It’s November. The dead period of our beloved fantasy sport is upon us and we’re left with our idle thoughts. Sometimes we overthink these idle thoughts and we’re driven so ravenous that we need to make an irrational trade two weeks after the World Series because otherwise we might suffocate from the lack of significant baseball.
But this is the month when the savvy fantasy managers are mapping out what the offseason is going to look like. It’s when your group chat or league message board are blank that you can make the smartest moves. Let’s walk through some things I’m doing right now to make sure I have a leg up on my leaguemates.
Go Back and Analyze Your Team
The first step in improving in 2019 is identifying your gaps the prior season. If you have the ability to do so, go back to the cumulative category standings and see where your team excelled and where it waned. This immediately sets up a plan of attack that outlines which type of player you want to target rather than hunting aimlessly.
Find The Rebuilders
As a dynasty season comes to a close, teams will tick further into or out of a contention window. Start identifying which manager is considering a teardown. Did someone push all the chips in and fail to make it? Is there a roster filled with old players like Justin Turner and Robinson Cano available for cheap? These are my first targets because usually they’re not going to cost me major league assets. Instead, these managers are on the hunt for prospects, picks or FAAB money if you can trade it.
Put In The Legwork In Trades
Building off of that last one, there is understandably some hesitancy to trade in the early part of the offseason. Managers might want to see where free agents land (more on that next) or quite frankly, still want to detach from fantasy baseball for a while longer. Don’t let them. Be the guy who gently nudges them every three to four days to get a deal done if they have an asset you want. If you’re the first in your league to pull off a significant trade, you get to set the market. Few things are as deflating than seeing an email notification of a potentially one-sided trade that went down and you had no idea a player(s) was available for so cheap, especially if there are new managers. Open negotiations by asking what a manager is looking to do in the offseason. Are they rebuilding? Are they looking for starters? Feel free to go to that category standings page and see their deficiencies.
Assess Major League Free Agents
Outside of superstars like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, several free agents might have big value swings depending on where they land. Take the time to comb through some of the more intriguing 2018 seasons and determine if it was fluky or not. Jed Lowrie played in a bad park for lefty home runs this year but he upped his hard-hit rate and pull rate. What if he signs a deal with the Angels (great LHB park) or Nationals (good LHB park), teams with clear second base needs? His value jumps. He’s someone who you can pry off of right now. Conversely, someone like Mike Moustakas underperformed in a favorable environment and is in a somewhat crowded third base market which could lead to a cheap enough contract that a bad team can afford, limiting his fantasy output.
In general, free agents have slightly lower value than usual because their future is uncertain. It is a gamble trading for them, but it’s also the kind of moves you make now rather than February when clear intentions have been set for a player.
Survey The Prospect Landscape
We’re not quite done prospectin’, y’all. The Arizona Fall League is about to wrap up but with it comes new morsels of information. Our team has done a tremendous job covering the AFL, from daily videos and notes to reaction posts from the Fall Stars game. Though the league represents a very small sample, it still represents a chance at value change. Keston Hiura, whom we ranked fourth in our AFL Top 75 Hitters post, is slashing .326/.378/.539, hinting that perhaps the power he showed at High-A might be closer to the truth than Double-A.
But I get it, he’s a big name. You’re not going to get a perceived discount even if he’s shaping up to be a little bit better than where the fantasy industry ranks him. Other names like Tyler Nevin (AFL-best 1.113 OPS), Esteban Quiroz (proving the patience is real as he transitions from the Mexican Leagues), and Jordan Yamamoto (2.08 ERA/1.08 WHIP in 5 GS) are showing they might be closer to their maximum outcome than we might have assumed or should not be as underrated as they are.
Feel free to ask me or anyone on the staff about guys who are over/underperforming to help you parse out the numbers.
So as the days and weeks pass right now, don’t let yourself get too restful in your leagues. There are deals to be had and prospects to pick up.