Here we are, everyone! And by everyone, of course I mean the few souls out there who still have something to play for in a deep league over the next week and a half. And by here, I mean my last NL/AL only column of the season.

It’s been quite a year. I have much more to say about it, and I probably will over the next few months.  While everyone is off playing fantasy football, enjoying the holiday season with family and friends, and generally braving the long winter months ahead, I’ll be hunkered down, obsessively thinking about and occasionally sharing my thoughts on the fantasy baseball season that is behind us, as well as the shiny new one that lies ahead of us in 2018.

But for now, I need to clear my head a bit. I’m still having trouble processing the fantasy seasons that Ryan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez have had, and am not sure when I will be able to move on from the burn I’m feeling, as I think this is literally the first year in the last five or six that I haven’t owned both of them in at least one NL-only league. Thinking about the way they treated me in the past, all while watching them wine and dine their current owners with more home runs and quality starts than they know what to do with – well, as with any nasty breakup, it has not been easy. But, it’s time to move on… and if nothing else, I can spend the winter daydreaming about who my 2018 imaginary fantasy baseball boyfriends will be (look out, Zack Godley, I may be coming after you!)

And, if you are one of the lucky ones soldiering on in a deep NL or AL-only league over the next ten days or so, here are some fellows that are owned in only a few percent of leagues… but who, if all the stars somehow align correctly, could end up giving you that magic stolen base or 3-RBI game that puts you over the top.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hello? Anyone out there? With just two and a half weeks left to the major league baseball/standard rotisserie season, it’s starting to feel like there are just a few of us left, stranded in a deep, dark cave. If you are still grinding out these final games and fighting for a money finish, good luck and congratulations. If you are completely out of it in your league but are still actively tinkering with and setting your lineup for the good of the fantasy game, you are a better man than many, and I hope the fantasy gods reward you with future spoils. And if you are just killing time at work or trying to distract yourself from a disastrous week one in fantasy football and reading this even though you don’t currently own a deep-league fantasy baseball team that you are actively managing, thank you and welcome!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I shall open this column by quoting September 1st Grey: “I’m not enthused by the guys headed to the majors this September.” I agree completely – I thought there would be a lot more intriguing under-the-radar call-ups to discuss, both for NL or AL-only help over the next few weeks, or to grab with an eye on next year in keeper leagues. Instead, I’m reminded that keeping one’s head in the fantasy baseball game can be less fun and more chore-like with each passing day as we inch towards October.

In September, there’s a lot more inventory, but less of value. Veteran players on non-contenders are getting rested more often, as are young studs on playoff contenders. Starting pitchers are hitting innings limits. And since expanded rosters mean that there’s often no need to officially DL players, it can be hard to tell who is going to get at bats at all, and who is pretty much done for the year. If you’re still actively managing a fantasy team in a deep league at this time of year, there may be more names than ever to choose from on waivers… the tricky part is finding anyone who might actually help your team over the next three and a half weeks.

Now, just since I started writing this, news has arrived that J.P. Crawford and Luiz Gohara have reached the show, so things are getting at least a little more interesting. Meanwhile, here’s this weeks handful of guys who may still be floating around in the deepest of leagues:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So, I thought the ridiculously garish nickname jerseys over “players’ weekend” were going to be the lamest thing ever (side note:  Huh? Don’t the players get 100% of the attention every weekend? Isn’t that kind of like when you asked your parents why there was Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, but no Children’s Day, and they told you EVERY day was Children’s Day?) Maybe the uniforms were kind of silly, but I’m going to have to admit that I actually enjoyed them.  Of course, we have to remember that the comedy bar in professional sports is, well, comically low… but still, the jerseys were pretty entertaining. My three personal favorites:

Take on Razzball writers and readers in the Fantasy Football Commenter Leagues for a chance at prizes! Free to join, leagues still open!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Put down that Fantasy Football magazine!! (Do they even make fantasy sports magazines any more? Man, I miss walking to the mailbox in late February and seeing my beautiful new fantasy baseball magazine sitting there.  Damn interweb!  Wait, if it weren’t for reading about fantasy sports on the internet, I wouldn’t be writing this right now.  Hmm, may need to rethink my position on this).  Anyway, I know it’s hard to pay attention to fantasy baseball at this time of year, even if your teams are hanging in there, and it’s emotionally and mentally grueling to follow along if your teams have already crashed and burned. I get it… another weekend of one step forward (Colin McHugh) and two steps back (Jake Odorizzi and Roberto Osuna – thanks, guys!) had me so frustrated in a deep AL-only league where my team is fading fast, that I barely remembered to set my lineup this week. I’ll also admit that when I sat down to write this article, I was almost immediately distracted by all of the pretty pictures of NFL players, and spent about twelve minutes thinking about whether to rank Bilal Powell or Carlos Hyde higher in a football draft that isn’t happening for another week and a half.

But even if it’s only a few minutes each week, check in on your poor, neglected friend, your old pal fantasy baseball. Even if you don’t have a team vying for a money spot, keep your head in the game. Do it for your league-mates, and do it for yourself… even if it doesn’t make a difference this year, maybe it will impact your 2018. You may uncover a hidden gem of a player, or a piece of information that will percolate in your brain over the winter, and turn into a late-round steal or early waiver wire pick up next year.  Those of us who missed the Ryan Zimmermans, Justin Smoaks, and Scooter Gennetts, of the world in 2017 know just how big a difference a couple of these fellas can make.

For now, though, we remain in 2017… with another handful of players who may be available in your NL or AL-only league to assist you in getting through the season’s remaining weeks:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Is it just me, or has anyone else already started worrying about which players are going to burn them the most in 2018? Grey has already mentioned how the sudden late-season production of guys like Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson will probably dupe folks into buying into them next year with a sense of false promise. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, but I’m already imagining and stressing over the bad relationships I will probably enter into during my 2018 drafts and auctions, and trying to figure out if there’s anything I can do to avoid them.

The gentleman who I feel has strung me along the most, given me a handful of fun times over the last couple of seasons, but ultimately disappointed me to the point where I’ve decided it’s probably time to break up for good, is Yoenis Cespedes. Even after a spotty, injury-plagued 2016, I put a lot of eggs in his basket this year as my go-to NL power/average guy. Cut to mid-August, and dude has fewer homers than (among a million other people), Paul DeJong and Scooter Gennett (and now Ces has pitched fewer innings than Scooter to boot!) He’s been one of my biggest busts of the year, and yet, after seeing him hit 4 bombs over his last 7 games, I can feel my head starting to turn in his direction once again. I’m already wondering if he’ll be a value pick next year, and worrying that if I don’t stock up on as many shares of Cespedes as I can get my hands on, he’ll pull a 2017 Giancarlo and lead the way to 2018 victory for everyone else’s fantasy teams. Am I the naïve girl falling for the jerk who’s mistreated her before, and will again? Or the wise woman ready to give a great guy the final chance he deserves before ultimately walking off into the sunset with him?

The Razzball Commenter Leagues for Fantasy Football are now open! Take on your favorite writers and other readers of the site for a chance at prizes!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Not gonna lie: the pickings are slim at this time of year. After a couple of weeks where it seemed like there were actually a few almost-interesting names on the wire in NL and AL-only leagues, the pool is pretty dried up.  When I looked up “blech” on just out of curiosity to see whether or not it was considered an actual word, I was amused to see the sample sentence for its entry:  “Blech, I feel like vomiting.”  I suspect that is how many of us feel each time we peruse the waiver wire looking for help in an NL or AL-only league.  In deep leagues, it can get incredibly frustrating reading recommendations about how it might be a good time to grab Reynaldo Lopez or Rhys Hoskins, when those guys have been owned in your league since April (if not before). But every once in a while, an under-the-radar minor leaguer, post-hype prospect, or washed-up pitcher who has a surprisingly good run of starts slips through at this time of year, so it’s still worth paying attention to who’s getting added and dropped.

Fantasy Football RCLs are here! Join one today to take on your favorite writers and other readers of Razzball for a chance at prizes!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

A few weeks ago, Grey listed Billy Hamilton in both the Buy and the Sell sections of the same column. It was a great reminder of how much player values change as the season progresses, and particularly how much a single player’s value can differ from one fantasy baseball team to another. By this time of the season, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your team could use to gain some precious points in the standings, and what would just be excess that does you no good at all.  Hamilton could be serious difference-maker on one team, and unnecessary waiver-wire fodder in another.

Obviously things are vastly different in NL-only, AL-only, and other particularly deep leagues — guys like Billy Hamilton aren’t just sitting around on waivers. It’s still important to remember how different a player’s value can be from one team to another though, especially when it comes to trades. I have a few leagues where there’s still a week or two left before our trade deadline, and it amazes me how many offers I’m still getting that would be of no help to me whatsoever — and, even more ridiculously, wouldn’t be of much help to the owner offering the trade either. Sometimes owners are so worried about getting the “best” or most owned player in a deal, that they forget to pay attention to whether or not those players could actually help their team rise in the standings. And even when going through the slim pickings of a deep-league waiver wire, don’t forget what you’re shopping needs are. Unless you’re playing defensively or have a trade in mind, there’s probably no reason to pick up a bad reliever just because he might close, or a horrible hitter with a little speed, if you already have more saves or steals than you know what to do with.

Speaking of players like bad relievers that may close, time to look at some guys who might be available in NL or AL only leagues:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Finally, things are happening! Wait, an exclamation point in the title, and to close the first sentence of this post?? Feels a little desperate, but maybe a little desperate is just what I’ve been… desperate for some intriguing, consequence-inducing major league baseball transactions, that is. And sure enough, some actual interesting major league baseball trades and moves are happening, trades and moves that have actual interesting implications in fantasy, hence my inability to refrain from the exclamation points. It’s a frustrating time of year if your team(s) are already out of the hunt, but if you have even one league where you’re still in it (or a keeper league where moves you make now affect your team’s future), then it’s worth paying a little extra attention to baseball this week.

When stuff goes down, the effects tend to be magnified in the world of NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues. A rock thrown in the ocean might not even be noticeable, but the same rock tossed into a tiny pond can make quite a series of ripples. And so it goes with trade implications in the deep-league world – one crummy closer getting traded to a new team to become a set-up man on another can set of a series of player value changes, waiver wire activity, and FAAB pickups that might make what proves to be a make-or-break difference to your pretend squad of real-life major league baseball players. A minor league promotion/demotion can give you or taketh away from you a player that can make an awfully big difference to you fantasy team – there’s still a lot of time left, after all. Keep your head in the game, check your preferred online sources of information a little more often, and don’t be the one to miss out on a move that could ultimately cost you a fantasy title two months from now. (!!!)

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Well, baseball is back and the All Star break already feels like a distant memory, but it seems like there’s not really a lot going on in terms of the NL or AL-only waiver wire. With Jose Quintana, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, we’ve had one biggish-name and two possibly impactful crossover players head to the NL, so depending on how your waivers work that may have produced a flurry of activity. Beyond those names, though, I feel like the waiver wire has been even thinner than normal in both the NL and AL only world. Perhaps a moment of calm before the storm as more trades/promotions go down, and it can be awfully difficult to predict how much real-life trading action there will be — and how it should impact one’s approach on using waiver priority, FAAB dollars, or whatever other method your league NL or AL-only league might use to acquire crossover players. (By the way, I should mention that I’m writing this on Monday and will not have a chance to edit it before it gets published, so if crazy flurries of trades, injuries, and assorted moments of baseball wackiness occur on Tuesday, well, that’ll have to be addressed next week).

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yes, I know that title doesn’t really make sense, but my mind is clouded by the lack of meaningful box scores. I normally like to be on vacation during the All Star Break, especially ever since Major League Baseball cruelly lengthened it from three to four days. In my opinion, the only thing worse than having no baseball for four days in the middle of the summer is having fake baseball and something called the ESPYs on for three days in the middle of the summer, and I’d rather be as busy as possible during this time.  Sure, every once in a while something interesting will happen during the Home Run Derby, and occasionally the actual game is watchable, I suppose.  But seeing Yadier Molina hit a bomb that doesn’t count for any of the fantasy teams I own him on just makes me, well… sad.

Basically, watching baseball the last two days was just a few hours of waiting for things NOT to happen. It was worrying that a player crucial to one of my teams would screw up his swing trying to hit pretend homers, or pull a hammy running out an infield hit that wouldn’t even help his own batting average, let alone my fantasy team’s. It was also a painful reminder of why I’m not doing well in certain leagues – namely, having to watch the players I don’t own anywhere who came out of nowhere (and by nowhere, I mean the late rounds of a fantasy baseball draft) to become bona fide 2017 all stars, often leading their fantasy team owners to the top of the standings.

Drafting players in the middle and late rounds who outperform their draft position or auction cost is important in any fantasy league regardless of structure, but it is absolutely crucial in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues. I’m sure Clayton Kershaw and Jose Altuve are on plenty of first place fantasy teams, but I suspect the real names you’ll find over and over again when looking at the top of the standings are more like Ryan Zimmerman, Ervin Santana, and Jason Vargas. With that in mind, and with no fringey deep league player playing to talk about picking up, I thought I’d use the break to take a look at the players who are some of the first half MVPs in deep fantasy leagues: those that have outperformed* their 2017 pre-season ranking** by the widest margins. We’ll also take a look at their second-half futures via Steamer projections for the rest of the season (with some completely unscientific, woman’s intuition-style guesses from me as to whether or not I agree). Obviously none these guys is likely to be available in a shallow league, let alone deep formats, but with most of us facing a fake baseball trading deadline around the same time the real one hits, we’ll need to be thinking about whether any of these players are worth buying… or selling, at the right price.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Here we are halfway through the season – still a small sample size of games in the grand scheme of things, but I’m finally willing to admit that some of this year’s most surprising breakout hitters may continue to help fantasy teams as the season progresses. Just looking at the All Star starting lineups, each team has several pretty huge surprises (unless you correctly predicted back in April that Ryan Zimmerman, Zack Cozart, Justin Smoak, and Corey Dickerson would all be starting). In the outfield, I certainly didn’t see Marcell Ozuna and Aaron Judge getting the starting nod.

With all of these guys, I feel like the tendency from a fantasy perspective would be to sell high while you can, and avoid trading for them at all costs when their value is sky-high (and if you own any of them and you can, say, get a king’s ransom for Aaron Judge in a re-draft league, go for it). But if you find yourself on the other side, getting offered a guy like Ozuna by an owner who you suspect might be desperate to sell him when his value is as high as possible, making a deal to add a perceived over-performer may not be the craziest thing in the world.

Last year, I traded for Daniel Murphy right around this time of year, even though I knew I was getting a player who was most likely at the peak of a career year. But I knew that even if his batting average came down substantially (amazingly, it didn’t) and the power evaporated somewhat (it did, to about the extent I expected), he would still be a huge asset to my team in terms of helping me in a couple categories that would, and did, lead me to gain a few points in the standings. It never feels good to buy high on a player, but I don’t like to discount it as an option if I feel it might ultimately help my team over the long haul – especially in very deep leagues where you know the waiver wire pickings are always going to fall into the slim-to-none category. And speaking of slim pickings on the waiver wire, let’s get to some names who might be relevant in AL and NL-only leagues.

Please, blog, may I have some more?