As we close out the final week-plus of the August, roster management is the key to success, especially for roto managers. Obviously roster management is key throughout a season, but I wouldn’t make such a blatant statement without expounded on it, either. As you peruse your standings daily, you have to make realistic judgments on the points you can still gain and where they can be gained. With the limited amount of time left in the season, every at-bat or inning pitched is even more crucial than it was back in April or May.
That, of course, is because there is less time to come back and gather the points you need for success. I stress these points because of what I am about to say: the points you can gain and categories in which you can gain them might mean that it is smarter to play a lineup that doesn’t include the best overall players.
For some this may sound like common sense and for others this may sound like a contradiction over something I have said before. I often say, “Never bench your studs”, but that is in regards to benching an ace pitcher in a hostile environment or against a tough team or sitting a big bat because of back-to-back series against San Francisco and Philadelphia or any pair of pitching-laden teams.
So my NBYS mantra is entirely independent of these late season scenarios when you are trying to win your league or at least move up in the standings for a higher cash spot if first place isn’t in reach. With your overall studs like Matt Kemp and Curtis Granderson to name a pair, they are playing all the time no matter what because regardless of what category you need help in, they can deliver. However when you start to get into the more specialized players, you may have a better bench option even if their overall talent doesn’t quite match.
A lot of these examples will come on the offensive side of things. If your standings have stratified to where 10 stolen bases can get your six points while you are locked in position in home runs and RBIs in that you can’t catch anyone nor are you close to being caught, then it makes sense to sit Nelson Cruz for Ben Revere even though you would normally never make such a move. It won’t always be a Cruz-type that you have to sit down, but if your other outfielders are Granderon, B.J. Upton, Michael Brantley and Desmond Jennings, then Cruz is the obvious because he contributes least to the stolen base cause.
The decision won’t always be so cut-&-dried which is why you have to do the work and figure out the optimal lineup to maximize your points. That starts with being honest about where you can realistically gain points and where you might be susceptible to losing them. Be conservative with your estimations, there is no value to inflating them because you will just end up disappointed when they don’t come through.
The hardest stats to project and to move are the rate stats: batting average, ERA and WHIP so unless things are really tight in your league, it is unlikely that there will be a ton of movement even with more than a month left in the season.
If trades are still in play, you should make moves the same way you would with roster moves in that you don’t always have to get the most talent back in a trade if that talent doesn’t help you win. Keeper leagues are an extra wrinkle to consider and there are too many different scenarios to give any specific advice there, but in redraft leagues you could trade a guy like Cruz from our earlier example for a nice haul that would help your stolen bases cause and then some since he is such an impact player.
As always, it is still remarkably difficult to chase wins because of how fickle they can be and while I would still focus on pitcher skills, I can understand paying more heed to a team’s offense, defense and bullpen (three elements that contribute significantly to whether or not a pitcher wins) as we come down the stretch. I still wouldn’t value Ivan Nova over Felix Hernandez even though Nova has one more win in seven fewer starts with an ERA nearly a run higher, but I could definitely see valuing a C.J. Wilson much closer to Hernandez now than you would’ve back during draft season in March.
This final stretch is when a lot of fantasy leagues are won because fantasy managers get lazy with their teams, even if they are in contentions. They start to focus on football, especially those who play fantasy football and have their draft in late August/early September. Take advantage of the diverted focus and continue to put max effort into your title hopes or quest to finish in or higher in the money spots.
The extended vacation and lack of posting was unplanned and I appreciate those who reached out. I should’ve mentioned it on the site and let everyone know I wasn’t quitting the site or anything. At any rate, content will continue through to the end of the season. As we wind down the 2011 season, the posting schedule won’t be daily, but still three to four posts a week (down from the six during first four months of the season.