Ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk strategy, shall we? Specifically, let’s talk match-up league weekly strategy.
First, your offensive focus starting each week should be home runs, RBI’s and Runs. Batting average is secondary initially since it is less predictable. Finally, I field a team that will get a couple stolen bases per week. There are exceptions if you have Dee Gordon or the like. A top notch stolen base player will be a strong two category player who also helps BA. But the high stolen base, medium run, low batting average player should find himself on someone else’s team – not yours.
As the week progresses, begin to narrow your focus to categories that are still in play. Remember you only need to win a category by one. So if you’re heading into Sunday up by five in home runs and down by a stolen base, play for the extra stolen base if your roster allows.
The pitching side of match-up team management is largely a function of your league settings. If your league has a limit on starts and you find yourself with excess starts available, check the split stats of your starters. Most starters are more effective at home but there are exceptions. After reviewing the splits, take your best guess and don’t look back. Just as there is no crying in baseball, there is no regret or self-recrimination in fantasy. It’s all for fun, right? (Do as I say, not necessarily as I do here.)
Some match-up leagues have no limit on the number of pitching starts. For these leagues, you want to carry an extra starter – especially in leagues that reward the number of innings pitched.
I’m going to digress for a minute. Years ago I considered the inning pitched category to be rather lame. However, I view it now as one with a degree of legitimacy. It is fair for your team to be rewarded if you drafted pitchers who go deep into games. These pitchers are of great value in reality so why not throw a bone their way in fantasy? They will also deliver more K’s for you and typically more W’s than 5-6 inning starters.
Back to the ‘pitching heavy’ roster I mentioned… In leagues with no pitching limits, I often field teams with a total of only nine or ten position players. If your offense is good enough, you don’t need more position players than this. Play your guys every day with occasional schedule-related streaming of your weakest hitter.
Always remember that the end of the season is more important than the beginning in match-up leagues. All games are equal in rotisserie. All games are not equal in match-up. Keep your eye out for hot players – or check the splits for players who tend to finish strong. Examples: Hunter Pence was money last year the last month of the season. On the flip side, Brandon Phillips always struggles in September. Look for money players when the games become ‘more equal’.
Finally, do your best to get a first round bye but, if you can’t, no worries. Just pick up a few hot players or strong finishers, make the playoffs and win the league. Nothing is more satisfying than finishing 6th in the regular season and winning the playoffs…….