Sticking to your guns

Assembling the Fantasy Squared’s THT vs. Fangraphs Fantasy league was a chore for those who took a leadership role (read: not me). But, even for the mere participants getting the league going was a bit tumultuous. Writers from both sites were often vacillating about whether they could participate, given auction times, other obligations, etc. and we had a revolving door of potential GMs before the final 12 stuck. Once the roster was final, there wasn’t much time or appetite to quibble over league settings, and so even though some of them were not to my liking, I mercifully resisted making a fuss beyond simply registering my opinions for the record (as did most others).

As it has come to pass, I regret not pushing harder for my preferences because there are certain aspects of the league set up, which I do not like even more than anticipated. I do not intend for this column to be a kvetch-fest, nor am I attempting to explain away my thus far mediocre performance in the league. Rather, I’m offering my insight from this experience as a testament to the importance of sticking to your guns and fighting for – and choosing to participate in – the leagues that you will enjoy most. You don’t have total control of your fantasy experience, but it’s worth exerting as much influence as you can to maximize your enjoyment thereof.

I want to make it very clear that I’m not bashing this league, and I’m happy and honored to be a part of it. At the end of the season, we’re all going to be donating some money to a charity of the winner’s choosing and we’re helping to promote an exciting new fantasy sports platform in Fantasy Squared. What has most frustrated me is that I’ve felt limited by the league settings in my ability to help make my team better. Others in the league may love the format and I’m not trying to project my view on them or attack their opinion; there’s not always a right and wrong answer to league design questions.

The setting that has most profoundly impacted my experience has been the use of weekly line-ups as opposed to daily. For those who have never made the switch, let me offer a brief summary of some of the dynamics that stem from this setting.

The dynamic that presides over most of my angst is this—not being able to rotate your team each day makes it harder to chip away and make up ground in the standings by scratching and clawing. You can’t eke out extra at bats, you can’t get your bench in when a starter is scratched from the line-up, and taking advantage of spot start opportunities requires a gantt chart.

The cousin of that “problem” is that it is hard to manage your pitching staff. For example, I’m doing well in saves and I have lower level closers that I added from the waiver wire or in free agency bidding, or stumbled into by owning those who inherited vacated jobs stashed on my bench. I could—and maybe should—trade them, but I don’t fully trust some of my other closers either (Matt Capps?). So, my choices are to cash in my rainy day fund and risk losing my closers later and be left holding the bag, or allow them to keep producing scarce resources on my bench, with no benefit to my team in the standings. (I can’t get them all in my line-up without excessively paring down my starting staff.)

Meanwhile, the majority of my other bench spots are occupied by players on the DL, or not currently in the majors (like Roy Oswalt), because it seems bench depth has very little value as compared to the possibility of having a stud who could be made active at some point in the season.

Due to the infinite wisdom of Yahoo’s system, even though the line-up setting is weekly, the waiver wire can be accessed on a daily basis (we can’t make that weekly). So, if you want to stay on top of those players, you have to log in daily anyway. Isn’t that what weekly line-up setting is supposed to prevent in the first place—the need for constant monitoring? Anyway, in light of my inability to rotate my line-up on a daily basis, I’ve ceased checking the league every day. I still keep up, rotate my team, and dedicate some time to thinking how to better my team, but the set-up has negatively impacted my engagement.

Hopefully, there’s something to learn here, either between the differences between weekly and daily line-up setting, or the importance pushing for the league settings you’d most prefer. But, even if there’s not, there’s one other reason this article isn’t entirely self-indulgent whining.

Our sponsor for the league is Fantasy Squared, a service that provides a secondary market platform for fantasy sports gaming. One of the advertising points of the Fantasy Squared is that it allows users to make use of knowledge that it otherwise not actionable (and can’t be monetized). The insight I just gave to my personal situation regarding the league, including my day to day behavior and approach to my team, is an example of such information. If one was interested in betting on me to win or lose this league, the information I’ve given in this column might be valuable. Without the type of platform provided by Fantasy Squared, there’s really nothing for anybody else to gain from knowing this.

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I agree with your pain regarding the weekly transaction league. I play in one and it can be painful. We have no bench (but can reserve injured players and guys who get sent to the minors for future activations) so it’s not as bad as watching stats accumulate on the bench but the league settings remind of the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie. Set it and forget it! I find the hardest part is watching a player get hurt on monday and you can’t get a replacement into your lineup until next monday morning.