It's no longer a marathon but a race. In fantasy ball most of us tend to start the season with a long view. We can wait while slumping sluggers attempt to find their normal places in the fantasy rankings, but as the season wears along the time for patience begins to pass. Now with barely two months left in the season there isn't time to wait and let things sort themselves out. It's the time where active and alert managers should play for every advantage they can muster.
Yeah, that's right. Unless you happen to be sitting comfortably near the top of your leagues standings you probably aren't going to make up a lot of ground without a good strategy and pulling out all the stops you can think of -- and the further down in the rankings you are the more you'll have to do in order to get back into the race.
So how do you maximize your chances of overcoming a severe deficit? That's a big question and one which requires several stages of analysis.
The first thing to do is the same that you'd do no matter where you rank in the standings and be honest in your assessments.
a. Make note of your strengths: Remember it doesn't matter if you win a category by a tiny margin or if you run away in a given category leaving everyone else in the dust. Trade away excess in categories for things you need.
b. Make note of your weaknesses: Where do you need the most help? Is it something single-category guys (closers, some base stealers) can help you with? Or are you in need of a big hitter or starting pitcher who can help you in two to four categories?
c. Make note of which categories you are likely to be able to gain points in and which ones are contested tightly enough that you could lose points. Use this information to prioritize which points you are going to chase, which ones you are going to fight to keep your place in, and which ones you might need to just give up on.
Once you've done this you can begin to make a strategy on how to get back into the race. Sometimes the decisions are easy to make, sometimes they are hard. You'll often find yourself robbing Peter to pay Paul here, by accepting a loss of points in one or more of your stronger categories to gain more points in others. But sometimes you can even avoid doing that.
A perfect example of this exists in a fantasy league I'm currently in. The last place player has a grand total of 31 (out of a possible 100) points. Nine of those points are in a single category, saves. It seems painfully obvious that that is the strength of his team, but that's hardly an awful place to be, as in most leagues closers tend to be overvalued. And with the four decent ones he's got, he's got four solid trade chips, each of who's value might be further enhanced by packaging him with a highly thought of, but underachieving player from somewhere else on his roster.
But the secret here is to trade smart. That's why we did the analysis above, and why we take a good look at our opponents. Simply looking at the save totals for every team in this league tells us a lot.
In this case the totals are (from highest to lowest - player being discussed in bold):
113-88-87-84-74-64-63-34-32-13 (the last guy has punted on saves)
From looking at this line you can tell a lot of things, including who the best trade partners might be. Obviously the guy with 113 saves hardly needs another closer, nor most likely does the guy who punted the category (although you might persuade him that with 3 closers he could catch the two guys ahead of him). So take a look at the rest if the potential trade partners -- and what happens if we trade away, one, two, three or all four of his closers.
Realistically, if we trade away all four closers, we can be sure of losing three points (the guys with 87-84-74 saves respectively) and we'll probably lose 5 points as the guys with 64 and 63 saves will probably catch us. So that means we'll lose five points no matter how many we gain by trade. So a net loss of 5 points.
Realistically if we trade away three closers - we're still probably going to lose 3 points, but the odds of losing 4 or 5 fall pretty dramatically. The guys with 87-84-74 will certainly catch us, but the guys with 64 and 63 would have to really work to catch us. (They'd have to gain 44-45 if our closer could notch 10.) So a net loss of 3-5 points
Realistically if we ONLY trade two closers away, we'll probably still lose three points, but we could conceivably only lose two. We might be able to hold off the guy with 74, but probably not. The guys with 64 and 63 would really struggle to catch us. So we'd see a net loss of three points.
Lastly, if we only traded one closer, odds are we'd STILL lose two, but probably still lose three points. Odds are the guys with 87-84 would certainly catch us, but the guy with 74 would probably do it too. Thus, a net loss of three points would probably result.
So what does this mean? It means that if we trade closers, and we trade them intelligently, odds are we'll lose somewhere between 3-5 points. Trading intelligently means trading them to they guys who'll hurt us the least. Thus is we trade them to the guys who are almost certainly going to pass us (and are battling for position), we aren't going to lose any more points by doing so. The same thing applies if we trade our closers to any of the last three players in the save standings -- the odds of them catching us is marginal at best. ONLY by trading them to the guys in the middle of the pack, the two with 64-63 saves respectively could we lose more than 5 points. Thus those are the two guys we shouldn't be trying to trade with, unless we decide to keep at least one closer for ourselves.
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