You might know me as the streaming guy. I certainly endeavor to be known as the streaming guy. And so, it might come as something of a surprise to find me writing a post against streaming. First, let’s back up a step.
What is streaming? In short, it’s the practice of using the waiver wire to extend the size of your bench. Instead of sitting on Fernando Tatis with the last roster spot, we can stream to use Brad Keller versus the Tigers, Shin-Soo Choo leading off versus Mike Leake, and Craig Stammen after Kirby Yates pitched back-to-back days. Make enough of these marginal upgrades over the course of a season, and you should be sitting pretty. It’s also a great way to find a Max Muncy before your rivals – assuming you know to not immediately cut him.
Clearly, this is a strategy for an active owner. Many fantasy players prefer to take a chiller approach to roster management. Scrounging can be tedious. Some would rather draft a team and make only a few changes. To these owners, streaming is the devil – it confers an advantage to their rivals that can only be matched by a larger investment of time.
This post is for these owners. Today, we’re going to discuss how to design good non-streaming leagues.
Obviously, there’s no one-size-fits-all to fantasy baseball. Duh. You can build a league however you’d like. What I’ll present is some helpful advice for 12-team formats. It allows tinkering with rosters without enabling full blown daily shenanigans.
To me, the goal isn’t to completely eliminate streaming, it’s to reduce the value of the strategy such that an owner who doesn’t stream is on equal footing. Streaming is overpowered in default formats. We’re looking to do a little game balancing.
Whether you use shallow active rosters (1C, 3OF, 1 UT, no MI or CI), deep (2C, MI, CI, 5 OF), or some variation thereof, the very first thing I recommend is setting a large bench. Streaming, as I noted in the outset, is a method to take pressure off the bench. By having a lot of players in reserve you accomplish two things. It’s easier to build rosters with redundancies, obviating the need for streaming. The quality of waiver wire players is also lowered, making streaming less effective.
We can also limit streaming directly by setting a moves cap. Rather than a seasonal limit, I recommend a weekly limit. I find five moves is a sweet spot. This allows owners to address injury issues and also tinker with the odd hitter visiting Coors Field or starter with a favorable matchup. Owners who use these spots to stream must be judicious. Make too many early-in-the-week moves, and they could be left without the means to replace an injured player.
Most platforms allow a rolling FAAB. In other words, players can only be added via FAAB. Usually $0 bids are allowed. Rolling FAAB is a good trick for devaluing the rush to the wire when news of an injury or role change (think closers) breaks. There are always some owners who react to news within a minute.
While streaming is still possible with a rolling FAAB, one of two things will happen. If the streaming owner bids on their targets to ensure wins, they’ll eventually run out of money and/or won’t have enough to bid when bigger opportunities arise. If they stick with $0 bids, then anybody can swoop in to steal players. Since they’re constantly making moves, they’ll perpetually have a bad waiver ranking (usually used as a tie breaker).
The easiest way to nerf streaming without making any crazy changes to a league is to implement all three of these adjustments together. With deep benches, weekly moves limits, and rolling FAAB, it becomes harder to scrape value by streaming. Instead, patiently identifying talent becomes the dominant strategy.
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