By now, many competitors have fallen out of contention in your fantasy baseball league, and may be chasing other pursuits, like fantasy football. For those of us still in the hunt, things can get very competitive and best yet, very strategic.
In rotisserie-format leagues, teams are looking to gain as many points possible. But that’s not the only way to win. If you’re sitting in second place, a few points out of the lead, any point your top rival loses is just as good as a point you yourself gain. It’s the points differential that counts. Not the total number of points accrued.
There are a few ways to indirectly influence your competitors’ standings position.
First, make sure your other leaguemates (the ones who have no real shot) are still paying attention to the league. They may not have a chance at first place, but in particular categories, they may still hold the power to beat your rival. So do whatever is necessary to get them engaged again. Attack their pride. Make fun of them for finishing last. Whatever. The point is that under certain circumstances, the indifference of others can be costly.
Second, pick your battles. For example, you might have an equal shot at gaining points in runs and RBI, but if you’re chasing your rival in runs but not RBIs you may wish to focus on the runs category. The upside there would be +1 for you and -1 for your rival. It’d be worth putting all your eggs in that basket with a high likelihood of success, rather than spreading risk by chasing both with a 50% probability of gaining +1 in runs and a 50% probability of gaining +1 in RBI.
Furthermore, you may wish to push your competitor to chase certain categories. For example, steals or wins — two categories that least correlate to the others. If you pick up a speedster to create the appearance you’re going after your rival in steals, he may respond by likewise doing the same. Perhaps his focus on steals might hurt his standing in RBI, since players who steal a lot of bases often don’t drive in many runs. In other words, examine every angle when considering the impact of your moves.
Third, and this may sound crazy, but there may be a time when it becomes prudent to drop a star player. Let’s say you comfortably have the lead in saves, but your rival is in the midst of a heated battle in that category. Heath Bell does less good for you on your team than he might do on another team, so long as it isn’t your rival’s team. If you play in a league that’s paying attention, and your rival doesn’t have a high waiver priority, it could be beneficial to just drop Heath Bell and hope someone other than your rival, competing with him in saves, picks up the Padres closer.
Clearly, not all of these tactics are “nice.” They won’t win many friends. But hopefully, there will at least be respect earned from a hard-fought season.