We're about to separate the men from the boys, fantasy baseball style.
As we approach the 25% mark in fantasy baseball leagues, it's important to assess your team so you can do what you need to do to take home the gold.
But what is a reasonable point deficit? At this point in the season, can you come back from being 10 points down? 20 points? 30 points? (Listen, if you are more than 30 points down, just close the lid on your laptop, cause you're dunzo.)
Below are the break break downs for one of the leagues I play in, a 15 team 7×7, which means there are tons of points in play:
1. G-Brett's '85 Retros, 142
2. Marco Scrot-aros 141
3. San Diego Phishsanwiches, 141
4. Charlotte Chew Chews, 138
5. Elma Bears, 114
6. Bash Brothers, 112
7. bases clearing bunt, 111
8. Vandelay Industries, 110.5
9. Knocked Balls, 109
10. A1Swift Lowry, 109
11. Mediocre All-Stars, 109
12. Aye Dios Mio, 105.5
13. Base-ah-ball Been-uh-good, 89
14. Williamson Wolverines, 79
15. Phillies Bro Code, 68.5
I'm going to argu that only the top 4 teams are playing for 1st place. Teams 5-11 are playing for 2nd place (I'll explain later). Team 12 is playing for, at most, 5th place. And teams 13-15 will be battling to see who stays out of the cellar.
I realize that if you find your team in a similar position to those in positions 5-12 you are angry at me, because you still have first place on your mind. That's good (and I'm OK with controversial posts). Everyone responds a fighter. But there is no sense pressing on, fueled by the hopes and dreams of unicorns.
Let reality sink in. I will systematically vanquish your dreams with my sword of Logic, Fact, and Sheer Obviousness (Dexterity +3).
There is at minimum 24 points (138 minus 114) that separate the top tier teams from the second tier teams. While 24 points is absolutely a deficit than can be over come, those 2nd tier teams do not have a realistic chance at 1st place. I'll explain.
The beauty of Roto is that there are lots of things in play, and they all must be taken together.
One of the 2nd tier (5th-11th place) teams will absolutely make a run. Probably two of them will. This means that those teams will be jockeying back and forth for points. The fantasy lords giveth, and they taketh away.
Likewise, at least one team in the top tier will make a run. Last year our winner finished with 170 points, meaning there is still room for the front runners to pull away. The rich get richer, as they say.
Not only do you need to make a strong run, but the top tier teams need to tank, and fall back toward you. See # 2 above. This is almost entirely out of your hands. This also can not be overstated.
We're assuming that those 2nd tier teams are underperforming, and that the best is yet to come. It could very well be that around 110 points is a little over their head and that they'll collapse soon enough.
Some of you are reading this thinking, "So you're saying there's a chance." To make rash moves to achieve a goal that you really have little mathematical chance of obtaining is dumb. To do it at the expense of future seasons is dumber. (A decision to pursue a longshot in a keeper league can cripple your roster for years to come.)
Maybe some things break right for you. Maybe a heck of a lot of things break right for you!
But a 2nd tier team needs to get and stay hot for the rest of the season. They need for the other 2nd tier teams to remain luke warm, at best. They need the top tier teams to tank, all of them. We have not even mentioned health of your team.
These are too many variables that are out of your control. A hopeful, yet reasonable, outlet would be that the league would indeed have a couple teams plummet, while having one team break away from the pack of mediocrity to land in 2nd place. A first place finish is probably an unreasonable exit.
The reason I said that this post would make you a man is that it gives us all an opportunity to man up, face facts, yet still make some moves that will shoot you up the standings.
Fantasy baseball is a marathon, not a sprint, so there is still ample opportunity to make the kind of run that makes the ladies swoon, even if it is a million to one shot at first place. Jumping from 12th to 6th is still admirable. A battle for 4th can be epic. I remember that last year we had a great scrap between 3 guys, fighting to stay out of the cellar. There can be some epic games inside the game that makes Roto-style fantasy baseball so awesome.
So man up. Here are some things you can do:
Target a competitor. Put a bull's-eye on his team, and make a run to leap frog him. Make a friend a frenemy. One year after I won the title another owner posted a comment on the message boards that my win was "nothing more than luck." Oh, it was on. I made it a goal that year after year, his was the team that was going down.
Take one owner at a time. Determine how many owners are between you and where you want to be. Make adjustments to incrementally improve your team, allowing you to climb past them one at a time. This keeps you focused on a task, and gives you a sense of steady achievement that is defined and achievable.
Be devious. Play the spoiler. Do not check out on the season; Instead, tactically make trades with teams that can hurt your competitors. You can help yourself, to a limited amount, by helping the teams that have the best chance of taking points away from your closest competitors.
Build a team to root for. This is doubly important in keeper leagues. Set a solid goal for progress, resign yourself that top tier is out of the question, and work to build a roster of guys you'd enjoy rooting for in the years ahead. Build a team of solid keepers that you'll enjoy rooting for next season.
Fight 'til the end. A man goes down swinging. You owe it to your league mates to keep competitiveness.
Go for broke! You're a dangerous man, darn it! Ignore all my advice, throw caution to the wind, toss out facts, go balls out, and make a play for first, despite the indications the rest of us know as "reality." What the heck, right? It's fake baseball and you are the one who absolutely has to live with your choices.
I'm out of words for this post and I imagine you are already mad at me for shattering your hopes of first place this season, so I'm going to run. Check out "How to finish like a champ when you drafted like a chump" for a nuts and bolts, step-by-step look at how to determine which categories are the ones you need to target to make a run.