Thursday, February 08, 2007

Top, Middle, or Bottom

After you've looked at your team and assessed who you're keeping, it makes sense to start doing the same thing for the other 11 teams in your league.

This doesn't have to be an exact exercise in early February. Eyeball each team in your league and try to get an idea of who you think they're keeping and who you think they're throwing back. Write it down somewhere, too, so that you know later.

There are a few advantages to this exercise:

1) You can quickly use assumed inflation to figure out the top, middle and bottom teams in the league. I'll discuss this at length in my next post.
2) Even if you don't do this, you can pretty quickly see who the teams to beat are and which teams should probably be looking ahead to 2008.
3) In some cases, you can find teams with extreme strengths or weaknesses that might be willing to make an early trade. A team with three closers might want to move one of them quickly before the rest of the league notices that he's caught in a bad spot. A team with a lot of speed might want to move a speed guy for power.

But the most important aspect of this exercise is that you should see what your team is going to look like compared to the rest of the league.

I don't want to overemphasize the power of other team's freeze lists. Just because one team has tons of value doesn't automatically mean you should pack it in before the season starts. And you should almost always take superior value in an off-season trade, even if it leaves you with an excess going into the auction. These excesses can always be fixed later.

But looking at who other people are freezing does put you ahead of the game. If you are having casual conversations with other owners at this point (and you should try to talk to other owners all year, if you can), you might be surprised to find out that they don't value someone as highly as you do. Or they value one of your middle of the road guys a lot more than you do. Trades in early February rarely happen, but they do happen. Looking around at the freeze landscape can go a long way toward putting you in a position to capitalize on one of these early trades and change the pecking order in your league early.

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