Guess what? Your ottoneu arbitration allocations are due today!
For those of you living in a hole or a shoe or wherever it is people have to live to be utterly ignorant of important world events, FanGraphs hosts a unique fantasy platform called ottoneu. It’s a 12-team, semi-dynasty format with a $400 budget. A key part of the experience is this concept of “arbitration” wherein your rivals can make your team more expensive. If you’d like to know more about arbitration and way too many related strategies, we have an ominbus for that.
If you’re the commissioner of a league, I highly recommend reaching out to any owners who haven’t submitted their bids. I would not object to you including a hyperlink to this article in your message. If you’re one of those folks who has yet to submit your allocations, please save your commissioner some grief by doing so now. Your job isn’t important.
Because that’s only 200 words (i.e. not enough for an article), I’d like to conclude our time together with some advanced meta-strategies. I enjoy overthinking silly little things like ottoneu arbitration. Here are a couple areas where I differ from the consensus.
Which teams to max allocate?
The consensus: Most people advise you to allocate the maximum ($3) to rosters with the most surplus value. This makes instant intuitive sense. Although it’s tempting to target the team that won this season, they often had to sell the farm to capture victory. They’re usually weak when it comes to roster surplus.
My approach: I max allocate against the best opponents. There are always owners who get lost in rebuilding mode or have bad habits that lead to consistent failure. The rebuilding teams likely have the most surplus value, but I don’t actually have to do anything to beat them. They’ve already beat themselves.
Meanwhile, the owner who won last season probably benefits from what I call non-roster advantages. They’re better than your average rival at exploiting the waiver wire, identifying values in the auction, or finding favorable trade terms. Or some combination thereof. In other words, they need less surplus value on their roster to be a competitive threat.
Which players to target?
The consensus: There’s a Goldilocks zone. You don’t want to dump money into prospects because the burnout/slow development rate is high. Your allocations won’t compound over multiple seasons because prospects are often cut before they’re meaningful assets. Overpriced stars are likely to be cut too.
My approach: I fully agree with avoiding prospects. It’s tempting to ding a highly touted guy like Ronald Acuna, but there’s a good chance he’ll drain his owner of resources with or without your allocation. I too like to target the Goldilocks zone.
However, sometimes a successful team gets very top heavy. My roster in FG Staff Two is this way – Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Clayton Kershaw cost a combined $229 – over half my budget on just 22.5 percent of my total points. I’m spending $289 on 39 percent of my points if you include Brian Dozier, Charlie Blackmon, and Yu Darvish. That’s just seven of my 40 players.
Blackmon, Dozier, and a few $1-$2 folks are my obvious Goldilocks players. However, I’ve leaned on Trout, Goldy, and Kershaw to supply three straight championships. Bidding up those players makes it even more awkward to build a roster around them. Forcing me to discard a consistent monster like Trout could tip me into post-prime life.
My leagues tend to organize into haves and have nots. If that’s not your experience, then you should stick with the consensus. That said, if you do find yourself battling the same couple owners every year, push them to make some difficult decisions.
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