Heading into the weekend, I want to talk about all the good things that happened this year. We’ll have plenty of time to talk about mistakes, miscues, and defeats. Failure is a critical component to learning, but to get the full value, you have to actually analyze your failings. Like I said, we’ll get there.
Let’s make today a celebration. Let’s revel in our successes. Take some time to brag. You know where to find the comments. I’ll kick things off.
I had seven fantasy leagues this season. Players who were drafted in three or more leagues included Corey Kluber, Michael Brantley, Jose Bautista, and Giancarlo Stanton. We know they had huge seasons, but that’s a relatively short list of overlapping studs. I really wanted to own Jose Abreu in every league, but there was a lot of competition for his services. Notably, I said to stay far far away from Masahiro Tanaka (sorry!).
Mid-season acquisitions drove my personal success. Relievers in particular are always a strength for me. It comes with the daily grind mentality. I happened to be streaming Sean Doolittle in five leagues when he took over as the A’s closer. Jenrry Mejia the closer was on four rosters. Continuing the reliever theme, Wade Davis, Dellin Betances, Brad Boxberger, and Andrew Miller put in frequent appearances on my rosters.
I managed to scrounge a filthy rotation off the waiver wire. I generally ignored starting pitching in the draft, which mostly worked out fine. I streamed Brandon McCarthy almost the entire season, with mostly good results. In one league, I pulled 120 innings, 8 wins, 114 strikeouts, a 3.43 ERA, and 1.25 WHIP without permanently rostering McCarthy until late August. Matt Shoemaker, Jake Arrieta, Carlos Carrasco, and Dallas Keuchel also found their way off the wire onto my roster. Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang performed well early in the season, but I held onto both a long enough for them to undo the good.
I advised many people to jump on J.D. Martinez, Corey Dickerson, and Devin Mesoraco. My team logs are scattered with appearances from those three breakout studs. Unfortunately, I streamed them all one too many times in EVERY league. That’s just a little foreshadowing for future analysis.
Lots of people write about fantasy baseball. Lots of people are good at fantasy baseball. Ideally, you want to take your advice from somebody who has both qualities. Results can often encapsulate one’s ability. It’s worth noting that even the best fantasy owners have unlucky seasons where all of their top picks underperform or hit the disabled list.
This season was the first in which I seriously tackled Daily Fantasy (DFS). I dabbled in past years on a micro scale but never fully committed. This season, I entered over $3,000 of rosters and earned a 42 percent return on my money. Relatively speaking, my success was still on a small scale. The true grinders will enter tens of thousands of dollars in DFS contests. Maybe I’ll have the bankroll to pull that off someday.
I learned that my strategies are best suited to large tournaments (called GPPs). Once you account for the rake, 50/50 and head-to-head matchups need to be won around 65-70 percent of the time to return any kind of noticeable profit. A 60 percent win rate can return a modest profit if you enter a huge quantity of contests. I do better hunting for big scores rather than diddling with the margins.
As for my seven traditional fantasy leagues, I won three* and placed third, fourth, fifth, and 10th. My four industry leagues featured mixed results. I won the FOX Experts League, but fell short in Razzball’s ESPN League (fourth) and Blog Wars (10th). The latter defeat will be the subject of a future post. My fifth place finish came in the ottoneu league FanGraphs Staff Two. I consider it a moral victory since I rebuilt a terrible roster in just one season.
*In a H2H league, I finished the regular season in second but won the playoffs
This was my third season penning The Daily Grind. I was also tapped to make picks for a couple other high profile sites. As a result, this was the first year that I really felt fatigue with the column. There are only so many ways to write up a player pick.
I’ll be returning to strategy topics this offseason. I plan a weekly ottoneu strategy corner to discuss the latest and greatest in the ottoneu offseason. It’s one of the few active offseason leagues, so the attention is more than warranted.
One topic I plan to explore in depth is informational asymmetry. So much of fantasy strategy comes down to information. I plan to tie in some fun behavioral economics titles like Predictably Irrational (just to name drop one of many great books). I’ll also have the usual assortment of player analysis and other strategy topics. In short, expect a busy offseason.
Now, let’s talk about your successes.
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