Lost password?

Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!


Receive free daily analysis


Already have an account? Log In


Forgot Password


Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Draft Rankings
Draft Simulator
Enter League Settings
Player Comparisons
Rookies & Call-Ups
24x7 News and Alerts

How I Won Tout Wars

I am extremely fortunate to be able to write an article entitled, “How I Won Tout Wars.”

It is truly a humbling experience, and I am both excited and proud to pen today’s words.

Including all of the draft preparation that I describe in my aforementioned articles, here a few of the reasons that (I think) I won in 2020.

Featured Promo: Get your 2023 MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our preseason Draft Kit, #1 accuracy rankings, #1 ATC projections, Team Sync platform, Live Draft Assistant, 15 in-season lineup tools, customized rankings and much more! Sign Up Now!


Humble Beginnings

Before I had ever written a single baseball article, and before the ATC projections were released – I followed and greatly respected Tout Wars. Formed in 1998, Tout Wars features the best and brightest experts in the fantasy baseball industry competing against each other. I learned about the league while attending Baseball HQ’s First Pitch regional forums, hosted by Ron Shandler. I had attended one of their conferences each and every year since 2011.

Below is a photograph of the title page of the very first Baseball Forecaster book that I had purchased, which Ron Shandler autographed for me.

Earlier this year I was honored when Baseball HQ asked me to present at their First Pitch Florida conference. Ron was among the attendees for my 45-minute talk on advanced auction strategies.

I became even more interested in Tout Wars after reading Sam Walker’s book, Fantasyland which portrays his 2004 AL Only Tout Wars league experience. I also watched the subsequent video documentary, Fantasyland, which follows amateur player Jed Latkin’s 2008 fantasy experience. Latkin earned a one-time chance to compete in Tout Wars for the movie.

I had not come into the fantasy industry until recently. I never thought for a moment that I would ever get to compete in Tout Wars, much less win a contest. I was content just playing in my own home leagues, and participating in NFBC tournaments.

Then, one day in January of 2019, I received a message from Jeff Erickson inviting me to compete with the other Touts. My jaw dropped to the floor that minute, and it stayed there for quite some time. I played in the inaugural season of the Tout Wars Draft & Hold league, winning 2nd place honors. This year, I was invited to compete in the live Head to Head auction league.

This was an opportunity that I could not waste. I fully prepared for the affair. I heavily documented the steps that I took prior to the March 15 auction, and wrote the following two full articles:

Tout Wars Head to Head Points League – 2020 Recap – Part I

Tout Wars Head to Head Points League – 2020 Recap – Part II

If you have not done so yet, I urge you to read the above articles. They are not of the typical draft recap style. Rather, I embarked on a journey depicting my heavy preparation for the event – to help the reader learn how to tackle the game. Some of the topics include:

  • Deciding on a Hitter/Pitcher pricing split
  • Generating a market curve
  • Generating auction values
  • Replacement level values
  • Projection adjustments
  • Streaming mid-season
  • Reconnaissance of Opponents
  • Observing Nominations
  • etc.

Six and a half months later, I find myself as the 2020 Tout Wars Head to Head League Champion.


The ATC Projections

I am the author of the ATC projections, which can be found on FanGraphs. The ATC projections are a smart aggregation of other projections. ATC does not do well by producing an outsized projection for any single player, rather, its strength lies in the law of large numbers. It gets projections more right than wrong – and it does so better than anyone else.

In 2019, the ATC projections were crowned as the most accurate baseball projections of 2019. I was also crowned by FantasyPros as the #1 most accurate fantasy baseball expert of 2019. Having accurate projections heading into any league auction gives any user an advantage at the very start.

I have found that in the NFBC leagues that I play in (high stakes leagues), more and more players are using (or at the very least looking at) the ATC projections prior to their drafts. In all of my home leagues, I know that many of my friends examine them.

But in leagues such as Tout Wars – each expert has his or her own set of projections, a plan, and their unique methodology. I cannot be certain, but I would venture to say that my competitors likely did not pay that much attention to ATC.

What surprised me most of all, is that ATC worked well in the short 60 game season. I knew that using ATC is highly accretive for the 162-game affair, but with more variability in only 60 games – ATC was further tested. It passed the test.


Proper Valuation

It is important for one to perform individual player analysis in preparation for a league. Knowing the draftable player set well is essential to success.

However, I believe it is more important to understand your league’s format, and to properly valuate what a player is worth. You could have the best underlying projections at hand, but if you do not understand which categories and positions are the most and least valuable, you will not win the league.

As described in my pre-season recap article, the Head-to-Head Points format was not one that I was overly familiar with. To make matters worse, I was the newcomer to the league this year – which gave me a disadvantage from the get-go.

When applying the math – I realized that stolen bases were not valuable in this format. Quality starts, and pitchers who threw deep into games were immensely valuable. Starting pitchers with RP eligibility were given a huge replacement level bump, etc. Even if I had not used the ATC projections, the math of converting stats into points and then into auction values was where I believe that I gained a distinct advantage.

At the conclusion of the league’s auction, I calculated the following projected season point totals for each tout [starting players only]:

I projected that I had an 11% advantage over the league’s average position, edging Ian Kahn out by about 200 points. To compare, below are the final league standings.

Note that the original projected points were based on a 162-game season, and a standard play 1 opponent each week format. Final standings were for the 60-game short season, and a special play-all format.

Indeed, my projections and valuation were largely accurate. The touts with the 5 highest projected point totals ended up finishing in the top five.



In great detail, I portrayed the scouting that I undertook in preparation for Tout Wars in Part II of my auction recap . I surveyed prior league draft results for each tout. I looked into each player’s likely targets. I even personally attended five hours’ worth of a different live 2020 auction of one of the touts – just to get any edge and information that I could.

As I have described many times in the past, your own valuation of players is not enough to win a league. Determining that Player A is worth $9, is not enough information on its own. In the quest to assemble the most value in the aggregate, subject to the $260 auction budget - one needs to ascertain if there is a market for Player A. Are others willing to spend $12? Will they spend just $6?

Consider the following simple example:

Shortstop Your Value Market Value
Player X $12 $7
Player Y $14 $12

Which player would you rather target during an auction?

Sure, Player Y will provide more value to your team than Player X ($14 to $12). However, I would rather be on the lookout to acquire Player X. The potential profit that one can derive from Player X exceeds that of Player Y by an estimated $3.

The task for the fantasy owner is to assemble the most value on your roster for the least amount of fantasy draft capital. Without having a good sense of what the market would pay for a player, you may not be able to maximize your roster’s value despite having excellent valuations. For instance, if you did not have an awareness that Player X’s market value was low – you may pay the $12 for Player Y, thinking that you would earn a $2 draft profit for the shortstop position. You might be leaving an additional $3 of profit on the table … and worse … one of your opponents will profit instead.


Draft Strategy & Tactics

Many people often confuse the difference between strategies and tactics. They are in fact two distinct elements of playing a game.

Strategies are the pre-planned moves that you execute. Strategy comes to fruition when the game (any game) is merely a blank canvas; it emerges during the part of the action when you have the most freedom to operate. Perhaps, you come to the draft deciding that you will target two high priced first basemen. Perhaps you plan to nominate high priced closers early on, etc.

A tactic is implemented in response to the way that a game unfolds. Tactics are needed where the action is the greatest. One draws upon his or her knowledge of the game on just how to react. In poker, a bluff is a tactic carried out in order to induce an opponent to fold his or her cards. One does not come into a poker room planning to buff a particular hand. Rather, one looks at their cards, reads the faces around the table, and in response - decides to aggressively bet on a weaker hand.

For Tout Wars, I prepared a detailed strategy. I estimated the likely pockets of players who would be available at bargain prices. For hitters, the ranges were clearer. For starting pitchers, I developed two plans of attack. The first, was a hotspot of 1A type pitchers. I planned to use my auction nominations early on largely to determine which pockets of players that I would play in.

I responded well in the midst of the auction to the hands that I was dealt. I ended up defaulting to my alternate plan, which included pouncing on mid-level pitchers such as Max Fried, German Marquez and Eduardo Rodriguez. As an additional example, I did not intend to purchase Alex Bregman, but I took advantage of the opportunity of a depressed cost.

I also employed more subtle in-game tactics such as bidding up Alex Chamberlain on players that I knew he would try to outbid the room. Successfully siphoning an extra $3-4 from an opponent’s auction budget is often just as important to the auction’s endgame - as saving cash on players that you yourself purchase. Every little bit counts.

Deciding on just how much to bid on mid-season FAAB is an important tactic to master. For Tout Wars - I periodically studied the player needs of other teams, and looked at their personal FAAB bidding history. I even got a hold of last year's Tout Wars HTH FAAB bidding by week to help me make informed decisions on just how much to bid. I made sure that my FAAB bids were somewhat random, so that no one else could track what I was doing.

Each of these tactics contributed to my overall success.


Adapting to the League

Consider the following exaggerated scenarios in a rotisserie format:

  • All other teams each spend a total of $240 on hitting, and only $20 on pitching.
  • All other teams do not draft a single closer. They all draft 9 starting pitchers.
  • All other teams spend only $1-2 on every catcher that they purchase.

None of the three above scenarios are strategies that I would employ at the outset of a league draft. I wouldn’t go into an auction with an intended 92%/8% hitter/pitcher split of auction funds. I wouldn’t punt saves from the get-go. I wouldn’t only want to spend $2 on JT Realmuto or Yasmani Grandal, etc.

Those three strategies seem quite strange to the naked eye, because … they are. I did say that they were exaggerated.


  • If all of your opponents spend $240 on hitting, then if you only spend only $180 on hitting – you will likely finish dead last in almost all five offensive categories. Yes, you may finish with the most pitching points – but that still will leave you with an average overall score when combined with the hitting.
  • If all of your opponents do not draft closers, spending the usual ~$25 worth of funds will render your pitching spend as highly inefficient. You will also have a hard time winning the other pitching counting stat categories.
  • If all of your opponents barely pay for catchers, buying JT Realmuto at $15 is an overspend. You could have purchased for the next best catcher at a fraction of the cost. Realmuto isn’t 5 times better than the next backstop.

The point here is that playing the game without context can lead to an inefficient use of fantasy capital. Operating in a vacuum literally sucks value out of your roster. You need to be aware of the league norms, and adapt your strategies accordingly. The norms won’t be as ridiculous in the above examples, but adjusting to them will make a profound difference.

This rule does not only apply for the league draft; the in-season adaptation is also essential. If waiver wire pitchers are cheaply acquired in the league, there is no need to spend heavy there. If hitters are constantly churned each week, why not think more short-term? And so on ...

In Tout Wars, despite the fact that I was green to the league in 2020, I felt that I was able to quickly adapt to the league. For adjusting mid-auction - I had a lot of prior experience in doing so (even for new leagues). For me - the harder part was adapting to the week-to-week play.

How did I adjust quickly? I looked at what last year’s winner, Ian Kahn and runner-up Clay Link did for their teams. I looked at how they set their lineups, at the types (and quantities) of players they purchased each week, and what they had paid for them. I recognized the types of trades that were profitable in the format. I observed just how patient they were with underperforming players, etc.

In case a fellow league mate (or US General) reads this, I don’t want to give away all of the specific tidbits of information that I had acquired - but I do want to convey to you the importance of learning. Observing the two touts allowed me to catch up as fast as I could with the right strategy for this league’s dynamic. Just “doing your usual thing” is not how you win leagues. One needs to use his or her own bag of magic tricks, but must figure out what works for your particular audience. Each league is different, and one needs to adapt quickly.


Play the Matchups

Down the stretch of the season, as it became clear that I was going to contend for the league title, I shifted my focus on free agent pickups from long term to short term. I could no longer sift through the waiver wire for rest-of-season targets; I needed to put up as many points as I could each and every week. Playing from behind, I took each week as a single must-win contest.

As such, I spent a lot of time looking at matchups. For both hitters and pitchers, I looked at who they would face in the coming week, the ballparks they would play in – and most importantly, at the playoff status for their real-life teams. Some teams needed to fight towards the end, and some had already clinched their postseason berth. This made a large difference in both my free-agent acquisition targets, as well as how I set my team’s active lineup.

But not only did I look at the coming week’s schedule – I also looked ahead a week further into the future. I sometimes purchased “future two-start” pitchers (as I typically call them) a week in advance. Purchasing these types of pitchers allowed me to spend far fewer resources on them, as most teams were not looking to acquire them a week early. Had I waited the week to roster the future two-start pitchers, I would have to pay ten times the auction price [or more] to do so! That would not be an efficient use of fantasy capital. Sometimes, a player riding on your bench for a week can lead to a more optimal use of funds.



I could not have won Tout Wars without an element of luck. This is the truest statement that I have made thus far.

I got lucky.

I won’t say that I was extremely lucky; I believe that all of the elements described above played a large role in my winning. However, the difference between my 1st place finish and what could have been a 5th place finish required the fates to be on my side. Had a few pitchers pulled a muscle in the last week, I would not be writing this article. Had Andrea LaMont made one or two different decisions during the course of the season, she might be writing this article in my stead.

Of course, not everything broke right for me during the season either. I too had my fair share of injuries and poor play. I traded away Randal Grichuk to Ryan Hallam in the middle of the season, which proved to be a bad decision on my part. Eduardo Rodriguez never played a game in 2020, yet I had spent $10 on him in the auction.

The margin of error in a league full of experts is razor-thin. I was blessed in 2020 that I had just enough luck to go along with my gameplay. The combination of both earned me my very first experts league title.



I could have spent time today talking about the specific players who provided me the most and least value for my Tout Wars team this season. Sure, Marcell Ozuna was a fantastic $16 selection, who earned $31 of value in the format. But simply discussing players will not provide much help to you in the future. It won’t help me for 2021 either.

You see, it is not about the results – it is about the process.

Hopefully, I have given you some insight into my successful season in Tout Wars, and at the same time provided you with a few strategies and tactics for your fantasy leagues next year. I am surely hoping that the 2021 season will go on without interruption, and I hope to be writing this article again at its conclusion.

Download Our Free News & Alerts Mobile App

Like what you see? Download our updated fantasy baseball app for iPhone and Android with 24x7 player news, injury alerts, sleepers, prospects & more. All free!

More 2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice


Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Draft Rankings
Draft Simulator
Enter League Settings
Player Comparisons
Rookies & Call-Ups
24x7 News and Alerts


Marcus Morris2 hours ago

Sr. In Protocols, Remains Out Wednesday
Norman Powell2 hours ago

Upgraded To Questionable Wednesday
Isaac Okoro2 hours ago

Downgraded To Out Tuesday
Lauri Markkanen2 hours ago

Questionable Against Spurs
Gabe Vincent2 hours ago

Picks Up Late Questionable Tag
Gary Trent2 hours ago

Jr. Remains Out Tuesday Against Heat
Grant Williams2 hours ago

Good To Go Tuesday
Alec Martinez3 hours ago

Returns For Vegas Tuesday
Roman Josi3 hours ago

Will Remain Out Tuesday
Jesper Fast3 hours ago

A Game-Time Call Tuesday
Carter Hart3 hours ago

Won't Play Tuesday
Jeff Petry3 hours ago

A Game-Time Decision For Tuesday
Philipp Kurashev3 hours ago

Shut Down For The Season
Alexander Barabanov3 hours ago

Misses Tuesday's Action
Gabriel Vilardi3 hours ago

Out On Tuesday
Adam Schenk4 hours ago

Wants To Keep Momentum Rolling At Valero
Ryan Moore4 hours ago

Cannot Get Past The Cut Lately
Stephan Jaeger4 hours ago

Could Warm Things Up At Valero
Gary Trent4 hours ago

Jr. Considered Questionable On Tuesday
Si Woo Kim4 hours ago

A Possible Contender At Valero
Taylor Montgomery5 hours ago

Attempting To Find Weekend Consistency
Corey Conners5 hours ago

Trying To Recreate A Little Magic
Jimmy Butler5 hours ago

Will Miss Tuesday's Game Versus Toronto
Jarrett Allen5 hours ago

Downgraded To Out On Tuesday
Jake Oettinger5 hours ago

Minds The Crease Against Chicago
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander5 hours ago

Has Been Ruled Out On Tuesday
Joonas Korpisalo5 hours ago

To Start Against Calgary Tuesday
Ben Simmons5 hours ago

Officially Out For The Remainder Of The Season
Jacob Markstrom5 hours ago

Tending Twine Tuesday
Kevin Durant5 hours ago

Will Return On Wednesday Against Minnesota
Jordan Binnington5 hours ago

Between The Pipes Against Vancouver
Casey DeSmith6 hours ago

Named The Starter Tuesday
Carter Hart6 hours ago

Starting Tuesday Against Montreal
Johan Oviedo6 hours ago

To Start Season In Rotation
Tyler Heineman6 hours ago

Yerry De Los Santos Sent Down
Sandy León6 hours ago

Sandy Leon Re-Signs With Rangers
Jurickson Profar6 hours ago

Has Visa Issues Resolved
Keston Hiura6 hours ago

Outrighted To Triple-A
Andrés Giménez7 hours ago

Guardians, Andres Gimenez Finalizing Long-Term Extension
Lamar Jackson7 hours ago

Texans Not Expected To Pursue Lamar Jackson
Desmond Ridder7 hours ago

Preparing To Be Falcons Starter
Los Angeles Rams7 hours ago

Rams Re-Sign Marquise Copeland
Thomas Detry7 hours ago

Continues To Impress In Rookie Season
Trey Sermon7 hours ago

Eagles Like Trey Sermon's Potential
Kyler Murray7 hours ago

No Timeline For Kyler Murray
Buffalo Bills7 hours ago

Von Miller On Schedule In His Recovery
Buffalo Bills7 hours ago

Sean McDermott To Call Defensive Plays
Aaron Rai8 hours ago

Brings Positive Momentum To Valero Texas Open
Javonte Williams8 hours ago

Making "Great Strides" In Recovery
Akshay Bhatia8 hours ago

Looks To Stay Hot In Texas
Hobie Harris8 hours ago

Makes Opening Day Roster
Tyrone Taylor8 hours ago

Hoping To Return In Mid-May
Adrian Houser8 hours ago

Likely To Open On Injured List
Jeff Hoffman8 hours ago

Released By Twins
Kris Bubic8 hours ago

Named Royals Fifth Starter
Sean Doolittle8 hours ago

Tanner Rainey To Continue Rehabbing
Hunter Gaddis8 hours ago

Expected To Enter Rotation
Josiah Gray9 hours ago

To Make Season Debut Saturday
Devin Duvernay9 hours ago

Expected To Return In 2023
Matthew Stafford9 hours ago

Won't Have Any Limitations
Trey Lance9 hours ago

Has A Chance To Regain Starting Job
Odell Beckham Jr.9 hours ago

Giants A Long Shot For Odell Beckham Jr.
DJ Chark9 hours ago

Undergoes Ankle Surgery
Michael Thomas9 hours ago

Making Progress In Recovery
Aaron Rodgers9 hours ago

Trade Could Involve Two Second-Round Picks
Irv Smith Jr.10 hours ago

Agrees To One-Year Deal With Bengals
César Hernández10 hours ago

Tigers Release Cesar Hernandez
James McCann10 hours ago

Likely To Open On Injured List
Mychal Givens10 hours ago

Headed To Injured List
Leody Taveras10 hours ago

Out Another Week
Sergio Romo10 hours ago

Officially Retires With Giants
Cristian Pache10 hours ago

Won't Be On Opening Day Roster
Daniel Hudson10 hours ago

Could Return In Late April
Nicolas Batum11 hours ago

Drops Eight Three-Point Bombs On Chicago
Nikola Jokic11 hours ago

Logs His 29th Triple-Double Of The Year
Tyrese Maxey11 hours ago

Leads Sixers Offense With 29 Points
Immanuel Quickley11 hours ago

Scores Career-High 40 Points
Bennedict Mathurin11 hours ago

Breaks Out Of Slump Monday
Jaden Ivey12 hours ago

Fills The Box Score Monday
Khris Middleton12 hours ago

Has Season-High 34 Points Monday
Lawson Crouse12 hours ago

Delivers Three Assists Monday
Leon Draisaitl12 hours ago

Takes Point Streak To Nine Games
Connor McDavid12 hours ago

Hits 140 Points For The Season
Cale Makar12 hours ago

Helps To Set Up Two Goals
Marc-Andre Fleury13 hours ago

Returns To Form Monday
Matthew Boldy13 hours ago

Scores Another Hat Trick
Trevor Zegras13 hours ago

Suffers A Lower-Body Injury
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander22 hours ago

Questionable Versus Charlotte
New England Patriots23 hours ago

Jerod Mayo To Be Bill Belichick's Successor?
Buffalo Bills23 hours ago

Taylor Rapp Signs One-Year Deal With Bills
Jarrett Stidham23 hours ago

Broncos Think Jarrett Stidham Has Starting Potential
Gardner Minshew23 hours ago

To Compete For Starting Job
Mac Jones23 hours ago

Not Guaranteed To Start In 2023
Todd Gilliland1 day ago

Impressive At COTA
Ty Gibbs1 day ago

Finds His Footing At COTA
Chris Buescher1 day ago

Continues To Shine On Road Courses
NASCAR1 day ago

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Finishes Seventh
Austin Cindric1 day ago

Has A Solid Day
Marlon Vera1 day ago

Has Four-Fight Winning Streak Snapped
Cory Sandhagen1 day ago

Dominates Striking Department
Yana Santos1 day ago

Dominated In Decision Loss
Holly Holm1 day ago

Dominates In Co-Main Event
Austin Lingo1 day ago

Suffers Submission Loss
Nate Landwehr1 day ago

Shines With Second-Round Submission Win
Andrea Lee1 day ago

Suffers Defeat In Close Matchup Saturday
Maycee Barber1 day ago

Takes Close Matchup On Saturday
Chidi Njokuani1 day ago

Takes Close Loss In Split-Decision Showing
Albert Duraev1 day ago

Holds Off Opponent In Tight Split Decision
William Byron1 day ago

Rounds Out Top Five At COTA
Ross Chastain1 day ago

Caught Up To Fourth At COTA On Sunday
Alex Bowman2 days ago

Brings Home Third Place Finish At COTA
Kyle Busch2 days ago

Scrambles Up To Second At Austin
Tyler Reddick2 days ago

Dominates And Wins At COTA
Jordan Taylor3 days ago

Making NASCAR Debut At COTA, Will Start 4th
Austin Cindric3 days ago

Excited To Showcase Speed At COTA This Weekend
Austin Dillon3 days ago

Starts 28th At COTA For Sunday
Ricky Stenhouse Jr3 days ago

. In Middle Of Pack For COTA
Denny Hamlin3 days ago

Rough Patch In Qualifying On Saturday
Kyle Busch3 days ago

Starts Ninth For COTA Race On Sunday
Kyle Larson3 days ago

Could Be A Wildcard On Sunday
Noah Gragson3 days ago

Finds Way To Qualify 10th At COTA
Brad Keselowski3 days ago

A Few Seconds Off the COTA Pace
Ryan Blaney3 days ago

Begins 38th For Sunday's Race At COTA
Chase Briscoe3 days ago

Just A Little Off At COTA On Saturday
Cory Sandhagen4 days ago

Can Earn Back-To-Back Victories
Marlon Vera4 days ago

Finds Himself In Main-Event Spotlight Saturday
Yana Santos4 days ago

Looking For Biggest UFC Win Of Her Career
Holly Holm4 days ago

Seeking First Victory Since 2020
Austin Lingo4 days ago

On Verge Of Three-Fight Winning Streak
Nate Landwehr4 days ago

Hoping For Third Straight Strong Performance
Maycee Barber5 days ago

Can Continue Her Flyweight Ascent
Andrea Lee5 days ago

In Need Of Victory To Keep Momentum Going
MMA5 days ago

Manel Kape On The Hunt For Fourth Straight Victory Saturday
Alex Perez5 days ago

Seeking First Victory Since 2020
Albert Duraev5 days ago

Can Rebound With A Victory