Basic Strategies To Building A Winner, Part I: Know Your Format

Know Your Format.

This is the first rule of any fantasy sport. In baseball, we have three main formats for full season leagues. They are: rotisserie leagues, head-to-head leagues, and points leagues.

Each of these play types can tweak your strategy. But the diversity doesn’t end there. Within these play types, nuances about your league’s specific rules can effect your decisions.

For example, let’s look at a points league. Your very first action should be to take a look at your league’s chart of point delegation. Is it 5 points for a home run and 10 points for a pitcher win? Is it 10 points for a home run and 15 points for a pitcher win? In one situation, home runs are only half of a pitcher win, in the other, it’s two thirds.

A good strategy to understand how these point differentials play out is to look at all the players in the league. Compare the top offensive players to the top pitchers. If one group clearly shows more points are produced by the quality batters than pitchers, lean towards acquiring offense. Vice versa, of course.

In head-to-head leagues, one often overlooked approach is the synergy between certain types of plays. Obviously, a home run is the most valuable play in the game. It creates a run, a home run, a run batted in, and increased average.

But does your league use OPS as a stat? If so, bump home run specialists up a notch and de-value steals. But, you may ask, steals are still important, right? Of course. But one steal only works one category. One home run might boost five or six categories.

But what if your home run specialist strikes out a lot or doesn’t walk a ton. In leagues without OPS or on base percentage, this doesn’t hurt you as much as a league that includes that. How about walks or on base percentage? If your league has both, give leadoff hitters or plate discipline specialists an extra look. Every time he walks, he helps two categories, not just one.

For pitchers, there is probably less of this synergy… but is still worth some analysis.

One of my favorite considerations regarding format is specifically related to comparing head-to-head and rotisserie (aka “roto”) leagues.

For head-to-head, I’m obsessed with consistency. I avoid streaky players at all costs. In other words, I prefer guys that go 1 for 4 for four straight games than a guy that goes 0 for 4 in three games and then 4 for 4 in the fourth game. Both hitters are 4 for 16. But when playoff time comes, I want to know what that players contribution will be so I can rely on it when the stats really count.

This is personal preference. However, I think in the long run it results in more wins.

Consistency does not matter in roto leagues. Your final place in the standings will result from the entire season’s output, not one sample size of Monday through Friday. If Mike Trout hits 50 homers in week 1, and none the rest of the season, the final impact on your roto season would be the same as if he hit exactly the same amount in every single week.

There are endless varieties of league rules within the various game types. Whether you play in a redraft league or a keeper/dynasty league, know your format! If you can do that, you’ve already gotten one foot out of the box towards your goal.

Since we are mid-season, this won’t help you from a drafting standpoint. However, there are adjustments that can be made, especially in a keeper format. If there’s something in here that triggered an A-HA! for you, make that adjustment.

And if you have any comments, questions, or ideas yourself, please leave them in the comments below.

For continued fantasy advice, please subscribe!

Prospect reports and more keeper considerations coming soon.

Thank you for reading.

photo courtesy of sports illustrated

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