“65 Mustangs” Are You Ready to Make Your Move? Strategies for Your Second Half Push – (Part 2 – H TO H)
Yesterday we talked about 2nd half strategies for Roto Fantasy Baseball Leagues. Since Roto and Head to Head have far different endings to their seasons we’ll discuss 2nd half Head to Head strategies in Part 2 now. As with Roto, whether you are in first place, last place, or somewhere in between this is no time to get complacent. If you want to win your Fantasy Baseball League or at least finish with a pride driven flourish this is the time to put on your gloves and get to work. No matter how well your team has done thus far this season anything can and will happen to derail you. But if you are better prepared for the stretch drive than your league mates the chances of coming out on top are much greater.
I apologize in advance if some statements in this article sound like they came from yesterday’s article. There are many aspects of both Roto and H to H strategies that are similar.
As in Roto I have to take a look at where my team is in the standings. H to H leagues are often split into divisions with the division winners and a number of wild card teams making the playoffs. I should know how many teams make the playoffs and how they qualify to get in. By then I should have a good idea whether I am in the playoff picture or on the outside looking in. If so, I need to start gearing up for that stretch and then playoff run. I need to look at my next several weeks of matches through the end of the regular season to see how I match up against those teams and to see how many weeks I have left to get to where I need to be. Considering the H to H Playoffs will be the last 3 weeks of September I have nearly a month less than Roto players to get my ship in playoff shape, so I better get going. While some leagues have awards for best league record and division winners, the number one goal is to make the playoffs. Now I know what I have to do to assure myself a spot. I should also know by now what the Trade Deadline is and any limits on trades or pick-ups as well as the League’s Keeper Rules and deadlines.
Just like in Roto I now have to focus on my team. I figure out my team’s strengths and weaknesses and check my roster to see if I have the players to score in all the league’s categories so I have the best chance of winning my matches . I’ll find out the health status and projections of each of my players going forward including the guys on my disabled list. Now I have a better idea as to which categories and which positions I may need to upgrade. But there are some things I have to remember. Some of the better pitchers in the game are on innings limits for one reason or another. If I own some of them I need to know how many starts they have left before I won’t be able to use them. Pitchers with nagging injuries on non contending teams will likely be shut down once their team is eliminated if not sooner. Finally, September call-ups can both help and hurt me. I might be able to get a jolt from a Cup-Of-Coffee rookie, but one of them may also cut into the playing time of one of my current regulars.
I also need to find time to take a look at the rosters of my probable competition in the playoffs. I do the same brief analysis to see what categories they may have potential to beat me in and what players they may be getting back from the DL soon. I need to work toward matching up well with them, even if only to smack talk the heck out of them to psyche them out for the playoffs. When looking at the cats relative to the other playoff teams I have to think about in which cats I might have the ability to change the outcome. Is it feasible that I can close some gaps even with aggressive trading? Know where to best spend both your time and resources most wisely. But I won’t be aware of any of this unless I take a look.
Unlike Roto scoring, H to H is not cumulative as the stats re-set to zero every week. Every week is a fresh start which allows you to have a short memory so you can stick with the players who got you this far. So, if you are certain that Justin Verlander is straightening out, whatever he has done to date no longer means a thing, good or bad. Only his performance going forward matters. But I’ll be sure to use that Super Sized ERA in our favor in trade talks.
Now it is time to analyze my roster and identify the players that are no longer helping me. While we preach patience in the first half of the season, there comes a time to cut bait and give up waiting on some players. Unless I have inside information that certain players are going to have a huge increase in playing time, I feel free to cut these underachieving, or injured but not back any time soon, or stuck in the minors or on the bench players that I have been stashing in hopes for a break out. But if they are not going to help me win now they have no business on my roster so I need to find players who can help me now. Anyone who has played H to H realizes that Lady Luck often plays a large role in determining the outcome of the Playoff & Championship matches. While we’ll never fully eliminate luck from the equation, we can do our best to mitigate that luck factor, or create some luck of our own. There are a few types of players I target in H to H for my playoff and league championship push:
A. I want durable, healthy SP on contending teams that are at low risk of being shut down early. If I could find a few of those I’d load up my roster as much as feasible to weather any attrition. Just be aware of any league limits on # of rostered players per position and don’t reach too deep. A horrendous outing by a SP is far more damaging than a missed start.
B. I’d add a few good multi-position eligible players if i can find some with good solid hitting skills. This reduces the risk of player shut downs and late injuries as well.
C. I’d rather have many players with all around hitting skills that add points to all the categories rather than a few players dominant in only one or two. I don’t
want streaky hitters who could easily derail a one week playoff matchup if several all slumped at once. I also don’t want to rely too much on one or two guys for any particular cat. If my main source of steals pulls a Hammy on the eve of the playoffs or my main source of HR pulls an oblique, I’m still going to be ok if I have several other players contributing to those cats. Diversify as Corey Roberts would say, don’t put all your eggs in one roster spot.
The rest is up to you. Scour the free agent wire, find out who may get called up, and finally go after some trade targets. No one can you tell which trading techniques will work best for you, but the most important thing I have learned the last couple of years is communication. Trade negotiations are so much easier if you have open communication with your league mates. In our Major League Fantasy Sports Leagues we post and exchange all our phone numbers. It is really surprising how much different things seem when you actually speak to a person on the phone as opposed to just email and online banter. It is also important to know any trade limits or deadlines in your league. Don’t get caught with your pants down when you find out the deadline was yesterday. Finally, find out any other League Rules such as tie breakers and whether stats for “play-in” games count or not. Again, you don’t want to find out after it is too late.
Finally, there are those seasons when you just know you cannot contend. If it is a keeper league then you can attempt to make trades to beef up your keepers while moving pieces that might help a contender. But whether you are in a keeper league or not, you have an obligation to your league mates to both play out the season as competitively as you can and also being responsible when it comes to any trading or player dropping that you do. All weekly matches should still be competitive so as not to affect the season standings unnaturally. If you are new to a league or website, the way you finish the season as a non contender may be the difference between getting an invite back next season or invites to other leagues. If you let your team go dead you can be assured you’ll be looking for new leagues next season.
Good Luck, and get off your butt already, the All Star Break is over and soon it will be Labor Day.
I’ll talk to you next week when my articles will start coming out on Mondays until the end of the season.
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