2017 Retrospective: Team Performances and Lessons

In what has become an annual tradition, today I will hold myself accountable to you the reader by publishing the results of my 2017 fantasy season.

This year, I finally feel like I finally whittled down to a manageable number of rosters – one dynasty, two ottoneu leagues, two keepers, one redraft, and one sim league (mostly played over the winter). While I did woefully under-manage my ottoneu rosters – especially on the trade front – I gave nearly all my teams the attention they deserved. That wasn’t happening when I played in over 10 leagues.

On the Daily Fantasy front, I was able to rebound from a bad start to the year to post only a slight loss – less than the amount of money I spent on rakes. That’s… something. Although I didn’t manage to land any big scores, I did go on a nice streak of more modest wins in late-August. Overall, I lost about $75. I plan to reinvent my process next year.


The Devil’s Rejects

I play one true dynasty, an industry league named The Devil’s Rejects (presumably named after the film that I’ve still yet to see – it’s free on Prime). It’s a deep format with 20 teams and 45 players per team. I co-manage with former RotoGraphs writer Chad Young. For the second straight year, we snatched “victory” from the jaws of defeat on the very last day of the season. This time, we jumped from sixth to third place, securing a solid prize in the process.

I have several articles planned based on this league so let’s just move along.

FanGraphs Staff One

The next two leagues are ottoneu FGpts formats. These are 12-team keeper leagues with $400 budgets and scoring based on linear weights.

After experiencing some success over the years in FanGraphs Staff Two, I received an invite to join FanGraphs Staff One late last winter. And I do mean late, I only had a couple hours before the January keeper deadline to manage my roster and make last minute trades. This was always going to be a rebuilding year, and so I’m not upset that it was my poorest performance. I finished fifth overall. Incidentally, that’s how I placed in my first season with FG Staff Two. Since then (spoilers), I’ve won three straight titles.

I could and should have done a lot more for this team, but I didn’t have the energy to force trades. I acquired a deep list of premium prospects to complement Mike Trout. My pitching staff took the year off (Noah Syndergaard, Johnny Cueto, David Price, and Drew Smyly).

FanGraphs Staff Two

As I teased above, I secured my third straight title in FG Staff Two. Once again, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Charlie Blackmon, and Clayton Kershaw carried me. Based on early arbitration results, my leaguemates have finally decided to address my pricey superstars rather than worry about my high surplus value, mid-tier talents. I might finally be forced to retool this winter. I’ll have more to say on the subject at some point.

Keepers and Redrafts

Home League

This is a 12-team keeper league with $310 budgets. We can keep any player for previous draft price plus $7.

I screwed the pooch here. After building a seemingly insurmountable lead through the dog days of summer, I mostly stood pat at the trade deadline. The only swap I made was to add keepable Felipe Rivero for unkeepable Madison Bumgarner. I finished in second place by 2.5 points. I needed just eight strikeouts plus either three wins or three home runs to claim the championship. The strikeouts plus four wins would have worked too.

I thought Bumgarner was expendable because of my deep rotation of James Paxton, Jimmy Nelson, Alex Wood, Zack Godley, Jon Lester, Brad Peacock, and Chris Archer. As you know, most of those names faded or fully imploded down the stretch. I also spent too much FAAB on Alex Verdugo and Willie Calhoun which prevented me from streaming pitchers on the last day of the season. Whoops.

Macalester League

I play a H2H keeper league with my former college teammates. It’s a 12-team format with the same keeper rules as above. While we do have a playoff bracket, we emphasize regular season performance.

I comfortably finished in second place during the regular season with my roster of pitchers and scrubs. It was a good year to invest only $40 in my offense. It’s hard to lose when you have Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, Carlos Carraco, Jake Arrieta, and Chris Sale pitching every week, especially when you later find Godley and Charlie Morton for free. Unfortunately, my offense and Scherzer chose the first week of playoffs to disappear entirely.

RotoBaller Staff League

Another site I work with, RotoBaller, also has a staff league. It’s a plain old 5×5 redraft. I used a very pitching heavy strategy en route to a third place finish. Overall, I spent over 70 percent of my budget on pitchers. My offense was mostly kept afloat purely by Aaron Judge. I’ll be writing more about this pitcher-first approach at some point. It’s a very situational approach.

Parting Thoughts

This was a great season to flip the script by spending more on elite pitchers than hitters. The prevalence of breakout bats combined with the paucity of useful arms made this a winning strategy. That doesn’t mean it’ll be a good plan next year. Every season has its own special zig or zag to try.

I’m rather satisfied with the overall results. I cashed in every league with an entry fee. Overall, I had one first, two seconds, two thirds, and a fifth. Not too shabby.

We hoped you liked reading 2017 Retrospective: Team Performances and Lessons by Brad Johnson!

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