How does one get started playing fantasy baseball, converting from casual fan to rabid screaming fantasy baseball owner? You’ve either got a friend trying to get you involved in fantasy baseball or you’ve heard and wondered what the fuss is all about. You love baseball and like the idea of “owning your own team”. Like most fans, you’ve often thought, “What a dumb decision that coach/manager made, I could do better than that!” But you’re also worried about playing in a league with others who have been doing it for a while. You want to do well, maybe even win! Here are some tips to help you make a good showing, right off the bat.
First, know the players: Not their home lives, what college they went to, but what they do on the field on a regular basis. Fortunately for you, baseball is the single most statistics-obsessed sport in the history of the world, and there are no shortages of avenues for you to learn. Where kids once read the backs of baseball cards, now statistics on ESPN or Fox Sports are updated on the hour. There are Fantasy Baseball shows on the radio and TV as well as literally millions of web-sites with detailed stats beyond description.
Next, get prepared early. Many if not most owners trust to their instincts and maybe a copy of the Sporting News or Sports Illustrated’s Fantasy Baseball issue. These will not be the owners left standing in October. If you want a powerful leg up on the competition, start researching immediately after the World Series ends! This is when the trades start, and what team a player is on has a powerful effect on their stats. That slugger needs a strong number four or five hitter behind him to make sure he gets pitches in the strike zone. Again there are a lot of sources to keep you up to date with this, like Sportscenter. Monthly magazines aren’t nearly enough. Some great web-sites like MLB Trade Rumors give you all this information quickly, gathered from every source under the sun in a convenient format for you.
You should also start working on your player ranking “cheat sheets” at this time, well before Spring Training begins. Keep this on an Excel or Word sheet, as you’ll be changing it a LOT based on trades and early results, not to mention injury reports. www.FantasyPlayersExpress.com is an excellent database for fantasy player statistics.
Now put it all together, or even better plagiarize the work of some other fantasy baseball die-hard. Lots of mock drafts are available for free on the Internet, and you can compare your thoughts. Modifying another draft is a lot easier than coming up with your own. There are hundreds of places on the Net where you can get a free account to keep up with all your fantasy needs. Google and Yahoo are two of the largest, but ESPN has a fancier one with more up to date stats. The benefit here is that the player stats are updated automatically. You just have to put up with the occasional banner ad and most of these are relatively unobtrusive. You can have information fed directly into some of these databases also by using an RSS Feed. Just search that from your fantasy host, as the instructions for each site are slightly different.
While hard work is appreciated, many fantasy owners spend far too much time duplicating work that has already been done by paid professionals. Don’t be a sucker. However you don’t want to trust the work of the “experts” completely either, or else you may do well, but chances are your competitor doing the same thing will do just as well. Utilize mock drafts from among the hundreds available on the Net and prepare yourself to put together a great team.
That’s just the beginning, but if you prepare this strongly at the beginning, you’ll find the managing of your fantasy team to be simple maintenance, utilizing the occasional trade, free agent or waiver wire pick-up. It’s all about who has the best information, and if you get started with this advice in hand, you’ll more than likely be that person. Good luck!