I was honored in 2018 when Scott White invited me to the “Scott White Dynasty League,” a 24 team dynasty points league with quite a few industry experts. It was my first real dynasty league and I inherited a pretty awful team, but I had a strategy and that’s all that matters, right? RIGHT?!
Well…not exactly. I only had a few good keepers, an $8 Whit Merrifield, $15 Charlie Blackmon, and $20 Corey Kluber (vomits beside desk), but I decided my goal for 2018 was to buy expensive studs and trade them for younger cheaper dudes so I could compete in 2019. Pitching was particularly scarce that year, so I plunked down $60 for Strasburg and $40 for Jon Lester (vomits beside desk again) and then…I won. And won and won and won and won…for weeks I was one of the top teams. I traded Yordan Alvarez off my farm team for Christian Yelich and Nelson Cruz to shore up my offense…and then injuries and I started losing and losing and ended up tied for 8th place. Top 8 teams make the playoffs and I lost the tie-breaker.
Here’s a graph of my team’s history dating back before I took over:
You will note:
- From 2013-2017 the other owner was REALLY terrible (I’m sure he’s a nice person, but in terms of this team…) – so I’m still proud of myself!
- I finished 9th two years in a row (yes, narrowly missing the playoffs) and then a respectable if unsatisfactory 12th in the weird shortened 2020, before a disgusting mess of injuries (I think I had 12 concurrent ones at one point) ruined me in 2021
And I finally arrive at my thesis: being a middling team in a dynasty league is ROUGH.
There really only seem to be two rock-solid tried and true dynasty strategies to employ, Compete or Rebuild, and committing to one on a middling team just doesn’t feel right. So I’m going to advocate for a third strategy, one specially targeted at teams like my beloved “IL Trash Fire Crap Garbage” (name will hopefully revert back to something pleasant now that 2021 is over). I call this strategy: “wtf” Yes, it’s lower case deliberately because I’m not screaming, “Trea doesn’t know that you shouldn’t have your finger running along the front of the bat on a bunt? WTF?!” I’m just saying, “Okay, I’m gonna do a little bit of this and see what happens, but then maybe I’ll shift back over to that, cuz…wtf.”
Yes, in 2019 and 2020, I had competitive teams and didn’t feel like I could quit on them and ultimately missed the playoffs. In 2021, I went into full sell mode, but good deals were hard to find in this particularly weird season. I added Zac Veen to my farm which was cool, but just $5 Nick Solak, $5 Trent Grisham, and $11 Willie Calhoun to my 2022 roster…exciting, right?! (it’s not exciting, really at all—Grisham has a job at least)
Here’s my pre-keeper/auction roster. Since I ended the season with four guys in IL slots, I will have to at least drop four players before the auction. I can keep everyone else at the listed price:
Still a middling or worse team because my offense is weeeeeak – I need a bunch of my weird, cheap, boring guys to step way up (or have a job Solak/Ibanez/Urias?), but I have no studs. None. Merrifield and Grisham are projected to be my two best hitters. I snatched Eugenio Suarez off waiver for $22 last season, so if he hits 49 HR again I’m a genius, but EEK. Title-boy Akil Baddoo was more impressive than you think last season and I’ll pay $19 for the chance at 20+/20+ potential. But it ain’t pretty.
Pitching is slightly better, with Sale, Luis Garcia, Alzolay, Paddack, and Lamet I should at least have 5 actual starters at some point during the season (in a 24-teamer, that’s not always a thing!) I’m also praying the Red Sox try Garrett Whitlock in the rotation. Please?
So lets talk strategy…my team is not good. But it’s not total trash. So…wtf. You can adapt this to your middling team too…
- Pay attention to spring training. Gotta clear that dead weight at the keeper deadline. My craptastic offense has a bunch of guys who may not be full time starters, they get the first ax. Guys like Andy Ibanez or Ramon Urias are not going to go for more than his $2 keeper value unless we KNOW they have a starting gig. Ditto non-closing RPs.
- Pick your auction targets. This might be the biggest key to “wtf” because your goal is to buy players that could BOTH help you immediately and also have trade value. If we go back to 2018, my $60 Strasburg is a great example. He helped me be competitive, but if I started losing even a week or two earlier, I had a great trade chip. This year I will probably try that with a hitter.
- Be flexible. This is a good rule with any draft/auction. If you suddenly get maxed out and lose your main target, be ready to spend elsewhere. Truly the worst feeling in an auction is ending up with unspent money. Dynasty’s tend to have MUCH shallower player pools then a more standard keeper league, so if you miss the big fish, there honestly may not be any mid-range guys to spend your dollars on, so if you can’t get the position you need, buy yourself the next best thing and go from there.
- Don’t jump the gun. But also don’t wait too long. It can be easy to overreact to losing the first couple weeks, but take an honest look at your roster. If you have a couple guys with April slumps, do a dive in to their stats, both current and historical, and see if you think they can come back and push you up. In SWDL’s 20 matchup regular season, if I’ve lost 4-5 weeks, I’m going to start shopping for the best deal. Being the last team to sell your assets might get you a desperation deal, but it also might leave you with peanuts. Give yourself the best chance to maximize your return.
- Have conversations about trades. Talking to your leaguemates about who you are interested in may not get you an immediate deal, but you get to know each other better and they might just come back to you later because you’ve established a dialogue (happened to me in 2021) instead of being the idiot who insulted someone by offering $45 Miguel Rojas for their $5 Acuna. (disclaimer: I never ever did that)
- Have fun. Honestly, I forget this part all the time. I don’t care how great your statistical analysis is, there’s no sure thing in fantasy and the last two seasons have shown us that in spades. If you’re out of it for the season and you’ve milked your trading partners dry, do an extra dip into the free agent pool and see if you can find an obscure minor leaguer to track. Playing for next season can be fun too (Hello Vinnie and Steven, not sure I can keep you, but maybe if you go off in spring training…). wtf!
And that’s my wtf plan for trying to get out of the middle of the SWDL. Have you been stuck in the middle of your dynasty league before? How did you get out of it?
Featured image photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo