1. Be prepared for the draft. The league is often won or lost at the draft.
2. Stay focused. It’s a long season and a lot of players will drop out. If you stay focused on the prize, you’ll have a shot.
3. During the draft, track the positions your opponents have picked. Knowing this will give you a leg up on strategic picks in later rounds.
4. Go with established players over potential stars. Everybody likes to brag about picking up that rookie, but often the hype is bigger than the stats.
5. In the early rounds, pick the best available player, regardless of position.
6. Draft stolen bases. A player can be dominant in stolen bases and stolen bases are clearly over-weighted in fantasy baseball. Think Jose Reyes.
7. Draft closers. Make sure you have one more closer than your nearest competitor. Saves is an easy category to win and another over-weighted category in fantasy baseball.
8. If a player has been traded since last year, re-adjust his stats based on the park he’ll be playing his home games in. Pitchers sent to Colorado, Cincinnatti, or Philadelphia, for example, are likely to not have as impressive stats. Power stats should go up, however, if a hitter is traded to these teams. Alternatively, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and Minnesota are pitchers’ parks.
9. Some leagues have minimal statistics to qualify at a particular position, sometimes as little as a single game. I recall Hank Aaron playing second base once. If that is your league’s rule, you have to look for opportunities like this and you may get the power numbers of an outfielder at a position that traditionally rewards defensive prowess.
10. Generally, it’s not a good idea to pick a catcher in an early round. They sit out too often and usually don’t put up huge stats anyway.
11. Do pick early in positions that are light or where some players are head and shoulders above the pack. Chase Utley at second base comes to mind.
12. Check out the league’s transactions every day. This is the only way to stay in touch. Being on vacation is no excuse in not checking your team daily.
13. Sign up for text message alerts from Google or Yahoo to keep up with fantasy baseball transactions and injuries. This will give you the information quicker than your competition.
14. Set your internet browser to come up with your league information. So, when you sign on to your computer, you’ll have the daily summary there and you won’t forget to check on your team.
15. If you no longer are interested in keeping a player on your roster, shop him to other teams before cutting him. Don’t assume other teams aren’t interested. You may get some value for him that exceeds what you’d get in the free agent pool.
16. If you are shopping a player, however, remember that this is a negotiation. You can’t let the other teams in the league know you are shopping this player. Try to cleverly put his name in package deals so that he maintains his value and your opponents won’t know they can pick him up for a box of old baseballs and used chewing gum.
17. There are no favorite teams in fantasy baseball.
18. There are no favorite players in fantasy baseball. Take the human element out of it. A player is just a bundle of statistics.
19. Don’t move a guy up in your analysis because he got hot in spring training.
20. Do watch the box scores the final two weeks of spring training. This is where jobs are won. You don’t want to be drafting a player who starts the season in Pawtucket.
21. If a guy is unusually hot in spring training, try to trade him then. His value may never be higher.
22. Every player that is on the major league roster needs to be ranked, even the sorry guys.
23. Don’t give away any categories. A championship fantasy baseball team needs to be competitive in every category, especially in 5 x 5 leagues. You cannot afford to give up a category and still win.
24. Just like regular baseball, starting pitchers can win it for you. Their stats count heavily in four of the five pitching categories.
25. Have a few extra starting pitchers in your minor league roster. If you play in a weekly league, bring up the guy who is getting two starts that week. Or, bring up the guy who is facing two week opponents that week.
26. If your league allows unlimited pitching moves, use them. A starting pitcher is of no value to you on the major league lineup when he’s not due to pitch for four more days.
27. Do the math on WHIP. I know its a pain, but it’s a category that you need to score well in.
28. Go to as many sources as possible for draft information. It’s the single most important thing you can do to be prepared.
29. Remember that statistics are relative to position played. All star statistics at catcher are often ordinary for outfielders or first basemen. The key is to get the best stats per position.
30. A trade has to work for both teams. Don’t make a ridiculous offer and hope you can bamboozle the other manager. He’ll be more open to making trades later in the season if you are bringing legitimate offers to him, even if he doesn’t take the first offer.
31. Watch Baseball Tonight! Cut the wife in on your winnings and she won’t nag you when you watch it every night…maybe.
32. Get the ESPN Extra Innings baseball package. Besides, if you live in the East, there’s nothing like listening to Vin Scully on local Dodgers telecasts. He’ll give you a lot of inside fantasy tips.
33. Check not only the stats, but lineup moves. Lineup moves can mean a lot to the stats your player will deliver, especially when it comes to RBI.
34. In a daily move league, check your lineup to see what pitcher your players are facing. Start lefties against right handed pitchers and vice versa. The righty-lefty analysis at the major league level is critical and is therefore critical in fantasy baseball success as well.
35. Keep up with injuries. An injured players does you no good in your lineup.
36. Be a contrarian during the draft. When everybody is making a run at relief pitchers, pick up a DH. There’s likely more value there.
37. Play in a league where all managers have a history of staying involved. A league is no fun if you don’t have active participating managers who have given up.
38. Play in a league with prize money for at least the top four finishers. This tends to keep players active.
39. In September, pick up prospects on teams that are out of it. This is going to be their chance to show what they’ve got for next season.
40. If your league uses playoffs, remember the adage: there’s no tomorrow. If you don’t maintain players for next season, drop a pitcher after he’s made his last start. He’s no longer of value to you otherwise.
41. In traditional Roto stats leagues, some statistics don’t matter. For example, strikeouts be a hitter don’t mean jack. An out is an out so don’t worry about picking Adam Dunn.
42. Look for most sleeper picks beginning in the 16th round. A sleeper is not a sure thing.
43. Be especially diligent in knowing who is going to be a team’s closer on teams where the job is up for grabs. You can obtain a significant amount of saves in later rounds this way by knowing who is going to be closing.
44. Starting pitchers are rarely first round material. Then, there’s Johan Santana and Jake Peavy. Prefer to load up on hitters in the first five rounds, then load up the majority of your starting pitching staff.
45. Avoid young pitchers in the very earliest rounds. They are simply too risky and prone to arm trouble.
46. Look at three year trends on players. Going any further back is useless.
47. Play in a league with old friends. It’s a great way to stay in touch.
48. If there’s an attractive single girl in your league, get to know her better. She’s almost definitely a keeper.
49. Know which ballparks give up the most homeruns. Also know which ballparks give up the least homeruns. A player who changes teams in the offseason can see his fantasy value go up (Mark Teixeira) or down (Matt Holliday) based on his new stadium surroundings.
50. When you go to a game, don’t ever yell down to a player: “Hey Ryan, you’re on my fantasy baseball team!” Do you really think he gives a hoot?