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The Calm Before the Storm – Dynasty Baseball Strategy Checklist

A sense of renewal that comes each spring is palpable. Every organization has the opportunity to put the heartache from the past behind them. All the mistakes that cost them dearly can be corrected. The same principles apply to dynasty managers. We have a year more of experience that can serve as a foundation. Whether you are scratching your way out of the basement or attempting to win your third straight title, exciting times are ahead. After a tumultuous offseason, we are less than two weeks from Opening Day!

As most serious dynasty players understand, there is not an offseason anymore. Managers can make adjustments via the trade market, FYPD, and supplemental drafts to keep the hot stove burning. After the initial startup draft, the game gets played in various stages, generally dictated by the deadlines and unique settings implemented into a particular league. The window between draft season and games beginning is an excellent time to discuss a few ways you can be proactive in your approach. Once games begin in earnest, most of our attention will be more reactive. It is good to have a stable foundation going into the season to make solid decisions based on our research.

If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. Just starting out in a dynasty league? Then check out Eric Cross’ Top-400 Overall Fantasy Prospects and Top-500 Dynasty League Rankings. Enjoy this Fantasy Baseball article? Then make sure to check out the Fantrax Toolshed weekly for dynasty and prospect talk as well.

Preseason Dynasty Baseball Checklist

Take Stock of your Team

It is never a bad idea to take stock of where your team stands. It is particularly true after rosters have seen an influx of new talent added. Before the season begins, transactions and evaluations are made based on projections and speculation rather than reacting to what we have seen unfold on the field. If you did a good job filling your needs at this stage, this is the time to take an honest look at the weak spots on your roster.

Rather than focusing on the names, pay closer attention to the categories you may be a bit light in. Look at the depth you have at various positions. It is a good idea to consider how you will address those needs. Managers in deep settings with minimal help available via free agents will need to prepare for the trade market. Those in shallow leagues can rely on streaming and uncovering early breakouts that won’t be available with more players rostered already. It is human nature to feel confident about the team you have spent countless hours constructing. But it is more important to remember this is the beginning of the season.

We compete with a group of managers who have the same confidence in their teams. Get out ahead of the pack and start preparing for the moves you know will need to be made throughout a long, unpredictable season.

Know the Competition

It is usually not difficult to convince managers to spend time looking at their rosters. Coming up with an honest evaluation can be tricky, but the idea does not take a lot of pushing. Some people stare at their team with a sense of admiration for what they have built. It can be more difficult convincing them to give other managers (and subsequently their rosters) the same level of attention.

There is a belief that if they handle their business, it does not matter what other managers do. But understanding how your competition operates is an essential part of winning. Great players are keeping tabs on their roster and the other teams throughout the draft process. That same level of attention should be given throughout the season. That does not mean you have to memorize every roster in your league. But you should have a relatively solid understanding of the dynamics at play.

If you are just getting started with the game, or have trouble competing against the best managers in your league, learn what makes them successful. You will need to operate on their level and eventually have counter-moves if you want to surpass them.

The Trade Market

The trade market is the most exciting aspect of playing fantasy baseball for many managers. In deep settings, a vast majority of the talent is rostered and it is an essential aspect of the game. After the initial startup draft, trading is the most viable way to improve your roster. When playing with good managers in deeper leagues, there will not be much talent available that can affect the standings. There will always be early-season surprises (that can lead to full breakouts). But they are added early when facing dedicated managers.

If you have taken a look at your team relative to the rest of the league, it should inform you about the path you should take. Use this time to reach out with some offers. Begin some conversations and plant seeds that could lead to a deal down the line. You should lay out a blueprint that will expedite your rebuild if you are not in a position to compete entering the season. If you have made a good assessment about where your team stands, you can take some form of control over how your season plays out. You do not have to wait for contending managers to react before making your moves if you have taken time to plan.

Free Agent Acquisitions

In standard 10-12 team leagues, the use of free agents has essentially replaced trading. Negotiating deals with other managers can be an arduous task at times. You have to consider their team and numerous other factors to find common ground. Effectively using the free agents is like having the ultimate trade partner. You can release the worst player on your roster and decide which player to add without a middle man. That level of control over trade negotiations would be considered collusion if two people were involved.

There is a massive opportunity to improve your roster via free-agent acquisition that does not exist in other aspects of the game. I have watched managers take a mediocre group into contention by overwhelming other managers with daily transactions. If your league allows for this type of engagement, be prepared to take advantage of it and be mindful that other managers have that avenue to improve their rosters as well.

Set a Watch list

Player movement is a big part of fantasy leagues. Each season there is a mad rush to chase the latest big thing. This is particularly true early in the season before everyone feels they have a good grasp of what is unfolding. Sometimes those early adds end up turning into a league-winning player. Other times they will become a solid piece that remains on the roster. But more often than not, they happened to have a big game (or week) in which they outperformed their expectations. They end up being a cut (after staying on the roster too long and causing damage) for the next hot player. These tactics do not have the same effectiveness in deep, competitive leagues but work well with unlimited transactions and the ability to shuffle through hot players and good matchups. If you did your job during the draft season with research, you should already be in a good place with how you view particular players. Take a few minutes to go through each position and highlight the players that interest you.

Follow the News

There are countless people within the baseball community dedicated to sharing information. Get to know all the different sources out there. Whether that be following MLB beat writers, fantasy analysts, draft experts, or prospect analysts. Over time, you may find that certain websites, writers, or personalities gel with your style. Social media has a vast array of information that can be found if you can navigate the noise. The best fantasy managers are keeping up with the ever-evolving landscape of baseball. They dig through various sources for hidden gems. Looking for clues about playing time, a role change, a pitcher adding velocity, and many other details. Most people who play dynasty leagues are hardcore baseball fans. Their love for the game goes well beyond looking at box scores and viewing things from a fan perspective. There is an all encapsulating love that shows itself in all parts of the game. To compete at the highest level, you need to be aware of the same information as your competition.

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