Re-Evaluating Your Team

It happens to everyone at some point, doesn’t it? You fight so hard to draft a good team and it doesn’t quite work out. Don’t press the panic button too soon, though, making trades you otherwise wouldn’t make. Even if you’re sitting at 2-4 right now, or even 1-5. There’s no time like the present to re-evaluate, but don’t jump the shark.

When I say re-evaluate, I mean take a good hard look at your team and figure out why your record is what it is. Then see what you can do about those particular parts and issues.

For example: you re-evaluate and figure out that your problem is starting pitching. Your pitchers have vastly underperformed their draft day value, and you’re left looking up at so many other pitches in your league who are overperforming. But how far below their potential are they, and is this a downward trend or might there be hope on the horizon? Also, don’t take for granted that every loss is the same. It’s not.

I have a team that is 3-3, and all three losses have been by 10 points or less. This latest one was by 5 points. That means my team isn’t playing poorly. One small tweak would have been the difference. In the first loss it was Jean Segura underperforming that doomed the team. In the second loss, it was Kenley Jansen. And in the most recent one, LaTroy Hawkins sitting at ZERO points for the week was the death knell for my team. I lost by one point the first time, nine points the second, and this week’s five points. So what do I do?

Well, first off, I’m not panicking. Losses like that will happen over the course of a long fantasy season. The key to a strong lineup is to play the averages, and to adjust those averages as the season goes along, no matter who the player in question is. Of course, if you have players you drafted in the first couple of rounds, you are more likely to stick with them through thick and thin, but you should evaluate them just like everyone else. Here’s how it’s done:

Pitching Staff

  1. Go with five strong pitchers each week. I would rather lose because Adam Wainwright had one bad start than to win because Tom Koehler went off. Pitchers like Wainwright, Greinke, and Felix Hernandez can be counted on because of history, and none of them have shown so far this season that this isn’t still the case. In one of my leagues I have Greinke, Wainwright, and C.J. Wilson. They have started every single week for me so far, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Yes, even after Wilson’s stinker last night.
  2. Don’t spend too much time playing the waiver wire unless you have injuries to cover for. That’s what the waiver wire should be for, after all. Unless a top shelf player somehow makes his way there, and you should pounce on him. Some people get skittish after one or two bad performances, and that can be your gain. But if you just lost Fernandez from your starting lineup, get out on the wire and pick up the next best thing.
  3. Closers will go through ups and downs. If you have an elite one, don’t start stressing when he has a few off outings. In one of my leagues I have David Robertson and Greg Holland. They are phenomenal closers, and even if they struggle from time to time, I know that their overall body of work will be worth it in the end.
  4. Be careful of any trade request that targets your top pitcher. Unless you’re getting another top pitcher in exchange, don’t do the trade. And by top pitcher, I mean someone who has history to back him, not someone like Aaron Harang or Martin Perez who both came out of nowhere to post great numbers early, and have since faded.

Batters

  • Batters traditionally go through hot and cold spells. That’s normal. Right now Mike Trout is going through a cold spell, but have I sat him on my bench? No. And I won’t, unless he gets hurt. I spent a top-2 position on him in the drafts. I will live and die by him.
  • Stock your team with consistent guys. Yes, batters have hot and cold spells, but again, look at history. And with a guy like Jose Abreu, though that history is elsewhere, it’s still a good precursor of what to expect from him, and he’s delivered to this point. In one of my fantasy outfields I have Rajai Davis, Melky Cabrera, and Jason Heyward. These three are the models of consistency, even though Heyward has had a bit of a down year so far. He will turn it around, and that outfield has gotten me more points than any other outfield in the league.
  • Play the waiver wire to swap out any batters who aren’t traditionally consistent with ones who are. Just as with pitchers, some owners get tired of waiting for guys to turn the season around, so they drop him. That happened to me in one league when Ryan Howard was dropped in week 4. I scooped him up right away and he had one of his best weeks for me. I call them “diamonds in the rough,” and now those types of guys are shining on my team.
  • Make smart trades, and only when they benefit you. Maybe you’re having a hard time finding a consistent first baseman and you’ve been switching from week to week, playing the waiver wire more than you see your kids. You want to get off that merry-go-round, so find an upper-tier first baseman who is producing, but who is on someone else’s team. See what they want for that guy, and offer them some hole you see on their team, like a second baseman, because you have two solid ones. Sure, you lose a solid second baseman, but you upgrade at a position that has been really shaky for you.

The biggest advice I can give you when dealing with your team is to re-evaluate after every single week. Map out a time to do this, like on Sunday night or on Monday morning. For me the best time is Sunday night because by then I know pretty much what my guys have done for the whole week, and I can plan for the next week. Another strategy I also utilize is to perform a second re-evaluation on Monday night after the games have started. That way if I like a two-start pitcher for the following week I can be the first to grab him off the waiver wire and stash him away.

Re-evaluate your team in this way twice a week and you shouldn’t be surprised when the results come in. Just don’t be afraid to make some tough decisions, especially when it comes to batters. And never over-react when a player you benched goes off for a ton of points while on your bench. Odds are you had him on your bench for a reason, and if the reason was that he’s inconsistent, try trading him at his high point for a guy who is more consistent who you can slot right into your lineup and he won’t ride the bench.

The Fantasy Ace

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