Fantasy Football, Weekly Preview

Fantasy Preview Week 4: Do or Die

Last week I opened my NFL league 0-3, and I’ve done the same this year, but now’s the time to turn things around. I’ve got a tough matchup and didn’t have an electric game from Jeremy Hill on Thursday night, but can I finally pull off a victory?

Meltdowns Player Team Points
QB Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts
RB1 Jerick McKinnon Minnesota Vikings
RB2 Jeremy Hill Cincinatti Bengals 7.10
WR1 Sterling Shepard New York Giants
WR2 Brandon Marshall New York Jets
TE Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots
FLEX Terrelle Pryor Sr. Cleveland Browns
K Adam Vinatieri Indianapolis Colts
DST Arizona Cardinals
BN Doug Martin Tampa Bay Bucs 0.00
BN Tyrod Taylor Buffalo Bills
BN Chris Ivory Jacksonville Jaguars
BN Darren Sproles Philadelphia Eagles BYE
BN Jordan Matthews Philadelphia Eagles BYE
BN Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers BYE

New additions this week include Darren Sproles and Terrelle Pryor Sr. Sproles’s usage is no fluke, so rather than wait until next week and have him snatched out from under me, I decided to drop Duke Johnson Jr.. Johnson would’ve likely sat on my bench again this week, and it’s arguable that he doesn’t even need to be owned in a 10-team league, even with the dearth at RB.

I’d much rather have his Cleveland Browns peer Pryor (upgrading from a Jr. to a Sr.), who now looks poised to be quite literally the only options the Browns have. In Week 3, sans RGIII and Josh McCown, Pryor played as a receiver, a running back AND a quarterback. Pryor caught in eight of 14 passes for 144 yards, he rushed 21 yards and a touchdown on four carries and completed three of five passes for 35 yards as QB. I would’ve added him in my other league as well, but he was already owned, and I’ll be playing against him this week as well as starting him. Just my luck.

Beyond those additions, my options were somewhat limited this week. Both Jordans, Nelson and Matthews, are on Bye this week. With Tyrod Taylor playing New England this week, and with Sammy Watkins officially out for eight weeks, his days as my backup QB may be numbered. You don’t love Jerick McKinnon’s matchup against the Giants, but anything can happen in primetime on Monday night, and the Vikings are looking like a Super Bowl contender even without Adrian Peterson.

With Eric Decker also officially ruled out for Week 4, here’s hoping Brandon Marshall finally has a bounce back week. He could be shadowed all day by Richard Sherman, and the Seattle defense could give Ryan Fitzpatrick some more trouble as well, Fitzy having coughed up five picks last week.

Finally there’s Gronk. Both of his backup QBs are listed as questionable this week, but a report suggests that Jimmy Garoppolo will be starting in place of Jacoby Brisset, which should improve his value (although I can’t exactly explain why that would be. I guess he liked Martellus Bennett in Week 2?). In this league, I currently don’t even own a backup TE, having dropped Eric Ebron. If Gronk, also listed as questionable doesn’t go, then I’ll be making a last minute roster switch. Continue reading

Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Drafts

Fantasy Baseball – Looking ahead to 2017

You think it’s silly that I’m already looking ahead to the 2017 Fantasy Baseball draft? With how my Fantasy Football teams have been doing, I’m already looking ahead to THAT draft.

Okay, not really. But it’s easier to get excited for next year’s fantasy season when you know you have the second overall pick going into 2017, not to mention a few extra draft picks in the bank to work with.

What’s tricky about our league is that it’s a keeper league. A player can’t be frozen two years in a row, but are eligible to be frozen the following year, and each team can freeze up to three players in the position they were drafted in the previous year. What that means is that whereas most drafts and fantasy analysts will write about certain expected ADPs and outcomes for a draft, it’s nearly impossible to project through a mock what my draft will be like. Consider that in a 12-team league, 36 of the best players will theoretically all be gone before the first pick. It’s why in 2015 I took Jose Bautista with the second overall pick. And this being the fourth year of the league, many of the veterans and long standing studs that have been consistent for years, including guys like Mike Trout, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Altuve and more, are all eligible to be frozen and out of my reach.

I’m not quite interested in projecting what I hope my draft looks like next year, but this post will evaluate who I may want to keep and the pros and cons of each option. Granted, my team was terrible this year, so my options for worthy freeze targets are somewhat limited. That’s why this post will be so valuable to me.

Here’s my roster as it stands at the end of the 2016 season, along with their draft position from the start of the season. Not all of them can be frozen, either because they were frozen by me or a different team last year, or because I added them to my roster after the deadline, and I’ve listed them as N/A. Those players who were undrafted are marked with FA, or free agent, meaning I can claim them in the final round of next year’s draft.

Position Player Team 2016 Draft Position
C J.T. Realmuto Miami Marlins FA
1B Joey Votto Cincinatti Reds N/A
2B Logan Forsythe Tampa Bay Rays FA
3B Yasmany Tomas Arizona Diamondbacks N/A
SS Brad Miller Tampa Bay Rays N/A
OF Jose Bautista Toronto Blue Jays 3rd Round
OF Hunter Pence San Francisco Giants 7th Round
OF Matt Kemp Atlanta Braves 6th Round
U Carlos Santana Cleveland Indians 21st Round
SP1 Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers 1st Round
SP2 James Paxton Seattle Mariners N/A
SP3 Anthony DeSclafani Cincinatti Reds 18th Round
SP4 Jeremy Hellickson Philadelphia Phillies FA
SP5 Dylan Bundy Baltimore Orioles FA
SP6 Trevor Bauer Cleveland Indians 19th Round
RP1 Seung Hwan Oh St. Louis Cardinals FA
RP2 Dellin Betances New York Yankees 12th Round
SP/RP Michael Fulmer Detroit Tigers FA
Reserves Max Kepler Minnesota Twins N/A
Reserves Dee Gordon Miami Marlins N/A
Reserves Joe Musgrove Houston Astros FA
Reserves Yuliesky Gurriel Houston Astros FA
Reserves Matt Shoemaker Los Angeles Angels FA

Continue reading

Weekly Preview

Week 3 Preview – Gronk lays a Goose Egg

Gronk is back! Gronk is back! Finally! But of course he doesn’t do a thing and lands everyone who started him (probably a shit ton of people) with a big ‘ole zero. That’s just our luck, right?

The thing is, Gronk did what you wanted him to do. He got a red zone target, but the ball soared several feet above his head. Even Gronk can’t go up and get that duck. Then Jacoby Brisset decided that it was still college football and ran a touchdown in all by himself. And then of course Gronk wasn’t the only one to lay an egg, because the Texans were down by so much and never scored, that why even bother putting Gronk, or the Patriots offense in general, on the field?

It still hurts, because I can’t have been the only one looking for Gronk to perform. Missing him in my lineup these two weeks has made a huge difference, and this week in particular, I’m facing two players I own in one league in my other league and one player in the opposite direction. With injuries galore and bad matchups, I just don’t like my chances.

Meltdowns Player Team Points
QB Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts
RB1 Jerick McKinnon Minnesota Vikings
RB2 Chris Ivory Jacksonville Jaguars
WR1 Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers
WR2 Jordan Matthews Philadelphia Eagles
TE Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots 0.00
FLEX Sterling Shepard New York Giants
K Adam Vinatieri Indianapolis Colts
DST Arizona Cardinals
BN Doug Martin Tampa Bay Bucs
BN Tyrod Taylor Buffalo Bills
BN Jeremy Hill Denver Broncos
BN Eric Ebron Detroit Lions
BN Duke Johnson Jr. Cleveland Browns
BN Brandon Marshall New York Jets

Continue reading

Fantasy Football, Weekly Recaps

Week 2 Recap – Garbage Time

usa-today-9020908-0

Blake Bortles had negative points going into the third quarter of his Sunday matchup against the San Diego Chargers. So of course he would end the 4th quarter with 23 points, that’s 329 passing yards and 2 TDs despite 2 interceptions and a lost fumble. This, my friends, is what you call garbage time. And might I add, what the hell?

It resulted in a 105-110 loss in my PPR league, dropping me to an even 1-1 after two weeks. It could be worse, obviously, like in my other league, where I managed only 78 points and had the second worst score of the week.

Wildcats Player Team Points
QB Kirk Cousins Washington Redskins 22
RB1 Lamar Miller Houston Texans 11
RB2 Ameer Abdullah Detroit Lions 3
WR1 Randall Cobb Green Bay Packers 9
WR2 Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers 29
WR3 Jordan Matthews Philadelphia Eagles 13
TE Virgil Green New England Patriots 7
K Roberto Aguayo Tampa Bay Bucs 1
DST Seattle Seahawks 10
BN Sterling Shepard New York Giants 19
BN Joe Flacco Baltimore Ravens 23
BN Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots 0
BN Tyler Boyd Cincinatti Bengals 11
BN Bilal Powell New York Jets 1
BN Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs 0

Continue reading

Fantasy Baseball, Season Diagnosis

Fantasy Baseball Season Diagnosis Part 2 – Roster Decisions

You know what sucks? I can’t say for certain, but my team looked pretty good this week, the first week of playoffs, and I would’ve liked my chances in just about any matchup. Jeremy Hellickson got a complete game shutout. Clayton Kershaw was dominant despite dealing with two rain delays. James Paxton flirted with a perfect game through five innings. Dee Gordon swiped a pair of bags in a day along with notching three hits. Hunter Pence was on a nine game hitting streak. Jose Bautista found his power stroke. Should I go on?

Of course, to perform well in the playoffs, you actually have to make the playoffs. Last week I started my season diagnosis examining my draft, along with a couple of lessons I can take into next year’s draft. But while my draft wasn’t stellar, it wasn’t what lost me my season. On paper coming out of the draft, I have a squad that should’ve put together more than just six wins. In Part 2 of this diagnosis, I’m going to analyze specific lineup decisions I made week to week, which include start/sits, add/drops and trades. Did I start someone when I shouldn’t have? Did I overlook a player on the waivers that would’ve helped? Was I too quick to cut bait with a player who would’ve helped me down the stretch? Or should I have cut bait on someone a lot sooner?

It’ll take forever to recap and go through all 23 weeks, and if you want to read my season recap you can look at previous blog posts, as well as this one for the first half of the season before I started my blog. What I’m going to do though is look at a few red flags throughout the season.  Continue reading

Fantasy Football, Weekly Preview

Fantasy Football Week 2 Preview – Time for Gronk?

Gronk is still questionable moving into Week 2, and I can use him. I have little faith this week in my running backs and my quarterbacks this week, so having Gronk in the lineup would make a world of difference. Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not playing against Matt Forte this week.

Meltdowns Player Team Points
QB Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts
RB1 Doug Martin Tampa Bay Bucs
RB2 Jeremy Hill Cincinatti Bengals
WR1 Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers
WR2 Brandon Marshall New York Jets 10.10
TE Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots
FLEX Jordan Matthews Philadelphia Eagles
K Roberto Aguayo Tampa Bay Bucs
DST Arizona Cardinals
BN Jimmy Graham Seattle Seahawks
BN Tyrod Taylor Buffalo Bills 24.38
BN Chris Ivory Jacksonville Jaguars 0.00
BN Eric Ebron Detroit Lions
BN Duke Johnson Jr. Cleveland Browns
BN Sterling Shepard New York Giants

This week I play two 0-1 teams, and looking at their lineups, I’m not exactly terrified. Some weeks you’re more nervous about your opponent’s team than you are your own, and this is not one of those weeks.

Here’s what I’m staring down. I’m looking at Andrew Luck playing the best defense in the league after posting a monster 4 TDs in Week 1. Matthew Berry says he has a high ceiling but very low floor, and TY Hilton may even be hampered with an injury. I’m looking at Doug Martin and Jeremy Hill both playing strong defenses and hoping that both of them fall into the endzone at least once. I’m looking at a strong game from Brandon Marshall after Thursday night’s game but not a monster game. I’m looking at Chris Ivory already sitting out for the second straight week.

Thankfully the WR matchups are all favorable. I bet Jordan Matthews has a monster game on Monday night against the Bears, although that might just be my lack of faith in my hometown team. And I like Jordy against Minnesota. If Gronk can’t go, I’ve got Eric Ebron as a fairly serviceable backup, as I still don’t have faith in Jimmy Graham until I see the production.

Should I have started Tyrod Taylor over Luck? He was a mess in Week 1, and you can look at this two ways: he either looks risky moving forward because some of the touchdowns, like in garbage time at the end of the game, were a bit fluky, or you can say that he put up really great numbers in Week 1 despite Sammy Watkins doing nothing. Taylor gets Arizona and New England the next two weeks, and Luck gets San Diego and Jacksonville. This week of any would’ve been the time to start him.

Wildcats Player Team Points
QB Kirk Cousins Washington Redskins
RB1 Lamar Miller Houston Texans
RB2 Ameer Abdullah Detroit Lions
WR1 Randall Cobb Green Bay Packers
WR2 Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers
WR3 Jordan Matthews Philadelphia Eagles
TE Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots
K Roberto Aguayo Tampa Bay Bucs
DST Seattle Seahawks
BN Sterling Shepard New York Giants
BN Joe Flacco Baltimore Ravens
BN Zach Miller Chicago Bears
BN Tyler Boyd Cincinatti Bengals
BN Bilal Powell New York Jets 1
BN Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs

In my PPR league, I played against LeSean McCoy, who got off to a decent start with 12 points, but that doesn’t scare me too much. Again, I have less faith in my running backs. Lamar Miller should be fine at home against Kansas City, but Abdullah, despite his strong outing last week, I probably should’ve swapped out in place of picking up Theo Riddick.

I’ve also made a shift and picked up Joe Flacco against the Browns this week. Choosing between him and Cousins at Dallas is a bit of a coin flip at this point, and I’m curious if anyone has thoughts on where I should lean. But frankly the options on the waiver wire are not promising.

After seeing how much production Matt Forte got in Thursday’s game, Bilal Powell is starting to look like more of a very deep PPR league option only. There really aren’t too many other promising RBs on the waiver wire either, but if someone emerges this week, then I won’t be afraid to pull the trigger on dropping him after putting up just one reception this week.

I may also be looking for a more promising TE replacement than Zach Miller, who I would’ve had faith in, but perhaps not this week.

Any last minute roster changes you recommend? Starts or sits? Add/drops? You can’t see my opponents, but do I have a chance? Let me know in the comments.

 

Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Drafts, Season Diagnosis

Season Diagnosis: 2016 Fantasy Baseball Part 1: The Draft

There’s one thing that even the biggest fan of baseball or Fantasy Baseball can’t deny: the season is long. Very long.

If you’re a fan of a team, you have months of suffering every day until the point when all of your favorite players are traded away to contending teams. It’s brutal, and as a Cubs fan, I used to know that pain for a long time.

As a fantasy owner, it’s just as much of a slog. It’s not fun to be losing every single week, to feel helpless that you can’t do anything to improve your lineup when all of your best players are slumping or sitting in your DL slot. That’s because baseball, and fantasy by extension, are games of waiting, of patience. If it’s April or May, all the analysts are telling you to sit and wait, and when nothing improves, it feels even worse that you didn’t do anything sooner.

With this year’s regular season over and my team losing yet again in the final week, keeping me out of the playoffs and with a record of just 6-17, it’s hard to remember a time when I felt good about this team, and yet there was a point when it all started to go wrong. It’s a long time ago, but I needed to look back and figure out what was bad luck and what was bad judgment.

The Draft

Let’s start way at the beginning.

In fact, let’s start even before then. The first decision of the season came before the draft when I selected my three keepers. Among players who I had on my team at the end of 2015 and were eligible and worth being frozen, Dee Gordon in the 2nd Round, Sonny Gray in the 9th Round, Xander Bogaerts in the 15th Round, Jose Bautista in the 1st Round, Matt Kemp in the 5th Round, and Taijuan Walker or Aaron Nola both in the last rounds as 2015 waiver adds.

I chose Gordon, Gray and Bogaerts. Bogaerts would’ve been good value in the round I froze him even if he had finished as a Top 50 player. As closer to a Top 20 player this season, he was one of my team’s MVPs. No regrets.

Gray I froze without hesitation. He finished as a borderline ace in 2015, had one of the lowest ERAs and WHIPs in baseball, and I would’ve been more likely to get him in the 7th round had I let him go. But he had been a massive let down all of this season, unable to go deep into games or get the same number of ground balls he was producing the previous year. What I should’ve paid attention to was his strikeout rate, which in 2015 was by far the lowest among the Top 20 pitchers he was a part of. Then of course was the team he played for in Oakland. His 14 wins the previous season should’ve been a give away that he was overvalued, and Oakland’s defense and run support got even worse.

Last was Dee Gordon. No one could’ve predicted that he would be suspended for half the season for PED usage. Regardless, freezing him might’ve been wrong-headed. Gordon was the league’s batting average leader with a .333 BA in 2015 and 58 steals. Steals are wildly inflated in terms of value when the CBS algorithm determines a player’s rank, but Gordon swiped 58 bags in 2015 and was the sort of player that you draft because he wins you a category week to week. As a result though, I overlooked a second baseman like Jose Altuve, who fell to me by pick 8 of the first round. It’s possible that Gordon would’ve fallen to the 3rd round as well, or he could’ve been taken even earlier. Had either outcome happened, my team would’ve looked a lot different.

I didn’t like the idea of freezing Bautista in the first round because, although I knew he could be good again, his age was catching up to him, and I could get better value. In turn, I snagged Bautista in Round 3 and felt pretty good about myself. Nola wouldn’t have been doing anything for me in the tail half of this season, but he was looking like an ace for several months at the start of the season. All the early hype around him was that he would be a solid starting pitcher with a high floor and a low ceiling. He proved to have a much higher ceiling than anyone predicted, not to mention a much lower floor late in the season.

And instead of drafting him, I actually took Taijuan Walker in Round 8, ahead of pitchers like Jose Quintana or Hector Rondon the following round. I wrote about him in my pre-draft love/hate lists that he more than anyone was the best bet to breakout, but was still going through growing pains. The breakout never happened, despite some high upside performances whenever I benched him. He also nursed a foot injury all season and barely made it out of the first few innings in several starts. But regardless of what he ended up doing in 2016, if I liked him so much, why didn’t I just freeze him? Surely taking him in the last round would’ve been better value than Round 8!

But when I’m really looking at this year’s draft, what I want to identify are any deficiencies in my strategy. Was I valuing certain high upside players over consistent and proven production? Did I overlook a certain category in favor of another? Did I reach for a player?

Early Rounds

With Kershaw as my number one pick, I can’t complain. He was by far the league MVP and having an historic season before getting injured. And yet while a single batter who mashes multiple home runs in a week can make a difference for your team, a single pitcher can throw a no hitter and you can still end up losing ERA and WHIP if your staff doesn’t deliver on the whole. I consistently lost those categories even with Kershaw in my lineup.

Pick 3 I took Bautista, and Pick 4 I traded away the previous season. That obviously would’ve made a difference, but I can’t blame that alone as the reason for my failure. Pick 5 was Adrian Gonzalez. Now, he may just finish 2016 as a .290 hitter with 20 HRs. I drafted him as a 25 homer guy and a .272 hitter, so that isn’t far off. But ALL of that production showed up in the last month and a half of the season. He was a disaster this April through July, and all season I started him desperate for a better option and waiting for his production to come back. I traded him just before the Dodgers started going crazy.

But let’s pause for a moment and look at my team. I have the number one pitcher in the league, the number one batting average guy and steals producer, and two very solid home run hitters. The runs and RBIs would work themselves out, so in this sense I hadn’t overlooked a category. At the same time, I could’ve waited three rounds and snagged Eric Hosmer, who will finish above Gonzalez unless he continues to go on a tear in September. I could’ve picked another elite pitcher like Jon Lester or Danny Salazar over Bautista.

Middle Rounds

Moving on. Round 6, Matt Kemp. As currently the 17th best OF in our categories scoring, he’s give or take a few spots just about right at his 2016 draft value. But Kemp being healthy does not a team make, and he lost some of his value following his mid-season trade to the Braves.

Round 7: Hunter Pence. Another solid pick, and now I’ve shored up my outfield. Looking back, I don’t feel bad for having not taken a pitcher. Other Round 7 picks? Trevor Rosenthal, Tyson Ross, Patrick Corbin, Francisco Liriano. I dodged a bullet, even though I got unlucky with Pence hitting the DL for over half the season. Until that point, he was a Top 20 outfielder who I got in a solid spot.

Round 8: Walker. Should’ve never trusted him as my #3 pitcher, even if I did think he could breakout. #9 was Gray frozen. #10 was Yordano Ventura. All three at this point are mid-tier strikeout pitchers, but both Ventura and Walker finished 2015 with 4.00+ ERAs and a 1.3 and 1.2 WHIP respectively. Neither could be considered elite, and both are upside, breakout plays when I should’ve combined one upside play with a more consistent player. Now we’re starting to see some flaws.

Round 11 was Travis D’Arnaud, who not only was terrible in the few weeks before he went on the DL for much of the season, but who I likely still reached for at Round 11. He was projected as a power guy (12 HRs in a partial season in 2015) who could finish as a Top 5 catcher, IF he stayed healthy. And that was a big IF. Catcher was a mess this year, but I liked guys like J.T. Realmuto and Blake Swihart in the preseason too. Realmuto, who I own now, went undrafted, and Swihart went in Round 17.

Mid-to-late Flyers

Round 12: Drew Smyly. Yikes. Another high upside guy pegged as a breakout. The analysts were very cavalier in saying that they “expected him to have a high HR rate” when they drafted him, to which I say NO YOU DIDN’T!!! He’s turned his season around somewhat and had flashes of greatness in April, but brought me down miserably with his horrendous May.

Round 13: Jung Ho Kang. This I knew was a risk at the time, in that he started the season on the DL but was projected to have elite upside at either 3B or SS. But even once he got back, playing time was a major issue, and production became an issue much later. But because he was on the DL, I technically still did not have a third baseman even more than halfway through the draft, nor did I have a closer.

Finally I pulled the trigger on a closer in Round 14 with Santiago Casilla. I specifically remember during the draft wanting to take a closer far earlier, but once one went, the whole tier started to get depleted, and it forced me to wait several rounds later than I had intended. And yet Casilla was actually one of the few consistent closers this season. Following the trade deadline, only Casilla, Kenley Jansen and Zach Britton had remained the closer from the start of the season. And while Casilla didn’t have near their upside and had several of implosions, he got saves and stayed healthy. That’s all I could ask.

#15 was Bogie, and #16 was Jake McGee. Aaron Nola got taken one spot beforehand, and I might’ve pulled the trigger on Nola had he still been available. Instead I took Jake McGee, who likewise was consistent for the first half of the season before landing on the DL and losing his job.

Late Rounds

This late in the draft, they say there are no wrong picks. But it’s incredible the number of studs who came off the waivers and the number of total busts who got drafted this late in the draft. At #17 I took Yangervis Solarte, who ended up on the DL after just one week, and suddenly I needed yet another 3B fill-in. He ended up back on my team once he returned to the Padres lineup and started putting up major counting stats, but it ultimately wasn’t much of a pick.

I’ll quickly rattle off the rest: #18 Mike Fiers, #19 minor leaguer Tyler Glasnow, #20 Andrew Cashner, #21 Michael Conforto, #22 Jason Grilli and #23 Gerardo Parra. The quickest way to say it might be that all of these players, I ended up dropping and/or ended up on the DL. I’m done with Fiers. He doesn’t have near enough upside to be useful beyond maybe a two-start week. Glasnow I had high hopes for, but the most hyped minor league prospect didn’t get his start until much later in the season, and then he immediately landed on the DL once he did. Cashner had roughly one solid month as a Padre, and it came far too late for anyone to care. Conforto was incredible in April, terrible in May and June and found himself in the minors by July. Grilli it didn’t take long until it was clear he wasn’t going to be the Braves closer. And Parra was putting up numbers equivalent to Matt Kemp early in the season, but found himself on the DL and never regained his step.

Lessons Learned

2000 words later, I have a few takeaways from this experience:

Lesson #1: Don’t freeze a player who hasn’t gone up in value. I got burned with Dee Gordon and Sonny Gray and would’ve been better suited freezing in the late rounds.

Lesson #2: Don’t overdo it with upside plays, especially pitchers. If one busts, you can survive. If they all bust, you’re screwed. Mix it up with consistent players as well as breakout candidates.

Lesson #3: Pay attention to all the categories. By only looking at upside plays, I overlooked serious red flags in ERA and WHIP, and I didn’t have enough pitchers with high strikeout rates. And while my home run potential on paper looked promising, it helps to make sure the counting stats are there to back it up.

Lesson #4: Wait on catcher. Unless it’s Buster Posey, just don’t do it.

Lesson #5: Position players are deep this year, especially the infield. So while you could wait at a position like 3B like I did, what you risk is that everyone else in the league has an elite position player and by extension no good reason to trade.

Lesson #6: Don’t overvalue closers. It helps to have a good one, and you don’t want to get stuck without one, two or three to start the season, but there’s too much volatility at the position to pay too much.

Next week I’ll look at my regular season moves, including roster choices, add/drops and my mid-season trades. I’ll ask whether my problem was really bad luck, bad choices, or a combination of the two. I’ll finish up the regular season looking ahead to 2016 and what choices I should make with my players to freeze.