As our drafts are now complete and we move into regular-season mode with our fantasy rosters, the grind begins. We must continue to refresh our player pipeline while ensuring our rosters are set properly each and every transaction period.
Finding a compatible set of mates is often a primary decision factor in selecting a league. That makes sense, but there are a couple of almost as important considerations that are often not deeply considered, sometimes until it is too late.
The process to acquire players and the duration of each transaction period are important for a fantasy player in evaluating which leagues to join. These decisions will have a lot to do with the comfort level one may achieve from your fantasy baseball experience.
There are no right and wrong answers, nor is there a one-size-fits-all approach.
This season, I play in daily, weekly and monthly transaction leagues. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.
By default, the daily league, more than any other format, requires an investment of time. It is all about getting at-bats for one’s position players and innings for pitchers. One has to be prepared to deal with the six-month grind, much as the players themselves.
In the case of pitching, as in all leagues, studying the matchups is important. Getting the starters in there for the more likely wins on their schedule is the name of the game. I carry a group of relievers in reserve and swap them in during days when I don’t have starters going and move them out on days when starters have favorable matchups.
On the position player side, because bench spots are limited, acquiring at least a handful of players with multi-position eligibility is crucial. It is something I specifically target on draft day. With a limited bench, every spot is critical to maximize at-bats.
While one can look at the schedule in advance and try to set lineups for the week ahead in daily leagues, there is enough volatility with pitching changes and position players being given days off that if you decide to play in a daily transaction league and want to compete, you need to show up each day.
In fact, many daily leagues have immediate waiver claims, which means the first owner to learn of a closer injury, for example, will also be the first to grab his replacement. Again, these daily leagues require daily attention.
Weekly leagues offer a nice balance for those into fantasy baseball, but desiring a bit less of a time commitment. It also more mirrors the popular fantasy football format, with which many prospective fantasy baseball players are already familiar.
Here, finding favorable two-start pitchers for the upcoming week and having position players with six or seven games in the next period is important. So are favorable opponents and home parks.
Free agent acquisition is often managed either via a reverse-standings priority sequence or bidding for players using free agent allocation budget dollars or FAAB. While the FAAB process takes more time, it also allows a greater deployment of strategy. One must decide how much and when to spend the cash.
A monthly transaction league may sound extreme, yet it can work. Rosters can generally still be adjusted weekly, but the key is setting up the league with large rosters in the first place. That way, one can have enough depth on the bench such that players can be swapped out mid-month if injury or ineffectiveness hit.
Here, building a roster with at least one viable backup per position and in the case of pitching, having two or three ready reserves is key. Once again, the multi-position eligible position player can make your life a lot easier.
As in weekly leagues, free agents can be acquired in a standings-priority or FAAB process. Either can be used efficiently and effectively.
That was a quick summary of daily, weekly and monthly transaction leagues. Keep these differences in mind as you compete this season and propose changes for next year as appropriate to keep your leagues fresh and enjoyable.
If that fails, consider a move to a format that better meets your needs in 2012. After all, one of the benefits of playing fantasy baseball is that just about any kind of league should be readily available to join. If not, consider starting your own.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 13-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC that season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.