Tomorrow afternoon kicks off one of my favorite times of year: auction season! I'll be auctioning against some of the greatest fantasy players in the industry, including Derek Carty of Baseball Prospectus, Scott Pianowski of Yahoo!, and Tom Kephart of Baseball HQ, among others. The auction is on-line - not in person - but still moves at the rapid fire pace that Tout Wars does and is a challenging environment even for a seasoned veteran.
The league is a standard, Rotisserie-style format (5x5), A.L.-only, 12-team league. However, there are some wrinkles that make the league somewhat different from LABR or Tout Wars.
You Can't Keep Players Traded to the "Other" League
LABR and Tout have decided that this legacy rule is outdated and/or silly and lets owners keep players traded to the other league. CBS, however, plays with this old school rule. It's always worth checking out the list of potential free agents before the auction and shaving a couple of bucks off of a potential free agent on a second division team that might get traded around the All-Star break.
More Money is spent on the Front End on Hitting
Last year, 11 players cost $35 or more in CBS A.L.-only, compared to only six players in LABR and two in Tout Wars. Teams spend a lot of money early, which offers the opportunity for a lot of bargains...but also presents some strategic challenges in the mid-to-late rounds. It's obviously bad policy to try and buy nearly anyone in the early going, but the challenge comes in making sure you: 1) spend all of your auction dollars, 2) still get bargains, but 3) don't get caught price enforcing mediocrities because they're "bargains." There are always deep discounts at the end of this auction, so pushing someone like Jonny Gomes to within $2 of his par price when several players like Gomes will go for $1-2 makes little if any sense.
There is Very Little Trading
Last year, there was one trade during the entire season in the A.L.-only side of the pool. This isn't quite typical, but three to four trades for the entire league throughout the course of the season is the norm. I'm not a believer in overpaying for categories, but knowing that I might not be able to trade for a closer or a speed demon midseason, I'm more likely to push a player to par...or adjust my bid limits prior to the auction accordingly.
Free Agent Pickups Are Daily, Not Weekly
CBS uses the same $100 FAAB budget that LABR and Tout do, but in nearly every case FAAB bids are processed on a daily basis. Line-ups are still a weekly affair, as they are in LABR and Tout, but you can add and drop players from your roster every day throughout the season.
As a result, aggressive owners who squint at the agate type at Rotowire looking for news of even the most minute changes in roles or playing time are often rewarded. Last year, I picked up David Robertson, Sam Fuld, Robert Andino, and Josh Reddick. No, none of these guys is a world-beater, but in A.L.-only these are the kinds of players that pay significant dividends over the course of a season. Robertson was the only one of the four I carried all year long, but Fuld definitely paid dividends while I had him, and Reddick was a nice option to have to rotate into my outfield due to injuries or off days as the season wound down. CBS has a seven-man reserve list, so having a full bench of hitters to shuffle in and out of your line-up is a significant advantage.