Captain's Log

September Roster Expansion PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00

If major league teams expand their rosters in September, why shouldn’t fantasy teams? Well, in some leagues – especially my almost 30 year old AL-only league, they do.

On whatever the first Monday of September is, teams can pay $50 real money to add a 24th player. That player can be either a tenth pitcher or a second UT (which they can vary with weekly lineups). The extra player can come from teams' three-man reserve squad, be a new free agent addition from that weekend, or perhaps one of their own FARM players who was called up (although unless in a dash for cash they likely wouldn’t want to start the clock for a minor league player).

Usually it is only the four or five teams fighting for the top spots that spend the 50 dollars. But a team fighting for the $260 second half prize or 5th place, which is the first pick in next spring’s minor league draft, might also be tempted.

This is a great way to add a few extra dollars to your league’s prize pool and also adds to the strategy and fun for the last month of the season. Being in a tight race for 3rd place (currently tied with another team just a half point back), I will add a player, although unless one of my DL hitters gets a new lease on at-bats, I will have to add a pitcher. But I do have pitchers who can help try for an extra point in strikeouts or the tightly bunched wins category.

Our AL league also does two other things in September you might want your league to adopt. First, while free agents throughout the year carry a 10F14 salary designation, meaning they can be kept next year for ten dollars, we give all players added in September a designation of 25S14, making it very unlikely they will be kept next year. A large part of this is to prevent our salary structure on minor leaguers from being undermined by someone adding a player called up in September who would have been a very early draft pick next April – Rusney Castillo, I am looking at you.

The other changes we make in September are related to DL players. With 40 roster spots, major league teams often won’t bother to put a player on the DL even if they won’t play for the balance of the season. Once players are declared out for the year, we allow teams to DL them – of course should there be a miraculous cure, they aren’t allowed to come off the DL, but it does help with roster management.

We also relax the requirement of players coming off the DL or players recalled from the minor leagues to be transacted in a timely manner to aid in September roster management.

These things really help mono keeper leagues and you might want to consider suggesting them to your league mates.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:58
Possible September Saviors PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 00:00

At the end of this week, we will have six scoring periods left in the 2014 baseball season. Getting enough at-bats will be a big key to how high your team can finish this year which is hopefully rewarded with cash or perhaps the consolation of a better minor league draft pick next April.

I say at-bats because it is much harder to find those in September than pitchers to throw out there. I suggest reading the stories filed on each team’s website by the writer for some clues as to who the manager (or team) may want to take a look at in September. You need to differentiate between minor leaguers who are just being given a chance to sit on the major league bench in September versus those who are really being given a tryout with the big league team.

Players to get before or during September

Joc Pederson, OF, LAD – With any other group of outfielders on a MLB team, Pederson, who is on pace for a 30-30 season at Triple-A Albuquerque, would already be playing in the Majors. But with an outfield of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, there is too much money committed and not enough at-bats for them or Scott Van Slyke, who murders lefties. Pederson is currently the 18th best minor league prospect according to and will be in Los Angeles when rosters expand on September 1. He is also the only true centerfielder amongst Dodger fly chasers.

Alex Guerrero, SS/2B, LAD – The Dodgers have also said they will bring up Guerrero in September. It is not as clear how much he will play given his fielding deficiencies, but the former Cuban star has a lot of pop in his bat and he could easily outproduce weak MI slots in NL- only leagues.

Carlos Rodon, LHP, CWS – Rodon, who was the third overall pick in the June draft, has just been promoted to Triple-A and with a few starts there could easily get bumped up another level to pitch in U.S. Cellular Field in September. He would be a very good starting pitcher for those in AL-only leagues or deep mixed leagues who need a fresh arm for the final month of the season.

Kris Bryant, 3B, CHC – The power hitting third baseman leads the minor leagues in home runs with 40 for Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa and should be in Wrigley in September.

Other teams to watch for September callups are:

The Chicago White Sox, who are going nowhere fast and might want to see what 2B Micah Johnson can do. Johnson has been injured this year, thus the “only” 22 stolen bases in 2014. But remember he stole 84 bags in the Minors in 2013 and Gordon Beckham is not the long term answer at second base.

The Baltimore Orioles haven’t ruled it out and I think we see the debut of RHP Dylan Bundy in September, especially if the Orioles have a chance at a postseason berth. Bundy did say his elbow still feels good following his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Bundy started nine games between two Class A stops, posting a 3.27 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 16 walks in 41 1/3 innings of work.

The Arizona Diamondbacks would at least like a terrible year to end without the worst record in baseball (likely) and finish 3rd in the NL West if they can overtake the San Diego Padres (much less likely). One way to do both would be to upgrade their rotation internally and that could mean the long awaited big league debut of Archie Bradley. But with his injuries and ineffectiveness, it is very possible that Arizona might call up their best minor league pitcher this year and promote Aaron Blair, another big (6’5”, 230 lb.) righty who in 143 innings across three minor league stops this year has struck out 160 batters with a WHIP of 1.14. Blair, the #4 Diamondbacks prospect, has pitched better than Bradley or Braden Shipley, who were both ahead of him at the beginning of this year.

(I would also suggest reading Rob Leibowitz's columns for more players to watch for)

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 08:51
Rookie Drafts in 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00
One of the best things about keeper or dynasty fantasy football leagues is the draft of the new kids on the block – last year’s college football stars who were drafted in May.

ADP from mock drafts is largely irrelevant in my opinion, so I thought I would give you the results of one from this week. Now I know that many of you who play in these leagues have already done yours. But I also know that several people have drafts coming up.

This is a 12-team, PPR league with starting lineups of QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, Flex, K, and DST.

1.01 Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo
1.02 Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay
1.03 Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans
1.04 Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco
1.05 Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina
1.06 Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee
1.07 Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia
1.08 Terrance West, RB, Cleveland
1.09 Odell Beckham, WR, New York Giants
1.10 Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta
1.11 Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis
1.12 Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit
2.01 Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay
2.02 Cody Latimer, WR, Denver
2.03 Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville
2.04 Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota
2.05 Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati
2.06 Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland
2.07 Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville
2.08 Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants
2.09 Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis
2.10 Charles Sims, RB, Tampa Bay
2.11 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay
2.12 Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville
3.01 Jace Amaro, TE, New York Jets
3.02 Khiry Robinson, RB, New Orleans (free agents included)
3.03 Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City
3.04 James White, New England
3.05 Troy Niklas, TE, Arizona
3.06 John Brown, WR, Arizona
3.07 Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota
3.08 Lache Seastrunk, RB, Washington
3.09 Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland
3.10 Paul Richardson, WR, Seattle
3.11 Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh
3.12 Dexter McCluster, RB, Tennessee

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 08:15
August & September - The Final Push PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 00:00

At least in AL and NL-only leagues, trade deadlines either should have come or gone or perhaps have one more week before they are done.

Not only does that parallel the MLB non-waiver trade deadline but it gets us to the final third of the season on a level playing field – you won’t have a competitor able to make another deal to surprise you. On the other hand, you won’t be able to surprise them. Everyone can duke it out with the rosters they have now and the few free agents that might be available.

And that is the way it should be, having most of two months without outside influences. Those leagues that have an August 31 or September 1 trade deadline should really rethink this and move it back a month.

Now we are down to the pennant races.

Or if you aren’t competing to win the league, you are hopefully finishing in the money.

August, even with some tired players, at least continues with pretty much the same players we have seen all year. Yes, the Cubs just called up Javier Baez, who will likely man second base with Starlin Castro having a good year. This will push Arismendy Alcantara to the outfield – likely centerfield – but both should be in the Chicago lineup every day…and if you are lucky, in yours.

As the month goes on, you need to be very careful to see which teams are conducting “tryouts.” All well and good for their organization but not good for your fantasy teams if you are counting on those players being in the lineup in September.

Roster expansion in the major leagues on September 1 can be a land mine for your existing warriors, but it can also provide some players to help if you have lost some at-bats.

Most pitchers coming up in September won’t affect rotations. Rather, they will be extra arms in the bullpen. Whether long or short assignments, they shouldn’t affect your closers or good starters. But be very careful to watch each pitcher’s team so you aren’t surprised.

Many fantasy baseball leagues have September Roster Expansion, where teams who are competing pay $50 into the league prize pool and can add a 24th player, usually by just activating one of their reserves, but of course it could be a free agent pickup. This could be a tenth pitcher or a second UT as a 15th hitter, and teams can vary that in their weekly lineup. This is particularly helpful in leagues with a salary cap (which all auction leagues should have), as that extra player won’t count against the cap.

My AL-only league, like many mono leagues, has some rules in place to prevent teams in the second division from sneaking minor league players onto their rosters when they really should be in the minor league draft next March. While normal free agents have a 10F14 contract, we change that in September to 25F14 so that we maintain the integrity of the minor league pricing structure.

Maybe something your league should look at.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 00:50
Early Fantasy Football Draft Thoughts PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 00:00

Drafting before training camps are into their second week and before any pre-season games is not exactly going off half-cocked, but you are without a lot of information you want in your head or on paper before your high stakes draft.

While mock drafts can be very helpful for introductory prep, they are worthless for high stakes players unless you have a dedicated group of like-minded players, have exactly the right number, and can do it pretty much in real time or perhaps by e-mail with commentary. That is hard to find. I did it for baseball and it was excellent but there is a much smaller number of quality fantasy football drafters and they are harder to corral and less likely to willingly share. Far more important for the better players are the affordable leagues with real opponents where you have the opportunity to hone your draft strategy and learn what others are thinking at the same time.

I have done and seen a number of these but most of the observations I am sharing today are coming from a current Rotobowl slow draft league. This contest has a reasonably low entry ($279) with a very high grand prize lure ($50,000). Sort of like the FBGPC in football or the Rotowire Online Championship in both baseball and football. The key would be that it is a 12-team league that is using the exact same lineup and scoring parameters as the Fantasy Football World Championships (FFWC) which Greg Morgan and I will be in Las Vegas to compete in the first week of the NFL season.

So we decided to do a “slow” Rotobowl league online so we could discuss players and draft strategy in a real context with plenty of time. The slow drafts in most contests are an eight hour clock. Most of these drafts finish within two weeks, although this group is already in Round 12 and we started on Saturday, July 26.

I am not going to go through every draft pick (I can if you want – leave a comment and I can set it up in the FF Forum) as the point of this column is just to give you my observations for you to incorporate into your draft prep. But here is the first round:

1.01 LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI

1.02 Jamaal Charles, RB, KC

1.03 Calvin Johnson, WR, DET

1.04 Matt Forte, RB, CHI

1.05 Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN

1.06 Eddie Lacy, RB, GB

1.07 Dez Bryant, WR, DAL

1.08 Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN

1.09 Brandon Marshall, WR, CHI

1.10 A.J. Green, WR, CIN

1.11 Jimmy Graham, TE, NO

1.12 Montee Ball, RB, DEN

The first five picks in some order are pretty much standard in current drafts and will be the first five in high stakes leagues in September absent injury.  The six hole is where drafts diverge, and I wouldn’t argue with any of the basic draft strategies:

6a – Take the best RB

6b – Take Jimmy Graham

6c – Take the best WR (usually Thomas but that is why they have 31 flavors)

Greg and I, while loving the edge at TE of Graham, who helped us win our FFWC league last year, opted to start with Lacy to get a strong RB1 for better roster construction.

So here are five observations from this live money draft and several others I have seen and done (note – you can see the first six rounds of early NFFC drafts on their message boards, both 12-team DM and 10-team Cutline leagues but don’t forget the third round reversal when trying to see who teams got).

FIRST – There is no right or wrong in the second half of the first round. It is a personal preference (sometimes based on who you think you can pair that pick with in the second round). In fact, Ball was paired with Julio Jones, Graham with Jordy Nelson and Green, who is normally a second round pick, with Arian Foster.

SECOND – I think TEs 2 and 3, Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas, are being drafted slightly higher than their true value given the huge questions – Gronk with health and Orange Julius with an inflated 2013 value based on the TDs.

THIRD – There is in the high stakes community a strong tendency to wait on drafting your first quarterback unless you think there is tremendous value in where Rodgers or Brees fall in a draft full of “waiters.” Anecdotally, I can tell you that in the early WCOFF days, I was already convinced that was the best way to build a roster and many times I did not have a quarterback on my team when they took the first break after ten rounds. As a shout out to some legendary former competitors, both Lou Tranquilli (3INTboy and BFD FF) and Ian Millman (FF Champs) were often in a stare down or comparison with me to see who took a quarterback first.

In this Rotobowl draft, Peyton Manning went at a normal 3.02. Rodgers was the next off the board at 3.09 (obviously we passed on him in the third, not wanting to be the Captain Morgan Packers). We would have had to really think hard about Drew Brees at 4.07 but ultimately didn’t have the choice as he went two picks before us. Only four QBs were drafted in the next six rounds – Matthew Stafford (5.03), Robert Griffin (6.05), Andrew Luck (8.02) and then Nick Foles (10.03) before most of the field broke down and tried to grab their guys of the remainders after the Top 7 projected quarterbacks. Good drafting by the five teams that waited and I have no problem with the other drafters if they felt they got value with their guy.

FOURTH - However, some of the early quarterback drafters fell from grace when the Manning, Rodgers and Stafford owners drafted a second quarterback in Round 11. If you draft a stud, when are you going to play your second quarterback other than in a bye week? And they missed the opportunity to strengthen their teams with available RB/WR/TE. Frankly, in 12-team leagues like the FFWC, NFFC, FFPC or WCOFF, if I had a strong quarterback (no matter what round I drafted him in), I would leave the draft with just that QB on my roster. The other draft picks are far too valuable even if they happen to be the player you drop for your bye week QB. And there are still several playable quarterbacks in the free agent pile. Those waiting to draft their quarterbacks may obviously be looking at going QBBC (quarterback by committee) or having a pair based on schedule matchups.

FIFTH – Even high stakes drafters are still drafting their DST too early. Yes, I know you love the Seahawks, and yes, I know they were good last year and still have strong units. But almost every year, half the teams that were among the Top 10 scoring DSTs from one year are not in the following year’s Top 10. And your two points per game or whatever you actually get are not worth the opportunity cost to get more bullets – chances at finding a running back or wide receiver who quickly becomes a flex play or starter. Take more of those, and if they don’t work out, you can easily replace them. Every year, there are some key players not drafted who go for hundreds of FAAB bucks who you could have rostered on draft day.

More later. I have to go work on our QBBC.

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:10
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