We're approaching the quarter pole; it's no longer still early. What sort of things do you look at in terms of standings, stats, etc., and when will you start addressing them in earnest?
Perry Van Hook
What is most important for fantasy players to glean from their league's standings are contained in the distribution of each category and not just the overall standings. Knowing your teamís rate of accrual of each stat will help you judge the progress your team is making (or not getting) in each column.
This categorical breakdown is also essential for good trading. You need to deal from strength (or abject weakness) in one category (or two) to get a player who will help you in another category (or two). And fortunately for many of you who are new to the game (and haven't found the right fantasy site to help you, cough cough) most of the sites where leagues are hosted have areas where you can easily measure your categorical strengths and weaknesses and how that is changing.
Really still too soon to panic?
In all my leagues, I begin, if I haven't already started, to assess which players are likely to be assets this season and what to do about them. What that may be really depends on the individual, the league and my needs, among other things.
In my few 12-team mixed leagues, I just focus on my roster and don't worry about the standings. I occasionally replace a player with one I think may better. In most instances with those teams, I'm confident that those teams are going to be competitive, no matter where they sit in the standings.
In my 15-team mixed league (Tout), I'm still obsessed with building depth. I continue to grasp at some straws to add to it. Occasionally, a straw becomes a reed (or a stick, I don't know). I just made a trade (acquired Michael Bourn, along with David DeJesus, for David Ortiz and Alex Cobb) to address a serious shortcoming in stolen bases. I'm ordinarily confident that I can find steals as the season wears on, but I felt that I had to address SB soon: My team has a serious dearth of players who run, especially because Jose Reyes is out for another couple of months.
I'm in only one AL-only league (LABR) this season, and for the most part, I've stood pat. Every salaried player must be in your lineup in this format, and I have no one I consider worth dropping. I've waited for Curtis Granderson to return from the DL. It's time that I aggressively shop a piece of my very good offense (perhaps in conjunction with a closer) to acquire SP (quantity and/or quality) because I'm in danger, I think, of falling too far behind in K's and such. The Brad Peacock experiment was an epic failure, shockingly.
So, basically, in sum: It depends. It just depends on every individual player you have active, in reserve and eventually coming back (you know, you think, you hope). It depends on how honest you are with yourself about each of them.
I think it is still too early to trade out of panic -- or even fear.
But ... I am not always assessing my team, but I am trying to be hyper-vigilant this year, assessing, using FAAB, and at least considering swaps.
I have three very competitive teams -- Tout, LABR, NFBC -- and am trying to avoid the trap of a hot start being followed by an unstoppable free fall.
So, I am trying to make sure and proactively not just make moves, but pick up players out of the free agent pool who can be of help both now and later (mmmm, candy).
I think the biggest issues owners run into is panic because a good team is under-performing out of the gate (your guys should have picked it up by now, or it is time to start mock football drafts) or over-performing, and leading to a false sense of security.
I really think being as hands on, day-to-day is the way to go (without overreacting, that is) - irrespective of the time of year.
Perry Van Hook
I think Lawr's gem statement is key -- regardless of what the weekly question is or how injuries are impacting a team at the moment. LOOK at your team, the free agents available, categorical changes, possible trade partners if relevant, and do them all on an ongoing basis as many hours as you can EACH week. There is no off time (maybe the All-Star break but that is often a time to work on trades -- to be discussed at a later time).
There's a stark difference between panic and preparation. While you mustn't blow things up on a whim, waiting too long to address problems leaves you with little time to recover from them. Start making plans now.
The trick is spotting problem areas accurately and quickly. Do your players have palpable upside or downside, statistically, with health or some other trait? The distribution of each category (roto, head-to-head, whatever) matters: How quickly can you make up a category, in the near future, to at least stay in the thick of things, if not move to the top, and must you make moves to do it?
What'll your situation look like when your DL players come back? Can you survive if they don't? What do other owners' rosters look like? (This should only be an ancillary component because your competitors will be making changes, as well.)
In shallower leagues, focus on your team. Those free-agent pools probably still carry ample help, even in small, rental-scale degrees. As you get to the more demanding league sizes of the aforementioned Tout and LABR, however, you'll probably have to get more creative with trades and nipping problems in the bud.
In such games, if by your judgment you realize you were wrong on a player, it isn't a bad idea to jump ship if that player's perceived value still outweighs his concerns. We talk about buying low and selling high, but the effectiveness of that is waning as more information is out there on those dang internets. Just make sure what you're getting back in return doesn't point to an overly obvious negative trend. If the player you surrendered wakes up, but you've prevented yourself from sinking in the standings with the assets you gained, you can't be upset. You helped your overall goal.
Most importantly, as mentioned before, build depth with the future in mind, regardless of your status. This can make up for any mistakes you make with time to spare.
Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.
Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.