Is it time to punt a category?

by on May 25, 2010 @ 12:00:00 PDT


To punt or not to punt? If you're considering punting a category, you are attempting to find a strategic way around some limitations that have borne themselves out on your roster, while still making every attempt to win the league or finish in the money. There's a lot to consider when determining if this is a viable strategy, including the following:

How are the categories stratified? Obviously, in the category that you are considering punting, you are already likely at or near the bottom. But the other categories that you seek to improve in through punting should be bunched tightly enough so that a small improvement can net you several standings points. If there are wide gaps in many of the remaining categories, then punting might not have the desired effect.

Is there a market for the players you wish to trade? If you play in a shallow league, then chances are that there are several decent pitching options available on the free agent market. This reduces the value of any starters that you might deal, for example, if you're considering punting wins. Similarly, if you're punting SBs, are your potential trading partners already set in this category? If so, then your Juan Pierre won't get you as far as it would otherwise.

Is there enough time left in the season to implement this strategy? You should look at projected stats for the remaining weeks and project the final standings with you (A) standing pat; and (B) with you making several possible trades after punting a category. In June, you should have time to pull this off. In July, it gets less likely (especially with the uncertainty of the MLB trading deadline), and in August it is most likely too late.

When deciding to punt, you also must weigh the affect that your traded players will have on other categories as well. Here's a look at possible categories to punt, and what else is affected:

  • Saves: This is probably the easiest category to punt, especially if you play in a 5x5 league. Trading a closer will hurt you somewhat in ERA and WHIP, but the actual effect of trading away 30 innings of a good ERA and WHIP won't really have that much of an effect.
  • SBs: Much easier to do in 4x4 than in 5x5, since runs are heavily tied to top-of-the-order speedsters. If you don't have runs as a category, then punting SBs is definitely a viable option.
  • Wins: Also much easier in 4x4, since you don't have strikeouts to worry about as well. Punting wins is very viable in 4x4 - you're basically going to a mid-season LIMA plan. But in 5x5, punting wins also means you are likely punting strikeouts as well.
  • HR/RBI: Very difficult to pull off in 4x4, and especially difficult in 5X5 since your top power producers also score a lot of runs as well. In standard roto, if your league's categories are so tightly bunched that you have a chance to win the other six categories by making improvements in each, then pulling off a "Sweeney Plan" might be possible.
  • ERA/WHIP: Easier to do in 5x5 than in 4x4, because you are adding as many mediocre starters as you can which will help in both wins and strikeouts. You need to be able to also finish well in saves too.
  • Avg: Punting this category could work equally well in 4x4 or 5x5. If you're floundering in this category, might as well sell off any high average hitters for others that can help you in power, or SBs, or pitching.

Remember, unless you can determine that punting a category will allow you to improve enough in other categories to make a run at the money, it's probably not worth trying to implement this strategy. But, if you can project high enough in the final standings by making a few bold moves and giving up in one or two categories, then by all means give it a shot.

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Ron Shandler began publishing statistical reports for baseball analysts and fantasy leaguers in 1986. Since then, his enterprise has grown into one of the largest information providers in the industry, producing quality products continuously and over a longer period than any other fantasy baseball company.

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