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Captain's Log


Breaking Down an Early FFL Draft PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 00:00

Over the weekend, Greg Morgan and I started an online draft in the Scout Online Championship (formerly known as Rotobowl). These are 12-team PPR leagues with a $299 entry.

This is much better practice than a mock draft because people have some skin invested in the draft and if prepping for the FFWC (Fantasy Football World Championship), it has the exact same rules. Plus, there is something to be won at the league level (like a free FFWC entry for next year for the league champion) in addition to a huge $50,000 payout for first place overall.

To get to the league playoffs, you want to be first or second in H2H record and/or total points. First in either is better because it wins you $200 even before the playoffs. Then you take your weekly average score and add on your scores from weeks 14, 15, and 16 to get your final total for both league (1st and 2nd) and overall prizes.

The lineups will be QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE and two Flex spots (RB/WR/TE) in addition to your kicker and defense. So let’s get straight to the draft as it unfolded and analyze good picks and not so good choices.

1.01  Dez Bryant, WR, DAL

1.02  LeVeon Bell, RB, PIT

1.03  Julio Jones, WR, ATL

1.04  Antonio Brown, WR, PIT

1.05  Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN

1.06  Eddie Lacy, RB, GB

1.07  Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN

1.08  Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE

1.09  Odell Beckham, WR, NYG

1.10  Jamaal Charles, RB, KC

1.11  Jordy Nelson, WR, GB

1.12  Justin Forsett, RB, BAL

Fantasy football players have gotten away from the straight string of running backs to open the draft, especially when the top wide receivers may well outscore the top running backs. Today there are two principle camps of drafters – those who want one of the top runners to anchor their team or those who will take their highest projected scorer in the first round of the available RB/WR/one TE. There is another segment that is willing to chart a “No RB draft” – well, not actually none, but starting the draft with several wide receivers, perhaps a top four TE, maybe even a stud QB and then make several picks in later rounds to cobble together a stable of running backs where they can play the best two on matchup or performance each week while they play more receivers.

Color me old school but I think for roster construction, I would prefer to take an excellent running back at the top of the first round. Fortunately, Greg and I agree on this, so the “Captain Morgan” was going to take either Bell or Peterson with the second pick in the draft. Yes, Bell will miss the first two games of the season, but I think he will have a huge chip on his shoulder when he returns and I think he will come close if not lead all running backs in PPR points again this year.

I don’t really have an argument with most of the picks in this first round – perhaps a different order of the names although I do think that Forsett is really a second round pick, but you can flip Team #12’s picks since they are essentially made together. I do think the one top runner who was missing from the first round or early second was C.J. Anderson of the Broncos, who I would have taken earlier, but let’s look at round two and see where he fell.

2.01 Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA

2.02 Calvin Johnson, WR, DET

2.03 A.J. Green, WR, CIN

2.04 Matt Forte, RB, CHI

2.05 Alshon Jeffery, WR, CHI

2.06 Randall Cobb, WR, GB

2.07 C.J. Anderson, RB, DEN

2.08 Brandin Cooks, WR, NO

2.09 Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN

2.10 DeMarco Murray, RB, PHI

2.11 T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND

2.12 Mike Evans, WR, TB

Greg and I thought originally that we would be going WR/WR on the 2/3 turn as the top running backs should have been drafted before it got to us with the 11th pick this round. Oh so close to lose the Bell-Murray start to the drafter in front of us. One other sour spot for our team was Brandin Cooks, who should have a monster year with Drew Brees this season, going in the second round. Usually, he has been going early to mid-third round in most drafts. But that is why ADP is only a guide – when people get to the table in September with money on the line – especially at the high stakes drafts in Las Vegas – the conventional picks go out the window with every succeeding pick.

Still, we were happy to roster Andrew Luck’s favorite target and would see who our third pick would be shortly.

3.01 Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR

3.02 DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU

3.03 Jordan Matthews, WR, PHI

3.04 Andre Johnson, WR, IND

3.05 Emmanuel Sanders, WR, DEN

3.06 Andrew Luck, QB, IND

3.07 LeSean McCoy, RB, BUF

3.08 Amari Cooper, WR, OAK

3.09 Lamar Miller, RB, MIA

3.10 Julian Edelman, WR, NE

3.11 Jimmy Graham, TE, SEA

3.12 Golden Tate, WR, DET

We were actually debating potentially top wide receivers with bad quarterbacks – Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins. Maybe too harsh to call Jameis Winston bad but certainly unproven, but Hopkins didn’t have a much better QB situation last year and still emerged. Plus, Houston’s senior wideout Andre Johnson is now catching balls in Indianapolis. I think we would have gone with Hopkins if both were available but we won’t know until the next draft.

There were both good and bad picks in this round – even if you love Jonathan Stewart, which might mean you are a doctor, round three is pretty early for that pick. I also think that it was early for Amari Cooper, a very talented rookie but in less than an ideal situation – well, except for playing from behind a lot. I would also question the Graham pick at the end of round three – he is not in the Saints passing offense anymore and while he may be a favorite red zone target for Russell Wilson, I don’t see a lot of difference in his projected points for this season versus Greg Olsen or Travis Kelce, which means that at least the drafter could have had him in the early fourth round or an equally productive tight end.

While this draft has now inched into the seventh round, I don’t want to make this article too long, so I will (hopefully) recap all of our picks in next week’s column. Always glad to see your questions here or in the Forums.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 August 2015 08:16
 
A Look at Two FFL Dynasty Leagues PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 19 August 2015 00:00

Having completed my baseball trades and while prepping for my one dynasty football league and the FBGPC, I was presented an opportunity to take over a team in a 12-team dynasty football league.

The team I took over was much better the day I committed than when I went to plan my rookie league draft and veteran waivers auction, having lost Houston running back Arian Foster. Suddenly, my solid roster of Aaron Rodgers at QB, Foster and Justin Forsett at RB, Jordy Nelson, Roddy White, Andre Johnson and Anquan Boldin at WR with Greg Olsen at TE had a major hole.

I also found out that the previous owner had been wheeling and dealing to build up that roster to win the league last year and had traded his first, second and third round rookie picks. That left me with only one rookie pick and 4.12 would be the last pick of the draft.

So I had to begin the season by making two trades to bolster the team. I sent the injured Foster along with Julius Thomas and my first round rookie pick for next year to another team for LeSean McCoy. With the hole at running back covered with another starter, I then sent my backup quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to another of the new teams for his second round rookie pick this year along with his fourth round pick next year and quarterback Nick Foles. Hopefully, with the second round pick, I can get a rookie running back who will be getting enough touches by Weeks 8 and 9 to fill in on bye weeks.

As the first round was near an end, there was a rookie running back available who I think has a chance for significant playing time this year, so I advertised on the league message board that I would like to trade into the end of round one or the beginning of round two. I had 2.06 but thought my target would not last that long. So I traded up to get the 2.03 pick, trading my second round pick and my second round pick next year. I also received third and fourth round picks in the 2016 rookie draft.

With the third pick in the second round, I selected Tevin Coleman, the Atlanta Falcons’ third round pick who will split time with Devonta Freeman. Hopefully, Coleman is playing a lot by Week 8 when LeSean McCoy has a bye week. If he is playing a lot before then, I could use him at one of my two flex spots instead of a fifth wide receiver.

Waiting for my pick at 4.12, I was offered the pick at 4.09 for Denver running back Montee Ball, who I don’t see playing a lot this year. As that pick was coming up, I accepted, and the plan was to draft Oakland rookie tight end Clive Walford.

Sadly, as soon as I made the trade, the drafter at 4.08 took Walford. Not fun, but hoping to develop depth in a league that awards 1.5 PPR for tight ends, I took the intriguing MyCole Pruitt, the Minnesota Vikings’ fifth round pick out of Southern Illinois University. At 6’2” and 258 pounds, Pruitt has the big body and good hands that could eventually get him a starting job, especially since he is behind the often hurt Kyle Rudolph.

I ended the draft by selecting rookie wide receiver Rashad Greene, who was a pretty decent receiver at Florida State University and should have some opportunity to win a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

I will also look to address some other candidates for wide receiver via the veteran waiver auction after the rookie draft concludes, but none of those available will be starters, so at best I would get a third down pass catcher to get me some points.

My other dynasty league draft started while that one was in progress – both are slow drafts on MyFantasyLeague.com. In this draft, I had picks 1.10, 3.06 and 3.10 in a three-round draft that focuses on rookies but where the teams can draft free agent veterans if they choose.

In a straight PPR league, the strength of this team is my wide receivers as depending on whatever rankings you look at for this year, I have three of the top ten wideouts in Antonio Brown, A.J. Green and Randall Cobb. I also have enough depth to use another receiver in my flex spot with Martavis Bryant, John Brown, Brandon LaFell and Mohammed Sanu. That is also necessitated by the fact that I don’t have strong running backs.

I have players that looked better heading into last year and may still get enough playing time to use in a RB2 committee behind Frank Gore, but with Giovani Bernard, Isaiah Crowell, Fred Jackson and Tre Mason, I need another contributor, so my focus for my first round pick was the best rookie runner I could get. Sadly, neither Ameer Abdullah or T.J. Yeldon made it to me, but I do like the prospects for David Johnson, a 6’1”, 225 lb. runner out of Northern Iowa who is also quite a good receiver out of the backfield and who I think will pair well with Andre Ellington for the Arizona Cardinals. Well, if he gets over his early hamstring problems.

I had designs of grabbing Patriots RB Legarrette Blount with one of my third round picks but he was taken before I could pull the trigger, late in the second round. There was another rookie I liked a lot so I took the chance to trade up to 3.01 (giving up my 3.10 pick and my second round pick next year) and got Cameron Artis-Payne out of Auburn, who in Carolina is behind only an injury prone Jonathan Stewart and some lesser runners.

Since my quarterbacks – Philip Rivers and Colin Kaepernick, share a Week 10 bye, I was going to invest in Sam Bradford, but when he was taken off the board, I chose to draft my third rookie running back at 3.06 in Josh Robinson out of Mississippi State, who will back up Gore along with Dan Herron. I like Robinson long term in Indianapolis.

Next week, we will look at some early, but real, FFL money league drafts.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 August 2015 08:40
 
The Trade Deadline in AL and NL Keeper Leagues PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 12 August 2015 00:00

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is usually concurrent or perhaps a week ahead of the trade deadline in AL-only and NL-only keeper leagues.

In my AL-only league, they were on the same weekend and perhaps because of the heavy influx of crossover players to the American League, this year there was only one deadline trade.

Last year’s winner, then in fourth place, was able to get Johnny Cueto on Sunday morning for $59 FAAB units, most of what he had left. But that night he swung the only trade deadline deal to get Adam Jones ($37, first year) and David Robertson ($9 on an expiring contract) by swapping his first round minor league pick next year for a last (fifth) round pick and Kyle Gibson ($3, second year), Logan Morrison ($5, first year) and Chris Parmelee, a $10 free agent pickup. This week, he has moved up to third place but has a long way to go to overtake the second place team, who is 11 points ahead of him.

In the other Los Angeles-based keeper league I play in, an NL-only league, the trade deadline is one week later, so those trades last weekend were effective this week.

This is the league where I noted while running down the FAAB prices for the crossover players that Yoenis Cespedes wasn’t available for bidding on 8/1, so he was up on Saturday and went for $649. Unfortunately, he went to a team I am competing with for the last money spot (fourth place) or the first minor league draft pick next year, which goes to the fifth place finisher. The best I could do with limited funds was to get Joakim Soria for $69 in hopes that he will get a couple of saves, which would be another point in that category for my team.

There were three deadline trades that may affect second, third and fourth place as well as the fifth place consolation.

First, the team in a virtual tie for second place traded minor league prospect Jesse Winker along with Corey Dickerson ($14, second year) and Carl Crawford ($23 in this year’s auction) to a non-contender for James Shields ($26 in this year’s auction), Jon Jay ($1, second year) and Khris Davis ($10 in his last year).

Next, one of the teams who had previously traded away quite a bit of talent to build their team for next year found themselves in contention for either the last money spot or the first minor league pick next year, so they added Cody Asche ($5, second year), Ryan Zimmerman ($33 in this year’s auction) and Nori Aoki ($17 in this year’s auction). All they had to give up for that was minor league pitching prospect Tyler Kolek and spare parts Ivan DeJesus ($10 free agent this year) and Casey McGehee ($6 contract from last year’s auction).

My team, one of those in the hunt for fourth and fifth place, had the option of trying to add players or trying to add an impact minor leaguer, and while I had initially turned down one trade because it would cost me the hope of Hector Olivera and was too late to get Winker from the second place hopeful, I made a late offer to get Ben Revere’s stolen bases in Toronto. I had to give up minor leaguer Aaron Altherr and a $2 Josh Johnson from this year’s auction but that might just be enough to pick up two points in stolen bases, which would dramatically help my team.

Such is life in a mono keeper league.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 08:07
 
FAAB Results From Trade Deadline Week PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 05 August 2015 00:00

With one of the wildest non-waiver trade deadlines in memory, fantasy players in mono leagues, especially in AL leagues, had a lot to consider in last week’s FAAB bidding.

Of course, bidding is different as shaped by individual league rules, but there were clearly four players – Troy Tulowitzki, Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels and Carlos Gomez who figured to get extremely high bids in AL-only leagues.

But the talent didn’t stop there. Gerardo Parra, Ben Revere and Mike Fiers would also be actively targeted.

On the NL side, Jose Reyes and Yoenis Cespedes would generate the highest bids, but Brandon Moss and Tyler Clippard would be bid on in all leagues and even Joakim Soria and J.A. Happ would find takers.

You have probably read our weekly LABR/Tout FAAB recaps, but in looking at bids from my AL and NL keeper leagues, I am going to compare the winning bids with those from the LABR leagues. (It's hard to compare the Tout bids when they use the Vickrey system and most private leagues don’t.)

American League Bidding

Player My League LABR
Troy Tulowitzki $68 $54
Johnny Cueto $59 $55
Cole Hamels $49 $55
Carlos Gomez $48 $49
Gerardo Parra $32 $50
Ben Revere $47 $43
Mike Fiers $15 $16

My NL-only keeper league (both leagues based in the Los Angeles area) uses a $1000 FAAB purse, so a comparison with LABR won’t work. But let’s look at these prices compared to an NFBC NL-only league which also uses a $1000 FAAB budget.

National League Bidding

Player My League NFBC
Jose Reyes $744 $597
Brandon Moss $553 $417
Tyler Clippard $47 $187
J.A. Happ $8 $50
Joakim Soria $6 $50

Cespedes is missing because my NL league has a rule that the player has to play by Friday of the current week to be eligible for bidding on Saturday night. (Don’t ask me how Happ snuck through. I just sent the commissioner an e-mail on that.) Cespedes went for $761 in an NFBC NL-only auction league and I expect him to go for around $600 in our league this coming Saturday.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 August 2015 00:27
 
Trades From an NL-Only League PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 29 July 2015 00:43

These are trades from an 11-team, 5x5 league where minor leaguers can be traded but future minor league draft picks cannot. If there is an extreme price differential (deep dump trade) in the players involved in the trade, there are trade restrictions on the teams involved.

For those unfamiliar with the keeper status abbreviations, here are a few examples:

26D15 - $26 auction salary, Drafted, in 2015

10F14 - $10 salary, as Free Agent, in 2014

21C16 - $21 salary, under Contract, through 2016

 

Trade #1 Effective April 27

Team A trades Michael Taylor (10D14) and Aristides Aquino (farm) to

Team B for Matt Holliday (26D15)

 

Trade #2 Effective April 27

Team C trades Yasmany Tomas (farm) and Noah Syndergaard (farm) to

Team B for Max Scherzer (41D15)

 

Trade #3 Effective May 4

Team B trades Khris Davis (10D13) to

Team D for Amed Rosario (farm)

 

Trade #4 Effective May 11

Team E trades Brandon Belt (24D15) to

Team F for Aaron Blair (farm)

 

Trade #5 Effective May 18

Team G trades Trevor Rosenthal (7D13) to

Team H for Javier Baez (farm)

 

Trade #6 Effective July 5

Team A trades Francisco Liriano (10D13), Jake Peavy (2D15) and Matt Holliday (26D15) to

Team F for Alberto Callaspo (3D15), Tyler Kolek (farm), Grant Holmes (farm) and Wilmer Difo (farm)

 

Trade #7 Effective July 5

Team A trades Jordan Zimmermann (27D14) to

Team J for Cliff Lee (2D15) and Brandon Drury (farm)

 

Trade #8 Effective July 5

Team A trades Ryan Braun (34D15), Josh Harrison (10D14) and Madison Bumgarner (15C15) to

Team H for Maikel Franco (5M15), Orlando Arcia (farm) and C.J. Edwards (farm)

 

Trade #9 Effective July 12

Team E trades Andrew McCutchen (50D15), Daniel Murphy (20D15) and Bartolo Colon (6D15) to

Team C for Ryan Zimmerman (33D15), Enrique Hernandez (5F15), Jim Johnson (5F15) and Peter O'Brien (farm)

Interesting to note that the first trade by Team A was to fortify their roster in April, but by early July they had given up hope of cashing and decided to trade (mostly) expiring contracts or other non-keepers for minor leaguers or cheap contracts and try to get an early draft pick next spring Their partner in the first trade, after being able to hang amongst the contenders, reloaded again in later trades.

Also interesting to note that Team E, the one team clearly drafting to set their roster up for 2016, waited until May to make their first trade and then didn’t make another trade until July. Of course, in this NL league and last week’s AL league, we could see a flurry of trades at the trade deadline, which is usually the first weekend of August. So next week we will look not only at the deadline trades in the AL but the FAAB from both the AL-only and NL-only leagues.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 July 2015 16:54
 
Keeper Leagues - A Variety of Trade Options PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 22 July 2015 00:00

In keeper leagues, especially those with minor league drafts, there are a number of ways for the contenders or pretenders to augment their roster and a lot of chances for the rebuilding teams to build for the future as well.

This week, we will look at several trades from a very deep, 11-team AL-only league that has a deep farm system - 139 minor leaguers owned by the 11 teams after the five-man draft held at the conclusion of the auction.

This league doesn’t allow trades in April in order to give everyone a fair opportunity to assess their team’s chances, so the first weekend in May is very interesting each year.

Here is one of those trades:

Team A traded Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Vogt, Kyle Lobstein and their 4th round minor league draft pick in 2016 to

Team B for Geovany Soto, Zach Putnam, minor leaguers Dylan Bundy, D.J. Peterson and Luiz Gohara and their 2nd round 2016 minor league draft pick.

Team B was now a real contender but with the largest minor league list had plenty of ammo to make this trade and Team A got three prospects and a draft upgrade. This was one of three trades Team A made to rebuild for 2016 and beyond during that first trade week.

Here is another trade – one from late-May that didn’t include any future draft picks:

Team C traded Austin Jackson and Colby Rasmus to

Team D for Craig Gentry and minor leaguer Jonathan Singleton.

And there are smaller trades as well, sometimes buoyed by the high minor league draft pick or by a prospect:

Team F trades Danny Farquhar and their 2016 1st round minor league draft pick to

Team G for Jose Quintana and their 2016 4th round minor league draft pick, and

Team G trades Rajai Davis to

Team H for Carlos Sanchez and minor leaguer Gary Sanchez (NYY).

And one more from that league in mid-June:

Team B traded Chase Whitley, minor leaguers Luis Severino and Daz Cameron along with their 2016 1st round minor league draft pick to

Team C for Adrian Beltre, Joakim Soria, Mark Buehrle and their 2016 3rd round minor league draft pick.

So, Team B adds more for this year and Team C adds more for the future.

Finally, here is one from a different AL-only league, an old school 4x4 league, that went down at the All-Star break:

Team 1 was in 2nd place, four points out of first and four points ahead of third place. They were first in HR, RBI, W, and SV but middle of the pack in SB but with the potential to gain three or four points. Team 2 was buried in the bottom portion of the league due to lack of production from Robinson Cano and injuries to Victor Martinez and Jacoby Ellsbury. So the original trade proposal was Kole Calhoun and minor leaguer Dylan Bundy for Ellsbury. After a counter of Ellsbury and a pitcher for Calhoun and Dellin Betances, the final trade was:

Team 2 traded Ellsbury (an expiring $29 contract) and Adam Warren ($8 first year contract) to

Team 1 for Calhoun ($15 with two years left) and Betances ($1 with one year left).

The contending team got the steals they need and a useful pitcher while the rebuilding team got a good hitter on a good contract for two more years and an excellent reliever for next year.

Next week, we will look at some trades from an NL-only league with different rules.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2015 07:35
 
Trade Tactics and Strategies PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 15 July 2015 00:00

Now that you have a plan of what you want to accomplish with your trade, let’s look at some things that will help you achieve your objective.

And I mention a plan because you should very rarely make a trade on a whim. Yes, you may want your trade partner to think that, but if you don’t have a clear idea as to what you want to acquire and what you are willing to give up to gain what your team needs, you are not going to be very successful.

A trade plan could be as simple as:

-Trading excess saves for a starting pitcher.

-Seeing what the best minor leaguer or draft pick upgrade you can get for an expiring contract.

-Trading a middle infielder for a starting pitcher.

Whatever the plan is, use the old sales bromide "Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan."

I stressed direct live or phone communication whenever possible as you will learn more about your trade partner’s feelings and preferences when you are in the moment. This approach can often work better than someone reading your e-mail and then having too much time to get a second opinion or even worse, offer the player you want to a different team.

But whether the communication is direct or via your keyboard, here are a few tips to help you negotiate:

Use questions to draw your opponent into the process

This could be something as simple as “Who do you like better, Matt Carpenter or Kolten Wong?”, regardless of whether those are his players or your players. That information not only will help you in deciding on an offer but it will help your trade partner start to embrace or release the player he doesn’t choose.

Offer your trade partner a choice of players from your team

Different from above being that you are now closer to closing the deal, but this makes the other team feel like they are in control of choosing the player they are getting. Stating that “I would like either Wade Davis or Dellin Betances for this starting pitcher” is giving your trade partner more control, which gets you much closer to a deal. You can ause the reverse of “I will trade you Wade Davis for either Nathan Karns or Ubaldo Jimenez.” This gives them a choice, and while you should obviously ask for players that you want, you should frame it so you are happier with the less obvious choice and elated if you get the “higher rated” guy.

Unless you are dealing with a very fragile temperament or trading for a known widely desired commodity, you can always ask for another player or upgrade

Phrases like “We are really close but I just need a little more" or “Throw in any pitcher on your bench and let’s do this” will often get you another piece to use or trade later.

The one thing you want to get out of your head is the silly notion that you have to “win” a trade. I see this in questions all the time and it is worse than nails down a chalkboard. As long as you are improving your team and your trade partner is happy with what he got, it is a good trade for both of you, and that is all that matters. You shouldn’t care what anyone else (save your partner) thinks in terms of exchanged player value if you made your team better for the rest of the season.

Next week, we will look at some examples of rebuilding trades in keeper leagues.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 July 2015 08:26
 
Finding the Right Trade Partner PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 09 July 2015 00:00

Okay, you have analyzed your fantasy baseball team’s strengths and weaknesses in each category and hopefully by positions. What now?

Well, you have to find a trade partner. Simplistically, that is a team (preferably behind you in the standings) that is strong in your weak category/position and could use help in a category where you have an excess.

Yes, as I mentioned last week, it might also be a category where you are buried but have one good producer. Let’s say for example that you drafted a lot of power but not much speed. Then you added Billy Burns as a free agent and he is stealing some bases for you (and will do more in the future as long as the Athletics leave him in the lineup – remember he stole 54 bases in the Minors last year and 73 the year before), but you are still buried in the category and have just two points with little hope of adding another and little danger of losing a point.

Okay, let’s say you have decided you want to trade either Burns or Francisco Rodriguez (one of your three closers) to get a starting pitcher. At that point, you have two choices – send a blanket e-mail to everyone in your league announcing that you will trade either player for a starter, or analyze all the rosters in your league to specifically identify the best trade partner or partners.

Personally, I favor the extra work of finding the right team to try and trade with so I can have a direct conversation with them about why getting K-Rod will gain them several points in saves for one of their second tier starters. But the lazy approach can work as well, sometimes in fact bringing a team you hadn’t considered to the table.

In the first case, I strongly suggest direct communication over an e-mail, which no matter how you meant it could be interpreted differently by your possible trade partner. If this is not someone you see often, pick up the phone and call them. And in today’s world, it doesn’t matter where they live (as long as you remember the time difference so you don’t wake them up or call during dinner).

The advantage is that you can start a casual conversation with them even if you don’t know their other interests or job situation or weather. You can start with just asking them how things are going before getting around to broaching your trade idea. If their response is not about their team or your league, again don’t immediately jump to the trade subject but ask them how their fantasy teams are doing or how their favorite team or player is doing. This will often lead to them mentioning their ideas about a trade and perhaps get you an offer better than the one you had in mind.

As in many other areas of communication, listening is often your best move.

Next week, we will look at some specific trade strategies.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 July 2015 08:00
 
Planning for the Second Half of the Season PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 01 July 2015 00:00

Sometime late this week, most major league teams will play their 81st game, marking the halfway point of the season in terms of games played, and for most regulars, half of their at-bats.

So how do you use that to set your game plan for your fantasy baseball team(s)?

Well, answering a question like that really needs to be stratified to how deep the league is. It is a much different answer in an AL-only or NL-only league where the free agent options are nowhere near as plush as in a 10 or even 12-team mixed league.

That said, the first thing you should be doing is some categorical analysis. Where are you in each category and are you falling further behind another point each week or are you gaining ground? Making trades or even free agent pickups without a firm handle on where you need to improve is flawed and likely won’t help you.

By the same token, there may be (sadly I know) a category where you really have little hope of gaining points. In that case, if you have a good performer in that category, maybe he is the player who will bring you help in other categories.

I will explore options in the coming weeks for trades in AL-only and NL-only leagues that are very deep as well as 12-team mixed leagues that are fairly shallow and 15-team mixed leagues that are in between.

For starters, take a quick numbers read on your teams. That is easier this week than any other because you can just multiply the stats of players who were on opening day rosters by two for their contributions in the counting (non-ratio) categories.

For players who were called up after the beginning of the season, try and break down their home runs, for instance, based either on at-bats or just weeks and then do the math to see what they would have done in full-time duty. Given we have the games to add this week, the range of at-bats for starting players will run from 280 to 330.

Players you have added via free agency may have an accelerated rate of contribution to your team’s hitting stats, so you would want to factor that in.

You also want to look at the rates of other teams in your league in those categories. Pay particular attention, especially in AL or NL keeper leagues, to teams that have already made a “rebuilding” trade which affects not only their projection for the second half but also the team they traded with.

Next week, I will start on a series identifying particular trade tactics as well as free agent options broken down by league format and size. If you have a question about your team in that regards you can either post your information in the Platinum Subscribers Forum or the Team Management Forum or you can send me a PM. Make sure to give a very detailed list of your roster and the category standings from your league, either from this week or next week’s standings.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 July 2015 09:15
 
The Continuous Search For Pitching PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 00:00

In today’s fantasy game, you can bet that in any given season, the MLB version of death and taxes will play out: closers will lose jobs and starting pitchers will get injured.

And, in AL and NL-only leagues, you may start the year with a pitching staff you liked but the wear and tear will eventually have you scrambling for more pitchers.

In one AL-only league, I have Jake Odorizzi and James Paxton on the DL, so even if I had picked the right non-closing relievers each week to plug those holes, I am still going to fall behind in strikeouts and wins. Last week, the available starting pitchers were Tommy Milone, Brett Oberholtzer, Joe Blanton and Kyle Ryan. At least Ryan, Milone and Blanton had two-start weeks, having one might be able to produce one win and two starts worth of strikeouts, even if the ratios make you wince.

Blanton last pitched in the Majors in 2013 when he was with the Angels. The 34-year old tried to quit baseball last year and was working at a Napa Valley winery. But, when he got the baseball itch this spring and was given a minor league contract by the Royals, Blanton reported to spring training 35 pounds lighter than as a member of the Angels.

Blanton didn’t make the club out of spring training but was willing to continue his comeback in the minors. He started off well and was promoted to the Royals in mid-May, and in his first relief appearance, allowed just one run over four innings. Blanton got his first start last week when the club decided to give Yordano Ventura more rest, pitching five innings while giving up five hits and one run and striking out four.

Nice story, but none of that would have made me pick up Blanton. However, as I noted earlier, he would have two starts this week, one against the hapless Mariners and the other against the Athletics. So I outbid a couple of teams in my league and crossed my fingers. Up against King Felix on Monday, the revitalized Blanton gave up two hits and no walks while fanning seven and earning the win.

Lucky? Yes. Now I have to light a candle for the Sunday start in Oakland.

At this point, I am not sure if Joe will still be on my team next week, but I have been suckered in before. Pitching desperation will do that.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 June 2015 10:05
 
Mono League Free Agents Revisited PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 00:00

A couple of readers and one Facebook friend questioned some of the free agent pickups I noted last week. Well, AL-only or NL-only leagues with 11 or 12 teams and minor league drafts are very deep leagues.

So, filling a vacancy due to an injury or a demoted player or even a pitcher with bad matchups (if you have reserve slots) is very important. But the bonus is that while you get some at-bats or innings for this year, you also have the chance to follow these players with next year's keeper list in mind. Indeed, this is now the focus of teams who have already traded significant players for this season in exchange for future value – usually young cheap players, minor league prospects or minor league draft upgrades.

On that note, I thought I would take a quick look at my AL-only league and discuss some of the players who were added as free agents either last season or in 2013 who were kept going into this year’s auction.

What we clearly see is that the majority of players added as free agents early in the season are the most likely potential keepers. This is logical as they are likely hitters who didn’t have a full-time job on draft day but got promoted or inserted due to injury or trade and became starters.

My league has a three-round reserve draft immediately following the auction, in part because you must replace any players on your auction roster who are on the DL or have been sent to the Minors, but also because the first FAAB run won’t occur until the second Saturday of the season (we draft on the first Tuesday after the season starts).

So, in 2014, these players were reserve picks in early April:

Drew Pomeranz, P, OAK – Pomeranz was on the Athletics roster but not in the rotation, but he did well when he became a starter and was going to be in the Oakland rotation this year.

Dellin Betances, P, NYY – Nobody could have known how good Betances was going to be as a rotisserie and real life pitcher last year. This year, it wasn’t clear who would get the saves for the Yankees but regardless, Betances would earn more than his $10 salary.

Jake McGee, P, TB – McGee wasn’t closing early last year but was potentially a nice high strikeout reliever who could (and he did) ascend to the ninth inning role. This year, it wasn’t clear how long he would be out of action but it was presumed that he would close when he rejoined the Rays staff.

Wade Davis, P, KC – Again, Davis was just a playable reliever last April but was very valuable and proved even more valuable when Greg Holland was absent for awhile this year.

The next group of players were added in April and May FAAB runs – ours runs every Saturday night, and again, while they might have just been filling a temporary lineup need at the time of their pickup, they were viewed as good $10 keepers this year.

April 14, 2014 (first FAAB run)

Collin McHugh, P, HOU – Picked up before his first start (April 20) but earned roughly $18 last year and is starting this year on an improved Astros team.

Zach Britton, P, BAL – Was in the Orioles bullpen to start the season but in the first week had two four-inning relief stints and won both games without allowing a run. Didn’t register his first save until May but ended the season with three wins and 37 saves, earning $24.

April 21, 2014

Dallas Keuchel, P, HOU – Keuchel was in the Houston rotation but his first start (before our draft) was terrible. Then he had two very good starts before he was added in the second week of FAAB.

April 28, 2014

J.D. Martinez, OF, DET – Martinez was a spring training cut by Houston and picked up by Detroit. He didn’t wear a Tiger uniform until the third week of the season but that made him a hot pickup the following week.

May 5, 2014

Steve Pearce, OF/1B, BAL – Pearce made the Orioles roster out of spring training but had very few at-bats in the first few weeks. He then had 16 at-bats in the fourth week and while he didn’t hit a home run, he did hit over .300. The next week he hit three home runs and I added him very quickly. If only I had dropped him before this season and drafted Jimmy Paredes for a buck.

May 12, 2014

Danny Santana, SS, MIN – I had planned to draft Santana in the minor league draft last year but someone else I liked better fell to me, so Santana was a free agent. But when he was called up in the first week in May and looked like he would get enough at-bats to at least make the steals valuable, I added him not knowing of course that he would also hit seven home runs and hit .319 and be worth $23.

Jake Odorizzi, P, TB – His first start last year was a very good six-inning win. But his next four starts were terrible which prompted his owner to drop him. I paid to add him and nine of his other ten wins.

Andrew Miller, P, BAL – Miller was in the Orioles bullpen on opening day and pitched very well in 17 relief appearances early in the year but had only one win. He was added as a good reliever and in fact won four more games and got one save in earning $12 for the year. This year, of course, he is closing, and while this was not known on draft night, the savvy owner who kept him also had Betances, so it was a great combo play for Yankees saves – and more.

May 26, 2014

Matt Shoemaker, P, LAA – While Shoemaker was on the early Anaheim-minor shuttle in April, he was finally inserted into the Angels rotation for good in May and was a savior for both his big league and rotisserie teams.

Of course, there are free agents added throughout the season, but you can see the dividends and importance of the earliest free agent adds. The only free agents added in June, July, and August who ended up being frozen for $10 this year were:

Stephen Vogt, 1B, OAK – Vogt wasn’t catcher eligible to start the year but everyone knew he would be. I wonder what he would have gone for in the auction.

Shane Greene, P, DET – Greene made one start for the Yankees in April but wasn’t in the rotation until July. He didn’t pitch great last year but showed enough that someone thought that on a strong Tigers team and in the rotation all year, he would be worth a $10 salary. Early results this year say maybe.

Edward Mujica, P, BOS – Mujica wouldn’t have been kept this year, but having saved eight games last year and with Koji Uehara on the DL to start this year for who knew how long, he was kept with the hope of at least a few April saves and then insurance. Sadly, neither happened, and he didn’t pitch well.

I know I left September off the introduction of late season free agents but it was because in order to protect the integrity of our deep minor league rosters, any free agent added in September would carry a $25 salary if retained the following year. This is also why there haven’t been any September free agent keepers – yet.

Some of these 2014 free agents might be kept next year as well. There have been a few in the past. In fact, Scott Kazmir, Yan Gomes and Cody Allen were all free agents added in 2013 and are still playing with a $10 salary.

If you don’t play in an AL-only or NL-only keeper league where not only is the free agent pool much smaller but you have to have an eye on emerging major leaguers as possible keepers for the following year, I think this list will illustrate why there are so many players added in these leagues that carry more value than mixed league players might think.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 08:36
 
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