No matter which type of league you're in, you'll almost certainly find yourself setting your lineup in one of two ways. One permits daily adjustments to your lineup, including the use of free-agent pickups. The other allows weekly changes - wherein you set your lineup at the start of a week, usually on Sunday or Monday, and that group stays active for seven days.
The best thing about playing in this type of league also happens to be its biggest challenge: changing your lineup every single day. The upside is that you'll never be stuck with an injured, suspended or benched player in your active lineup for more than a day. The downside is that it can take a lot of work, especially if you have a big roster.
You'll have to make decisions more frequently, obviously, and often you'll have to do so without all the information. For instance, one of your players is injured, but the severity of it hasn't been made available yet. You're uncertain whether to play him or sit him. Or, there are rumblings about your closer's performance in last night's game. Decide now: Pick up the most likely alternative and perhaps sacrifice a more verifiable commodity, or wait to see how it shakes out and risk losing the closer handcuff to another owner? Often, it's better to err on the side of caution in those instances. Play the warm body, and protect your investments. But it requires more analysis than that.
With teams making moves every day, you need to keep on top of any breaking news so that you can react first. If you read that a top closer was injured in that evening's game, you'll want to be on the waiver wire picking up his setup man that same night. Quick reactions are critical in daily formats.
The unfortunate circumstances can hurt you. If your stud first baseman goes down, it's obviously a big blow. If he goes down on Tuesday instead of Saturday, it's terrible timing, and you can't address it.
Researching upcoming matchups becomes more important since, once you set your lineup, it's locked for the full seven days. Assess fringe pitchers who are scheduled to make two starts in the upcoming week; you'll want to get them into your lineup if your research justifies playing them based on the matchups, or vice versa. Hitters with doubleheaders or makeup games on the schedule make them more enticing, especially in leagues with no maximum games played. The number of games a position player might play can be a deciding factor for your debatables, especially in AL-only and NL-only formats.
You'll definitely face more uncertainty regarding the health of your players. Do you start someone who's day-to-day or expected to miss the first series of the week but return for the second, or play it safe?
Check the schedule for staffs and, in some cases, starters your hitters will be facing. Even the weather forecast can be taken into account. Since you're setting your lineup for an entire week, the process of selecting which players will start is destined to take longer.
Choosing your lineup may take more time, but you to do it only once a week. There is less need to be on top of the news at all times; instead, you can develop a system that requires less frantic behavior and allows you more time to analyze and make decisions. You must stay informed, but you're not going to awaken one morning and realize you've lost your closer without the opportunity to add his backup. You have more time to come up with creative ways to put yourself in position to win.
In daily leagues, nearly all players are available on a first-come, first-served basis, which underscores the need to be fast on the draw. Players released by other fantasy teams or added to the pool (those previously unavailable) are often placed on waivers. Otherwise, it's a free-for-all. Decisions must be made quickly and oftentimes without all the information one would like.
Your waiver priority (or bid if you're using an FAAB system) determines which players you will receive. Waiver priority and FAAB tiebreakers clearly become much more important when it's the deciding factor only once per week.
Since you get the opportunity to add players only once each week, keep careful track of your budget. Sometimes your targets are based on need more than want, yet you will be bidding against any other owners who may also want the fill-in you desire most. Determining which owners may be in the market for your player and the drop-off in free-agent options from one player to the next will help determine how much to bid. Speculation based on your research can give you a decided edge.
Often in this type of league, it's the players who are most active who place well. They are the first to pick up hot free agents and make changes that will benefit their lineup. This can turn off less competitive fantasy managers, so daily leagues need the right mix of competitors.
Daily leagues don't necessarily provide the truer test of knowledge; they sometimes reward those who have the quickest trigger finger. However, they also add a degree of excitement: Fantasy owners are able to make decisions on a daily basis and see them succeed or fail.
In leagues with a maximum or minimum number of games played at a position or innings pitched, monitor your progress on a daily basis. It's OK to be ahead or behind as long as you're getting positive production. If you're just loading up early and wasting games or innings for the sake of playing players, you're not helping yourself. Conversely, if you fall too far behind, you'll be forced into a position in which you must use players no matter how well they're doing.
Weekly leagues tend to appeal to more serious players because of the tradition and strategy involved. In fact, many competitive contests, like high-stakes leagues, are weekly. They are in many ways considered a truer test of fantasy baseball knowledge because moves and lineup submissions are based on calculations and in-depth analysis. This largely depends on the group playing, though; weekly leagues can just as easily be casual because owners have less time to devote to their passion.
In leagues with maximums (shallow, usually) or minimums (deep, usually), make sure you're on pace to make the most of your requirements, one way or the other. Missed playing time because of injuries, suspension, inclement weather and a host of other reasons, especially if they occur early in a week, will slow your pace. Conversely, doubleheaders, makeup games and other situations can speed it up. Don't forget to take them into account.