Since there's not much going on during this part of the offseason, I thought we could have some discussions about fantasy basketball in general.
I've been playing fantasy basketball for years now and have experienced pretty good success in all formats, but I will freely admit that I'm not very good in roto leagues. I have a pretty good understanding of the basics, but I also feel like I'm just winging it in my roto leagues once the season starts. Maybe it's just being too lazy to crunch numbers down to the level of detail that some of the people who like roto more are, but I feel like I'm not maximizing my performance in those leagues.
I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only person who could use some help in refining their roto game, so I thought I'd start this thread to allow some of the roto experts chime in with some tips to help those who know how to play roto but are looking for that extra little edge to push them to the top. We can leave out basic tips like rotating in backups for injured players and making sure to maximize games played in all roster spots, etc., assuming the audience for this advice knows that much already.
To get things started, I'll start with one tip I've come across:
Punting Categories: While the general advice in roto leagues is to compete in every category and that punting should be reserved for H2H leagues, punting one or even two categories can be effective in roto leagues under the right circumstances. I've seen it work in leagues where the punting team manages to put together a roster that is VERY dominant in the remaining categories, and where the league is generally active and competitive. The latter point is important because you need every team to be somewhat competitive and for it to be difficult for teams to be dominant across the board. Your chances of winning while punting dramatically increase when even the top 3 teams of the league are struggling to dominate in every category, thereby bringing the total number of points needed to win down to an attainable number.
One of the main differences in roto, for me anyway, is that you need to be a lot more aware of player health. Games played is a much bigger deal than it is in HtH and I find that I really need to consciously switch gears on draft day. A lot of the gambles I might take in a HtH league just won't pan out in roto. Guys heading in to the season injured who aren't injury risks are different of course - guys like Kobe are probably great value this year for roto given where you can probably draft him. That's not to say that you can't find value in guys who slip because of injury risk, but you need to be prepared to manage your roster on a daily basis to account for it.
As far as the punting goes it really does work if it's done right. The Dwight Howard FT%-punt team is a roto powerhouse if built right. Other punt strategies work too, you just need to be careful not to inadvertently punt an extra cat by over-targeting guys who are actively bad in the punted cat, rather than guys who hold good value despite the punted cat, and that's a crucial difference. Some GMs punt Ft% by targeting guys who are actively bad in that cat but good otherwise, when what they should be doing is targeting guys who put up good value in a FT% punt situation regardless of what their actual FT% value is.
I'll lead off with a disclaimer. I'm not an elite rotisserie player. Never have been, never will be. But I have done well in some competitive rotisserie leagues over the years. So here is my contribution. Take it for what it's worth.
The Blockbuster Trade Absent the elusive perfect rotisserie team build, every team ends up with certain strengths and weaknesses. These strengths and weaknesses are determined in large part by the team's elite players. As the games remaining column transitions to the games played column, your ranking in each category gains inertia and becomes increasingly harder to change. My solution is the blockbuster trade. To work most effectively, the trade should be a legitimate blockbuster trade involving top tier talent (e.g., Durant, Lebron, Paul, Love, Harden, Irving). The strategy largely rests on nailing two key elements of the trade: timing and targeting. As far as timing, the key is to time the trade so that you improve your weak rankings faster than you lose ground in your strong categories. Easier said than done. Because every league is different, there is no single correct time to make the blockbuster trade. You'll have to make that calculus for yourself but in general it is probably 4-6 weeks from the end of the season. As far as targeting, you also have to precisely target the one player who will allow you to improve your weak rankings faster than you lose ground in your strong categories. If timed correctly, a deal involving Chris Paul and Kevin Love could end up winning the league for a savvy manager who has an overabundance of assists and a lack of rebounds. Even if you do your part, there is no guarantee that you will have a willing trade partner who sees the benefit of what can be a mutually beneficial trade. For those managers who are destined for a comfortable third place finish, look to the blockbuster trade to give your team a legitimate chance at the gold.
I used to be far better at ROTO back in the Cafe's heyday when we almost exclusively played that format, but I'll contribute what I can to this conversation.
Categorical Overkill: To build off what Phil said, you have to be very conscientious not to overstack a single category. The most efficient ROTO team you can build in theory would win each of the nine categories by one - one point, one rebound, one steal, etc. Winning a category nets you one ROTO point whether you win it by one or 300. Keeping an eye out and monitoring where you're at is key, as it enables you to identify these areas of overkill and take appropriate action when needed. Depending on how far behind you are in other categories, this could mean making that blockbuster trade or merely adjusting the mold of players you pick up off the waiver wire.
Phil did a great job summarizing numerous ROTO tips in this piece he wrote at Y! - would highly recommend you all read it.
Over the years, I've learned to really eye the standings the last several months of a season. Watching for where I can gain additional points by merely tweaking a roster spot (maybe two). Next, look for those buffered categories (the ones you can take a hit w/o dropping much, if at all, down the standings.) Then make the appropriate trades + waiver wire pickups (even if that means dropping a somewhat more valuable player overall).
Another tidbit that has gained momentum with me is not getting too attached to the players on the bench. Having one, maybe two inactives (due to injury), is fine for stretches of time but make space for good matchup guys for streaming purposes. This is especially important once the silly season starts, where it's worth taking stabs on usual fodder in decent to good matchups. You'll be surprised how many of these short term boosts add up.
Lastly, and we're all aware of this, max out the games played. For instance, last year in the Octogon Roto, I was the only manager to accumulate 820+ games played.
In short, don't get attached to your draft picks and don't hesitate to trade them if it makes your team better, even if the name brand value doesn't look good for you. That's especially true of big name players. If your team has Durant or LeBron and is middle of the pack after a month, or more, you may have to reconsider you position on trades.
jphanned wrote:Categorical Overkill:To build off what Phil said, you have to be very conscientious not to overstack a single category. The most efficient ROTO team you can build in theory would win each of the nine categories by one - one point, one rebound, one steal, etc. Winning a category nets you one ROTO point whether you win it by one or 300. Keeping an eye out and monitoring where you're at is key, as it enables you to identify these areas of overkill and take appropriate action when needed. Depending on how far behind you are in other categories, this could mean making that blockbuster trade or merely adjusting the mold of players you pick up off the waiver wire.
This is an excellent point that's kind of the polar opposite of H2H. Since so many people tank cats in H2H anymore, you literally need to say to yourself, I need to beat all other teams in blocks, so what total do I need from week to week, overall etc. In ROTO, you're theoretically only trying to beat the average of all of the other teams, which is significantly different. There's no bonus points for winning steals by 400 or blocks by 300. If you're tracking insanely over in certain cats, then implement plonden's suggestion and make a blockbuster trade to make up ground in other cats.
I think Matt Buser brought this up seasons ago as well and probably took it from someone else before him, but In ROTO leagues particularly keep in mind that it's possible centers who once shot 75% from the line could shoot 60% from the line this season. However, those same centers aren't just going to start hitting threes or assisting enough for an entire season to make a significant contribution.
The TO argument has been brought up as well as a tankable category in competitive ROTO, but it always seems like 1 or 2 teams get decimated by injury, so even if you draft a low TO team, you're almost guaranteed to never come in first in that cat if you're team is actually atop the standings. Kind of double edged sword.
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silentjim wrote:I think Matt Buser brought this up seasons ago as well and probably took it from someone else before him, but In ROTO leagues particularly keep in mind that it's possible centers who once shot 75% from the line could shoot 60% from the line this season. However, those same centers aren't just going to start hitting threes or assisting enough for an entire season to make a significant contribution.
Yep, I'll never forget using Matt's baseline #'s acting as a guideline on putting together a team in roto. Think the article was posted somewhere around 2005, but I used it for at least several years after.