I trade a lot. Like Justin, I am also a trade-aholic. So once the Ottoneu trade deadline has ended my feelings are mixed. There is slight disappointment; I will readily admit that fantasy baseball is a little less fun (for me at least) if I don’t have the ability to make trades. I also feel relieved. After sending out offers constantly since our March draft, I would be lying if I said exhaustion didn’t catch up with me. Not feeling compelled to check trades is a nice change. Baseball is still here after all. I am happy. Leading up to the Ottoneu trade deadline (August 31) I tried to cover how you should prepare for next year (if selling) or how you could stock up for the stretch run if buying. Today, I want to take some time to talk about how you can use September to bolster your chances of clinching the championship, or of improving your odds for 2017.
The first thing to do, regardless of situation within your league is to keep track of September call-ups. September accounts for a lot of roster turnover due to roster expansion. Many players have already been called up. Blake did a great job covering this in today’s Roto Riteup. Check out his chart of recent callups, as it’s a great summary of players who should be more fantasy relevant the rest of the way. Since there is a lot of roster turnover in September, one of the most proactive things you can do is target some of these players and watch for end of year surges. This list is a good starting point, but I would add to it for other pop-up players you notice as the month goes on. It doesn’t have to be the promotion of a super prospect like Yoan Moncada, it could be a mid-level guy like Jacoby Jones, or hopping on the Byron Buxton carousel . Maybe it’s Yasiel Puig making his way back to the Dodgers, or A.J. Pollock returning form injury. There’s even a little known OF in Colorado getting some playing time at 1B. You get the idea. Things happen in September. You should keep track of these things. You may strike gold and acquire a nice asset for next year. Or you may be left with fodder. I would pick 2-5 guys you really want to keep an eye on (depending how invested you are in 2016) and be prepared to bid or auction them. Don’t target everyone. Just find a few guys you like.
While striking gold on any September call-up is nice, you probably want a little more specific advice if you are trying to clinch your league championship. Maybe it’s just my impression, but this year it appears that many teams are short on innings. With Ottoneu’s 1500IP cap, I always try to pace at about 1550IP for the year. This is because Ottoneu uses a soft cap. If you can pace for about 1550IP, you will have an extra week or so to stack your lineup full of SP on one final day so that you can blow past your inning pitched caps. If you’re already doing this, great. If not, pick a schedule of teams with bad offenses and target up a couple SP who should have matchups there over the final month. Here’s a free one: My favorite 2016 spot for this is the NL east. The Braves rest of season play 2 series against the Phillies, Mets, Nationals, and Marlins. The Phillies play 2 series against Braves, Mets, and Marlins. If I am short on innings, stacks of those NL east teams is were I’m looking, as I can probably get 2-4 good matchups out of the final month with those series against the Braves and Phillies. Maybe this doesn’t make Seth Lugo, A.J. Cole, Robert Gsellman, or John Gant top-30 SPs ROS, but opportunity is everything, and it looks like both of these pitchers will have some favorable matchups rest of season – even if I don’t think they make fantastic keepers. In addition to innings, this is the time to make sure you are filling your game caps as best you can. If you are pacing around 790 OF games, you likely won’t make it to the 810 limit. However, each extra game counts and you want to leave as few of the these on the table as possible. While this is very common advice, nearly every league I play in will have competitive teams fail to make there game caps.
Another area I really try to pay attention to in September is the Arizona fall league. Eric put together a nice primer on 2016 AFL prospects that is very helpful in considering the names to keep an eye on. Every year, prospects gain or lose helium because of the fall league, and picking up a guy who excels can provide a valuable trade chip once prospect lists are released this winter. Even if you have no interest in keeping Alex Verdugo or Luiz Gohara, they could be the type of assets teams will shed salary for come December. Plug a couple of these guys into your roster organizer and see what your offseason plan looks like.
Lastly, you should keep a keen eye on the waivers in your Ottoneu league. Most leagues will have some high dollar players who are cut due to unkeepable salaries. While I can no longer trade. This is another way to acquire some talent more likely to make an impact in 2016. You’re league likely has some high cap penalty assets on the free-agent wire and I would strongly consider if any of them should be re-auctioned – Justin Upton, Gerrit Cole, Yasiel Puig are some recent examples. What about you? How do you approach September? Maybe you’re suffering form post-trade depression due to deals you made (or didn’t make) but don’t lose sight of the final month of the season. September is here and much will change. We should keep an eye on most of it.
Joe works at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh. When he isn't working or studying for actuarial exams, he focuses on baseball. He also writes @thepointofpgh. Follow him on twitter @Ottoneutrades