We had some good-natured fun on twitter yesterday taking shots at CBS Sports’ Chris Towers. He drew the bullseye on his back when he tweeted:
The Ohtani thing brings up a good point I always like to make: Daily lineup leagues are bad.
— Chris Towers (@CTowersCBS) January 17, 2018
The obvious implication: weekly leagues are good. As somebody who writes columns named The Daily Grind, Streaming Wars, and Streaming Away, this left a sour, chalky taste in my mouth. I can actually feel the grit between my teeth, and I’m out of floss.
I generally view weekly formats as the refuge of Neanderthal football fans who need a fantasy fix during the warm weather months but can’t handle actual fantasy baseball. However, now is probably a good time to leave a friendly, politically correct preface to this post. Sporer warned me (actually, he warned twitter person Yancy Eaton) about high horses so I’ll leave mine at the stable.
Now I’m not sure which idiom to use, I got distracted by googling high horses. How about the one with the folks stroking… things … differently. Yeah, let’s use that one. It’s super cool that there are a billion ways to play fantasy baseball. Some of my favorite formats are unusual. No need to shame somebody if their preferences are different from you own. At least not too much.
Usually, when I subject myself to weekly leagues, I spend six days a week throwing a fit about not being able to use platoon hitters. There is one exception when weekly leagues are a solid option – super deep formats like 20-team mixed or AL/NL Only. The deeper the format, the more the league is about building the roster rather than managing the roster. Fantasy baseball is always a balance of both, but the weighting shifts based on the size of the league.
That’s about all I have to say on weekly leagues. You should really play daily formats. You get to use ALL of the players. That’s cool. Even Matt Joyce. Especially Matt Joyce.
Daily leagues definitely have problems. How do you keep 12 or so owners actively invested? Impractically, become a fantasy baseball expert and get invited to elite leagues. We’re try hard as hell. Or, more practically, design leagues that fit the aptitudes of the participants.
A big question is whether to do roto, points, or H2H. Points leagues require the most discipline. Casual fantasy players shouldn’t even consider them. The reason is that they’re essentially one category leagues. Casual owners stop paying attention once they believe they’ve fallen hopelessly behind. That happens fastest in points formats. Nnotably, they usually aren’t actually hopelessly behind, it just feels that way. Perception matters.
Roto leagues have a similar problem, but the 5×5 nature will keep more owners engaged for longer. It also opens more avenues for mistakes and shocking reversals. And when the weaker owners start to ignore their teams in July, it has only a minimal effect on the standings. In this case, daily and weekly leagues suffer from the same problem.
While H2H formats can keep owners engaged via fresh matchups, they tend to have a few rage-inducing flaws. When owners disappear mid-season, it leaves a few lucky teams with very favorable matchups. Weekly results tend to be very random, leaving the playoff format feeling quite a bit like an actual major league postseason. It’s both a feature and a flaw that the best team often does not win the H2H playoffs. Again, these are problems shared in weekly and daily formats, they are just a little more obvious in the daily setting.
The biggest issue with daily league are so-called “fastest fingers” formats, a term I heard used in this context for the first time last night. I’ve always referred to it as “instant waivers.” Less catchy. In these leagues, the owner with the lamest life gets all of the good players by virtue of being first to the waiver wire. They get all the new closers, the promoted prospects, that guy I’m going to hype tomorrow, and the backup to the freshly injured guy.
Great news! Nearly all sites offer Free Agent Acquisition Budgets (FAAB). However, you also have to turn on daily waivers or else the FAAB only applies to players who are cut from other rosters. Most sites will even allow you to set waivers for certain days like every Sunday. I set mine to process daily. This gives everybody a chance to assimilate nearly all information into their waiver strategy. We all get to bid on the new closer, and we can even compete for Nick Tropeano’s spot start.
Once you’ve eliminated the fastest fingers exploit, you’re free to enjoy all the splendors of daily lineup fantasy baseball. You have near endless options as a manager with the ability to stream your way out of a tight spot. Run platoons. Scrounge for long relievers who might earn a win. Every fantasy strategy is at your disposal.
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