Fantasy Articles

The waiver wires are already buzzing.  In both deep and shallow leagues owners are panicking just days into the season.  Some probably have good reason to panic -- a poor draft often is tough to recover from, others are just jumping at the sound of quick starts or rather slow ones.

hawpe_brad
Brad Hawpe has not hit much yet, but most likely will soon enough.
Photo by SD Dirk, used under creative commons license.
The question you need to be asking yourself is what should you be doing?  Should you be abandoning ship on some players?  Chasing value on others?  Looking to make deals? Or gambling on rookies with a ton of upside?

Only you can really answer that question, but there are some guidelines that you should be following.

1)   Unless you had an absolutely horrible draft -- DON'T PANIC!  The season isn't going to end tomorrow or even at the end of the month.  Everything doesn't need to be fixed all at once and making quick ill thought out decisions probably won't help you in the long run.  If you think you drafted well, don't look at a week or two worth of stats and make rash decisions - plenty of guys are traditionally slow starters, or just are having a rough April, and plenty of free agents are just flashes in the pan who start out great, but end up achieving little the rest of the season.

2)   Rookies, even ubertalented and hyped ones rarely are huge impact players in their first season.  That's not to say they can't help you, or that you won't snag the next Pablo Sandoval or Kendry Morales, but most rookies (Cameron Maybin, Matt Wieters, Jordan Shafer, Emilio Bonifacio, David Price, etc. -- to name a few from last year's class) generally only offer modest returns in their first season, even those who started red hot.

3)   Looking for deals, or at deals, is always a good thing.  Between the time of your draft and when the first pitch was thrown you probably already had looked at your team and realized where you had great strength and where you had weaknesses.  Making deals now, especially if the other fantasy owner is panicked by a bad start from one or more of his players, could pay significant dividends and allow you to get players you want at a discount.

4)   Watch the waiver wire for players dropped in a panic due to a bad start, especially with less than 50-100 AB in the books for that player.  You have to wonder why in the first 72 hours of the season guys like David Ortiz, James Loney, Neftali Perez, Brad Hawpe, Erik Bedard, Jason Frasor and even Brandon Webb are being abandoned in droves. Take advantage of these bad drops and let other people chase guys with fast, but probably illusionary starts.

5)   In a seeming contradiction to the several of the above points, don't be afraid to gamble a little -- with little being the operative term.  If you've got room, or a guy who's not that much more productive than someone you could scrape off the waiver wire, don't be afraid to chase a little upside or a hot start.  You might get lucky and the risk is very limited.

6)   Keep your eyes open, especially to what is happening and who is producing outside of your local area.  If you realize that someone is the real deal (like Ben Zobrist was last year) before others realize it you can score a coup which will boost your chances of finishing in the top spots in your league.  If you aren't watching, you are going to miss the boat and you'll likely be chasing, rather than leading the pack.

7)   Don't be afraid to stand pat if you like where you are.  Don't make deals just for the sake of making deals.  Look to build and improve your team incrementally as the season progresses, you don't need to rush into it and accomplish everything less than a month into the season.

Basically what that all boils down to is use some common sense.  There is a reason that guys like Dallas Braden weren't on anyone's fantasy radar coming into the season, and that players like Brad Hawpe have been counted on season after season.  More often than not, preseason predictions have a basis which tends to be at least somewhat accurate.  Early in the season don't be panicky, but be the one taking advantage of the panic you see in others.  There is plenty of value to be found by those who keep their heads.