Kicking Rocks: Fantasy Darwinism

They’re baaaaaaaaaack!

Remember the jumpers? That’s right, just three games into the regular season and they have returned. You know who I’m talking about. They’re the ones in your league who just can’t seem to control themselves. They’re the ones with the itchy trigger fingers when it comes to the waiver wire. They’re the ones who have to make a trade right now. They’re the ones who blow through the majority of their FAAB budget before the end of April. And you know what…? They’re the ones who trash their fantasy season before it even really starts.

Justin Smoak is batting .462 with two home runs and seven RBI? He was such a highly-touted guy when he was a rookie. I knew he’d come around. Matt Adams may not even play every day, so I can just drop him for Smoak, right?

I have three closers on my roster but Jose Valverde is taking over the job for the Mets. How much should I spend out of a $100 budget for the year? $20? $30? I dunno. I really don’t want anyone else in my league to get him so I’ll put $36 on him. That should lock him up.

Or how about the guy who, on the day after the draft, announces to the league that he is putting Justin Upton on the trading block and will deal him for the best offer? Then less than three hours later you get an email notification that he has already made a deal. What happened to comparison shopping? Are you so crazed and impatient that you couldn’t possibly wait for more than one offer to come your way? Maybe see if there might have been something better on the horizon?

You know who they are. Every league has them.

Now normally, I like to use these pieces as a way to educate the fantasy-challenged. That was actually the original premise when I first started this series. It was a look from the “everyman” perspective and a way for you, the readers to see just how silly some of the behavior actually is. But now I’ve seen the light and have realized that you simply can’t make someone realize their own stupidity. They’re that dumb. I’ve used the example before and it’s very apropos here. People with seriously rank body odor have no idea how bad they smell because they can’t smell themselves. Well, fantasy jumpers will always be around because they just don’t realize that they’re doing it wrong. South to drop off, moron!

So with that, I turn to you, the savvy GM; the competitive and wise fantasy player who knows what it takes to win a championship in your fantasy leagues. Treat the jumpers like chum in the water. Be the shark. Feed on their stupidity. Take full advantage. They say a fool and his money will soon part? Well a jumper and his fantasy studs will too. Rip them to shreds. Devour them. Win your league at their expense. If the rest of the owners don’t like it, then either they can join the feeding frenzy or find more competent owners to bring into the league. It’s called ‘Fantasy Darwinism.”

While every league loves to have their annual donators, let’s face it, the competitiveness of the league dwindles the more there are of them. Your league becomes less about knowledge and skill and more about which shark feeds off the fat seal the most. You’ll see a division form within the league where you have six great owners at the top fighting for a championship every year and six dumbfounded idiots who just can’t seem to get a hold of this darn game. Well, why not just play in a six-team league then? That’s basically what you’re doing.

Get rid of these buffoons. Give them the heave ho. Don’t kick them out for being bad owners, but simply make them want to quit. Or better yet…make them want to be better players. Make them want to learn how to do to you or to some other bottom-feeder what you’ve been doing to them for years. Those who get it will stay in and work harder. Those who don’t will simply quit. Survival of the fittest. Fantasy Darwinism. Just don’t bring in another jumper. Your league will never find competitive balance that way.

So now that I have you all fired up here and ready to gnash your teeth on the fantasy flesh of your moronic rivals, allow me to bring down the room here for a moment.

Writing for FanGraphs has been a privilege that I have enjoyed for nearly four years, but all good things must come to an end. With the permission of my esteemed editor, Eno Sarris, I would like to take a moment to say goodbye to all of you dedicated and loyal readers. I have accepted a managing editor job with another company in the fantasy sports business and will be writing exclusively for them from now on. This has been an absolute pleasure. To those who have supported me, I thank you for all the encouragement. For those who enjoyed trolling my posts, I thank you for making my skin that much thicker. This has been an amazingly fun ride.

You can still find me on Twitter (@rotobuzzguy) and from there, you’ll be able to find my work which will continue. Yes, even my Kicking Rocks series will live on.

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do, I saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Bender out.

We hoped you liked reading Kicking Rocks: Fantasy Darwinism by Howard Bender!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs

Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

newest oldest most voted

Well, that was an iffy farewell. What if the Justin Upton owner knows he has too many OF and wants to get a good IF return on a trade? What if, after a draft, an owner realizes he didn’t get himself enough high-end speed? Or what if he just thinks tinkering with his team is part of the fun of fantasy? Yes, of course you’re right on Smoak/Adams, but early moves are sometimes critical moves. Chill.