All-Star Break Rest-of-Season Strategy: Rotisserie Leagues

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Happy All-Star Break to all you fantasy baseball nerds out there. As we sit through what seems like the longest four days of the summer, I thought it might be helpful to discuss some general season-long strategy for the rest of the year. Of course, strategy can differ greatly based on your league type, so I'll be supplying some thoughts for both rotisserie and head-to-head leagues.

In roto leagues, and I'm going to assume we are working with a standard, 5x5 category, redraft format without playoffs, the goal is to get to the top of the standings by the beginning of October. Whether you're playing with 9, 11, 13 or more opponents, this is usually a difficult task. Sure, most leagues recognize and/or payout second and third place finishers, but, let's be real, we all want that championship belt.

So, let's look at three different, general scenarios that you may be in right now in your roto league and talk about how you might effectively go about finsihing above the rest of your colleagues. If you have specific questions or you want to chat more strategy, I'm always open. You can find me on Twitter @BellRoto. Best of luck to you in the home stretch!

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Roto League Strategy Rest-Of-Season

Top 33% - Within 14 Points of The Leader

As you can tell from this sub-heading, it's tough to distinctively decide who should be considered "in the money" and who should be considered "on the outside looking in" at this point in the season. However, if you feel like you legitimately have a shot at claiming the first place spot before August ends, then this category is for you.

*Caution: Humble brag incoming*

This is the part where I brag about my recent success in the RotoBaller Experts' League. I was in the thick of it this time last season, and ended up the runaway champ thanks to a few big trades and a second-half boom from my hitters. I'm in first by 6.5 points this season, and I'm hoping my pitching can keep it together just long enough for my hitters to once again carry me to the promised land. Two years ago I finished in second place; although I was able to maximize profits by making a deal in August with Kyle Bishop to minimize the gap between first place and second place winnings. Is it too early to start using that infamous D word?

Anyways, if you're in this category, you have a big decision to make. The trade deadline, for most leagues, is coming at the end of July. Do you need that last big deal to put you over the edge? Or will the team you have now be able to keep you in first or propel you a few places by season's end? This decision is very much a case-by-case one, but I will say that injuries make a big impact, and you need to factor in whether returning injured players will benefit your team or the teams that are also trying to capture that first place crown. Obviously it's nearly impossible to predict the injuries and setbacks that will happen in the next few months, but at least factoring in the ones we already know about will help brighten the big picture.

If you are going to make a deal before the deadline ends, I almost always recommend consolidation. If you can find someone who will trade you their struggling stud for a few of your middle-of-the-road players, give it a real look. More often than not, you can find solid replacement value for your 15th ranked second baseman on waivers, and in the mean time you can get a massive upgrade at another position.

Catering to specific categories is also very important for these late-season trades. If you're 20 steals behind the person in front of you and 17 steals ahead of the person behind you, you can probably feel pretty safe about that category. Make some deals from points of little potential movment to upgrade categories that can quickly shoot you up the ranks. Are you currently in a pack with six leaguemates all within seven home runs? Go get a power bat!

Oh yeah, and you should probably avoid trading away players who help another contending team's weakness if possible. Sometimes a deal makes too much sense for your team to consider this angle, but it's definitely something to keep an eye on.

If you are going to sit tight and ride this thing out, best of luck to you. At least you won't regret trading for a player who gets injured a few days later. However, you should continue to scour the waiver wire for handcuffs and big upside names. If injuries do happen to your squad, you'll have a nice replacement. And if a guy like Luis Castillo or Sean Newcomb does pitch like an ace the rest of the year, you can throw him in and reap the benefits.

Woof, that was longer than expected. But then again, this is the position that I have the most experience with. 🙂

 

Middle 33% - Between 15 and 29 points out

So you're sayin' there's a chance!?

You have about two and a half months left of baseball to shorten the gap between you and the money. At this point, you'd probably be happy with a third place finish, possibly getting your money back. However, there have certainly been times when perceived nobodies make a big second half move and take the 'ship. But that's going to take some big risks and a lot of good luck/regression.

Obviously, you want to trade from points of strength (if you have them) to improve categories that might be getting you five points or less. I would also recommend taking risks on players whose owners have lost faith. Hitters like Gregory Polanco, Jonathan Lucroy, and Ian Desmond come to mind. As for pitchers, risky names like Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner along with Cole Hamels and Jake Arrieta might provide some good value over the next couple of months. Could these players continue to dissapoint and tank your season even further? Well, sure. But the amount of reward you might get for trading Trey Mancini and Zach Britton for Jake Arrieta could be huge as well.

It should be noted that dynasty leagues change this entire conversation, and obviously there are different decisions to be made if your actions this year have an effect on your chances next season. I'm approaching this article mostly from the perspective of a re-draft player, and if you have dynasty questions I will be more than happy to answer them personally on Twitter (@BellRoto).

All-in-all, players in this category are probably not going to be happy with their finish if they sit on their hands and hope for positive regression in every category. So, decide how risky you want to be, find a leaguemate who's looking to be risky as well, and make a move that could make or break your season. You know that player that you've had a good gut feeling about all season but he's yet to show any signs of improvement? Now's the time to go get him for 5o cents on the dollar. After all, scared money don't make money.

 

Bottom 33% - At Least 30 Points Out

Hey, the good news is that RotoBaller is already churning out fantasy football content. You probably should head that way instead of reading this fantasy baseball pieces.

But really, for the sake of your league, especially if it's for money, please try to set your lineup at least once a week even if you have no shot of winning. This is certainly less of an issue in roto leagues, but you'll want your opponents to do the same when you're in the thick of things and they are on the losing end next year.

If you are in this position and want to get crazy with the hope of miraculously landing a third-place finish, by all means go for it. That trade strategy would look something like the one I outlined in the section above, except you should repeat it three or four times. However, please don't trade every stud you have to the second place team, sending the first and third place owners into a catastrophic rage and ruining the integrity of the league forever. Be stiff with your valuable guys, even if I'm usually the one asking you to dump them off to me.

Again, I'll mention that dynasty leagues change this conversation dramatically. In those formats, now would be the time to sell the guys you can't afford to keep for next season to the contenders for draft picks or low-priced breakouts. But hey, that's a completely different article for a different time.

For most of you in this situation, you can safely waive your white flag, eat the rest of your FAAB, and start preparing for football season. Thanks for this year's donation.

 

Conclusion

Again, hit me up on Twitter with any questions or comments you may have (@BellRoto). I love talking strategy about fantasy baseball.

For those of you looking for head-to-head strategy advice, be on the lookout for a second article coming soon. I wish you all the best of luck, except of course my fellow writers and editors here at RotoBaller.


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