2015 Fantasy Baseball

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Diving into an Ottoneu Dynasty League, Part I


Dead in the middle of football season I received an email gauging my interest in taking over a dynasty fantasy baseball team. Although I was knee deep in targets and yards per carry type metrics, the idea of diving back into fake baseball in December appealed to me. So I took the plunge by accepting the invite to the FanGraphs Experts Ottoneu League with sharks (respected colleagues in the fantasy baseball community) like Eno Sarris, Jeff Erickson, Andy Behrens, Tim Heaney, Chad Young, Andy Andres, Neil Fitzgerald and others. Sharks I tell you — and I was fresh blood.

For those unfamiliar with the Ottoneu game, let me give you a quick overview. Our particular version is a 12-team, old school 5×5 (runs, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, average, wins, strikeouts, saves, ERA and WHIP) with 40-man rosters and a $400 salary cap. We start one at each position, including five outfielders, a middle infielder and a utility man.

Where everything gets hairy is the offseason. The league uses an arbitration process for inflation. The allocation system gives a $25 budget to each team in the league. The team can allocate this budget towards players on other teams. Each team must allocate at least one dollar to every other team, and no team can allocate more than $3 to any other team. At the end of the allocation period, all players have their salary increased by the amount allocated towards them. Allocations take place after the initial offseason salary increase, so any allocations will be in addition to the $1 or $2 increase each player gets at the end of the season. For example: The team I took over drafted Anthony Rendon last season for $9, but during arbitration owners allocated $12, pushing the third baseman’s salary for the upcoming season to $21.

Naturally, this arbitration process will push many teams over the salary cap forcing teams to make cuts or trades during the offseason. The team I inherited was about $20 over the cap, so I needed to make some moves in order to get under $400 by the January 31st deadline.

But jumping into a 12-team dynasty league with 40-man rosters following its fifth season isn’t exactly the easiest task. Being the new guy on the block, you don’t really have a feel for the nuances of the game, the value of the players or the tendencies of the owners.

So after some quick analysis, I just dove in. Here is what I started with:

Right away I knew I needed to cut salary and cut some players at their current costs. Carlos Gonzalez at $60, Shin-Soo Choo at $37 and Jayson Werth at $30 are three players that I assumed I wouldn’t be able to trade, so I would simply have to cut them. That doesn’t mean I didn’t try, though…

A few other goals I wanted to achieve: I needed my team to get younger; I needed to get cheaper, controllable players and I didn’t want to “play for the future”, so I would try to do all of this while giving myself a real shot to compete this year.

I’ll simply show you the trades I made and the look of my roster before we head to our auction. I don’t want to divulge too much information here to give my competitors an edge on me during the auction.

The deals:

1. I dealt my $8 Denard Span for Eno Sarris’ $11 Doug Fister.

2. I dealt my $20 Brett Gardner, $16 Daniel Murphy & $3 Michael Foltynewicz to Andy Behrens for $17 Jose Fernandez and $24 Yoenis Cespedes.

3. I dealt my $9 Yasmani Grandal, $5 John Lackey & $3 Jake Marisnick to Chad Young for his $35 Jason Heyward, $6 Drew Pomeranz & $2 Hunter Renfroe.

4. I dealt my $4 Trevor Bauer to Jeff Erickson/Peter Schoenke for their $9 Javier Baez.

After the trades and a bunch of cuts, here is what the team looks like now:

Ottoneu2I’ll leave this as it is for now. Will add some of the trade analysis in a bit. If you have any questions or comments about Ottoneu, the players I cut or targeted or just want to know what the hell I was thinking, drop me a note in the comments.

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  1. Joseph Q
    February 5, 2015 at 1:56 pm — Reply

    Hi Alan,

    I found myself in almost an identical predicament as the situation you described. I recently joined a 12 team dynasty ottoneau league, same format as described above, and I was very slow to pick up on the league’s nuances. I have never managed a keeper roster, let alone a dynasty team, but I love it so far. I hit the ground running during my first couple of weeks as a manager. and wheeled and dealed to shed some salary. I’m a little surprised you’re sticking with Heyward at $35. Is there something i’m missing about him aside from the fact that he is going to be playing in a much better lineup than he was in Atlanta? I owned him at $27 and traded him straight up for Rusney Castillo at $13. Not sure how it will pan out, but I was pretty happy about it. As a first time ottoneau-player, I really enjoyed reading your article! I’d also like to add that as soon as I took over my team I was bombarded with trade offers from other owners looking to take advantage of a novice dynasty league owner (to which I fell prey too on a few deals). After engaging in some negotiations I quickly realized the high level of competitiveness of the league I joined and it’s by far the best league i’ve ever been in (the season hasn’t even started!). How do you like it so far?

  2. February 5, 2015 at 7:16 pm — Reply

    Hey Joseph:

    Yes, I was unsure about keeping a $35 Heyward at first, but the supply and demand of outfielders at the time I took over was not in my favor.

    Just about every team in the league was looking to acquire outfielders during the off-season. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to acquire a cheap outfielder that met my team’s needs due to the required cost. After looking at my CarGo/Choo/Werth and the potential of acquiring Heyward, I felt it was in my best interest to keep one of my three or Heyward. Despite thinking the highest of CarGo, I couldn’t stomach that cost. Of the other three, Heyward is ranked the highest, is the youngest by far and has the highest ceiling. I think there was a good chance to get him back during the auction — maybe even a bit cheaper — but there are a bunch of teams with needs in the OF armed with more money than me, so I was worried I’d miss out at the auction.

    In reality, I was going to cut both Lackey/Marisnick, so I was happy with my return for a $9 Grandal. I probably overpaid in salary, but I don’t think I coughed up too much to acquire those pieces via trade and I got the player I wanted.

    It’s all a gamble, so we’ll see.

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