Fantasy Fox: First-timer rules for daily leagues

Here are five baseball tenets to follow when navigating your way through a rotisserie (roto) daily league for the first time:

1. Add a fourth ‘S’ to your morning ritual

Most men are familiar with the s***, shower, shave routine for starting their day, every day. Well, now that baseball has arrived, fantasy owners should incorporate a fourth “S” — set lineups — into their morning to-do list.

It’s the best way to stay on top of what’s going on in baseball regarding breaking news, injuries, promotions, demotions or starting-pitching changes without altering one’s workday life too much.

And as someone who’s happily married to a girl with little interest in sports (except Auburn football), I have great empathy for the rabid baseball fan (guy or girl) who doesn’t have time or access to two or three nightly games (via DirecTV) at least five times a week.

In turn, the reliance on finding beneficial fantasy nuggets on the Web — outside of box scores — gets cranked up a notch.

That’s why it pays to get in the habit of setting lineups every single morning, even if there’s no need for short-term change.

2. Fill as many positional vacancies for that day as possible

In daily leagues, there are only three viable excuses for not starting a singular talent:

**He’s sitting out that particular day with a mild injury.
**There are no vacancies at his available slot(s) for that day.
**That player is currently biding time in the minors, but he’s still worth stashing until big-league-promotion time.

Aside from that, there are no acceptable reasons for benching a healthy asset in 10-, 12-, 14- or even 16-team leagues — especially hitters. If you took the time to draft Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown (my No. 1 sleeper), give him a chance to sink or swim in the starting lineup, regardless of that day’s pitcher.

Why even roster a guy if you don’t have confidence in him during a 162-game season?

Bottom line: You can’t nickel-and-dime your way to dominating all 10 categories (five for hitters, five for pitchers). You have to take a leap of faith that your guys will produce on a regular basis. Otherwise, what’s the point of keeping them?

There are always useful assets to be claimed on free-agent waivers.

3. Don’t bench relievers in daily leagues

The day will come when six or seven starting pitchers from your squad are in action, prompting the benching of set-up guys like Jonny Venters, Drew Storen, Ryan Cook or Phil Coke. But for the most part, relievers should be given every chance to succeed in daily leagues.

Roto leagues are all about the accumulation of seemingly innocuous stats for the season, and every one-inning appearance of zero runs, one hit and one strikeout goes a long way toward bolstering your overall pitching numbers.

What’s that old line about acting? There are no small actors … only small parts.

4. Don’t blow your FAAB budget in the month of April

For leagues that endorse blind-bidding auction for free agents, exercise prudence and good judgment with acquisitions in the first four weeks.

Let’s say each owner in a 12-team league has a seasonal FAAB budget of $125. That shouldn’t be an open invitation to purchase new Brewers pitcher Kyle Lohse or Braves spring hero Evan Gattis for $24 on March 27; nor should it be a reason to spend $18 on the next reincarnation of Tuffy Rhodes on April 2 (post-Opening Day).

(For young readers, Rhodes famously belted three opening-day homers off Dwight Gooden and the Mets in 1994, but essentially disappeared after that.)

The best endorsement for saving FAAB money involves the big-league arrival of Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun on May 25, 2007. On that day, fantasy owners were willing to spend a large chunk of money to acquire Braun. And what did the winner get? A four-month spree of 34 homers, 97 RBI, 91 runs, 15 steals and .324 batting average.

Moral of the story: Good things come to those who wait.

5. Please let your roster breathe until April 25

This tenet has nothing to do with the incidental changes that occur with fantasy teams.

It has everything to do with needlessly cutting stars who cannot hit their weight in April, or submitting knee-jerk trade offers to counter someone of David Price’s caliber struggling out of the gate (hypothetically speaking).

Obviously, you should never turn down a lopsided trade offer from a dullard owner — in your favor, of course — but April, in general, is not the proper time to react harshly to individual numbers or team standings.

In fact, I’m begging you NOT to check your daily standings for at least two weeks.

The wild shifts in momentum aren’t worth the heartache.

Jay Clemons
can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @FOX_JayClemons.