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How To Take Advantage of Shift to Fantasy Football (Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Jun 14, 2020

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our Cheat Sheet Creator – which allows you to combine rankings from 100+ experts into one cheat sheet – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.

Traditionalists love playing roto baseball, and you better believe they aren’t afraid to make that point known. It does, without question, give the best representation for who has the best team throughout the course of the entire season. It leaves little wiggle room for luck-driven results, which you can see in category and points leagues of the head-to-head variety.

The one knock on roto leagues is that it’s easier to have your league lose interest midway through the year if they realize they are out of contention. It’s unfortunate because teams who signed up to play in the league made (at the minimum) a season-long commitment. You’ll have lack of activity on the waiver wire, and even at the trade deadline with dead rosters.

More often than not, when teams fade away toward the end of the season, their attention turns to the gridiron in preparation of fantasy football.

This is where you, the astute fantasy manager that you are, can gain an advantage in roto or head-to-head leagues, whether you’re in contention or playing for next year.

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Jump on Prospects

September roster expansion has always been a polarizing topic, but after the 2019 season, changes have been implemented to expand the rosters from 26 to only 28 players. This will eliminate hitters or pitchers dominating players who are not yet fully ready to perform at the highest level.

It was always nice as a fantasy manager to see some top prospects — or those who performed at a high level — get a late-season cup of coffee to see what they could do in their first taste of big-league action. We’ll still get that, but just on a smaller scale.

It does, though, give you a look at players that your league mates who tuned out may not get. This extra scouting can come into play with late-season moves, carrying players over to the following season, or helping your evaluation on a player for the following year’s draft. It’s a small sample, but every plate appearance and inning pitched counts.

Overcoming Perception

Another helpful aspect of late-season baseball is seeing how players who may have disappointed managers in the early going perform down the stretch.

For example, you may remember Yu Darvish having a bad walk problem in early 2019, making him a streamable pitcher at best. If you tuned out early, you missed his dominating stretch of starts where he was striking out everyone and walking no one. 

In the same year, you may have looked at hyped Rockies rookie Garrett Hampson as a bust since he underperformed the whole year. Well, you aren’t wrong, but you’d also probably leave out his September, where he hit .352/.400/.560 with five home runs, 10 RBIs, and 10 steals across 100 plate appearances over his final 27 games of the season.

A lot of players who either disappointed or overperformed early in the season put together a noteworthy stretch at the end of the season to give fantasy managers hope, or at least a reason not to either overvalue them or write them off completely. If you aren’t paying attention late, you’ll have no idea.

Dominating the Waiver Wire

As teams stop paying attention or stop trying, there are fewer teams to compete with for players on the waiver wire. If you’re in a FAAB league, it’s a reason to spend your FAAB dollars earlier in the season to get the most value as far as time spent on your roster. Also, you won’t have to outbid as many managers later for the guys who pop up as attractive pickups. 

Rosters are weird at the end of the season, as players are getting shut down, rested, or benched in favor of younger players. Picking up players who are going to have a role down the stretch — or can give you that one final push to jump up in a category —  is huge for your fantasy title quest.

Streaming Pitchers

Speaking of players getting shut down or rested, it seems to impact pitchers more than anyone else, especially with the way teams manage their workloads (rightfully so). 

The best approach for fantasy commissioners to take is ending the season in August so you don’t have outcomes — in roto or head-to-head leagues — come down to players getting shut down. But since the majority of leagues don’t do that, you’re stuck streaming pitchers who you might have heard of. Toward the end of the season, unless you are in a razor-thin battle for ERA and WHIP, you’re looking to get as many arms as possible each week. With others focused on who is going to win the running back battle in Miami, you can focus on the Marlins pitcher slated to get two starts in the upcoming week. 

Stashing Players for Next Season

If you’re in a keeper or dynasty league, you can use the season’s final four or five weeks to keep an eye on how players are performing. Even if you’re in last place, you can still take a flier on a prospect, late bloomer, player who got “hot,” or someone who returned from an injury so you have them on your roster when deciding keepers for next season. 

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

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