To me, the best part of the fantasy season is the draft. Nothing beats the weeks of preparation, research, strategy and mock drafting. In reality though, fantasy championships aren’t won at the draft, they are won during the season. If you compare the team you have on draft day to the team you have on the last day of the season, I would venture there is at least a 50 percent turnover of your roster. Injuries, trades, waiver wire and free agent claims will churn you roster over the season, and it is in this churning where championships are had.
What this column will attempt to do is target players to buy low and players to sell high, so that as your roster churns you get the most out of it. Finally, of utmost importance to this column is accountability. Each player who appears in this column either as a sell high or a buy low target will be monitored for the rest of the season from the point of the recommendation. I will periodically post updates, showing how my recommendations have panned out.
The season is so young that it’s really impractical to recommend anyone to sell high on. Sure you can try to get a return for Chris Davis, but most managers are going to see what you are doing and not bite. Instead, let’s discuss two important keys to selling high we will be using for the rest of the year. First, be realistic. You are selling high because you think the player is at peak value and will not sustain the performance, whether it’s because he is playing over his head, he is an injury risk or any other reason. Therefore, be realistic in what you ask for in return. Chris Davis is the number one player in fantasy today, but Chris Davis for Evan Longoria is a bad trade to propose. Proposing trades like this do nothing but annoy other managers. If you propose that trade, you are basically writing “Hey dummy, here’s a trade.” It annoys other managers and also makes it harder to make actual deals later.
Secondly, once you decide you are going to sell high (or buy low), do it quickly. The worst thing you can do is float out a trade or two and sit around. You need to be aggressive. Every day that passes is another day where the value of the player can start to decline. Remember you are selling high because you think there is an adjustment coming and you don’t want to be holding the bag when that adjustment comes. Each day you sit around waiting to see if that manager is going to accept your Chris Davis for Evan Longoria trade is another day Davis can go 0-for-3 and start to decline in value. Be aggressive and flexible.
It’s way too early to be giving up on players, but not all managers feel that way, and it is possible to buy low based on early season perception. After all, no one wants to be the guy holding on to 2011 Adam Dunn as his value circles the drain. At this point in the season, this strategy is all about playing on the fears of other managers. I’ve come up with two players who if you liked preseason you may be able to get at a discount now based on their perception.
Dickey definitely had his detractors this preseason. The switching of leagues, the “uncertainity” of the knuckleball and the age of 38 had a good number of owners hesitant on Dickey. He’s gotten off to a rocky start this season, and an anecdotal look at various fantasy sites, leagues and forums seem to have Dickey owners in a bit of a panic. This early in the season, there’s just not enough of a sample size to tell a complete picture either way. He looked terrible against the Red Sox, but all indications are that he is healthy. He has struck out nine batters in 10.2 innings, his BABIP is a rather high .343 and technically his first start was a quality start. This play is more about capitalizing on the perception and fears of Dickey owners that already existed. David Price, Cole Hamels and Matt Cain are just a few of the “ace-type” pitchers who have gotten off to rocky starts this year, but none of those players are buy-low candidates because there just isn’t the perception of fear and concern around them. If you liked Dickey this preseason, now might be a good time to make a move on him.
Another classic game of perception. I liked Ichiro before the season started as a No. 3 OF type of play. However, the injuries that have hit the Yankees, their poor start and the general feel about the Yankees around baseball makes Ichiro a potential buy-low target. Ichiro has gotten off to a slow start and has been buried at the bottom of the Yankees lineup. On top of that, if you pick up any New York newspaper or read national baseball media, Ichiro is playing for a team that will battle with the Astros for worst team ever. It’s this type of fear-mongering that may play right into a savvy owner’s hands. The Yankees have had their problems, but reading the latest injury reports, it’s entirely possible that they may have their entire lineup back in four to six weeks. That will not only give Ichiro better protection, but also allow manager Joe Girardi the flexibility to move Ichiro in the order (as batting Ichiro-Gardner-Cano puts three lefties in a row).
Ichiro is also a good example of how you must move fast once you target a player. I originally targeted Ichiro as a buy-low candidate for this column on Sunday morning. As I write this, Ichiro has gone 3-for-9 with two runs and two RBI over the last two games. That type of performance doesn’t help the fear-mongering we want!
Once the season gets going, we will be able to locate buy-low candidates using more stats and sabermetrics. For the next week or two, you should still be targeting players you were high on in the preseason, players who for whatever reason have the appearance that their value has dropped.
Feel free to post your own sell-high and buy-low targets in the comment section, and be sure to include the worst sell high/buy-low trade offers you have received as well!
Chris is a fantasy baseball fan, who plays the game the right way and enjoys writing about it. You can follow him on twitter @RotoBaseballX
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