Articles by James Anderson

James Anderson is a University of Minnesota graduate, with allegiances to the Packers, Brewers, Bucks (sigh) and Gophers (double sigh). He is an editor and scribe at Rotowire.com, primarily focused on basketball and baseball. In 2013 he was a FSWA finalist for Fantasy Basketball writer of the year.

Fantasy 101: H2H Points Leagues

I would hate to be labeled the resident points league expert at Rotowire, because I am well aware that these leagues require the least “skill” of any common format. However, I play in two head-to-head points leagues with friends from college, which is probably two more than the majority of the writers at the site, so the shoe, in this case, may fit. These leagues are quite honestly the lowest form of fantasy baseball. If you are thinking of starting a serious fantasy baseball league, I would strongly urge you to start a rotisserie league, or at least a head-to-head roto (sometimes called head-to-head category) league. Andrew Fiorentino did a great job breaking down the strategy for these leagues on Thursday.

If you do not heed my advice, or if you are already in a points league, then the rest of this blog post should give you a leg up on the competition. Saying that points leagues require less skill is perhaps not the right phrasing. Instead it should be said that points leagues require the least knowledge and the least amount of effort on the part of the owner. This is because you can simply sort by points when analyzing the past performance of a hitter or pitcher. It does not matter if you know that Chris Carter hits for a low average but gets on base at a reasonable clip. You just need to know which players Carter will outscore on a per game basis.

These leagues were invented (I assume) for people who found the transition from fantasy football to fantasy baseball too confusing or challenging.

SKL 2.0 Auction Strategy – Going With The Flow

The great Clay Link already shared his thoughts on the Staff Keeper League 2.0 Auction, which took place Wednesday night, but since this is always my favorite fantasy baseball night of the year, I also wanted to get in on breaking down what turned out to be a very eventful auction.

First, a little background about my state of mind heading into this auction:

SKL 2.0 is a 17-team mixed keeper league where teams can keep up to 15 big league contracts and 10 minor league players. After a fruitful hot stove season, I had what I deemed a solid group of pitchers to keep in Matt Harvey, Marcus Stroman, Jose Quintana, Ken Giles and Jake McGee for a combined $28 of my $260 total budget. Pitching would be a priority for me, but not a major weakness heading into the auction. Then tragedy struck Tuesday as it was announced Stroman would miss the entire season with a torn left ACL. Obviously I felt bad for Stroman personally and sad because he had become one of my favorite pitchers to watch dating back to last season, but it would be a straight up lie if I denied that the No. 1 thing that came to my mind was my team in SKL 2.0, the 80-Grade Bat Flips. I was officially on tilt. Sure, it could have been worse, I could have been Andrew Martinez and kept Yu Darvish for $31, but I wasn’t in the mood for glass-half-full life commentary.

The Unsexy Sleepers

The question I get asked the most this time of year other than “who should I keep?” is, “who are some sleepers you like?” Well, we all have guys we like more than the rest of the room, but at this point calling a guy like Marcus Stroman a sleeper is completely useless. If it requires a top-150 pick to get a guy, they are clearly no longer sleepers.  A real sleeper is a guy you don’t have to reach on. Clay Link and I were lamenting the fact that for a day or two Avisail Garcia was in the free agent pool in our Staff Keeper League 2.0 because of some sore of clerical error. When we found out that he was actually getting kept, we noted that there was no longer any sex appeal in the player pool.

The guys who are available are primarily veterans who did not live up to their contracts last year like Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, Jay Bruce, etc… Of course, Bryce Harper got thrown back, so the comment about sex appeal is not entirely true, but the sentiment remains. The point is, there’s nothing exciting about Pujols. He’ll go for exactly what he should go for in American League LABR this week, and the same will hold true in most drafts/auctions. By this logic, the best way to find significant value is to take a guy with little to no hype surrounding him who is going for dirt cheap but could actually return a nice profit. Pujols could go for $25 and return $28 in value, but that won’t win any leagues. If you take a guy for $1 and he earns $8, or better yet, take a few guys who outperform their price by 500-900 percent, then you’re cooking. These are the unsexy sleepers…

The Search For The Next Dellin Betances

Nobody drafted Dellin Betances last year, but a lot of people, myself included, were able to ride him to championships. By definition, this year’s Betances — a set-up ace who can be picked up off waivers — will go undrafted, and likely won’t be pegged by me in this blog post. But if you want to structure your pitching staff around a handful of trustworthy starters and about five relievers, including one or two set-up aces who can be taken among your last four or five picks, here are some guys to consider:

The Best (Fake) Trade Haul For Hamels

Every team wants Cole Hamels, but he does not want to pitch for every team. Perhaps most importantly, not every team he is willing to pitch for has the trade chips to land him. Jeff Sullivan recently wrote an excellent article breaking down the Padres’ latest offer that was denied by the Phillies’ “brain” trust. San Diego reportedly offered Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges for Hamels, and Ruben Amaro turned that offer down. This got us thinking (I’m actually jacking this blog post idea from Derek VanRiper), what would an acceptable offer for Hamels look like?

There are reportedly nine teams that are not on Hamels’ no-trade list. In this exercise, I will go team by team, offering up a proposal for Hamels that both sides might reasonably agree to. Here is the acceptability zone I will operate in:

Renfroe + Hedges < potential for mutual acceptance < Mookie Betts.

For your consideration: Hamels, 31, is owed $94 million over the next four seasons and has a $20 million team/vesting option for the 2019 season. He has a 3.00 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP and has been worth 5.6 wins above replacement on average over the last five seasons according to Baseball Reference.

On to the fake trade proposals…