10 Tips for Ottoneu Rookies

You’ve just signed up to play Ottoneu – now what?

Ottoneu is growing, and while you’re going to see a lot of ink spilled here on RotoGraphs about this premier fantasy game, the learning curve for rookies can be a little steep.  Below are ten critical tips you should consider when embarking on your first Ottoneu fantasy baseball season.  What follows is based on the assumption that you’ve either joined an existing Ottoneu league or are creating a new league and are now preparing to draft in your first spring auction.

1) Join the Ottoneu Community

One of the best aspects of Ottoneu is the massive contingent of game players discussing all things baseball (and football) 24/7/365.  You can find the most active Ottoneu gamers on the official community site and on Slack, which we’ve hijacked for all things Ottoneu, now with well over 1,000 members. Complementing the already feature-rich platform, the Ottoneu community brings all owners together in one place to crowdsource player information, trade feedback, auction tips, keep/cut decisions, enhanced league communications, and a forum for recruiting new league owners.  Even if you don’t play Ottoneu (yet), the community is a goldmine of daily baseball dialogue, strategy, and advice, and it also the perfect place to dip your toe in if you have any interest in learning more about playing and joining Ottoneu.  When you do play Ottoneu, you’ll want to get acquainted with the community as soon as possible, as it is an excellent resource for new Ottoneu players.

2) Introduce Yourself to Your New League

Ottoneu offers some excellent scoring formats, an amazingly deep player pool, and an advanced level of competition that is perfectly suited for you, the RotoGraphs reader.  But like most fantasy formats, your league is still only as good as your ownership group.  Don’t underestimate the value of getting to know each and every owner in your league on a personal level, because over time Ottoneu may begin to feel like the best poker game you’ve ever played.  Take the initiative to introduce yourself to your new league mates through your league message system or via the community.  Be engaged, be responsive, and be ready to challenge everything you think you know about fantasy baseball.

3) Get To Know the Calendar

Timing is everything, so be sure to review your League Settings, in which you’ll find a link to your league’s calendar of important events.  It takes at least one full Ottoneu season to get a feel for some of the key roster actions you’ll take going forward, but use this quick summary as your guide:

  • January 31st – Keeper Deadline
    • This is the final day you’ll have to decide which players you plan to keep or cut before your spring auction draft.  You cannot trade or cut players between the keeper deadline and the close of your league’s auction draft.  While you can certainly cut players before the keeper deadline, it’s to your advantage to keep all your players rostered for as long as possible as to not give away your hand to the rest of your league (and you never know if you might be able to trade a player you had planned to cut).  If you’re struggling with a decision to keep a certain player, you can crowd-source the decision within the community.
  • February/March – Auction Draft Day
    • Most leagues select a March auction date convenient when convenient with your league.  It’s not always easy to find a date/time that works perfectly for everyone, so be as flexible as you can and plan early, which means communicate with your leaguemates frequently.  You can find your auction draft date and time on your league Calendar.
  • August 31st – In-season Trade Deadline
  • October 15th – Start of Arbitration
    • Your league will use one of two distinct arbitration formats that both require 30 days to complete the process.  You can find more about arbitration strategy here, but just remember you cannot trade players during this window and you do not want to cut players before arbitration begins.
  • November 15th – End of Arbitration
    • With arbitration complete, the full “off-season” begins, which allows player trades between teams until the keeper deadline at the end of January.

4) – Utilize the Roster Organizer

The Roster Organizer is an expanded version of your team lineup page that is available in the off-season to help plan what your team may look like after the keeper deadline (1/31). The Roster Organizer is private (cannot be seen by other owners), and allows you to designate which players you plan to keep (by position), “cut”, or “trade”, so that you can see the financial impact on your roster budget ($400 maximum) before entering your league auction draft.  You will want to update your Roster Organizer frequently throughout the off-season as you trade and acquire players.

5) – Know the Rules

Any time you’re competing in a new game against skilled players, you’ll want to make sure you’re fully aware of all the rules.  You can find a full breakdown of all Ottoneu rules here, but we’ve highlighted some of the most important rules you should be aware of from the very beginning:

1a: Each team should maintain a roster of 22 major-league players that can fill out a starting lineup. The remaining 18 roster spots can be used for reserves, consisting of both major and minor leaguers.

4b: There is a 162 game maximum for all positional players and a 1500 inning maximum for pitchers.

1b: If at any time during the season any team’s cap room is not greater than or equal to 40 minus the number of players on that team’s roster, you cannot field a team.  In this circumstance, your team will be frozen until the issue is resolved.  The owner will be forced to cut a player to resolve the issue, and will not be able to perform any other activities in the game, including editing and making auction bids.

1e: An offensive player is eligible to fill a position if he:

  • Played in 10 or more major-league games at that position in the current or preceding year.

  • Started at 5 or more major-league games at that position in the current or preceding year.

  • Played in 20 or more minor-league games at that position in the current or preceding year.

5a,b,c: If you wish to add player to your roster, you must start an auction for the player, and bidding will end 48 hours after the start of the auction.  The player will be awarded to the owner who bids the most for the player, with any ties going to the team lower in the standings.  The player is awarded to the team who has made the highest bid, and his salary is $1 more than the second highest bid.  If two teams are tied for the highest bid, the player salary is that amount.

5d,e: When a player is dropped, other owners have 24 hours to claim the player on waivers for 100% of his salary.  If a player passes through waivers, 50% of his salary (rounding up), counts against his previous team’s salary cap as a cap penalty, until he is claimed by another team or until the end of the current season.  Any bids for him as a free agent must be at least 50% of his previous salary.  The team that dropped the player may not bid on the player until a month (30 days) after the drop date.

6c: Salary cap dollars can be traded between teams (i.e. team A can agree to count one half of a traded player’s salary against their cap).  However, these loans will not remain in place once the regular season ends.

7d: The allocation system gives a $25 budget to each team in the league.  The team can allocate this budget towards players on other teams.  Each team must allocate at least one dollar to every other team, and no team can allocate more than $3 to any other team.

6) – Update Your Trade Block

Updating your Trade Block is a great way to send signals (a notification is posted to the league home page) to the rest of your league that you are shopping various players or looking to reinforce positions of need via trade.  You should update your Trade Block frequently and be as specific as you can if your goal is to invite trade discussion from your competitors during both the regular season and off-season.  You can see each owner’s Trade Block on their Team page, or see all teams together on the Trade Block page.

7) – Know the Players

The Ottoneu player universe is vast, and incorporates both MLB and MiLB.  You can auction just about any player you can find, and can even request to add eligible unlisted players here.  But knowing how all these players rank and relate to each other within your league’s specific scoring system is a bit more difficult, so the following two resources may help.  You can also export all these players to csv to dig into player information, average salaries across leagues, position eligibility, ownership rates, etc.

8) – Staff Your Back Office

True to its sabermetric roots, Ottoneu often rewards owners who analyze players and prepare rosters in great detail.  If you have neither the time nor skills to take on this task in your first season, no worries – we’ve done a lot of the work for you.  Think of RotoGraphs as your Ottoneu “back office”, providing you with ever-evolving resources that can help you win your league.  Here are some resources you’ll want to bookmark:

9) – 80 Grade Tools

In addition to the resources and rankings above, you’ll want to visit RotoGraphs often to get the most customized Ottoneu tools available to help you gain every possible edge you can to compete in your league.   If there’s something you need that might be missing here, let us know in the comments.

10) – Prepare To Bid

You’re finally ready for your first Ottoneu auction draft, which is one of the best events in fantasy sports.  If you’re drafting in a brand new league, a full auction is likely to take 7-8 hours, so many new leagues choose to separate the auction into two or three evenings.  If you’re drafting with an established roster in hand, your first order of business should be to pre-load the players you want to “queue” into your auction watchlist so that they are readily available to you in the draft room (where things can move quickly if you’re not prepared).  There is a lot more about the Ottoneu auction draft here, but here are a few other helpful tips:

  • You cannot cut or trade players during the auction draft.
  • Players you win in the auction will be immediately added to your roster, so you can use the Roster Organizer during the draft to review your positional needs and remaining budget.
  • By default every empty roster spot on your team (40) automatically counts $1 towards your $400 salary cap.  This is important to remember because if (example) you find yourself in the draft room with $5 left to spend and 5 roster spots remaining, you will not be able to win a player > $1.  Most teams will want to exit the auction with $10-$20 of their budget remaining to make roster adjustments during the season.
  • Once you run out of money ($400 budget) or roster spots (40), you can no longer nominate or bid on players in the auction.  Also, if you miss a player nomination during your turn, you’ll be assumed to have finished your draft and won’t be able to nominate again without commissioner intervention, so be ready and pay attention!
  • The auction player queue will show you which players are available, but it won’t show you projected stats or scoring, so many owners will make their own spreadsheet of projections to quickly review when comparing between two players who may be available in the draft.

You’ve made the right decision to play Ottoneu this season, so hopefully these tips will get your started on a successful transition to a great fantasy baseball game.



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Trey is a 20 year fantasy veteran and a five time Ottoneu champion, including the 2015 winner of the Ottoneu Champions League. He currently administers the Ottoneu community, a network of ~1,000 fantasy baseball and football fans. More resources here: http://community.ottoneu.com

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