Fantasy Fox: 5 ways to improve your roster after a deflating draft
Apr 7, 2014 at 3:22p ET
Here are five quick ways to improve your fantasy baseball roster in the coming days -- especially 5x5 roto leagues -- on the heels of an unsatisfactory snake or auction draft.
1. There should be no loyalty with late-round selections
As a general rule, it makes no sense to bail on established stars -- like Albert Pujols (zero homers, .200 batting), Ryan Braun (zero homers, .150 batting) or Prince Fielder (zero homers, .231 OBP) -- just 25 at-bats into the new season, even when overvaluing their respective talents on draft day.
After all, you can never have enough corner-infield/outfield studs (or prominent names) on a 25-player roster, especially guys that would be scooped up on waivers in a nanosecond.
However, that kind of patience doesn't apply to low-level fillers from draft day, slow starters like Marlon Byrd, Daniel Nava, Yunel Escobar, Yonder Alonso, Avisail Garcia or even Braves fixtures B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla, who are collectively batting .166 (with two runs and three RBI) through six games.
Quite simply, the above names are eminently replaceable assets in the fantasy realm, ones who could/should be forsaken for emerging talents that are flying under the national radar -- like Twins first baseman Chris Colabello (.391 batting, 11 RBI), Giants outfielder Angel Pagan (.419 batting, eight RBI), Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon (.542 batting, six RBI) or Marlins first baseman Casey McGehee (.375 batting, 10 RBI).
And if a few guys stick as consistent fantasy producers ... then the musical-chairs system of roster construction pays off a little earlier than expected.
Which brings us to this: It's odd that third basemen Josh Donaldson (zero homers, .115 batting), Nolan Arenado (.222 batting, .241 OBP), Martin Prado (zero homers, .216 batting) and Brett Lawrie (zero homers, .120 batting) have all been woeful out of the starting gate.
Each player is expected to be a significant contributor at the hot corner -- a position that traditionally offers little depth after the first wave of superstars. Prado, in particular, tore it up during spring training, notching 11 runs, a .440 batting average and 1.071 OPS in Cactus League play.
As such, given the lack of depth and general volatility of third basemen -- after the superstar contingent -- it's not prudent to drop any of the four assets ... short of a major injury or permanent demotion.
2. Seek out friends or respectful rivals for win-win 'handcuff' situations
Let's say Owner A drafted Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez and Braves outfielder Jason Heyward and Owner B selected Rays pitcher Alex Cobb and Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Elementarily speaking, this is a mutually beneficial trade for both parties, exchanging a top-15 starting pitcher (Sanchez) and top 25 outfielder (Heyward) for a top 10 outfielder (Gonzalez) and top 30 starting pitcher (Cobb).
But it might only be a no-brainer move with owners who are competitive rivals or close friends.
In other words, when there's a foundation of trust and/or respect between two parties, that's when thoughtful, win-win deals can quickly be consummated.
3. Within reason, move heaven and earth to trade for Billy Hamilton
Quietly rejoice in the speedy outfielder's nil batting average/.077 OBP from the first week of the season (as of April 7), knowing he's still a healthy lock for 85 runs, 100 steals and an OBP north of .350.
Bottom line: Take advantage of Hamilton's lackluster start. He has the power to singlehandedly carry the 'steals' category. He just needs to reach first base for that to happen.
4. Don't sweat Cliff Lee's surprisingly rough start
Through two outings, the Phillies southpaw has allowed eight runs and 21 hits. But at some point this spring, perhaps very soon, Lee (2-0) will undoubtedly cultivate a run of five, six or seven consecutive starts of surrendering two or less runs -- and maybe 21 hits altogether in that span. (His last outing resulted in zero runs allowed.)
Overall, Lee's a virtual cinch for 15 wins, a sub-2.80 ERA and 235 strikeouts.
5. Enthusiastically put Mike Trout up for public auction
Think of this as a last-resort ploy ... made four months in advance.
But to even get this far, an owner must first perform a brutal-truth assessment of their roster -- in terms of the multi-category depth/potential amongst outfielders, starting pitchers and corner infielders, relative to how everything stacks up with other teams.
And if the words "epic fail" keep coming to mind ... then it might be worth trading the fantasy realm's most bankable dynamo.
First, alert your fellow GMs to Trout's time-sensitive availability -- in the form of a short but informative email or message-board post.
Second, be extremely vague about what you're looking for, other than relaying that best offer wins.
Then, set a firm deadline for when all credible offers must be submitted. Emphasize how the blockbuster trade would be completed soon -- especially before Week 3 or 4 in head-to-head or weekly leagues.
For those playing in highly competitive leagues, expect an immediate avalanche of respectable trade offers -- calling for at least three high-level starters at corner infield, outfielder, starting pitcher or top-notch closer.
And if zero offers emerge, simply stand pat or gently remind your fellow owners of Trout's two-year averages in the majors (2012-13) -- 186 hits, 119 runs, 33 doubles, 8.5 triples, 29 homers, 90 RBI, 41 steals, a .324 batting average and .418 on-base percentage.
And the power numbers can only improve in the coming years.
After that, it's up to you to keep driving up the price, by any means necessary. Pit one owner against the other, until you're absolutely thrilled with the return.
Jay Clemons can be reached via Twitter, day or night, at @FOX_JayClemons.