Top In-Season Management Tips (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
Preparing for a fantasy baseball draft is fun and exciting, and it offers an immediate payoff. You can do your research for months, mock draft a million times using the Draft Wizard, and drink in the results for days or weeks before the season begins.
But for all but a select few of you, draft season is officially over and it is time to turn your attention to in-season management. And that’s when the real work starts.
Fantasy baseball is a grind. Even for those of you in weekly transaction/lineup leagues, it’s a day-in, day-out process that lasts six months. And unless you’re basically on top of your game from start to finish, it’s nearly impossible to bring home a championship.
After playing in hundreds of fantasy baseball leagues of all formats and sizes over the last 15 years or so, I’ve walked away with several thoughts on how to best manage your fantasy baseball team. So with the season upon us, here are my top in-season management tips.
Import Your Team Into My Playbook
I am in nine leagues this year on five different fantasy host sites. Whether it’s sorting by the best available free agents or simply managing my teams’ lineups, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with each of them to the level I need to in order to compete without some sort of assistance.
That assistance, thankfully, comes in the form of My Playbook. All your leagues are kept in one place. Rather than going from one host site to the next, figuring out the best available players and position eligibility, it’s all right there in one spot.
Whether you need assistance with waiver pickups, lineup choices, or trade suggestions, My Playbook is by far the best tool available, if for no reason other than the sheer convenience of it all.
Execute Restrained Aggression With FAAB Bids
I wish I had a prettier term than “restrained aggression,” but it’s the phrase that best sums up my philosophy. There are generally two schools of thought with FAAB management.
The first is to be aggressive early in the season. After all, the longer a player is on your team, the more of a fantasy impact he can make. And much of your league will lose interest by the midway point, such that bidding won’t be nearly as competitive, and you won’t need as much of your budget, late in the season.
The second is to be judicious with your budget, particularly early. While your league-mates waste money overbidding for every potential closer or hot prospect, you bide your time, ensuring that when there’s a guaranteed impact player available, you have a FAAB advantage.
The appropriate strategy lies somewhere in between. Every FAAB dollar that you have is a weapon – an arrow in your quiver, so to speak. If you were in a battle, you’d never use more arrows than were necessary to accomplish your goal right out of the gate. You’d only use the vast majority of your arrows in the beginning of a battle if the reward was so great that you didn’t mind leaving yourself short-handed later on.
At the same time, if it took the vast majority of your arrows to recover an impact piece of artillery, you would use what was necessary even if it left you short-handed later on. But only the absolute minimum that you had to.
You’re going to need part of your FAAB dollars late in the season, even if there are only a handful of managers left. Do what you need to do for your team early in the season, but make sure that you carefully guard every arrow in your quiver.
Look Beyond Instant Gratification
Do not misinterpret this tip: fantasy baseball is as much one long six-month season as it is 26 individual weekly seasons. Maximizing your weekly lineups by supplementing your roster with hitters and pitchers you can stream is a key to fantasy success.
But to do that effectively, you need to look beyond single-week increments. For example, I’ll be writing an article this season about look-ahead two-start pitchers for two weeks down the road. If your roster is set for the upcoming week, looking ahead a bit and avoiding the inevitable FAAB battles over players with premium matchups can set you up for success.
The same holds true for impact prospects. The bidding war for the mystery box almost always surpasses the actual value of that player. If you have the room, stash him a week or two early. It can save you those precious FAAB dollars (and hours of aggravation).
Trust Your Preseason Evaluations
Every action has its equal opposite reaction. That is one of my favorite lines from the incomparable musical, “Hamilton.” But it also encapsulates much of my outlook for fantasy baseball.
It’s nearly impossible to continue to rely on your draft-day evaluations of players when you watch one of your early-round picks struggle mightily. The temptation to sell low and rid yourself of the headache can be overwhelming.
But remember that you, or the analysts on whom you rely, put in months of work preparing projections and rankings, and have pored over mountains and mountains of data. And although there will, of course, be an outlier season here and there, the majority of the time you will see the Jose Ramirez 2019 season where an elite player makes up for his .652 first-half OPS with a 1.105 second-half OPS.
Don’t rest on your laurels or blindly hope for things to turn out well. But trust the process that made you feel good about your team after your draft.
Look At How The Standings Will Be, Not Necessarily How They Are
“I’m last in home runs and RBI. Therefore, I need to trade for power.”
Pretty simple analysis, right? And it may turn out to be correct. But it’s not quite that straightforward.
For example, suppose you’re last in the power categories. But on your team sits Aaron Judge, Pete Alonso, Joey Gallo, and Eugenio Suarez, all of whom have gotten off to slow starts, but all of whom are healthy. Suppose further that if your team had just six more home runs or 18 more RBI, you’d gain five points in each of those categories.
You don’t need to trade for power. Heck, you might even want to be trading AWAY power.
Your team’s situation goes far beyond its place in the standings. Consider your roster, projections, and overall strengths and weaknesses.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.