Unlike many fantasy baseball formats, there really is no offseason in ottoneu. After the season ends there are arbitration allocations to be made, off season trading, and a keeper deadline to occupy the long months between the end of the season and the time auctions occur in the spring. We have posted before on how to get started with ottoneu, but today let’s discuss exactly what you should probably be doing during the ottoneu “offseason”:
1) Find a team! If you already own an ottoneu team (or teams!), go ahead and skip this step. If you don’t, what are you waiting for?!? Now is probably the best time to get your feet wet, and there are many reasons that those of us that play ottoneu love the game. You could join a brand new league by looking here, but you may have to wait another month or two for your initial auction, and you probably want to get started now, right? The best way to do that is to either claim a team that is currently vacant in a public league, or visit the Owners Wanted section of the ottoneu community forums where commissioners post openings in their private leagues. In addition, you can post on the Available Owners page for leagues looking for prospective owners by clicking on Get Listed and filling out your scoring and prize level preferences.
2) Review your roster. Assuming you’ve claimed an existing team (or already have a team), the next step is to take a high level view at your roster. From anywhere on your league homepage click on your team name (at the top to the right of the league name, or from the standings table on the right, for example) which will take you to your Roster Organizer. I’ll get into some more detail on this page a bit later, but for now click on the Roster option in the menu at the top (next to Daily Stats and Roster Organizer). From there you can review which players you currently own, their position eligibility for ’18, and their salaries. You can also see how much total salary you have rostered at the top right under Cap ($x of $400). Are your current salaries well over the $400 salary cap? Are you stronger at some positions than others? Make a note of that for later. This step isn’t about making specific plans, but is really just a high level inventory of what your roster looks like (especially if you’ve inherited a team that is new to you).
3) Analyze your roster. Now that you’ve become familiar with your roster in general terms, it’s time to analyze it in more detail, and to also compare your squad against every other team in your league. It’s a selfish plug, but the best way to do this is to use a tool like the Ottoneu Surplus Calculator. If you haven’t used this before, open the link to the tool in Google Sheets, and click on File/Make a copy to save a local copy that you can edit. All you need to do next is enter your league number (it’s the number shown in the URL for your ottoneu league page), and the tool will automatically load the rosters for every team.
The team totals page will show you how your team stacks up against the rest of the league in projected keeper value/surplus (based on the preloaded dollar values derived from Steamer projections), which is a great way to get a rough idea as to whether your team is a contender or a pretender at this point of the offseason. Next, click on the Team Roster tab and select your team from the dropdown to see your roster sorted by Surplus (or Position/Projected Value) to get an idea of which players project to be the best keepers. Please keep in mind that these are very early dollar values based on one set of projections only, so don’t be surprised when some players show much lower/higher values than you expect. Like the Team Totals tab, you’re really just getting a general sense of which assets on your team are potential keepers.
4) Plan your off season moves. You’ve reviewed and analyzed your roster, and probably looked at the other teams in your league as well. The next step is to make a plan. Who are you going to keep? Who are you going to shop in potential trades to other owners? Are you going to go after a couple high priced stars to cement your position as a contender next year, or are you looking for some high upside talent as part of a rebuild? No matter what direction you decide to go in, the best place to map out your plans is probably on the aforementioned Roster Organizer page (the default landing spot whenever you click on your team name anywhere in your league, as mentioned in step 2). Before I explain what some of the options mean, keep in mind that you’re the only one that can see your roster organizer page, and any designation you assign to a player (like DL/Minors/Cut/Trade) has no effect on your roster, this is merely a planning tool.
I won’t get into all of the specifics of how to use this page as this article is the best reference, but I will briefly review how I use the tool. For me, any player I plan on keeping will either be placed in one of my lineup slots (if I think they will be a starter), bench (for backups), minors (prospects I plan on keeping), or DL (for players I intend to keep but that probably will begin the year on the DL). For players I don’t plan on keeping, I will assign them to trade (players I think will be coveted by other teams) or cut (players I don’t expect to be able to trade and will likely have to cut before the 1/31 keeper deadline). The nice part of the roster organizer is that the Roster totals and Cap totals at the top of the page update as you make changes (players assigned as Trade or Cut won’t be included in your roster or cap totals!), and you can even use the “Click to add a Target” links in the organizer to add a player not currently on your team (maybe you want to budget for acquiring a player at auction, or you want to see what effect a player coming to your team in a pending trade will have on your totals).
5) Take action! At this point of the off season the only action you should be taking is making trades, there’s really no good reason to make any cuts until right before the 1/31 keeper deadline, as you never know when your trash is another owner’s treasure. Once you’ve mapped out which players are expendable on your team, it’s a good idea to update your trade block (click on Trade at the top of your league homepage to be taken directly to the Trade Block page), adding the players you are shopping to the Haves section and any players/positions you’re seeking in the Needs section. This is a great starting point for teams in your league to begin negotiations with you, and it’s always a good idea to keep your trade block up to date. Obviously this page is also where you can review everyone else’s trade blocks to see if there’s a potential fit between you and another owner. Trey Baughn has some great resources on how to talk trade and how to best communicate and understand your trade partner’s goals.
6) Next Steps. We will have future posts with more information on Keeper Deadline and Auction strategies later this winter/spring, so for now just focus on executing trades and updating your player valuations to assemble the best group of keepers you possibly can.
What other steps are part of your ottoneu off season process that I might have neglected to mention?
Justin is a life long Cubs fan who has been playing fantasy baseball for 20+ years, and an ottoneu addict since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @justinvibber.