Nothing is sweeter than completing a full season of fantasy baseball with 10 to 14 of your friends and claiming the title of champ at the end of the season. The last team standing. Bragging rights for months. The team to beat next season. Yes, this is an enviable position every owner wants to be in – every year.
But first things first, right? If you are in a dynasty league of at least 10 teams or more how do you win now and build for the future to maintain a level of consistency?
For the past ten years I have been part of a 12 team dynasty league. I have made the finals 5 times winning two titles. Apart from the dynasty league, I’ve made the finals three times (winning twice) in redraft leagues. Simply put, I am addicted to winning.
I would like to use this experience to help you achieve the type of success I have enjoyed over the years. This article will highlight some things I live by every season that I hope can be helpful on your journey towards perennial contention. Someday soon I would like to write an article on building or starting out in a dynasty league, but for now I will assume you’re already in a dynasty league. If so, this article is for you.
Let’s get to it.
What does your team look like? Take a magnifying glass and look closely. Does your team have depth? Positional depth is extremely important, especially with the amount of injuries plaguing the game nowadays. A key strategy of mine is to roster as many multi positional players as I can. A flexible roster can assure you will already have replacements ready to go in case of injuries. Moveable pieces. Pitching especially. You can never have enough pitching. In fact, if your league values saves+holds and wins go grab as many SPARPS as you can.
If your current roster lacks depth in any on position (depending on your league’s roster limits) draft prospects close to MLB readiness to create that depth from within.
The Old Guys
One thing I have learned over the years is how most owners become skittish with players past their 30’s. Don’t be that owner. Think about the Nelly Cruz’s and the Charlie Morton’s of the game. Old in baseball terms, but still extremely productive in fantasy baseball. Someone in your league is concerned about Scherzer’s age? Go forth and make an offer for Mad Max and enjoy the ride my friend. Balance is all about the right mix of players – both young and old. Some of the older players are boring, but they remain steady and offer consistent production year after year. Oh, another thing about the older players? More often than not they are assured of regular playing time.
It is easy to forget that prospects are simply that – prospects until they prove otherwise. The immediate successes of Vlad Jr., Ronald Acuña or Fernando Tatis made it very easy to overlook how some prospects fail to live up to their hype (Kyle Drabek, Alex Jackson, Kevin Maitan, anyone?). In dynasty leagues especially, the games top prospects carry a ton of weight.
It’s important to remain open minded with trade offers if you are the proud owner of a highly regarded prospect. You can put yourself in a great position to win if said prospect nets you a top 100 player or two great prospects in return. If you can snag two top prospects who may be ranked lower than the prospect you dealt away, you are giving yourself at least a 50/50 chance that one or both prospects turn out great.
Make it your business to expand your knowledge of the minor leagues. Fun fact: Jacob deGrom was not considered a top prospect when he was first called up. There is a chance he was or wasn’t drafted in your league, but if he were drafted he most likely would have been packaged in a deal. A savvy owner who took a leap of faith based on the final numbers (4-0, 2.58 ERA) deGrom put up in the hitter friendly PCL was rewarded with a winning lottery ticket. A savvy owner would also have known that deGrom had made adjustments before the season by adding a new pitch to his repertoire. Knowing this, an owner could have kept a close eye on this added pitch to find that whatever changes deGrom made helped him keep the hitters at bay in the hitter friendly PCL (2 HR allowed in 39 Inn.)!*
Study all prospects not just the ones everyone talks about. You’ll be steps ahead of your league mates who only pay attention to the “big” names.
EXPLORE TRADE OPTIONS
The goal is always win now and build for the future. Grab the same magnifying glass you used to look over your roster. Eyeball your team again. What are your team needs and areas of strength? What players / prospects can you afford to deal away? Do your best to make as many players available. Don’t create an untouchable list, because you will only limit your options. You have to give to get. One owner in my dynasty league always says, “you know it’s a good trade when it hurts both sides to say yes to a deal.”
Don’t be afraid to trade with anyone in your league. Pay no mind to anyone who criticizes your deal(s). Study the players you are after and target them. I once traded Mike Fiers (during his hot stretch) to a team loading up for a playoff spot. In exchange I received a prospect who was still in the minors. I ignored the various texts claiming I was fleeced trading a pitcher on a fantastic run for a player who was still a few years seeing MLB action. That prospect was Willson Contreras.
FAAB and Draft Pick trading
Raise the stakes in your league. Our league successfully implemented FAAB trading (maximum of $7 added to trades). We also allow for draft pick trading of the second round or more. First round picks are not up for trades during the season since the bottom six teams fight out the order of next season’s prospect draft. Having these options allow owners to remain invested during the long season. It also adds another layer of strategy for those who want to find ways to win now and still build for the future.
Use your FAAB
FAAB should be in use at all times when necessary. Spend it. Use it to get the players you must have on your team. One team in our league spent $52 on Jonathan India (undrafted in our league) when he was called up. The team that bid on India never looked back. Our maximum budget for the season is $100 so a little over half was dropped for last season’s rookie of the year. Go get your guy and spend what you must to get him.
Stream, Stream, Stream
Stream often and early during the season. Study the matchups. Pay attention to adjustments made by players. Jump on players as quickly as possible, because you never know if you catch a player who gets on a hot streak. With any luck that hot streak could turn out to be something bigger.