So, the new fantasy baseball season is here, and already in full swing. If you’re like me you’re probably bemoaning the decisions that haven’t worked out so far this first week. Like me, you’ve watched the first 2 or 3 games and you’re wondering why you didn’t jump on Kyle Kendrick with your last pick in the draft. You’re also upset that Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Max Scherzer didn’t win when you spent a high pick on them. And don’t even get me started on the hitters! Who would have thought afterthought Jose Iglesias would have a 4-hit game, getting on base every time up in that second game of the season?
But don’t start fretting because it hasn’t all worked out for you early. Remember that this fantasy season is a marathon, not a sprint. This isn’t like fantasy football. One week won’t doom you because there are a ton more coming. The key is not to overreact from a few outliers to begin a season. So, here are 6 hard and fast rules to keep you sane when trying to make lineup decisions this early:
- Stick to your aces. You didn’t spend a high draft pick on Scherzer to sit him next week just because he didn’t win his first game of the season. He pitched extremely well, and just got unlucky. That won’t happen often. He’s still your ace for a reason.
- Don’t chase points. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. Just because Iglesias has caught fire these first few days, don’t jump on board just yet. Might he be the second coming of a young, healthy Jimmy Rollins? His numbers say otherwise, even if he’s playing with the hot hand right now. Now Kendrick, on the other hand, has endured very strong stretches in his career, so he would be a great grab off the waiver wire.
- Track the news. Too often I run into people who are pissed off because they started a guy who isn’t even going to pitch this week. When the Tigers said they weren’t putting Verlander on the DL to start the season that made me blink. If what he was dealing with was serious enough that they had to put out that blurb, why would I start him in my fantasy league? But many did, and now he is on the DL and they’re moaning about it.
- Play the matchups. We all have levels to our rosters. Guys who are owned in over 90% of leagues should be considered aces and cemented into our lineups, but anything under that is matchup dependent, or at least should be. That’s where you should spend the majority of your time between scoring periods, figuring out who’s the hot hand, who’s been more consistent, and who has the statistical advantage in that following week.
- Never second-guess yourself. If you’ve done your homework and you’ve set your lineup, don’t let those doubt birds fly in to mess things up. I was feeling Jason Grilli this week, and I didn’t even have to draft him. I picked him up off the waiver wire, and he has two saves so far in just two games. I played him over Francisco Rodriguez (who just took the loss to Colorado on Wednesday) and so far my guess was right.
- Don’t make too much of 2-start pitchers. As we move forward in the season fantasy owners have a tendency to rely on mixing and matching 2-start pitchers to maximize the number of starts they have on their roster during that given week. But don’t think a 2-start pitcher will save you if he doesn’t have the right matchups, OR if you have solid, proven starters on your team that you would have to sit for those 2-start waiver wire pickups. Quality over quantity every time.
The key is to go out each week with the team you think is best-equipped to win that week. If you have any doubts about your team, if you’re not all-in on them, then you should think about making trades that will make you feel more comfortable, but use the waiver wire as a last resort, not as a salve for all ills. Because there’s a reason people are available on there more often than not. For every diamond in the rough you find there you will find at least 20 players you should have left there in the first place.