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Getting Settled in as the New Person in Your League (Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Dec 19, 2019

It’s always wise to know as much as you can about a league before joining it

We’ve all been there before. Well, unless you’ve been in one league for your entire life. But if you are a part of the 99.9 percent of fantasy players out there, you’ve been the new person at least once. It’s, well…intimidating, to say the least. 

So what can you do if you’re looking to join a new league this year? Where do you start? What do you need to know ahead of time? How do you shake the “new person” tag? Here are some of my learnings from the past as the new person, but also as the commissioner who has welcomed in the new players to the league.

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Where to Find a League
It’s a lot easier now to find a league than it was years ago. You know, when you had to talk to people in real life and whatnot. The easiest way is Twitter or in a Facebook group. Baseball 365 is a really solid Facebook group that has league openings all of the time.

If you’re looking for a more direct way, I would use Rotoworld’s baseball league finder. That’s how I stumbled on a dynasty league that I’ve been in for a long time.

What to Know Before Joining
Know what type of league you like to play in. If you are more of a head-to-head player and found that you don’t like roto, don’t bother with the roto league. There are so many different types of leagues out there that you’ll be able to find one that suits the style of fantasy that you prefer. 

Sometimes I like to try something new that I haven’t done yet just to see how it goes. Take, for instance, Ottoneu. I’ve read about it. I’ve heard about it. But I never tried it out.

Heading into the 2019 season, I joined a league. The settings were so different than any other league I’ve been in before. But I truly believe that you need to be uncomfortable with fantasy at times to be a better player.

If you’re joining an established keeper or dynasty league, always ask for a few things before committing.

  • League constitution: Any good dynasty or keeper league should have a constitution. It’s a list of rules and basically the Bible of your fantasy league. If you have a question, the constitution should address it. Everything from league disputes, to payouts, to contracts, to a league’s winter meetings should be included. Ask to see it when considering joining an existing league. This will give you an idea of what to expect and if the league is right for you.
  • Existing roster: More times than not, when you’re taking over a team in an existing league, it seems like the team is in rough shape. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s a total rebuild, but it could use some work. Take a look at the roster that you’re inheriting as well as the draft picks that your potential new team may or may not have and get a feel for what you’re working with. See how many players you can keep. Ask if you can get out of any awful contracts.
  • Understand the draft rules: This is a big one. Whether it’s an auction or a regular draft, make sure you have a sound understanding of how the league operates at draft time. Find out if it’s a slow draft, if there are separate drafts, if you have a deadline to adhere too, etc. Draft time is the best time of every league. Don’t make it a sour experience by not being prepared.
  • Pick a lane: Remember the whole roster part where you see what you’re working with? Don’t commit to joining the league until you decide what type of roster you have and if you’re OK with it being a rebuild. I turned down a league recently because it was a decent buy-in ($150) but the roster was going to need a lot of work. Like, it would need three years before I could content. To me (and my wife) it wasn’t worth the $450 investment. Don’t join the league being in the middle, Decide if you can compete or you need to strip it down and rebuild before committing. 

How to Get Acclimated
What I like to do when I join a new league is to reach out to all of the people who are currently in the league. I let them know that I’m excited to join the league and I look forward to competing with them. 

I try to establish a relationship from the beginning. I find that it makes future trade talks go a lot better when you have some sort of relationship formed with them.

The most important thing, though, is to make sure you take time to get a full feel of the league and how everything is handled. It can be overwhelming at first, especially if it’s a keeper or dynasty league. Add contracts or salaries, and it makes it 10x more difficult.

New players will often get inundated with trade offers in a keeper or dynasty league right away. I’m not saying that everyone is trying to take advantage of the new owner, but there’s definitely a learning period that the owners are trying to circumnavigate. 

Be patient. Let them know that you want some time to look over everything. Ask the commissioner if he or she can wait a week or two before announcing to the league that you’ve joined.

It will give you the chance to understand the rules fully and shake any label as the new person. 

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.