How to win your h2h league and be sneaky about it:
So, h2h, like fantasy football, is all about the play-offs. We’ve now entered the dog days of August and all trade deadlines will have passed soon. There are a few things you need to do to lock down a play-off spot or set yourself up for a long run in the postseason.
If you have a move limit, know it. Many a potentially great team has been derailed by the inattentive owner who didn’t realize he could play the waiver wire as much as he wanted. The play-offs are do or die; if you’re close in a category, don’t be afraid to make as many moves as necessary to ensure that you’ll win it (so long as you don’t sacrifice other categories in the process). For example, if you’re close in steals, you need to add people like Julio Borbon or Drew Stubbs on the off chance they take on a stealing spree. If they don’t, no harm done. This is your reality now.
There are only three play-off spots worth fighting for: the last play-off spot and the first two play-off spots (provided you get a bye, if not there is only one play-off spot worth fighting for). The play-offs are a crapshoot – if your opponent has a two-start week from his aces, you’re in trouble. This is true if you’re the three seed or the six seed; therefore, unless you get a free pass to the second round, there is no real benefit in finishing in any particular position.
Consequently, if you are comfortable with your play-off positioning and are approaching your moves limit, hold off on making any moves other than grabbing a new closer. You need to maximize your moves and you don’t know what stats you’ll need in until Thursday of your play-off match-up. For instance, a few years ago Chad Cordero (then the Nationals closer) was out for the weekend because of a family obligation. This meant Jon Rauch was the interim closer. I was tied in saves heading into Saturday, so I grabbed Rauch speculatively. Well, he got one save and I won the week. Nimbleness is an awesome word and a necessary skill for the play-offs
Meanwhile, if you are jockeying for play-off positioning, you need to divide your remaining moves by the weeks left in season. Say you have 25 moves left – well there are roughly seven weeks left before October. If you want, you can make 3+ moves per week. However, I’d try to minimize my moves for now so as to allow for maximum flexibility during the play-offs. Many a time, I’ve seen a contest come down to flexibility. If you have no moves left and your opponent does, he can grab five spot-starters on Sunday and steal wins and Ks.
Regardless of your play-off positioning, just like the boys in real life do (hello Randy Myers), you also need to make moves to block your opponent. Say you are stacked at closer, but your opponent has Kevin Gregg. You need to get Carlos Marmol (even if you aren’t starting him) before your opponent does. By limiting his save potential you are increasing your chance of taking the category for the week, even if Marmol and his horrible walk-rate don’t see the light of day on your roster.
Breaking A Tie
Another thing you must know is your play-off tiebreaker. If you are managing in a 5×5 league, there is an even number of categories, which means ties can happen. The most common tiebreaker is ERA, which makes ERA the most important category in a week. If you win ERA, you only have to play to a tie (i.e., you can focus on just four of the remaining nine categories). This means you need to be judicious with your starters. If they have tough match-ups, it is prudent to hold them back from starting to secure ERA.
Ditch The One That Brought You
Often you’ll hear the phrase dance with the one who brung you, meaning ride those horses that got you into the play-offs in the first place. Well, that’s balderdash. In most leagues, you probably shouldn’t own someone like Torrii Hunter (93 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues), especially if Rajai Davis (26 percent), Carlos Gonzalez (17 percent), Josh Willingham (49 percent), Chris Coghlan (25 percent), Kyle Banks (six percent), etc… are available. Hunter is on a team that will make the play-offs. He won’t play on artificial turf or in back-to-back games. He is of little use to you.
This goes ditto for pitchers on IP limits, especially those on crappy teams. Joba has been great, but he has six starts left – trade him if you can. Will he be there for you down the line? I think I’d rather have Neftali Feliz going forward than Joba. Feliz is in a play-off race, he’ll pick-up roughly the same Ks in a one-start week of Joba’s – he could also help in saves and wins.
The grass is always greener; you don’t have time for a struggling guy to come around. Pick up the hot hand and ride it till it cools – you know what will happen then? Another hot hand will emerge.
You’ve heard of ABC, right? Always Be Closing. Well, there’s a rule for the play-offs: Always Be Watching (ABW). If you are in a tight race (especially in the ratio categories (AVE, ERA and WHIP), you need to have a tool that tracks statistics and how your team is performing. If you have a late afternoon guy on Sunday, you need to know how your opponent did in the ratio categories. If you are winning them, you need to bench your players to they don’t negatively impact and pull your ratios down.
You can also psych your opponent out. Say you are close in all the pitching categories. Place all your starters in your starting line-up if your opponent has weaker starters. Then right before they take the mound, bench them. This will likely cause your opponent to start his pitchers, which should help you as they could negatively impact his ERA and WHIP. The converse works as well. If you want it to appear like you aren’t going for wins or Ks, leave your starters benched until the last possible moment. I’d rather be sneaky than trust my players (especially pitchers) to perform.
This is why I like h2h over ROTO. You manage more, there are nuances. It’s a bit more fun for me, if not pure. Remember, you’re talking to the guy who loves Barry Bonds and Cal Ripken.