Summertime…and the livin’ is easy. Is it Football Season Yet?
Hi Sports Fans. By now, there is no question that many of you have already sought refuge in the magazine aisle of your local supermarket. The early-early-editions of the NFL fantasy guides are out. They offer a bit of peace to those whose fantasy baseball seasons have already tanked. Everyone knows that it’s easier to build a baseball dynasty team if you are reading a football guide… So, what to do now if you are out front, middle of the pack, or reading fantasy football pages?
As we head to the All-Star Break, pretty much all has been said about whom to drop or pick up. So, I pause to offer reflective thoughts on league format and energy. Folks do complain that the length of the MLB season takes its toll on even the most avid fantasy player. Unless you are in a league that calculates points based on some pretty arcane minutiae of baseball play, it’s difficult to make moves that will make a difference to your fate unless the gods of the Vegas odds smile upon you.
I’m in three different league formats. For nearly 20 years, I’ve been a denizen of a 10-team, AL-only traditional 5×5 league. By today’s standards, it’s almost quaint. Attrition has been slow. Nonetheless, I’m the only founding member left. This league is an effing shark tank. If anyone offers a trade, you assume that he or she is already on to something. It’s worse than Billy Bean making a move on your Hatteberg or Hasselhoff. Trust no one…especially if he is smiling. All of these guys know the Jedi mind-trick. Seriously. This league is an effing O’Jays song:
They smile in your face
All the time they want to take your place
The back stabbers
So, contests are won and lost essentially on draft day or by streaming SP.
We went through growing pains and, a couple of years ago made the switch from season-long roto snake draft to weekly H2H auction. We did this because we assumed that the weekly scoring would provide more incentive to invest in trades and the FA/waiver market. The auction was obvious: the owners all wanted a shot at Albert Pujols (at the time). In a season-long roto league, even Mike Trout won’t help you much if you are, say 15 HR behind the next team in the standings. In an H2H league, one or two additional HR per week is a more considerable value and worth a trade.
Strangely, the shift did not increase trades at all. Got to say that this is an impressive bunch. The draft is brutal, we know one another real well, and the draft is a great study in wisdom, familiarity breeding contempt, a just plain great knowledge. Nonetheless, in an AL-only league, you hit the bottom of the barrel pretty quickly. The good news is that we get over it by Christmas and start to retool. Spring always comes early.
The second league is a 10-team (formerly 12 team) MLB H2H auction league in which you can keep up to three players every year for a maximum of three years. This is a much more dynamic league. The talent pool depth enables managers to make lots of moves. However, trades are scarce because they are less necessary (due to the talent availability) and because there is a similar element of familiarity-bred contempt. I may drink beer with that guy. But why is he offering me Kershaw…? The moves are more prevalent as well because the keeper element makes it worthwhile for folks to stash a prospect or two. We do limit bench spots, though. So, you can’t tank in favor of looking to next year while buying the May version of football manuals.
For those who enjoy sin and redemption, I’m also in a 15 team MLB roto snake-draft league that restarts every month. There is no bench. Once you draft you are done unless a player goes on the DL. You may replace any DL designee and make ONE lone move to adjust your roster from the FA pool. Otherwise, you are betting on your draft skill. This league nicely mixes the mundanely obvious (as manifest in the first 10 picks or so) and conservative (you’ve got only one month) with a little bit of craziness in those who’ve messed up (so they pick long shots at the end of the draft because, hey, it’s only a month).
I stay away from DFS.
Overall, it’s a great balance that keeps you into fantasy throughout the marathon because the strategies and the points of no return are different enough to ensure that at least one of the leagues will keep you busy deep into the year.
So, that said… The monthly league forgives all. But, it requires you to stay on top of season-long trends. You shift from the same database anyone else uses in April to any, more dynamic and timely database you can find as the season goes on. So, with redemption comes labor. The AL-only league leaves me (and anyone else) constantly scrounging the FA market. The guys who do better in this league tend to make a lot of marginal transactions. The payoff is worth it. But, it is not perfect. As an example, in our current league, the top teams have made 72, 10, and 105 moves respectively. Go figure. A game and a half separates them. After that, team four is 10 games out and the rest of us fall off the cliff. Teams four through nine are separated by a total of 10 games. The caboose changes his name to “Dumpster Fires” and sits 27 games out atop a pile of football manuals. He is the newbie.
Easily, 90% of the action in this league is inspired by DFS streaming strategy: lots of movement at the back end of SP rotations and more than occasional spot starts for batters on travel days. In this league, there is not much to look for unless you are a DFS-payer in disguise. There is batting talent available in this league (Iglesias, Kendrys Morales, Rougned Odor, Denard Span, Lucas Duda…). But nothing you’d necessarily want to slide into your lineup for long.
In terms of SP, you’ve got the likes of Hardy, Eovaldi, Cahill, Hess…(David Robertson sits there in limbo waiting to be traded into fantasy value…). But, seriously, who among these guys is likely to deliver quality for more than a start or two? Can you count on them? I’ve got Porcello, Manaea, Bundy, Rodon, German. Not much incentive to trade… The guys fighting it out for the top spot have incredible teams and they would have to trade value for value. They won’t move.
In the MLB league, the top five are separated by eight games. Moves are much more balanced here because of the depth of the draft pool. The top five have made 30, 22, 27, 4 and 47 moves respectively. In seventh place, we find the league moves leader with 72. There is a lot of talent out there and lots of talent taken. So, not much incentive to make any major moves.
In the monthly league…well, it’s just wait and see. Redemption and the 4th of July are near.
So, what to do? In the AL only league, I can make moves (I’ll probably unload Giolito though my conscience says to hang on). In the MLB league, I can afford to move slowly. There is lots of talent and lots of time…
Next week I’ll offer some trends analysis to consider as you reload for the second half. Meanwhile, for those of you who are tanking, I offer two thouhts. First, Baseball as a Road to God by John Sexton will reaffirm your belief in the game. If that doesn’t work, I leave you with Noah Syndergaard:
“Baseball has a way of ripping your out, stabbing it, putting it back in your chest, then healing itself just in time for Spring Training” or, at least, just in time for your NFL fantasy draft.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday June 24th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #126 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live June 21st, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #83 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything AFC North!
Kyle is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com going on his 5 th year. He focuses primarily on baseball, but is a fantasy football fan and analyst as well.