TDG Roundtable: The Leagues We’re in
Every week on Fridays, our writers here at The Dynasty Guru will be bringing you some quick hit musings about a particular topic so you, the reader, can get a blast of info from a bunch of different writers with some passionate opinions. This week, our staff gives a little insight into the leagues we play in.
Personally, I prefer less leagues so that I can focus and immerse myself into each of them fully. Currently, I am in 3 dynasty leagues. I have found if I take on much more than my current number that it becomes more difficult to give it the same level of attention. Each league plays by a different set of rules.
1. My home league, which I am also the commissioner of (though technically we now have a governing body/board to manage league decisions), has been running for 12 years, though it also had a predecessor league that ran for probably about 3 or 4 more. It has a total of 20 teams, each team has 26 roster spots (18 actives, 8 bench) and up to 40 minor league spots (1,271 total players currently owned). The draft runs 8 rounds shortly after the real MLB draft takes place. Our league manifest is to simulate the real experience as much as possible. We have adopted a unique scoring system that includes 18 different categories, 7 pitching, 7 hitting, and 4 fielding categories. Each H2H matchup lasts 2 weeks (for a total of 162 games played) and then it’s playoff time! I have owned two teams since inception, giving up the first powerhouse to new ownership to take on an expansion team, and have finally built my second squad into a league powerhouse as well.
2. My second league has a total of 14 teams, with a much more traditional one-week, 5X5 H2H setup (OBP). This league is going on its 15th season, though I am a relative newcomer to it, starting my third season. I have found that this league has a much more novel approach to managing prospects. The prospect eligibility requirements are more expanded than is traditionally found (300 PA or 150 innings) and do not take up roster space (and are, in fact, managed completely outside of the league using shared spreadsheets), as a result, they carry some extra value. Picks also carry extra value as this is the only way to add prospects. Since prospects are managed outside of the platform, trades always require negotiation and public announcement of the agreement. This is a little tricky for a newer owner and can be challenging when trying to contact less engaged owners, but makes for some interesting social experiences as well. I am in the midst of a rebuild here.
3. My third league is probably the biggest deviation from traditional dynasty leagues. This is a newer 14 team dynasty league entering its second year. The drafts are done via auction and owners are confined in this league by a salary cap. The amount bid for the player at auction becomes that player’s salary. To add to the cap concern is the fact that every professional player’s salary increases every year that he is held. In only its second year, we’re starting to learn that this will lead to a lot more roster turnover than is typical in other dynasty leagues. Prospects, on the other hand, are not tied down by salary the same as the pros, and signed players that are unowned in the league can be added at any point. I believe eventually this will lead to a lot of prospecting in the league, though at this early stage it hasn’t caught on too much. This league uses standard 5X5 (OBP) scoring but in a roto format. I nuked most of my team last year to go all-in on prospects but think I can rebound pretty quickly as a result of the format.
My current count for fantasy baseball leagues is 7 Dynos, 1 Keeper, and 1 Redraft. This will increase once I dip my toes into the Draft & Hold or Best Ball leagues. They’re relatively easy to balance as only my keeper league is daily. The rest are weekly rosters or less intensive.
One of the Dynos I joined this year used an Orphan Draft as it had a few owners bail over the offseason. This was my first Orphan Draft and it was really awesome – all the abandoned players were put into a pool and the 4 new owners drafted directly from the pool. Tons of fun and a good way to start chatting up some of my new league-mates.
Another startup Dyno I just joined has a very unique set up and I’m excited to see how it turns out. We haven’t drafted yet, but the draftable pool is ONLY rookies with zero MLB experience. We will draft 50 rookies and as they get called up to MLB then we start accruing points. We hold the MLB guys forever – or until we hit that 500 Fantrax active roster limit. This league is for the long haul, and I’m going to need a cool team name.
I’ll admit it. I’m in too many leagues. 15? Why would I do that? In any case, before the 2021 season, I set out on a quest to immerse myself in as many different leagues as possible in an attempt to determine my favorites. If there was a league, I was in it: H2H points, season-long points, H2H categories, roto, NL-only, etc.
The result? Well, I now know that 15 leagues are too many leagues. Alas.
Here are three things I do to help manage the grind:
- Bookmark your leagues on your browser for quick access. Not the league home, but a direct link to your roster so that lineup decisions can be made quickly. An easy one!
- Set aside AT LEAST one day per week to not focus on fantasy baseball so much.
- Try not to take this too seriously.
The first one might seem simple but saved me many, many times when making moves in daily leagues. The latter two are the more important items here, though. Have fun with this but take breaks and take care of yourself. Limit your twitter-scrolling if you can. And occasionally, check out the sunrise and contemplate the fact that most of your fantasy baseball career won’t matter when you die. I’d even venture to say that none of it will. Trust me on this one.
Currently, I am in two redraft leagues, one keeper league, and two dynasty leagues. The number fluctuates slightly over the years as leagues come and go, but I try to keep the number to where I feel engaged but not overwhelmed. A key to this is balancing the “workloads” of your various leagues. I honestly prefer leagues with daily lineups, but it’s not feasible to carry a high number of them. Leagues that have weekly/biweekly lineup moves help to reduce the daily grind as do best-ball leagues. Best ball leagues are also my favorite way to scratch that draft season itch while not adding to the in-season commitment level.
I try to mix it up as much as possible as far as formats across my leagues. I mostly play roto and head-to-head categories, but I have played in points leagues as well in the past. I also strongly encourage branching out from the standard 5×5 categories to add more depth to your fantasy baseball enjoyment. My keeper league is H2H categories league is 7×7 with BA, HR, RBI, R, SB, 2B, and 3B as offensive categories and W, L, K, ERA, WHIP, HLD, and SV as pitching categories. I don’t necessarily believe all of these are good categories, but I’m not the commish and we have played this way for years. Another (dyno) league of mine that is 6×6 roto scoring uses OBP and SLG instead of BA, and on the pitching, side replaces W with QS, K with K/9, SV with SVH, and adds IP. By adding in categories other than the norm, you gain a deeper understanding of the player pool and how certain players excel more in some formats over others. It also adds to the strategic depth of the overall game that is fantasy baseball
I must admit I am often a sucker when it comes to league invites as I rarely will turn one down, but I have been better lately in keeping my numbers to a dedicated group that is meaningful to me. With that said, I am generally more apt to join a new league that offers a new and interesting format as I love continuing to learn different aspects of the sport. I would like to get into a salary cap league soon and would even consider going old school with a mono league.
I play in seven dynasty leagues, and it can be hard to keep track of them all. My biggest issue is missing guys from the waiver wire; though I play all the leagues on Fantrax and on the player cards there is a tab that says which leagues a guy is rostered in, so that makes it easier to add him in multiple leagues quickly. But I know the guys that play in only a couple leagues are almost always faster to the guy who pitched a shutout or hit two homers last night than I am.
All my leagues are head-to-head, and I think that is key to being able to manage a lot of teams. Roto scoring really needs dedication; what I found in the Roto leagues was half the leagues were either under innings pitched limits so much that they quit by the time football started, or disinterest took over by All-Star break; but the most important moves in the standings always occurred within the last two weeks of the season.
My biggest pet peeve is the use of the word “shares” in fantasy baseball; there was a push last season to stop using the word “owned” because of the connotations, but treating players like stocks, to me, is the same. However, having a lot of fantasy teams is inevitably going to lead to rostering some (or a lot) of the same guys. Does that make it easier to trade a guy I have on multiple teams, as many fellow managers say? I think so, especially the superstars. On none of them do I have Juan Soto, Tatis Jr, Vladito, and only one I have Acuna and Franco, so I would be very unlikely to trade either of them.
In season, I eat breakfast while reading new fantasy articles from my favorite sites, and setting my lineups for the next three days in all my leagues. On Saturday or Sunday, when I have more time, I will set my lineups for each day of the week, just in case something happens and I cannot check them every weekday morning.
Did I want to bring down the number of leagues I play in? Absolutely. But I did not, and even added a league this year, my first points league Dynasty. Next year, I promise myself, no more new leagues (yeah, right).
I am currently in 13 leagues. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but five of them are Best Ball leagues, so it’s one draft and that’s it. Most work that has to be done to some of them is just a waiver draft in the winter. Of the rest, two are redraft and the rest dynasty. I play in a mix of roto, head-to-head, and points leagues. Every year I tell myself I want to cut back on the number of leagues I’m in but I never really end up doing so. And I always have trouble turning down requests.
One thing I’ve found that helps is being prepared. I have an Excel sheet for every league I’m in that ranks players based on their unique settings. These also have the rosters imported (thanks Fantrax) and I can see where my team is projected to finish or how my offense is compared to the rest of the league. This really makes decision-making on adding, dropping, or targeting players very simple. A big help is playing in leagues that have weekly FAAB or adds. This way I can have time to see who can be added and not worry about missing out on someone. In the leagues where it’s first come first serve, I do tend to miss out on players.
During the baseball season, I’ll usually wake up and read some articles from fantasy sites, check Twitter, and see if there are any pitchers or hitters I should add immediately. During the day I’ll listen to podcasts and usually set my lineups by noon. At night I try to watch as many games as possible with my laptop open, checking Statcast. I’m looking at pitch velocity, movement, exit velocity. If someone is hitting the ball harder than normal I want to know right away. On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll sit down and make my bids.
By my count, I am currently in 7 leagues but I am sure I missed one or two. A couple of the leagues I’ve played in for years have fallen recently so that has allowed me to scale back from 10+ to a much more manageable number.
The hardest part is keeping track of all the leagues and remembering which leagues are daily or weekly lineups. I have a bookmark folder on my desktop and phone with links to all the platforms I play on. I also have a folder on my phone’s home screen with all the apps I use to manage those teams. I usually go through every team on Sunday night to set that week’s lineups and make waiver claims. In daily leagues, I try to check the active moves every day but that doesn’t happen as consistently as I would like.
Overall, I think the most important factor in properly managing all your teams is organization. I try to make accessing my teams a quick and seamless process to reduce my forgetting about any teams.
My “home league” with my friends and family is a redraft on ESPN and I usually change the scoring rules each season to make different strategies more or less beneficial from year to year. That league has been going for close to 10 years now and we more or less have the same owners we had in year two. I think this makes redraft leagues much more interesting as having the same standard scoring often results in one strategy dominating the league for its entire existence.
I’m also in a 30 team league where we got to pick an MLB franchise and select four players from that franchise (Hitter, Pitcher, Hitting Prospect, and Pitching Prospect) to keep before the draft took place. I was late to the party and had to pick between some of the worst teams in the league so I went with the Rockies. I got to enter the draft with Trevor Story, Germán Márquez, Brendan Rodgers, and Ryan Rolison. 30 teams with 25 rosters spots and 15 Minors spots meant the draft went 1,300+ players deep. This made trading all the more important as the waiver wire was mostly barren with very few exceptions. I came in fourth place overall in 2021 and won the NL West beating out the Dodgers and Padres with a core of Story, Márquez, Freddie Freeman, and Joey Gallo. I essentially played the entire year without a 3B with Ernie Clement (CLE) filling the spot for most of the year. I’ve upgraded this off-season by trading for Josh Donaldson and hoping for a Dustin May comeback to bolster my rotation.
I’m in 5 leagues (4 dynasty and 1 keeper). I told myself last year that 4 leagues was enough but caved as soon as I was offered to co-manage a new startup dynasty league earlier this year. To stay organized the 4 dynasty teams are run through Fantrax and the 1 keeper is Yahoo. If someone approaches me about a league and it’s not on Fantrax from here on out I’m not interested as I can’t get on another app to manage a franchise the way I’d want to. I’ve got it mixed up with H2H Cats, H2H Point (one of them being a contracts/salary league), and a roto. The only weekly league is the roto one and everything else is daily. I like having a different mix of formats and scoring to keep things from becoming too repetitive. Perhaps it makes me a better fantasy baseballing professional!
Had my first taste of a best ball format last year and might get that restarted now that baseball has been saved. Really enjoyed the no maintenance required out of this setup and found it’s a great way to get friends involved who like baseball and fantasy sports but not your more regular fantasy baseball offerings.
I find myself pretty open to the idea of parting with a player(s) that I may already have in multiple leagues. Alec Bohm is one that comes to mind in a recent deal. There are also a few guys that I won’t move in a deal such as Tyler Soderstrom and Coby Mayo.