The season is long. Players go through peaks and slumps. BE PATIENT.
Too many times fantasy players get worried or frustrated and make stupid decisions. For example, last season I traded Adam Wainwright for CC Sabathia, straight up, in April. Wainwright was pitching well and I had high hopes for him, but CC was CC, even though he had been terrible. CC’s owner panicked and dealt him for a solid pitcher, but I was able to take advantage and Sabathia pitched extremely well for me during the rest of the season.
Of course, this is a rather dramatic example. Often times, the more telling examples are knowing when to drop decent players who are in slumps, or knowing when to pick up mediocre players who are hitting well. In general, the best piece of advice is to ignore how a player has performed over the last few weeks, and instead focus on how they have performed over the last few years, as this is a far better predictor of future performance. Bad players can be very good over a few weeks or months, and great players can be very bad. Occasionally a player will come out of nowhere to have a fantastic season – Ryan Ludwick, for example – but this is the exception, rather than the rule. You may miss out on Ryan Ludwick, but it’s worth it to avoid the flash-in-the-pan guys who will fizzle the instant you add them to your roster.
Similarly, there are certainly players who go through season-long funks – like Nick Swisher – but most of the time people with established track records bounce back in the midst of what appears to be a disappointing season. For example, AJ Burnett had a 5.42 ERA on June 19. Many people may have dumped him at that point – but smart players understood that his peripherals were still good (90/46 K/BB ratio in 91 innings), and that Burnett had a track record of success. Owners who held on to Burnett were rewarded, as he had a 3.12 ERA (and 141 strikeouts) over the rest of the season.
When in doubt, defer to a player’s established track record, not their most recent success or failure. And read Rotographs, as we’ll attempt to help you decipher whether a player’s recent play represents a true never level of ability (for better or worse), or is just the fluke of a small sample size.