How I Construct My Ottoneu Rosters

With ottoneu auctions in full swing, and just over two weeks before the season begins, I wanted to take a look at how I plan out my rosters both before/during an auction and heading into the season. I use a mix of the typical ottoneu auction results and the number of players I feel put me in the best position to meet games and innings caps in my “rubric”. Without further ado, here’s my breakdown:

C (1 or 2): Catcher is a unique position in ottoneu, as there are two spots in the starting lineup (except for head to head leagues!) but still just a 162 game cap. That means that this position is one of the easiest to reach the games cap, and there is a lot of flexibility in how you can accrue those games. For me, I either roster a stud (Sanchez/Posey/Contreras) and no backup, or I go cheap and grab two catchers I can platoon (like Iannetta/Avila). I never roster more than two catchers, and if I leave the auction with only one it’s no big deal.

1B (2): This is a position where I’m pretty rigid in the number of players I want to own. First, most of the time you’re going to want to start two first basemen (one at 1B, one at Util), as even a mediocre first base only player should be better than your other options at Util. Second, there are often decent freely available 1B to be had for $1 or via free agency after the auction, so I rarely want to own three when I can find a better use for that roster spot.

2B (3 or 4): Given the need to fill a MI spot in your lineup, my ideal setup is to have two second basemen penciled in as starters. That leaves me in a position where I want at least one bench 2B to cover MI if either starter gets hurt, and I will occasionally own four 2B if I only have two SS. No matter what the bare minimum I want to have between 2B/SS is five players, with six being ideal both to backup each of my three starters to reach the games cap AND due to there being so many MI owned in a typical league (65+). I want my middle infield to be a strength, if not in quality, at least in quantity.

SS (2 or 3): In general shortstops are paid a hefty premium in the ottoneu points formats, so I tend to own only two (a starter at SS, and a backup). Ideally I will own three SS and three 2B, but my more frequent breakdown is two SS and either three or four 2B.

3B (2): Third base is unique in that on average teams own fewer than two 3B-only players, so I like to own one clear starter and either a backup 3B-only, or a player with OF/3B eligibility (like Bryant/Gallo/Castellanos) that I can slide over to 3B if my primary starter is injured.

OF (8 or 9): Given injuries and off days, it can be extremely difficult to reach the 810 games cap at outfield, so my goal with any ottoneu roster is to own at least eight OF but preferably nine. Like catcher, this is another great position to platoon, but doing so takes up valuable roster spots and restricts your flexibility. Depending on the strength of my OF (and 1B situation) I will sometimes play an OF at Util, but that’s limited to days when I have more than five in their MLB lineups. The most important thing is to make sure you don’t fall behind on your OF games, as they can be difficult to make up.

Total Hitters (20 or 21): Using the positional ranges above, I typically try to own 20 or 21 hitters (currently in MLB). If I have a few multi-position guys I might carry one fewer, and if I start the year with a couple injury question marks I might carry one more.

SP (8 or 9): Unlike with hitters, the IP caps are a fair bit easier to reach, so I don’t necessarily begin the year with as many starting pitchers as I think I’ll need to meet my innings. I still want to own at least eight SP though, especially given how low the replacement level has dropped with the recent offensive explosion. I tend not to spend too heavily on starting pitchers, but I think that burned me quite a bit last year, so I’m more open to owning an ace or two and then hoarding as many high upside/mid tier arms as I can.

RP (5 to 7): There are a few conflicting factors at play here with relievers with regards to how many I like to carry into the season. First, in a typical ottoneu auction only 57 RP are won for $2+, which is less than the 60 RP that are needed to fill out lineups. This means that many RP that project to be contributors can be had for just $1, so it’s hard to justify winning more than five or six at auction. Second, relievers (and their roles) are highly volatile, so it is one of the easiest positions to find pop up values/breakouts via free agency during the season. While the first two factors limit how many roster spots and dollars I want to invest in the position, the third factor is that maximizing RP innings as much as possible within your 1,500 IP cap is very efficient, as even a replacement level RP scores 6+ points per inning (compared to under 4 points for a mediocre SP). That means that carrying too few RP can cause you to miss out on optimizing your pitching performance. All in all, I try to own six RP after auction, with some wiggle room.

Total Pitchers (14 to 16): With those hitter and pitcher ranges, we are left with a minimum of three open roster spots and a maximum of six. What do I typically do with the extras? See below!

Prospects (2 to 6): The number of prospects I own is contingent on how competitive I expect to be, how balanced my roster is, and how likely I am to convert prospects into short term assets via trade. I like to own at least two minor league prospects, at a minimum, because otherwise you may find yourself in a position where you don’t have enough assets that rebuilding teams covet to make win now trades. Conversely, even in a deep rebuild I try to limit myself to no more than six minor leagues, both to comply with minimum roster rules (you must have enough MLB players to fill out your lineup!) and to ensure that I’m not over-indexed for the long term. Prospects are fun to own, and are fountains of hopes and dreams, but they are best used as either trade assets (hyped prospects and minor leaguers that have far off ETAs) or as in season reinforcements (in the case of prospects about to debut).

Open Roster Spots (0 to 2): I think it’s perfectly reasonable to leave the auction without any empty roster spots, but I also think having one or two open spots (and the corresponding free cap space) gives you the flexibility to pounce on the early waiver wire commodities.

With 40 roster spots (not counting players on the 60 day DL) ottoneu offers many different avenues to approach roster construction, and these are just my rules of thumb. Do you take a different angle? Let me know in the comments!

Justin is a life long Cubs fan who has been playing fantasy baseball for 20+ years, and an ottoneu addict since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @justinvibber.

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Nelson S.
6 years ago

1. I always draft/keep only 1 catcher. You can use the roster spot elsewhere and make up the games missed by picking up one that emerges from nowhere in July
2. In 5×5 I think you need to carry 7-8 relievers since you should gamble on a few next-in-line closers