Fantasy Baseball: 5 Steps to Improve Head-to-Head Strategy

Head to Head

Looking for ways to improve your head-to-head strategy? Well, look no further…


Step-One: When Streaming Pitchers Make Your Add/Drops the Night Before

When deciding to stream starting pitchers, stay one step ahead of your league mates and make your add/drops the night before.  It’s always comical to witness the plethora of sub-par pitchers that are added immediately following everyone’s first cup of coffee on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  The reason for this flurry of waiver activity is because after five days of competing, owners are now aware of the categories they plan to pursue as well as those they are willing to concede.  This approach is especially useful when implemented on Sunday night while your competition is busy watching ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and finishing up their matchup for the week.  That would be the perfect opportunity to take a look at the available, two start pitchers for the upcoming week.  Many H2H leagues allow up to seven adds per week so an intelligent add or two can net a savvy owner up to four additional starts.


Step Two: Be Cognizant of Start Times and Weather

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Try your hardest not to leave offensive slots vacant.  In H2H formats, every at bat counts because you are essentially playing a mini season every seven days.  Wins, losses, quality starts, stolen bases and home runs are categories frequently determined by the slimmest of margins.  Pay attention to weather forecasts in areas that have the potential for threatening elements.  Also, take notice of start times.  As the season progresses owners tend to become complacent with MLB’s scheduling, assuming they know what days there are significantly less games played or what the probability is for day games.  Remember, in most leagues, after the first pitch is thrown during the first game of the day your roster is locked.  It would be safe to say that any owner with over a decade of fantasy baseball experience has probably been blindsided by Patriot’s Day and the early start time of the Boston Red Sox game that coincides with the running of the Boston Marathon (this year Patriot’s Day is on Monday, April 21st, so the Red Sox will have a game beginning at 11:00 a.m. EST).  A suggestion is to set your lineup for the following day the evening before even if you only assert moderate effort.  Having already done this, should you not get around to setting your full lineup the next morning you can rest assured that your starting pitchers are in your lineup as well as any off day hitters removed.


Step Three: Attempt to Solidify Bench with Multi-Position Eligible Players

This step piggybacks off of the aforementioned, once again dealing with the importance of setting a full roster.  We are already aware of how many H2H categories are determined by singular counting statistics.  The easiest way to keep rosters full is by maximizing the potential on your bench with regards to positional eligibility.  A greater return on investment will always be found when rostering a middle infielder that plays both 2B and SS as opposed to wasting two slots on individual players that play only one position (especially when dealing with bench players).  Do you feel me?  So, Jed Lowrie is more valuable than Brad Miller and Kolten Wong.  Before you jump down my throat, I’m not saying that Jed Lowrie is necessarily a better player than both Miller and Wong.  What I’m saying is that he is more valuable on my bench because rostering him affords me the opportunity to add another player.  This approach also works with a player like Nick Swisher (1B/OF) being more valuable than Andre Ethier (OF).  When comparing similar players, always go with the one that plays multiple positions, not the one that commands greater name recognition.


Step Four: Maximize Potential Bench Contributions

Another mistake that I’ve seen owners make is holding too much excess in one particular area.  This excess can be comprised of having too many players at the same position or too many players that contribute to the same categories.  There is no reason to have Brett Gardner, Michael Bourn and Eric Young Jr. all riding your fantasy pine.  On the flipside, there is very little reason to own Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds and Paul Konerko; trust me, all will hit for inconsistent power while utterly destroying your batting average (one of them is more than enough).  Fantasy owners should strive to possess a multi-faceted bench consisting of players that are eligible at numerous positions along with providing contrasting offensive assistance.  If you are chasing stolen bases it’s nice to have a “speed” guy sitting on your bench that could start over the weekend.  It’s also nice to be able to plug in a “power” guy if you are hunting down a homerun or two.  I think you get the point.  Lastly, if you are going to waste a bench spot on a particular player make sure that he plays every day.  There is nothing worse than the one day during the week you actually need said player to start and they are on the bench of their real MLB team.


Step Five: Get Involved in Closer Carousels no Matter How Horrible

You are probably scratching your head at this statement but allow me to explain.  Every year, I pride myself on a few things with regards to my draft day strategies.  Here they are:

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  •          Always wait until the last round to draft a catcher.
  •          Never draft a starting pitcher before the 6th round.
  •          Never draft a closer before the 15th round.

I can honestly tell you that I am pretty successful in the majority of my leagues using these approaches.  Again, you will never see Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, or Kenley Jansen on any of my teams because they are too expensive on draft day.  However, I will be the first guy that gets involved in the closer carousel in both Chicago’s.  The reason for this is that the turnover for closers teeters dangerously near 50% which is simply astounding.  If you want to have some fun, at the end of the year take a look at the current closer for each team compared to who began the season; you will be amazed.  In H2H formats, the save category can often be won with as little as three or four for the entire week.  Even the best closers can go seven days without seeing a save opportunity whether it’s because of an extended losing streak, weather or blowouts.  So, when Jonathan Broxton is named the closer for only six weeks continue pushing your chips all-in and enjoy the temporary ride.  The few saves he provides may very well help you win the category a few times.  Also, even in the craziest of carousels, someone eventually separates themselves from the pack and those players are always nice throw-ins to top off a trade.


Joe Costello is the MLB Co-Content Manager for @FakeSeamHead, the baseball division of the immensely talented @FakePigSkin crew.  I can be contacted at @jcswigga to answer any of your fantasy baseball or football questions (I play that, too).  I am also the commissioner for both baseball and football leagues so feel free to drop me a line on the most thankless job in the industry.




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