If you are like me, you love the thrill of the fantasy auction and the fact that the players you bid on and win, are players you can potential keep on your team for the next 2 to 5 years depending on your league rules. As some of you may know, I play in 2 auction leagues with some of the same managers....mostly my friends. This group of 14 are some of the toughest fantasy players I have ever seen, we're all animals when it comes to trades, waiver wire pick ups and so on and we're always trying to rip each other off....its the nature of the business. Anyways, its these 2 leagues that I use for a lot of my information and advice that I share with others because these 2 leagues are great models. So here are some of our league basics for you to understand before I get into my new "in-season" master plan.
Both leagues consist of 14 manager, 6x6 (includes hits and innings), 23 starters (with 9 pitchers), and no restrictions on innings or anything like that. The budget starts at $55.00. Each player at the auction starts at $.20 and is bid up on increments of $.20. Waiver wire pick ups are $2.00. Most studs like Pujols and ARod command about $10-$12.00 in the auction. Obviously, getting a $.20 stud like Justin Verlander could be the key to success, not to mention, we get to keep 10 players every year where the salary is increased by $2.00 each year kept after the second year. So if I bid $.20 on Huston Street as I did last year, this year I had to keep him for $.20 again. Next year he'll be $2.00 and the year after he'll be $4.00. Then I have to throw him back to the draft.
Ok, so.... the master plan! The idea here is obvious.... if you are in dead last or close to dead last, start stocking up cheap keepers for next season assuming you are ready to throw in the towel like I am for one of my teams. You see, we pay a lot of money for these leagues and there is no manager turnover rate, so I am stuck playing with these guys for the next few years so its ok if I throw in the towel and gun for next year. This year though, I have been plagued with injury (Thank you Ben Sheets, Gary Sheffield, now Shawn Chacon, Mark Prior, David DeJesus, Milton Bradley, and the list goes on), Delmon Young never made it to the Majors as planned, ARam not hitting and Hoffman not getting saves, and Rocco Baldelli....well, I don't even want to say it. Basically, my team has been in the shitter all year. So its time to start making some changes........ Follow the Fantasy Man and the logic!
My plan is this....
1. Simply trade my stars whom I cannot keep next year (ARam, Peavy, Zambrano, VMart, Lidge, Felipe Lopez, Dunn) to competing teams for cheap keepers like Verlander at $.20, Hanly Ramirez at $2.00, Felix Hernandez at $4.00, Kelvim Escobar at $2.20, and the best of them all....Scott Kazmir at $1.20!!! These are the actual salaries of players in my league. I am not making this stuff up.
2. Its one trade at a time. Let me give you an idea as to what I have done. First I just completed a huge trade, player for player, I lose out on studs but I make out on keepers. It goes like this: I get..... Justin Verlander at $.20, Hanley Ramirez at $2.00, and King Felix at $4.00 (whom I may not keep anyway). I gave away....Brad Lidge, VMart and Jake Peavy all of which are not keepable next year! I obviously gave someone the keys to the championship, but what do I care.....I have a .20 Justin Verlander who just pitched 2 straight shut outs and throws 99 mph!!! Peavy who?? My next trade was simple, I get......Kelvim Escobar at $2.20 for a $4.00 Felipe Lopez who would be $6.00 next year and I won't keep him at $6.00 (I already have Johnny Peralta and I just got a $2.00 Hanley Ramirez). Now, I am looking to unload a Cheap Adam Dunn at $5.80 for next year to the first place team that needs power bad to stay at the top. This owner has my biggest target....a $1.20 Scott Kazmir for next year! So I am currently looking to get that done. Then, my next target is to get the $3.00 Ryan Howard for Carlos Zambrano who I cannot keep at all. I have made all these moves in the last 2 weeks. But remember, I am throwing in the towel so its ok to unload the stars.
3. Once the firesale is complete, I will have no more top "unkeepable" studs. My team is now filled with my new young cheap keepers and some of my other original players who all have keeper potential.
4. Now I sit tight and I wait....and I wait for one of two things.......
Either A......my new team continues its horrible streak and I wait patiently in the gutter until next years draft or B........my new young cheap keepers perform so well that even though I dumped my stars, I start to climb out of the gutter and into contention......then, the plan changes. If that happens, see #5.
5. If your new young cheap keepers create a spark and move you into contention, which can sometimes happen, you now have 2 more options. Are you following me here??? Now, either A.... you can ride the cheapies to the championship if you are coasting fast enough, or B...... if you think you are one or two players away from the money, take one of your newly acquired keepers and trade them to another manager who is out of it with a stud who is super hot at the time. Of course, it will be August or so when this happens but remember to keep your leagues trade deadline in the back of your mind if there is one.
So that is the master plan. There are some things to remember though....... First, make sure the keepers you trade for are potential superstars (i.e Kazmir, Ramirez, Verlander), don't just trade to get cheap players like a $.20 Trot Nixon or Reggie Sanders. Also, make sure the keeper is someone whose job will not be in jeapordy at the end of the season or someone who is injury prone...if you can help it. Also, the idea here is to stock up for next year with the cheapest but the best quality keeper. And, most importantly, do not get involved in "Collusion". Its bad for the league and for your reputation for other leagues with the same owners. Collusion is when your team is out of it and you conspire with another team and trade them all of your good players for all of your crap and then you guys split the money at the end. This is the single main reason some leagues have the "veto" option.
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Have a great day!
The Fantasy Man