If you enter a Yahoo Pro League this season, there’s a good chance you’ll see me in that league. I’ll be that stupid guy who has a meaningless team name that indicates who my best players are. This is just a way that a fantasy baseball addict like myself keeps track of my numerous teams. Some of my best team names in the past include Betts Bell Mop Sale, Mookie Dee Sco Votto and Scherzer’s Mop Story. While these are undoubtedly ridiculously dumb, this is just a means of categorizing who’s on which team. It’s surprisingly effective in terms of the other players on the roster too, as it tends to help me memorize the other players on each individual team. That brings us to our first key to winning a Yahoo Pro League…
Know Your Team
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is arguably the biggest factor in winning a Yahoo Pro League. Whenever I do a draft, I make a spreadsheet with all my team names on it and mark next to each one what my weaknesses are. Whether it’s power, speed, saves or average, you need to focus on these categories going forward and gear your adds to help these weaknesses. It’s such a long season that you’ll eventually solve these issues by making the correct moves. That’s why you need to re-evaluate what your weaknesses are about once a month, as you’ll have a better idea by looking through your statistics what you need to fix. That’s a beautiful part about the Yahoo format, as you can directly look at your particular categories on the league page and discover where you need to improve.
One thing I love to do that many people overlook is to bench your players on Saturday and Sundays. Sometimes people are stupid enough to leave players in their lineup when they have categories locked up and end up blowing it. That is the dumbest thing I see fantasy baseball owners do, as you have every right to bench your players. If you’re facing one of these all RP-teams and you have wins and strikeouts sealed while leading in ERA and WHIP, bench your damn pitchers! It’s a simple strategy that many people overlook but it’s imperative to win as many categories as possible.
You can also do it with hitters to salvage batting average but it’s much riskier because it’s hard to evaluate just how much of a cushion you have in terms of runs, RBI and home runs. It’s idiotic not to do that with pitchers, as it just takes a tiny bit of research to see how many starts they have left and how much they can potentially make up over the weekend.
If you’re unfamiliar with Yahoo Pro Leagues, here are some of the simple rules. These are head-to-head, 10-category weekly formats, with daily lineup changes. The 10 categories include AVG, Runs, HR’s, RBI, Steals, WHIP, K’s, ERA, Wins, and Saves. You get six moves per week and everyone is a free agent after the draft. When a player is released, they go on waivers for three days and then the waivers go through every night at 3ET.
This is actually what keeps the haters away from Yahoo Pro Leagues, as they complain about the time it takes to manage one of these teams. Those people are just whiners though, so abuse them mercifully if you can. If you don’t want to stream and be on your team every day, go play in a sim league or weekly roto league! Getting anywhere between three and six extra starts into your lineup can be the difference in two or three categories, as hitting the right buttons can be key to winning. You get six moves every week on Yahoo and you have to stream to gain an upper hand. Using pitchers against the Miami Marlins, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners are going to be my targets this season, as those are terrible lineups in great pitcher ballparks.
Two-start pitchers is a huge part of that too. One of my strategies is to have two slots open and use one for a two-start pitcher and the other slot to stream throughout the week. That can give me seven extra starts in any given week, which is obviously a huge bonus. It’s not just pitchers though, as you can have success through streaming hitters too. Getting a high upside hitter in a seven-game week can be a huge bonus, especially if he’s hitting in friendly ballparks. David Dahl actually won me some fantasy championships last season because I streamed him in the final week and he went nuts at Coors Field. There are times you want to avoid streaming though, as we’ll discuss that in my next tip.
Know Your Opponent
Knowing your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses are just as key as knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. We’re playing head-to-head here people; the only person you need to beat is your opponent. That’s why I mark on my spreadsheet how many starts my opponent will have that week and how many RP’s they own. Sometimes I get the fortune of playing an all-reliever team, as these can be some of the easy teams to exploit. What I like to do against an all-RP team is to designate five starters I want to start on my team. I bench everyone else but those five guys and my relievers and it generally leads to success. That always gives you the upper hand in wins and strikeouts while giving you a decent chance to win ERA and WHIP.
When you face a team like this, you want to stream at least two hitters to match all the bats they have because they’ll inevitably have at least three bench hitters. Be sure to pick up hitters with positional versatility and guys who can provide in numerous categories. Having all that in your favor takes a lot away from the team that built their core through relievers, as they’re handcuffed when you hold the key.
Take a look at their hitting strengths too, as you should gear your moves to counter their team. If they have a lot of steals, pick up some speed. If your opponent is filled with power, go find a bat who has seven games at hitter’s parks. This is simple stuff here but fantasy owners are often too lazy to pay attention to these sort of things.
Don’t Worry About Weekly Losses
Limiting your damage in a week can be critical in this format, as you’ll inevitably run into a monster opponent. Sometimes you’ll face one of these RP-only teams and face a pitching staff who posts a 1.11 ERA and 0.77 WHIP while squaring off against a bunch of bats who go off as well. The key in this sort of circumstance is to take your 3-7 defeat and move on. It’s such a long season, that you can make up a deficit like that in one week. What you can’t make up is a 1-9 defeat or a devastating 0-10 scoreline. These sort of lopsided defeats can be the difference between a three-seed and a seven-seed, which would ultimately land you outside of the playoffs. Just getting into the playoffs is key, as you can do anything in the final three weeks to go on a championship run.
That brings me to one more point. YOU’RE NEVER OUT OF IT! Sometimes you’ll look and see that you’re 20 games back with 10 weeks remaining and give up, but DON’T! I’ve made up margins like this because of the volatility of these players. Sometimes you face the six best teams in the opening weeks and you can be discouraged starting 10 games below .500. Who knows though, maybe you’ll play three inactive teams the final three weeks and rip off a 27-3 score in that three-week span. That’s how quickly things can turn in these sorts of leagues and it’s imperative to never give up until you’re mathematically eliminated.
There are obviously a million other factors to winning a Yahoo Pro League but hopefully, this is a good baseline to give you an easier way to handle it. If you have any other comments or questions, feel free to ask here or on Twitter @BartilottaJoel
Thanks, fellas and good luck with your leagues!