This week’s question: What do you do to take advantage of some competitors shifting focus to fantasy football?
Scott Engel (The Game Day, @ScottETheKing): Actually, my goal is to not let myself get too shifted away. I always cut out time daily to stay on top of MLB, my days just become more crammed with research of two sports. If you are in a league where others start to pay less interest, though, you might be able to win out on the waiver wire more this time of year.
Dan Strafford (MoonshotsMLB, @DanStrafford): Any number of cliches could describe the fantasy baseball season. It’s a war of attrition. It’s a marthon, not a print. On and on they go. I don’t know that it is specifically fantasy football that can be taken advantage of or just the typical nature of losing interest over such a long season. The biggest key is to stay dedicated and focused each week to waiver wire, injuries, trends, and lineup setting.
Brian Walton (CreativeSports2, @B_Walton): Those owners may be more inclined to entertain trades since their interest in baseball drops as they ramp up football focus. Do the necessary research yourself. Make it as easy as possible for them to say “yes”.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I don’t do football, but I also don’t attempt to do anything that would be trickeration or something that could be resented later. I just play it straight–same as I do in May.
Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): Many players don’t have the time to keep up with new trends, which allows players who can see pitches changing their approach, velocity, and improving their command/stuff in believable ways are often overlooked. Pitchers especially can go on successful runs when in rhythm and those who have less time will often keep their old first half opinions of pitchers. Take advantage of the mercurial nature of players.
Frank Ammirante (The GameDayHQ, @FAmmiranteTFJ): The best way to take advantage is through the waiver wire. You may be able to get a player at a lower FAAB bid than expected since your competitors are not as engaged as they were in April or May.
Eric Samulski (Rotoballer, @SamskiNYC): I honestly don’t think you need to do much, just stay engaged. Maybe place smaller bids, expecting less furious competition on the wire. Also, look to float trade offers with teams who are out of it but may want to shake things up or acquire “fun” players to cheer for. That doesn’t mean make bad offers, but it just means explore offers to see if a Mets fan maybe wants to add Francisco Alvarez for the final two months, etc.
Sara Sanchez (bleedcubbieblue.com, @BCB_Sara): I don’t shift to fantasy football stuff until later so I just keep grinding in fantasy baseball. Same amount of attention, still running last 14-30 day comps, looking for guys who are hot, where I can find some advantages, where playing time has crept up or dropped off. I imagine the people focused on football aren’t looking at baseball as closely and I am really just trying to get an edge through having a good process and consistency.
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): The first thing to note are the teams who are no longer setting lineups and/or not making waiver wire pickups. In terms of standings … see which ones you may be able to pas more easily. In terms of pickups, note that they won’t be part of FAAB, so set your values knowing that there are fewer teams competing. I don’t think that there is a way of taking advantage of those teams as far as trades … they are more absent than anything else in my experience.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): I’m pretty diligent about my moves anyway, so not much different from some checkouts. If I’m sure another player has checked out, it might play a part in setting a bid if he would otherwise be someone I thought would be competing with me for the player.
Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, @jeffwzimmerman): It’s too late to really take advantage of managers migrating over to football. The football managers won’t be grinding out every at-bat so counting, especially Runs and RBI, can be gained during this time. Also, Saves can be picked up. These categories can be deemphasized during the draft knowing they can be made up now.
Scott White (CBS Fantasy Sports, @CBSScottWhite): The advantages are less obvious in the present than in the past and the future. The past advantage is that you could afford to be more aggressive with your free agent bidding early in the season, knowing there will be fewer bidders later on. This is actually one of several reasons why it generally pays to front-load free agent spending. The future advantage is that you’ll have a more complete picutre of certain players heading into next year. The fantasy football crowd will have their opinions skewed by the first two-thirds of the season. They may miss the boat on certain players entirely. Who knows who all could emerge over the next two months?
Grey Albright (RazzBall, @razzball): Best way to take advantage of anyone is to ask them for a small, simple favor, then slowly increasing your favors until they’re willing to give you anything you want. So, ask them for a glass of water and keep increasing favors, until they give you Acuña in a trade for a middle reliever.
CJ Kaltenbach (Fantasy Guru, @TheSeigeDFS): When people stop paying attention that’s when you can make your move in specific categories; it’s not always about winning the league but getting yourself into more money paying positions through sticking with it.
Sky Dombroske (Fantistics Insider Baseball, @SkyDombroske): For owners whose attention is drifting but haven’t totally checked out, it’s worth making some offers for players who have shown improvement over the past 2-4 weeks that you think highly of, as those owners may be more focused on season-long totals instead of recent play. Taking a look at your upcoming schedule with an eye toward who is and isn’t paying attention could give you some added insight into your team’s ceiling as well.
Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman): In theory, there should be less competition on the waiver wire, but in practical terms, I’m not sure it makes a difference in FAAB leagues. You only need to be outbid by one person to lose a player, so if you’re submitting cheap bids in hopes that the fantasy football effect will allow yours to sneak through, you’re liable to get burned by a leaguemate who’s still locked in. In first-come, first-served leagues (where fantasy players who stop paying attention down the stretch may be overrepresented) you might be able to take advantage of the effect more.
Andy Andres (BaseballHQ, @sabermetrics101): Agree with a lot of the sentiment here, stay engaged, nothing different, play it straight.
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): You’ve got to start early, so I like to complain loudly and often about how awful fantasy baseball is these days and how great fantasy football is. Then, I start playing the Fox football intro theme at a very low volume at all times whenever I’m near one of my fantasy football playing friends. Finally, I try to remind them how much prep is really necessary to win your fantasy football league: you had better be watching those August preseason games or your draft is going to be a complete failure! By constantly telling my opponents how important fantasy football is, I’ll get 3-4 of them to completely neglect their baseball teams and enable my historic climb from 8th place to 5th place. Take that, football fans!
Jennifer Piacenti (Sports Illustrated, @jenpiacenti): We’re still playing fantasy baseball? Kidding. Though, the way my Tout team looks right now, you might think I’m not. COME ON, YORDAN. Serisouly, though, for those that have had a bum team all year, this is the time to gain ground. With fantasy football taking focus away, simply keeping an eye on who’s hot can be enough to pick up major gains once your middle-of-the- pack opponents check out knowing they can’t win it all. I’ve gone from second-to-last to second overall before just by paying attention after the trade deadline.
Michael Govier (FTN Fantasy, @mjgovier): This is easy! I just keep doing what I’ve been doing all season. Because if I try to exploit a manager who is not paying attention, I might just sit there waiting forever because I won’t get a response. So it’s business as usual for me as football becomes the focus for millions of people. I might get some more breaks going my way on the waiver wire too because the attention span is waining for many of my competitors. I suppose one other key thing that is a benefit from this change in season is the reduction in FAAB prices. I drop my bids by roughly 15% across the board because there will be a reduction in prices.
Shelly Verougstraete (NBC Sports EDGE Baseball, @ShellyV_643): I don’t really do anything different this time fo year. I might take a look at other manager’s lineups to see if they are still playing, but I just moving along with my process.
Scott Chu (Pitcher List, @ifthechufits): We are heading into prime waiver wire season. Between late call-ups and fewer managers competing for those adds, I’m often glad that I reserved at least 1/3 of my FAAB budget, if not half, so I can try to control the action on Sunday night waiver runs. Even if I don’t have FAAB resources, I remkain very active on the wire knowing that football and bad luck has taken a lot of managers out of it, raising the replacement level and increasing the odds that players you cut will still be there next week if you change your mind
Seth Trachtman (SethRoto.com, Yardbarker, @sethroto): Just stay the course. It can get easy to get distracted in late August and early September, but those are arguably the most important weeks of the season when closing in for the last few points in roto-scoring categories. There’s no reason to let up after months of hard work and dedication.
Brian Entrekin (Fantasy Pros, BaseballHQ, @bdentrek): When players change their focus to football it leaves a lot more chances for us diehard fantasy baseball players. I usually lower my FAAB bids as the bids are going down everywhere. I also look at standings and where I can imrpove even more as targeting categories can become easier with less attention from the league.
Carlos Marcano (Triple Play Fantasy, @camarcano): I think this should be an advantage to me as I barely play Fantasy Football but, truth is, that really competitive players are going to keep focused so no truce in the horizon!
Zach Steinhorn (Steinhorn’s Universe on Substack, @zachsteinhorn): I’ve found that the waiver wire is where you can really take advantage, so I make a special effort to stay informed on the latest fantasy-relevant news, whether it be a prospect call-up, a newly annointed closer or simply playing time changes. But like Carlos mentioned, it’s unlikely that you will catch many managers napping in industry leagues.
Joe Sheehan (Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, @joe_sheehan): I don’t make any changes to my process, but pending my FAAB situation I do try to be aware of who is still making pickups and lineup changes and who isn’t, which can help shape bidding at a time of year when every dollar counts. Maybe you only have third or fourth hammer, but two of the people ahead of you are unlikely to bid on anyone. Maybe you and a couple of teams need saves, but one of them still has Jose Alvarado in the lineup. Some sites even track logins, so you can see who is staying active and who isn’t.
Alan Harrison (The Fantasy Fix, @TheFantasyFix): Fortunately (or, unfortunately?) for me most of the leagues I play don’t lose folks to fantasy football. So the process stays the same. Tracking the standings to identify where I can gain/protect points. Monitoring lineups to maximize plate appearances for my hitters, carefully plugging in starters based on matchups and looking for middle relievers on the wire who may be getting high leverage opportunities for a chance at saves, scab wins, strikeouts and ratios.
Ryan Hallam (Fighting Chance Fantasy, @FightingChance): I am one who does play fantasy football heavily, but this is the best time of year to make up ground in standings. Less people are participating in weekly FAAB bidding, and it is another great time to analyze where you are in the standings to see where you can make up the most points quickly. This is incredibly important with the trade deadline looming and September callups or teams out of it who are playing their young players. While some fade away this is the time for you to work harder.
Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotoBuzzGuy): Yeah, this is actually a really tough spot for me, especially this year as I sit in the Top 3 of fantasy baseball leagues like FSGA, TGFBI and BARF. Maintaining your focus while transitioning to football is not an easy thing and a lot falls through the cracks, especially if it’s your job. Splitting your time between the two sports doesn’t mean you’re less of a diehard fantasy baseball person. It just means you have deeper responsibilities. To maintain and even advance, you have to find the right balance which is not an easy task. In addition to prepping your followers and subscribers for their upcoming football drafts, you have to be extremely diligent in following not just all the injury news, but trade deadline info, rookie call-ups, etc. If you’re sitting in the middle of the pack, you find those people slipping out of contention further and further and start floating some trade offers for help you require. You can get away with some deals that tilt in your favor, especially if you feel they aren’t paying attention. If your league allows for trading FAAB dollars, you should definitely try and get as much thrown in for you as possible. Take a long look at your standings too because people sliding out of contention could very well be sitting in front of you in different categories which is a great place to strike. Maybe there’s a little extra work involved, but in the end, you’ll be happy you did it as you stand in the winner’s circle holding that trophy.
Justin Mason (Friends With Fantasy Benefits, @JustinMasonFWFB): I think it is all about focus. While your leaguemates are diving into their football prep, you should be using that time to dig into your standings and see where you can gain or lose ground. Just being active and making moves will do a lot of work. Stay active and reap the rewards of your opponents split attention.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): It really depends on where I’m at in the league standings. Since I am in several fantasy baseball and fantasy football leagues, I try to balance based on priority. I would never quit on a league, but will spend more time on the leagues where I can finish in the top three. I think you can do both with little issue. Never quit on your league!
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): As other owners shift towards football I’ll look to under bid and sneak some players onto my roster through FAAB. It’s also an opportunity to trade for underperforming players who start to perform as originally expected in case their Team manager is not noticing.
Eric Cross (FTNFantasy, @EricCross04): This is honestly one of my favorite times of the season. If you’re putting effort into the first four months of the season, why stop now? What, just because some sport with a brown ball that looks like the head of Arnold from “Hey Arnold” is approaching? Staying focused during these final two weeks while others are shifting some of their focus to football can be the difference between winning and losing or finishing in a money spot or not. The biggest aspect that can be overlooked if shifting focus to football are the recent trends and hot hitters and pitchers that are popping up lately.
Joe Gallina (Fantasy Alarm, @joegallina): It seems obvious but I pay even more attention to the waiver wire and MLB team roster moves as football training camps open. I also find that league mates tend to lose their focus on three- day summer weekends like Memorial Day, July 4th weekend and Labor Day. If you stay the course, you can scoop up some real bargains off the waiver wire when your league mates have their attention elsewhere.
Chris Clegg (Pitcher List, @RotoClegg): I don’t play fantasy football, so for me this is where the rubber meets the road. Many players check out as they get fascinated with NFL training camp videos and miss out on opportunities of what is happening in MLB. Less people tend to bid on players and knowing trends like playing time or pitch mix changes can take you a long way in the final two month stretch of the season. You can also likely exploit managers in trades if you find a player that is picking things up, but may have a poor overall season line. At the end of the day, staying engaged gives you an edge this time of year.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Several have made the point thining about how to take advantage of those losing interest to fantasy football should be baked into draft and team management strategy. I like that approach. The only thing I’ll add is some leagues have AB and/or IP minimums, with varying penalties. Sometimes, team managers no longer engaged (sometimes, when they are still engaged) are pacing to fall short of the minimums. This could be an opening to make a deal, especially since the other team won’t care about the quality of innings, only the quantity.