Archive for Ottoneu

Ottonewbs: Advice For Those New To Ottoneu

I like to refer to ottoneu as dynasty-lite. If you’re looking to make the transition from 12-team keeper leagues to deep dynasty, ottoneu is an excellent intermediary step. Or, if you want dynasty-like features without the need to keep tabs on every 17-year-old with a flash of talent, ottoneu is the format for you.

Today, I’ll offer some advice to ottonewbs* (not to be confused with ottonoobs**) to help with adjusting to the platform. I will assume you have some keeper and auction league experience. If anything is unclear, there are multiple ways for you to reach out to me with clarifying questions – i.e. the comments, twitter, and weekly chats. Additionally, I don’t plan to discuss the various scoring settings. Since arbitration is already completed, we’ll skip that too.

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2020 Top 101 Prospects for OPS Leagues (Early)

Prospect season is around the corner, and while various rankings, reports, and even trades will continue to influence the ebb and flow of prospect opinions, it’s helpful to lay the groundwork for establishing this year’s fantasy prospect values as early as possible.  The list below represents a very early look at the top 101 prospects in the game for fantasy leagues tailored specifically towards sabermetric scoring (where OPS, FIP, and wOBA are better indicators than AVG, ERA, and SB). For example, this list could be a resource for evaluating the value of prospects in Ottoneu points leagues (a separate post will follow ranking the top 101 prospects for traditional rotisserie leagues).

Years ago I introduced the Scorecard system, my custom prospect ranking process, and I’ve continued to use this method for scoring and ranking this crop of 2020 prospects.  In ranking these prospects I take into account the following factors:


“Scouting” is everything that goes into evaluating the true talent of an MLB prospect.  Age, ability, stats, rankings, “makeup”, and scouting reports all play a role here.  It’s the input of information that causes you to ask about the player’s ceiling, their floor, and what might be realistic in between.  What are the risks, and how serious are they? Is this prospect regarded more for their defensive talents than offensive? What MLB players might they compare to? What is their future value expectation and how likely are they to reach it?

Royce Lewis scouts like a dream player (and #1 draft selection), but scouting alone hasn’t yet materialized into an elite on-field player, so there are other elements to consider when ranking him among the other top prospects in the game in this context.


“Scoring” is honestly assessing whether the prospect’s skills and talents effectively translate to the specific scoring format of your fantasy league.  It seems obvious, but I continually see fantasy owners fail to make this connection in the way they draft and value their prospects each season.  While Drew Waters might be an exciting buy in a 5 x 5 auction, his value needs to be reassessed in the context of OPS leagues, for example.  In order to be more successful in building our dynasty rosters, we need to always project value within the context of our specific league, which is what this rating is designed to consider.

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2019 Ottoneu Arbitration Results – Top 25 Players

Brad recently posted his Ottoneu Arbitration Omnibus which will tell you everything you need to know about one of the highlights of the Ottoneu off season.  In summary, arbitration in Ottoneu refers to the competitive process all leagues go through to bring individual player salaries back into balance.  In other words, it’s the economic counter weight to full scale dynasty that makes Ottoneu so unique compared to other fantasy platforms.

Most leagues choose the arbitration “allocation” process, which allows each owner in the league to assign a small salary increase to the players they believe are most valuable to their opponents’ rosters.  This rule specifically states:

In the interest of maintaining competitive balance, there are two distinct arbitration options.

a. The allocation system gives a $25 budget to each team in the league.

b. The team must allocate this budget towards players on other teams.

c. Each team must allocate at least one dollar to every other team, and no team can allocate more than $3 to any other team.

d. At the end of the allocation period, all players have their salary increased by the amount allocated towards them.

e. Allocations take place after the initial offseason salary increase, so any allocations will be in addition to the $1 or $2 increase each player gets at the end of the season.

f. If a team does not allocate at least one dollar to every other team, none of their allocations will count and it will be as if they did not participate at all.

g. If a team does not allocate all $25, none of their allocations will count and it will be as if they did not participate at all.

Which players receive the most allocation dollars in arbitration? In general, it’s the best players from the previous season, and usually the players that have jumped in significant value from a previously low market price (salary).

With 2019 arbitration complete, here’s a quick look at the top 25 players to receive arbitration increases across several Ottoneu formats:

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Ottoneu Top 20 Third Basemen for 2020

Using a format similar to the one Paul Sporer recently posted for 2020 Roto player rankings, below is the 2020 ranking of the Top 20 Third Basemen for Ottoneu fantasy baseball.  Ottoneu leagues are auction style, but with no salaries listed (league dependent), think of these lists as simplified “snake draft” rankings (“which player would I take before the next”), or a value ranking of players above replacement level for 2020. Players with multi-position eligibility may receive a slight bump in value (2020 positions listed).  You can reference average Ottoneu player salaries here, but keep in mind these salaries fluctuate throughout the winter as rosters shape up towards the January 31st keeper deadline for all leagues.

Previous 2020 Ottoneu rankings:

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2019 Performance Review: The Fails

Physicists agree momentum exists, but it’s unclear if it applies to fantasy writing. In any case, you find yourself standing in the midst of a series. Today, I’ll be talking about failure. Specifically, my failures. If you missed it, I already checked in on my two lonely victories and a trio of acceptable performances. I also revisited my successful DFS season earlier in October.

I will not be touching upon Tout Wars Draft and Hold (I’m semi-required to dedicate an entire article), Top Tout Beta (another league in need of a full post) or TGFBI (a pair of co-managers did at least 90 percent of the work). That leaves us with four distinct leagues to discuss.

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2019 Performance Review: The Not-Losses

Let’s continue right along with my personal performance review. Today we’ll look at my rosters which fell short of winning the champions jock strap (get it? it’s a cup!) without qualifying as entirely negative. If you missed it, I reviewed my two lonely victories yesterday. I also checked in on my successful DFS season earlier in October.

This year, three of my teams fit the “not-loss” criteria. The formats and circumstances were very different so let’s just dig right in…

Old School Head-to-Head

This is a 12-team H2H Yahoo league with my old college teammates. It’s 6×6 scoring using OPS and K/BB as the added categories. I typically spend most of my budget – upwards of 80 percent – on pitchers since it’s easy to dominate the pitching categories every week while scraping together a few points on offense. The K/BB category in particular rewards ace-heavy clubs. This year, I was not available for the draft. My surrogate mostly executed my plan and even nabbed a not-yet-trendy Matt Boyd for me which I later traded for Jose Altuve and Freddie Freeman (it’s a keeper format, Boyd was $7-to-keep, the others were expensive).

Ultimately, my pitching didn’t live up to my usual standards. Luis Severino never showed up while Justin Verlander, Stephen Strasburg, Carlos Carrasco, and Boyd simply weren’t enough ace-power to pull off my vision. The roster finished a comfortable third place during the regular season (money back). Unfortunately, losing Adalberto Mondesi and Byron Buxton ruined my path to easy stolen base dominance when the games mattered most. The offense turned out to be the strength of this club although they didn’t show up to a first-week playoff loss.

Fantasy baseball is nine-tenths effort. While that’s a completely fabricated hyperbole, I’m sure we all agree about the importance of trying. While I consistently set my daily lineups with active players, I made almost no attempt to improve my team via waivers or trade. My 33 moves and two trades represent career lows in this long-running league. Since I finished only four points behind second place, I have to imagine a more active approach would have rewarded me with a better result. Or maybe I would have made dumb cuts. I’m not immune to mistakes. In any case, the broad strokes were fine, but the devil is in the details. And I ignored them.

Lack of effort/attention is a running theme throughout my failures this year. It stems from simply managing too many leagues. In addition to the 10 teams which were solely mine, I was an active adviser for another 10+ rosters. That’s in addition to DFS. I’ll need to trim back on both numbers next year.

Staff League Déjà Vu

FanGraphs Staff is a Head-to-Head FGpts ottoneu league (not to be confused with FanGraphs Staff Two, a standard FGpts league which I won). For a second straight season, I waltzed to the best regular season record. In my opinion, winning the regular season is the same as winning the league. The playoffs are just there to give the losers a reason to stick around.

In 2018, Nick Pollack narrowly edged past me in the final. This time, I flamed out in the semi-finals versus a club co-managed by, uh, “The Embassy” and David Gagnon. Can’t say I’ve met either of them.

In any case, I strongly recommend that you don’t lose Mike Trout (and Fernando Tatis) when it matters most. Especially if your backup outfielders are David Fletcher and Josh VanMeter. That’s not the only reason I lost my playoff matchup – my pitching matchups simply weren’t staggered in an optimal way. Still, I only fell short of a second finals trip by 25 points. And at the rate Trout was launching dingers, I’m pretty comfortable saying he would have made things a LOT closer.

Admittedly, I squeezed my roster for every spare point. Effort was not the issue here. I simply failed to overcome a small taste of adversity.

Dynastic Mediocrity

When Chad Young asked me to join him in The Devil’s Rejects, a 20-team, weekly, 5×5-OBP industry dynasty league, I walked in on a half-finished roster. Basically, it was Charlie Blackmon, J.D. Martinez, a very young Nomar Mazara, and scraps. Since then, we’ve finished sixth, fifth, third, third, and fourth. The top five spots pay. Chad’s since walked away. Walter McMichael is currently serving in an advisory role.

This team deserves an article of it’s own of the merits of retooling over rebuilding. For the second time in three seasons, I opted to re-tool at the trade deadline after falling out of the race for a paid spot. And for the second time, my new acquisitions helped pave the way to a small payday. Part of my decision to sell my bulk of older stars like Jose Altuve, Blackmon, Anthony Rizzo, Martinez, Pat Corbin, James Paxton, Sean Doolittle, DJ LeMahieu, and Yuli Gurriel was driven by circumstance. There were five teams in an obvious position to push for first place. All but one had lovely long term building block talents. Meanwhile, precisely zero teams were selling the kind of talent I had available.

In this particular dynasty league, players like Gurriel and LeMahieu are generally disdained as low-value assets (never mind their excellent performance). Owners prefer the next big thing like future first round pick Robert Hassell. Pitchers can also see their asset value spontaneously implode without warning. Thus, this represented an obvious opportunity to escape aging talent while extracting the most possible. The alternative option was to ride them all into the ground. In retrospect, I probably would have finished third if I had done so.

In the end, I traded one spot back in the standings and a bunch of truly excellent players for Bryce Harper, Joey Gallo, Cavan Biggio, Giancarlo Stanton, Trey Mancini, VanMeter, Josh Rojas, Christin Stewart, Nick Solak, and Jonathan Ornelas. It’s a top heavy group and a stark bet on a return to a saner sort of baseball. The pitching side of the roster is, admittedly, a disaster.

I’ve been beating this drum for a long time. So long as you’re not overly concerned about outright winning your deep dynasty league, you can make a lot of money by just fielding a full roster every week.

2019 Performance Review: The Wins

This week, I’ll review the performance of my core teams – in part to pluck lessons learned from the desiccated ruins of those rosters. The other purpose of this annual series is to prove my qualification as an advice giver vis-à-vis this fantasy baseball thing.

This year, I won two leagues – a simulation league using Diamond Mind Baseball set in 2008 and the an ottoneu league titled FanGraphs Staff Two. This marks my first victory in the sim league. I’m a four-time winner in Staff Two.

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Ottoneu Arbitration Omnibus VI

Ottoneu arbitration began on October 15 and runs through November 15. This omnibus is a one stop shop for all the strategy and tactics you need to get through the process. The following omnibus is a recreation of the one I published the last four years. We’ve mostly said everything there is to say over the course of more than 10,000 words. But first, some background.

Ottoneu is the award-eligible fantasy platform hosted by FanGraphs. Think of it as dynasty-lite. You get a 40-man roster, a $400 payroll, and way too much freedom to manage your team your way. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the platform is named after former St. Louis Browns player Otto Neu who compiled a whopping zero plate appearances over his “career.”

Over the offseason, the price of every major league player increases by $2. Minor leaguers increase by $1. Then there is an arbitration process that can be done one of two ways. Most leagues use the allocation process which ultimately adds an additional $11 to $33 per team. This omnibus is intended for both forms of arbitration, but the allocation process does open more possibilities for strategery and thus has more words dedicated to it.

As I mentioned, there are two systems of arbitration: voting and allocation. An asterisk indicates that the article is intending for voting leagues. I’ve organized the omnibus into sections: intro, intermediate, and advanced. Read the rest of this entry »

2019 Ottoneu Arbitration Targets

Ottoneu arbitration begins today, and it is one of the highlights of the fantasy season.  Much has been written about the various arbitration (usually via allocation) strategies available to owners over the past few winters, but if you’re entering your very first Ottoneu off season, or just researching how the game works before joining a new league, here is the official breakdown of how arbitration works:

In the interest of maintaining competitive balance, there are two distinct arbitration options:


The allocation system gives a $25 budget to each team in the league.

The team must allocate this budget towards players on other teams.

Each team must allocate at least one dollar to every other team, and no team can allocate more than $3 to any other team.

At the end of the allocation period, all players have their salary increased by the amount allocated towards them.

Allocations take place after the initial offseason salary increase, so any allocations will be in addition to the $1 or $2 increase each player gets at the end of the season.

If a team does not allocate at least one dollar to every other team, none of their allocations will count and it will be as if they did not participate at all.

If a team does not allocate all $25, none of their allocations will count and it will be as if they did not participate at all.

Vote Off

The vote-off system gives each team in the league the ability to vote on a player on each other team.

The player that receives the most votes collectively on each team is turned into a restricted free agent that can be bid on by other teams during the auction draft.

In the case of a tie, the standings of all the relevant voting teams is examined. Whichever player has the team with the worst standings voting for them is the restricted free agent.

The team they were voted off from will get an automatic $5 discount towards that player, so if they get the player back, they will get the player for $5 under what they bid.

Players who have been voted into restricted free agency cannot be traded.

Players who have been voted into restricted free agency will not appear as free agents on the site.

The majority of Ottoneu leagues now use the Allocation system referenced above since it is the most engaging and usually the most disruptive.

As arbitration kicks off, I’ve provided links to a few strategic arbitration resources below.  However, taking it one step further this year, I’m releasing a list of players I expect will receive the most arbitration allocations across Ottoneu leagues.  Since player salaries are league-dependent, I’ve used average current salaries across all FGPTS leagues to estimate the attractiveness of these players and their likelihood to be hit with allocations from your league owners.  As a practical application of the list, you could say I see a $31 Anthony Rendon as more valuable than an $8 Marcus Semien, for example.  In this case, I think you should apply more of your allocations to Rendon instead of Semien.

If you own these players for salaries below the average salary listed, for example, expect their chances of receiving allocations to increase, moving them up the list compared to others.  Roto values (particulary 5 x 5) would be reflected differently, and I would recommend posting those specific questions to the community here.

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How To Win Ottoneu: An Interview with Josh Jessar

There’s somewhat of a tradition to interview the annual winner of the Ottoneu Champions league.  This year I have the honor of picking the brain of the first ever repeat winner, Josh Jessar, who also happens to be the first back to back champion of the league.  You can see a full breakdown of his winning roster here.

Q: How long have you been playing fantasy baseball? Ottoneu?

I’ve been playing fantasy sports since the late 80’s, starting with football teams based on Christian Okoye and Barry Word.  I became the only east coast Chiefs fan I knew. Baseball followed shortly after. My collection of friends have played on and off ever since across a variety of platforms.  I started playing Ottoneu in 2013. Longtime readers of your work may remember an interview with previous Champs winner Keith Smith…I recruited him to join the Ottoneu movement.  It was a natural extension of our after school sessions from back in the day.

Q: How did you stumble upon Ottoneu?

Another longtime friend from back in those early leagues brought me to it.  We’d actually kicked around the idea of starting our own fantasy site complete with termed-contract players in the early 2000s.  When he told me of this great site he’d discovered with a lot of the same concepts, we decided to try it out and were both hooked immediately.  He’s a great player who was in Champs B for a while, but after his fourth kid arrived he went into retirement. I’m hopeful he’ll one day make a triumphant return.

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