• Roto Riteup
    The most roto-relevant news of the previous day, recapped in a concise format for your morning coffee.
  • Bullpen Report
    Detailed daily updates and charts on every bullpen in the Major Leagues to help you manage your saves and holds.
  • Prospect Coverage
    Our prospect team mines the minors for top prospects and useful pieces alike.
  • MASH Report
    Award-winning in-depth injury report with analysis from Jeff Zimmerman.
  • The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast
    Eno Sarris, Paul Sporer, and Jason Collette lead the RotoGraphs staff in a regular fantasy podcast.
  • Daily Fantasy Strategy
    The RotoGraphs team discusses daily fantasy strategy and then makes picks for the day.
  • Ottoneu Strategy
    Strategy for the year-round FanGraphs Fantasy game.
  • Top 50 Fantasy Prospects
    Marc Hulet adjusts (and updates) his prospect list for fantasy purposes.
  • Field of Streams
    A contest to see who can make the better picks: streaming pitcher and hitter choices for every day of the season in a podcast hosted by Dylan Higgins and Matthew Dewoskin.
C  -  1B  -  2B  -  SS  -  3B  -  OF  -  SP  -  RP

Looking to Fill Your League or Join a League? Click Here! 2018 Edition

Welcome to the RotoGraphs Matchmaker Service. No, I cannot find you a date. However, we could hopefully facilitate the marriage of league owner with leagueless owner. If you are seeking an owner to fill your fantasy league or are the owner hoping to be seeked to join that unfilled league, this is your new home. In the comments, please advertise your league openings or your availability and desire to join a league. To make things easier, it would be helpful to include the details of the league you’re seeking to fill or prefer to join in the following format:

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Ottoneu 201: Maximizing Salary Cap Space

Ottoneu auction leagues are drafting furiously to finalize rosters prior to the start of the regular season. Earlier this week Justin touched on the best way to build out a roster. Head-to-head is also coming to Ottoneu in 2018. The Ottoneu community is buzzing with prospect junkies and interested owners looking to join new leagues.

Needless to say, Ottoneu is now in full swing, so if you’re still on the fence about trying out the game this year, now is the perfect time to jump in with both feet. With so much activity in March, most of our Ottoneu content is geared toward helping new owners learn the basics of the game. However, today I want to detour and offer a few tricks of the trade that veteran owners have figured out over time that might benefit those who are trying to take their Ottoneu game to the next level this season.

Trading for players you intend to cut…for cap space.

No matter how good your pre-auction plan, it’s not all that uncommon to exit an Ottoneu draft with less cash that you had hoped to save for future transactions. While a good rule of thumb is to keep about $10 in cap space, it’s easier said than done when some of the better bargains find their way into your hands at the end of a long draft night. What do you do when you’re up against a tight salary cap to start the season?

Experienced Ottoneu players learn that it can occasionally make sense to trade for an injured (or subpar), expensive player with the intention of immediately cutting that player for cap space. In Ottoneu, you recover half of a player’s current salary towards your salary cap when you cut them from your roster during the regular season, so freeing up cap space is just part of the game. That said, it can be difficult to free up salary at the start of the season if you’ve spent too much in the auction, so acquiring a player with a high salary can net you some flexibility if you’re willing to give up less than what the cap space might be worth to acquire that player. Important: this strategy only works if you can acquire the expensive player with a loan from your trade partner.

Resource: How Loans Work in Ottoneu

Here’s a quick example where I’ve intentionally traded for a $9 Cole Hamels, who I plan to cut once he hits my roster because the $4 in cap space I net from letting him go is more valuable to me than what I had to give up to get it. Note that I would not have made this trade had the other own refused to include a $12 loan to cover the full salary difference in the trade.

Perpetually free up cap space by re-auctioning your old castoffs.

Sticking with the topic of freeing up salary cap space, you sometimes need to read between the lines of rules V.e and V.f to understand this best practice:

V.e – 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.

V. f – The team that dropped the player may not nominate or bid on the player until 30 days after the drop date, unless the keeper deadline occurs in between the drop date and the player’s new auction.

The transaction “trick” here is best explained by another example (we’ll continue to pick on Cole Hamels, just to stick with the theme):

You own a $16 Cole Hamels and have also maxed out your salary cap of $400 to start the season ($0 free cap space). On Opening Day (March 29th), you start Hamels against the Astros and immediately regret it when he gives up four home runs in 3 innings. You decide to cut Hamels and let him be problem for someone else. By cutting Hamels you free up half ($8) his salary in cap relief (from $400 to $392), and also have a salary cap penalty of $8 that remains until another team either claims (24 hours) or nominates Hamels for an in-season player auction (48 hours), thereby freeing up the rest of his salary (another $8) towards your budget (from $392 to $384, or $16 in free cap space).

But what happens when no one in your league claims or nominates Hamels because they don’t think he’s worth $8 to begin with (see rule V.e)? That’s where rule V.f reminds us that you, the original Hamels owner, can nominate Hamels again for a player auction 30 days after the original drop date (March 29th). There are several benefits here to diligently reminding yourself to nominate Hamels (or any player you’ve dropped) auction again on April 30th:

  1. If another team wins the Hamels auction (at any price), you are then released from your $8 salary cap penalty (from $392 to $384, or $16 in free cap space)
  2. If you win the Hamels auction (at his minimum salary of $8), it costs you nothing ($0) towards your salary cap because you are already paying his $8 salary cap penalty (from when you cut him in March). Your total salary is still $392 but you now also own Hamels on your roster (again) for $8. At just $8, it’s not impossible to think that Hamels has turned the corner from a terrible start to the season and he contributes value to your roster for the remainder of the season
  3. If you win the Hamels auction (at his minimum salary of $8), you can immediately cut him again, starting this salary shaving process over, netting you half his salary ($4) in cap relief and lowering his cap penalty to $4 (from $392 to $388, or $12 in free cap space and a $4 cap penalty from Hamels).

Resource: The Cap Space Dilemma

Bottom line: there’s really no downside to keeping track of all the $2+ players you cut over the course of a season and nominating them again exactly 30 days later.  The upside is the ability to constantly free up salary space or add a player back to your roster at a more attractive price.

Trade negotiation: agree to eliminate another owner’s cap penalty

While we’re discussing ways to free up cap space, the option to help another owner free up their own cap space by nominating a player they’ve recently cut (inside 30 days) could be used as a value-add in trade negotiations.

Back to Hamels: let’s say I’ve cut my $16 Hamels (net of $8 in cap space) and am eagerly awaiting the long 30 day stretch needed to re-nominate him to free up more cap space (the more cap space I have, the more opportunity I have to cycle through useful players on the waiver wire or outbid my leaguemates on potential breakout players everyone is trying to add). Instead of waiting that full 30 day cycle, it’s possible another creative owner could approach me about trading for one of my other players and show a willingness to take Hamel’s $8 cap penalty off my hands.

For example, Owner B proposes trading his $25 Justin Upton for my $20 Gerrit Cole and $5 Lucas Duda. In the course of negotiation I communicate that I need a bit more of a return than Upton for that package, but we can’t quite seem to find that missing player from his roster that pulls the deal together. Owner B then realizes that free cap space is as valuable to me as other players from his roster he hasn’t been willing to give up and offers to nominate Cole Hamels for auction (where his minimum price is $8). The deal then becomes Cole and Duda for Upton and Owner B’s guarantee of immediately starting a Hamels auction.  The Hamels auction (which I cannot start myself inside 30 days) guarantees me the full $8 in cap relief (eliminating my $8 cap penalty) when the Hamels auction is complete. Owner B benefits from the deal because doesn’t have to give up another active player from his roster in the trade, and because there’s a (small?) chance another team wins the Hamels auction (saving him $8 on a player he doesn’t really want).  If Owner B does win Hamels ($8), he has the option of cutting down the Hamels cap penalty throughout the season in the same way I’ve described above), which is something he could not do if he just agreed to send me $8 in cap space alone.

Resource: Navigating Ottoneu Cap Space

Ottoneu is a blast but it also has some strategic nuance that takes some time to master.  Hopefully these tricks of the trade help you maximize your free cap space this season.  Are there other strategies you employ that aren’t well known? Feel free to discuss in the comments.

2018 Pod’s Picks — Hitters

Every year after we post our positional rankings, I run my Pod’s Picks series, highlighting the players I am more bullish and bearish on compared with the consensus. I didn’t want to completely skip the series this time, so because I’m strapped for time before opening day, I’m going to do a hitter version that lumps all positions together. I’m also only going to discuss my picks, which are the players I am most bullish on versus the rest of the rankers. I figure advice on who to draft, rather than who to avoid, is a bit more valuable.

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Roto Riteup: March 21, 2018

Today is my 9th anniversary with my wife and she is looking for help:

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Heartbreak in the Fifth Round: An NFBC Main Event Review

The NFBC Main Event is different. In case you’re unfamiliar, the National Fantasy Baseball Championship is a series of 32 individual 15-team leagues that also functions as its own super league of 480 teams. It’s a no-trading format, too, so balance isn’t just a strategy, it’s a must. It’d be great to win your individual league, but you’re playing to win the Main. It’s also loaded with some of the best fantasy players in the entire game. There’s something about a $125,000 dollar prize that brings out the best of the best!

This is my second year in the Main, but my first time doing a live draft. It paired perfectly with my trip to NYC for Tout Wars (more on that team on the podcast) making for a brilliant double-draft weekend. Tout Wars on Saturday and the Main Event on Sunday with my co-manager and friend, Dusty Wagner.

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 533 – The Tout Wars Review


The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 19, the best baseball strategy game ever made – available NOW on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms! Go to ootpdevelopments.com to order now and save 10% with the code SLEEPER19!

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Notable Transactions/Rumors/Articles/Game Play

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Brad Johnson Baseball Chat: 3/20/2018

Here’s today’s transcript. Enjoy your drafts everyone!

Brad Johnson: Hey folks, let’s getting rolling

Brad Johnson: I promise to be at my grumpiest, grouchiest self today

Brad Johnson: or similar

Corky: I just read your “Am I crazy” post.  Interesting.  I’m more intrigued by a comment you left – do you still suggest going heavy on pitching in a 5×5 H2H weekly league, where your record at the end of the week is based on categories won (i.e. 7-3)?  How much would you spend on pitching in that type of league?

Brad Johnson: That was Justin’s post. But I did comment.

Brad Johnson: There’s no one size fits all approach, but it can be very profitable to dominate the pitching categories if the rest of your league is using a 70/30 pitching split.

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Am I Crazy? My 2018 Tout Wars Team

Last year, I filled in for Stephania Bell at Tout Wars. This year I was invited to to join Tout Wars in the H2H league. I responded by putting together a team (that I think) is unlike any other that has ever been assembled on that kind of stage. Read the rest of this entry »

Diving Head First into Minor League Averages

As a projectionist, one of the most difficult players to forecast are rookies with no previous MLB experience. While there have been many attempts at translating minor league performance into Major League equivalents, we will never get the conversion perfectly right. It’s hard enough to project established veterans, so with such varying competition, a more limited body of work with which to analyze, and wildly fluctuating league and park factors, minor leaguers are a real challenge.

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Roto Riteup: March 20, 2018

The Roto Riteup has returned for another season!


Yeah… I know you missed me! Read the rest of this entry »

I Happily Paid $56 For Mike Trout in Tout Wars

This past weekend I was again honored to be asked to participate in the 15-team Tout Wars auction held bright and early on Saturday morning at Staten Island’s Richmond County Ballpark. After a short ferry ride, I caught up with old friends and then auction began. Like last year, it rolled at a fast pace and ended in about four hours later. While my final team’s roster doesn’t resemble any team I’ve previously rostered, it has a nice chance to compete.


The biggest decision I made when constructing this team happened months ago when I looked back at my 2017 fantasy teams and found my pitching way outperforming my hitting.

To help offset this final imbalance, I decided to go with a 70%/30% hitter/pitcher split. Over the past few seasons, this league’s split has been 67.8%/32.2%. The difference works out to a $6 difference. I am not married to reaching this exact mix at the auction but it gives me a general guideline to follow. It had a side effect I didn’t fully understand but the anomaly ended up driving my auction.

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