By now, many fantasy players are familiar with park effects. It’s easier to hit a home run in Colorado than in San Diego. Seattle is tough on right handed hitters, but Texas is great for lefties. Etc.
Even though park effects are widely known and considered, they can still be exploited in many fantasy leagues. For example, I can count on one hand (okay, maybe two) the pitchers I’d be willing to start in Colorado. Meanwhile, I’d probably be willing to start half of the guys available on the waiver wire if they had a two-start week in San Diego and San Francisco.
Know your matchups, and know when to bench players – especially pitchers. Fly ball pitchers are going to have good starts in big ballparks. Even decent pitchers are going to have good starts against the hapless Nationals. Pitchers with control problems won’t necessarily have a problem with the Angels, but will really struggle against the Red Sox (then again, most pitchers will struggle against the Red Sox). The general rule of thumb is that several awful starts are difficult to overcome (especially in head-to-head leagues), so unless you have one of the best pitchers in the game, you want to avoid most matchups against the Yankees and Red Sox (especially in Fenway), as well as games played in Colorado, Chicago (mainly the southsiders), Arizona, Texas, Cincinnati and Philadelphia. Again, use your judgment, but many times the best decision is avoiding a potentially dangerous start.
And if you have the time/desire, you can often exploit matchups as well. Perhaps that last spot on your rotation is best served by rotating between pitchers on the waiver wire, depending on who is starting against whom. Perhaps one pitcher is slightly better than another but has a far worse matchup – bad offenses and certain ballparks can make some pitchers look a lot better than they actually are.
While it is easier to rotate pitchers than hitters, you can exploit hitters’ matchups too. In daily leagues it is sometimes worthwhile picking up a decent hitter if he has a roadtrip that sends him to Colorado and Arizona for six games, for example. Or it might be worth benching or dropping someone who has a road trip against the top two pitching staffs in baseball. Possibilities for exploitation abound.
Yes, most people know about park effects, but not many of them attempt to take full advantage of these effects. If you do take advantage of park effects, you will have a rather significant competitive advantage.