump because any replacement might turn out worse. This is especially so given the Tour requirement that any pick-up has to be active for a week. In more typical 15-team leagues with a significant reserve list, I tend to look for guys who have some upside. In keeper leagues, what I do depends on lot on whether I’m looking for the future or the time is now.