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The 10 Commandments of 2024 Fantasy Baseball

Everyone wants to know the secret formula to winning their fantasy baseball league. And while there is no one guaranteed way to win, there are certain things you can do to put yourself in a position to succeed. Here are my 10 Commandments for the 2024 fantasy baseball season.

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The 10 Commandments of Fantasy Baseball

Commandment 1: Thou Shalt Understand Your League Format and Rules

This is key for anyone entering a new league, as well as first-time fantasy baseball managers.

There are varying league sizes and types, and each size and type brings its own challenges. For larger leagues, it becomes more important to delve deep into minor league players and understand the dynamics of MLB depth charts. Smaller leagues, on the other hand, are often quite competitive because many teams can feature a number of top-end players.

On top of league size, league type is important for fantasy managers to understand. Roto, categories, and points leagues are all scored differently. Even points and categories leagues can vary in terms of the statistics that are counted. Some leagues feature head-to-head competition, while others calculate points, stats, or categories over the course of a season.

Then there are redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues. In redraft leagues, you start over with a new draft each season. Keeper leagues typically allow fantasy baseball managers to keep a certain amount of players into the next season, sometimes with other restrictions. In dynasty leagues, fantasy managers usually can carry their whole team into the following season.

All of these things are important for fantasy managers to understand before drafting.

Commandment 2: Thou Shalt Research

Location, location, location… I mean… Research, research, research.

One crucial element of a winning fantasy baseball formula is to research. That does not mean you should just look at projections, but rather use them as a starting point.

Your fantasy baseball research should include reading as much as possible and finding analysts whose philosophies line up with yours. Find publications you trust (like Fantrax), and read.

Fangraphs is a great place to start digging into data and finding things to research. You can view leaderboards for nearly every fantasy-relevant statistic that you would ever want, but not every stat is relevant to fantasy.

It can be easy to get overloaded and overwhelmed by data, so identify a few data points, learn as much as you can about them and their importance to fantasy, and do your best to soak it all in.

Commandment 3: Get Familiar with Advanced Data

More and more, data has become a driving force in fantasy sports. And advanced data or sabermetrics have become essential to understanding player performance.

Parsing through the data is important for fantasy managers, and identifying a few hitter and pitcher metrics will help streamline things, especially for those looking into this type of data for the first time.

For hitters, fantasy managers should look at hard contact metrics like barrel and HardHit rates. Those are important in identifying hard hitters, who can usually produce in the power categories.

Fantasy managers should also look into line drive rate, which can provide context into batting average and BABIP. Plus, line drives result in hits more often than any other type of batted ball. Also, pull rate is an important stat, and works in concert with line drive rate to help fantasy managers identify some of the best contact hitters.

Contact ability is also important for fantasy managers to consider, so identifying and understanding stats like K%, BB%, O-contact% (chase rate), and contact% can provide fantasy managers with valuable information about batters.

For pitchers, fantasy managers should start by looking at expected ERA metrics like xFIP and SIERA that attempt to focus on things in the pitchers’ control. Fantasy managers should also take K/9, BB/9, and HR/FB% into account as valuable elements to understanding a pitcher’s production.

Commandment 4: Thou Shalt Pay Attention to Player Trends

In addition to paying attention to certain statistics, fantasy managers should also identify trends in player data.

This means that you can look into a player’s data to see if they have improved or worsened year over year.

For example, last season, Bobby Witt Jr. made improvements from his rookie year in important statistical areas. He improved his walk and strikeout rates. He significantly improved his hard contact to near elite levels. Witt also drove and pulled the ball better in his sophomore season. Additionally, he chased the ball less and made more contact. These trends reflect an improving player, and could mean that he could be even better in 2024.

So, while it is vital to research and look into advanced data, it is also extremely important to identify meaningful trends in the data – both positive and negative.

Doing so will help fantasy managers rank players before drafting and help establish value.

Commandment 5: Make a Cheat Sheet

Plenty of pre-made cheat sheets exist on the internet, but I will always advocate for making your own.

Spreadsheets are relatively easy to use, and fantasy managers can use them to organize players by position and tiers, and then use those positional tiers to rank players in the order they want to draft them.

This season, the top tier of first basemen arguably includes just Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson. The following players, in some order, may make up tier two: Pete Alonso, Bryce Harper, and Vladimir Guerrer Jr. But it could also include players like Paul Goldschmidt, Cody Bellinger, and Christian Walker, depending on how fantasy managers value them. (TIP: Not every position will include the same amount of players in each tier.)

As you read, research, look through the data, and identify trends, you can always move players around on your cheat sheet. It should be a fluid document, meaning it should constantly be changing as your evaluation continues.

Fantasy managers who create cheat sheets should also compare theirs to existing rankings and ADP as a way to establish your own sleepers and busts. For example, Tommy Edman’s current ADP is 2B 14, but you may rank him as 2B 20. That may mean you avoid him at cost.

Another tip for creating a cheat sheet is to have some form of notes on it – typing out notes, color coding, or using symbols. Make your notes simple so that you can quickly peruse them while you draft.

Commandment 6: Mock Draft

For those in keeper and dynasty leagues, it can be difficult to mock draft effectively, but mocks are an excellent way to establish value and develop your draft strategy. Whether in a snake or auction draft, mock drafts are essential for establishing a player’s value. Of course, Fantrax Mock Drafts are the way to go, but you should also mock on whatever site your league will be using for the draft.

If you have created your cheat sheet, make sure to use it when you mock. Get familiar with the draft room and its features before you draft and get familiar with your own cheat sheet. The clock in drafts can go by quickly, so knowing where everyone and everything is will help streamline your draft process.

Make sure to evaluate your mock drafts afterward and note what worked and what did not. Did your team end up too hitter-heavy? Too pitcher-heavy? Did you miss out on that first base run? Does your team lack depth at relief pitching? Make notes so that when you mock draft again, you can adjust your strategy to get the best possible result.

This also helps when fantasy managers are determined to draft a certain player. If you desperately want to draft Thairo Estrada and think you can draft him at his current 145 ADP, but he keeps going into the top 100 in mock drafts, you know you need to adjust come draft time.

Mock drafts also allow fantasy managers to draft from various slots. If you get a randomized draft slot, test out what it is like to draft from different positions. In a snake draft, drafting with a wrap-around pick is different than drafting from the middle of a snake draft.

This can all apply to auction drafts as well. Mock drafts provide insightful information into player valuation.

Look at mock drafting as a source of information. Do as many mocks as you want (or as you can), and gather as much information as possible.

Commandment 7: Track Your Needs

This begins the post-draft experience. Once fantasy drafts are complete, and the first few weeks of the season have gone by, fantasy managers should start tracking their needs.

It can be difficult but try to avoid paying attention to the standings early in the season. Even in the first two months or so, look past the standings.

Instead, focus on your team’s strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas where you need to improve. This could mean adding depth at a certain position. It could also apply to the league’s scoring format. What categories do you lack? What stats do you need in order to accrue more points?

Rather than look at the standings, look at the statistical rankings for your league. Are you far behind in pitching strikeouts? Do you need more RBI from your batters?

Identifying areas of need gives you much more valuable information than looking at the standings, will help you avoid panicking, and gives you a direction for improving your team.

Commandment 8: Trade Effectively

I mean, this is why we all play fantasy sports, right? We get to be the GMs and wheel and deal our favorite players. Well, if you know your strengths and weaknesses, you should be able to trade effectively.

Trading can be tricky because fantasy managers do not want to insult each other with lousy deals. To avoid something like that, establish a line of communication. Ask your fellow managers about their needs and interests before offering a deal.

Also, do not be afraid to offer a star player in a deal if it helps get what you want or need. If you trade from a place of depth to acquire a player that improves a weak area on your roster, that is what matters most.

Along those lines, never say “No” to a deal right away, even for a star player. At the very least, consider every deal that comes to you, weigh your options, then make a call. If you spent an early pick on Julio Rodriguez, you may be reluctant to trade him. However, if the rest of your outfield is weak, and another manager offers a package of top-20 players that includes two outfielders, it may be something to consider.

It is so important to build positive relationships with the other fantasy managers in a league, because trading is a great way to improve your team. Taking a long time to respond, not responding at all, or backing out of a deal could alienate fantasy managers from wanting to trade, and that could end up hurting your ability to improve down the road.

Commandment 9: Work the Waiver Wire

Whether your league has a traditional waiver wire or uses FAAB (free agent auction bidding), the waiver wire acts as the most important resource for improving your team.

Weekly and daily leagues present their own challenges, so fantasy managers need to know when waivers run in their leagues.

Pay attention to hot and cold streaks. The most important thing is doing whatever it takes to win. If that means adding a player for a few days of a hot streak to drop a cold player on your roster, that is what you should do.

Fantasy managers can also utilize research and advanced data to find players before hot and cold streaks happen. Looking at stats like BABIP and HR/FB rate for both hitters and pitchers (in context with other stats) could help fantasy managers find player who may be playing out of their minds or having a string of bad luck.

Many leagues feature restrictions on pickups during certain periods, while others have yearly limitations. Knowing those rules may influence how early and how often fantasy managers add and drop from waivers.

In daily leagues, fantasy managers should pay close attention to matchups, player splits, two-start pitches, etc. Knowing those things could give managers an edge over their counterparts. Additionally, you can also add players you know other managers might need as a form of keep-away.

Commandment 10: Don’t Give Up

Baseball is a long season, as is fantasy baseball. Even if things do not seem to be going your way, things can change.

It is so important to stay involved and to not give up. If you have followed all the other commandments, you will give yourself a chance to be competitive. Trust your research, trust the data, and trust the process through the season.

By late August of last season, I was in seventh place in a league where only the top four make the playoffs. I thought about packing it in, and even made some trades to prepare me for the following season. But I did not stop working the waiver wire and ended up getting a few good weeks out of a handful of players. I made the playoffs in that league thanks to sticking with it.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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