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Fantasy University: The DL Slot

Welcome back to Fantasy University. Today we discuss utilizing DL slots, and how to use them to your advantage. A very simple concept that many fantasy players use in both Keeper and Redraft Leagues; albeit, differently in each scenario. Let’s take a look:

Keeper Leagues

This is the easiest type of league to fully utilize the DL slot. You can use a full season stash on a player, without penalty, and keep said player for the following season, without the cost of eating an active roster spot. This is great not only for players who are injured mid-season (think Matt Harvey & Jose Fernandez in 2014), but also players who are slated to miss an entire season even before you draft your team (think Yu Darvish, Marcus Stroman, Zack Wheeler, and even potentially Cliff Lee in 2015). Pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery, like Darvish, in the current day and age are coming back stronger and sharper than even before surgery. So, instead of taking a flier on a player who may not make it through April on your roster, draft a player like Yu, stash him on your DL immediately after he is officially placed there, and then pick up another flier who may not make it out of April on your roster.

Now, the ability to do this boils down to several factors: where are you willing to draft a player who will not contribute a single inning or at bat to your team this season? (For me, in my main league draft, it was the 262nd Pick, which some will say is reaching, while others would not have waited that long. That was my personal threshold, and I got him, and the general reaction in the Draft Room was that several other owners were disappointed that I took him there, and they missed out on him.) Also, how many DL spots do you have? Throughout the course of the season, we’ll of course need to use DL slots for, you know, players who go on the 15 Day DL, who we have intention of using for the remainder of the season, do not want to drop, and want to replace the roster spot of. So if you are in a league that limits you to only one or two DL slots, then this becomes trickier, yet still doable.

Provided you are able to use this method of utilizing the DL slot, the potential becomes great. You can either potentially keep the injured player, if he would qualify and be deemed a keeper worthy talent for your league setting, as the aforementioned Darvish would in almost all formats. Or, as your trade deadline approaches, you use the player as trade bait for teams who have switched gears towards looking at next year, as they are close to being eliminated from post-season contention, or have decided to ‘play for next year’, as many teams do. This player can be packaged, and you can essentially afford to vastly overpay for a player to help you win immediately. The current cost for you is not increased, but the future value to your trade partner is, substantially. The potential for everybody to win in a trade like this is ripe.

In deeper leagues, aside from those mentioned above, players such as Tyler Skaggs and Jurickson Profar also have potential for this type of use. Same with Masahiro Tanaka after his season is eventually ended by surgery (that may just be my wishful thinking).

Redraft Leagues

In Redraft Leagues, this strategy can be used to snag players who are slated to miss the first month or two (or three…) whose draft value has plummeted as a result. In 2015, I’m thinking of a player like Michael Saunders, who had great Sleeper potential heading into this season, before being sidelined with unexpected knee surgery in February. So, Saunders no longer possesses the potential for a full season of production, but that doesn’t mean he can’t give you four or five months of that same, production. There’s no reason for you to feel as if you need to snag him right as he’s slated to come off the DL. Draft and stash him. Use a flier fill-in for the first month, or however long he’s sidelined, and then re-assess when he’s ready to come off the DL. You may even get away with letting him sit in your DL slot for a week or so, to see how he starts off of his injury, if you don’t require any Adds or Drops over that time. It’s rare, but it happens. You get potentially very large return on investment, at a fraction of the expected initial price.

This Add is done easily, as two transactions. If you want to Drop Player A, and ultimately Add Player B, with Player C being the DL stash. First, Add Player C, and Drop Player A. Stash Player C on your DL, freeing up a roster spot on your bench, where you can Add Player B. Now you’ve got the guy you wanted, while also being able to stash on your DL, a player you can drop any time you want, should you otherwise need the slot for another injured player, etc.

Other players who fit the bill here, in varying levels, include Garrett Richards, Coco Crisp, Mike Minor, Jaime Garcia, Bronson Arroyo, Patrick Corbin, Brandon Beachy, Bobby Parnell, Josh Johnson, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Jake McGee, Matt Moore, Kris Medlen, and Ivan Nova.

So, don’t let those DL slots go to waste. Treat them as similarly to your Bench roster spots as possible. They are to be utilized and used for whatever gains possible.

Want to further discuss this topic? Have a topic you’d like me to discuss in a future article? Catch up with me on the Fantasy Baseball Cafe Forums at bigh0rt. Dismissed.