Nick’s Fantasy Focus

fantasybaseballIf you are new to fantasy baseball, or are just unsure where to play or what to look for in a league, you’ve come to the right place! As a 10 year veteran of fantasy baseball, I’ve endured several different types of leagues. Some bad, and others good, but over the years I’ve learned what it takes to make a great fantasy baseball league. Before you can even join a league, you have to know where to play. In my opinion, Yahoo offers the best fantasy baseball game. They provide player updates, player rankings and thought-provoking articles. It’s easy to use, and best of all – it’s free. All you need to get started is a Yahoo ID.
One thing that is not free, however, is Yahoo’s StatTracker. StatTracker provides you with instant player stats and live fantasy scoring. It’s extremely useful, especially if you don’t want to wait until Monday morning to see the final score of your weekly match-up. $9.99 gets you StatTracker for an entire season. If you’re a serious player, it’s definitely worth it.
Yahoo also offers a PLUS League for $124.99. If you’re in a 12-team league, it’s breaks down to just over $10 per person, or the same price as StatTracker. PLUS Leagues offer several advanced features that are not included in the free leagues. For example, PLUS Leagues offer additional scoring and settings, plus divisional play. StatTracker, Draft Kit ($9.99 value) and Scouting Report ($14.99) are also included. Yahoo even sends a free bobble head or t-shirt to the league winner at season’s end!
Now that you know where to join, it’s time to determine your league’s settings. There are head-to-head (H2H) leagues, and there are rotisserie (roto) leagues. In a H2H league, every team battles another opponent each week. Roto leagues, on the other hand, are very unique. Instead of playing one opponent each week, you play against the entire league, and all of your team’s stats accumulate during the course of the entire season. Points are awarded to your team based on where you place in each category. For example, in a 12 team league, if your team leads the league in home runs, you get 12 points. If your team is last in HR, you get one point. This applies to each stat category, and all of your points are added up to give your team a total score. The highest score at the end of the season wins.
While H2H is generally more popular, I tend to favor roto leagues, because they are more likely to produce the best team as the winner. In the H2H format, you can finish first in the regular season standings, only to get bounced in the first round of the playoffs due to one bad week. Go roto!
Another setting you can adjust is your league’s stat categories. The default categories include: runs, home-runs, runs-batted-in, stolen bases, batting average, wins, saves, strikeouts, earned-run-average and walks-plus-hits-per-innings-pitched. This is pretty standard, and what I would recommend. If you want to get a little crazy, you can add on-base percentage and holds. Anything else, such as hits, doubles, total bases, losses or strikeout-to-walk-ratio becomes too repetitive and complicates things. Keep it simple!
Another thing to consider when joining or creating a league: Do you want a one-year league, a keeper league, or a dynasty league? One-year leagues are pretty  self-explanatory. Keeper leagues allow you to keep a certain number of players from one year to the next. In a dynasty league, each team keeps their entire roster from year to year.
One-year leagues tend to include 10-to-14 managers, which is pretty standard. However, if you really want to challenge yourself with a long-term keeper/dynasty league commitment, a 16-to-20 team league is a great test. These leagues force you to become very knowledgeable with many more players. Once you’ve conquered a 20-team keeper/dynasty league, consider yourself qualified to write fantasy articles and offer advice to others!
Now that you know where and what to look for in a fantasy baseball league, you’re ready to start preparing for your draft. Check back in the coming weeks to get the inside scoop on my player projections, rankings and sleeper picks for the 2009 fantasy baseball season!

Nick Kappel is a contributor to He can be reached by e-mail at
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