Monday, September 22, 2008

How to Win a Standard 5x5 H2H League

How do you win a standard* daily 5x5 h2h league?
It’s as easy as pick six lotto (or pick five if you have the tie-breaker).

Fantasy finals (especially in non-keeper leagues) are all about the last two weeks of the season. It’s entirely “what have you done for me lately.” Carlos Quentin: not so much, kick him off the roster. Ryan Howard: you’re happy you weathered the storm. Jayson Werth, you’re happy he’s done his best non-SF Aaron Rowand impersonation.

This means players like Werth, Shin-Soo Choo, Christian Guzman (yes even that Guzman), Kelly Shopach and maybe even Elijah Dukes need to find a way into your position player rotation.

You need to be streaming your roster spots to ensure you have a full hitting roster every day. Don’t worry about jettisoning an average player for fear your opponent will grab him. Any reasonable waiver period will make the gain negligible given what you made up by not having an empty roster spot. This does not mean I’m advocating dropping top 50 players…but outside of that, yeah sure.

This should signal that players now have different values given different circumstances. A valuable player in one league could very well be the love child of Jose Mesa/Armando Benitez in another.

If your competition is full of mashers and you haven’t beaten them all year in HRs, don’t worry about home runs. You need to find the categories you can win and go after those.

After two days, it is pretty clear what will and will not be competitive. You’re out in HRs and RBIs? Make sure you win Runs and SBs. This means it makes sense to drop the Carlos Penas of the world for a Willie (be it Harris or Tavaris) or Erick Patterson or Lastings Milledge or Coco Crisp.

Carlos Pena, in this instance, has no value to you or your opponent. If your opponent grabs the discarded Pena, he’ll only increase his lead in categories he’ll win anyway.

While streaming position players can help you on those Mondays and Thursdays, the real streaming power comes with starting pitching. Pitching categories are the easiest to manipulate on a week by week basis (because no one knows what they’ll get from virtually any hurler – viva Ted Lilly).

It’s important to know your opponent’s roster. High K pitchers on good win teams could make winning Wins and K’s difficult. So focus on vulturing saves (Hanrahan, the Orioles carousel, etc.), but make sure every pitcher you plug in maximizes ERA and WHIP.

Quite simply, it’s not about performing the best in every category and having the best all around team. It’s about performing the best in six categories.

There is a special caveat to the streaming – make sure you can get up early and make sure your league doesn’t have innings or moves caps.

If you can’t get up at 7:00 am, you might miss out on the best streamable pitchers. This means you’ll have to start streaming two days ahead or give up altogether.

If there is an IP limit, plan out how many innings you have left and what you can reasonably expect from your staff and move forward accordingly. Don’t leave starts or IPs out there, you’ll regret it.

If you’re up against a moves limit, you’ll have to maximize every move.

People may hate streamers not associated with a tickertape parade, but the strategy paves the way to fantasy gold. Look at the wire (in 10-12 team leagues), you’ll find:
Kevin Millwood (vs. OAK [1.35 ERA 0.90 WHIP])
Jamie Moyer (vs. FLA [3.12 ERA, 0.92 WHIP])
John Lannan (vs. SD [3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP])
Ryan Rowland-Smith (vs. LAA [4.05 ERA, 0.90 WHIP]).

I think you get the point.

Happy streaming and winning. Have a scenario, start/sit, or fantasy ethics question, e-mail me at

*standard = R, HR, RBI, SB, AVE, W, S, K, ERA, WHIP

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