The Pros and Cons of Co-Ownership

Co-ownership. In my 10 years of fantasy experience, it was something I’d never tried before, nor had I given it much thought. It always seemed like a chore, and (given that I tend to have strong opinions) I assumed that if I ever did co-own a team I would end up “running” the squad, while my counterpart would be left to sit on his hands. It just didn’t seem like much fun – for me or my counterpart – or like an experience that would be any different from Ottoneu leagues I had already participated in.

Until recently.

Fellow Rotographs contributor Trey Baughn and myself were paired up in a newly formed Ottoneu league. Neither of us are experts on the topic of co-ownership, but I wanted to talk through several observations we have quickly realized in our month long trial run.

Find a comparable owner

This starts with self-awareness of your own ownership tendencies. Do you tinker obsessively or set lineups weekly? Do you constantly propose trades or let people come to you with offers? Are your player evaluations firmly entrenched or constantly changing? It’s important to know where you are on the spectrum of ownership styles because co-owning with someone who has vastly different tendencies will likely breed a scenario ripe for conflict. Think of it like you would any other relationship: Some people you like spending time with, others are better off in small doses, others you’d rather not see at all.

Trey and I both tend to micromanage, trade a lot, and engage in a lot of dialogue with other owners. Seeing Ottoneu similarly, and having similar tendencies, has made this experience much more positive than it otherwise could have been.

Pros (so far…)

Planning by Necessity

A first year Ottoneu Auction is awesome, but I have done many of them. I feel very comfortable drafting a team from scratch, as does Trey. However, because neither of us have co-owned, it pushed us into planning for the auction more than we otherwise would have. We built a roster sheet (for all 40 roster spots) with our “perfect team” of players and prices we thought they would cost. We also loaded in targets at each position so we were never (at least in the planning phase) locked-in to needing to acquire one specific player.

We developed a fairly structured plan and stuck to it. We were definitely willing to adapt, but having a set idea of how we thought our team would develop allowed us to remain collected during the fast pace a first year auction typically takes.

How Much Do You Really Like a Player?

Miguel Sano, David Peralta, Corey Dickerson, John Jaso… These are just a couple players I know I am high on. Other teams may like them more than me, but I know I am comfortably above the mean. However, because this team is co-owned, I can’t just pick any player I like. We all have our current infatuations after all. Every roster spot was scrutinized. This was very helpful because it forced both of us to justify “our guys” to another person. There are many players I liked who I have now sobered on, just as there are players I am higher on because of this process. If I wanted a guy included in our draft plan, I had to make a case for them. If my case wasn’t good enough, they weren’t going to get selected. Forcing both of us to justify our convictions definitely caused us to part with some players I would have liked to own, but when opinions of a player differ wildly between two owners, it’s much easier to exclude a guy from the plan. (It’s nothing personal David Peralta, but you still have to win Trey over).

The Ottoneu Auction

When co-owning, both owners have complete access to the Ottoneu auction. If roles are not clearly defined this could easily cause conflict. (The last thing you want to happen is to have your counterpart bid $17 on Jordan Zimmermann when you weren’t expecting to own him.) Having a great draft plan definitely helped with this, but roles were essential. For the first night of our auction, Trey specifically ran the draft room and operated all bids, while I populated our watch list and kept track of every drafted player (removing them from our board as they were auctioned). To ease in this process, we set up a conference call during our auction so we could communicate the whole time.

Both of us agreed after the fact that it was easily the smoothest auction we ever had. Trey never had to leave the room to check a list of players, cross anyone off his draft board, or re-adjust his budget. I did all of that as the night progressed and was constantly letting him know how many were left within each particular tier.

The draft went smoothly. We love our team and feel we have a very good chance of competing this season. Now things start to get difficult.

Cons (so far…)

How Much Do You Really Like a Player?

Wait? Didn’t I already mention this? Your strengths are often your weaknesses and I definitely saw that being true in this case. We definitely limited ourselves on some upside plays because we had to convince each other that the impending breakouts we expect in 2016 will actually happen. We still did a very good job of gathering safety and upside, but players like Carlos Carrasco ($35) and David Peralta ($20) went through my clutches because Trey liked the idea of putting that money elsewhere.

In the long run this is probably okay, but when co-owning it’s essential to recognize that there will be players you really like that you will not own.

Roster Moves Are Hard!

We have had numerous trade discussions with several teams, but every trade we make now has to go through another point of review that did not previously exist. It holds things up and is probably the area where we have had the hardest time adjusting. The same goes for nominating free-agent pickups. Agreeing on which catcher you actually want to roster is difficult when we both have different players we like. We expect this will become more fluid as time goes on. It has been a very noticeable adjustment for both of us.

Communication

Trying to have discussion with teams is a work in progress. We don’t want to start new 3-way chats with every team on slack, but are still working through the best way to effectively have discussions with our league-mates. For now, we have settled on giving each other the cliff notes version of trade talks with other teams. We have allowed each other the freedom to discuss trades with teams individually (keeping each other in the loop on daily basis) but this could very easily come back to bite us. If only we had two Alex Gordons to trade away…

I would definitely recommend co-owning to anyone who has never tried it. It has easily been my favorite fantasy experience of 2016 (so far) but the challenge should be taken up with proper planning. Pick a co-owner you can work with and who’s opinion you respect. You should also go into co-owning knowing that it will take more time on standard tasks – draft prep, trades, and free-agent pickups – than your average league. However, if you have the time and the patience, it will likely make you a better fantasy owner than you otherwise would have been, and will provide a fantasy experience unlike anything else you have experienced.

We hoped you liked reading The Pros and Cons of Co-Ownership by Joe Douglas!

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




Joe works at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh. When he isn't working or studying for actuarial exams, he focuses on baseball. He also writes @thepointofpgh. Follow him on twitter @Ottoneutrades

newest oldest most voted
AlexTheGreat
Member
AlexTheGreat

I hate playing against co-owners. Not because they are better but because you can never trust what one of them says.