How I Grew … Changed … Evolved This Season

I’m as competitive as hell. I hate not winning. Simply…

So is almost everyone else. While many people search for an edge, they aren’t looking into harmful habits that erode that edge. All the gains an owner could get from researching the best players can be lost if he constantly overspends rostering them. Many times what a person considers to be an edge can actually be a hindrance. Here are several ideas that help me back and now that I’ve changed my stance

Draft backward

I was like everyone else focusing on my first-round draft and building the time from there. A few fantasy analysts have mentioned that their draft prep starts at the end and works forward.  The approach didn’t really sink in until I read Vlad Sedler’s interview with high-stakes winner, KC Cha.

One thing I like to do is drafting backward. For example – there are two shortstops that I like late, I can easily fade lukewarm shortstops earlier on.

I decided to embrace the approach, probably too much according to my drafting partners (huge edge), and I will never go back. After I had worked through just a couple 12 and 15-team drafts, I knew who I needed in the early rounds because their skills weren’t available later on. For example, I could wait on outfielders who didn’t provide stolen bases. Same with shortstop. While the draft position mattered on my early player pool, I found that I could use the same targets from round six to 30. I just needed to figure out how to fill the team’s needs in those first six rounds.

Here are my outlines from my last few drafts.



While I didn’t draft with a list of just 20% of the player pool like Cha, I should have since I ended up adding the same players in each draft.

Note: I don’t believe in a diverse roster besides starting pitchers in the first six rounds. I’ve worked all offseason to find values and I believe in rostering as many of them as possible

Never pay the going rate for well … anyone

Like I previously stated I hate losing. Also, I know that streaming the bottom half of a roster is vital to winning. For those two reasons, I consistently overspend early in the season on match up plays and struggle later on to add reinforcements.

Fred Zinkie introduced to a method of FAAB bidding where the goal is to win about 40% of the bids. The goal is to only add players at a discount. The approach doesn’t mean that difference-makers need to be ignored, it more focuses on periphery players like two-start pitchers. While it’s ideal to try to win every week, a normal season is 26 weeks and two-start guys can be added at any time.

The same approach can be applied to auctions. While I refuse to overpay with my lesser stars-and-scrubs approach, I’m fine in rostering a player at-cost. Instead, I should try to get more discounts to help cover up incorrect evaluations. I know I’ll get some surplus production in the dollar days, but I can try to extend my budget with my top bids.

Find an edge and exploit the hell out of it

I never actively looked for ways to turn a profit playing fantasy baseball. Instead, I followed the crowd and believed I could play better than everyone. That’s what everyone else was thinking and it hard to get ahead. At the top levels, being average can feel like an achievement.

To begin, I’m not saying a word on the specific edge I’ve found, but it’s allowed me to expand my bankroll by multiple times over the past year. I know the edge might disappear any day, so I’m now looking for new ones. If a person is looking to actually make some cash, probe around outside of your comfort zone to find an advantage. Not everyone is looking to make money or take on new challenges playing this game. That’s what their real work is for. For everyone else, I believe it’s possible to do both.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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3 years ago

Well, when your current edge is no longer a thing, it would be interesting to get the post mortem. What was it? How did you find it? The process…