The coronavirus put the brakes on baseball in mid-March. But with a little luck, Major League Baseball could make a return following months of the lockdown. If it does return, it is a sure thing fantasy baseball will be back as well with a significant caveat for traditional fantasy leagues. Its format remains to be determined.
This situation is very different than the labor negotiations and disagreements that forced shortened seasons in 1972, 1981, and in 1995. What we can be sure of is that the 2020 fantasy baseball season will be different than any season we’ve seen in the past. How different is the question?
While you’ll still be able to play daily fantasy baseball online at Fandual or leverage your Draftkings bonus in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, it’s challenging to know what to expect when it comes to your season-long fantasy league.
Here are some general tips for navigating through the fantasy baseball league season.
Shortened Baseball Schedule
The number of games played is a major stumbling block between the owners and the MLBPA. As of this writing, we can be confident that it will be less than 114 and perhaps even as low as 50. From a fantasy baseball perspective, the season will be a sprint. Teams should be drafted with that understanding.
Armchair GM’s should put a greater emphasis on reliable players with track records of success. MLB teams will need to field their best players early, as a poor start could doom even strong teams like the Dodgers, Astros, or Yankees. Additionally, the value of potential breakout players or undervalued sleepers during a condensed season draft will be significantly less.
The Impact of Injuries
Injuries have always been part of the fantasy game. In a shortened season, they will be much more impactful. In 2020, landing on the 60-day injured list ends a player’s season, while 10- or 15-day stays could be devastating. Players also could be deactivated for testing positive or even being exposed to COVID-19.
In many ways, the season is going to be a craps shoot, but when possible, you’re going to want to focus on players with a better than average injury history. Avoiding injuries could make or break your season.
Revamp Your Cheat Sheet
Any cheat sheet or draft analysis published with a full season in mind is probably useless. It also may make sense to re-run any drafts that were done earlier in the year as COVID-19 has altered the playing landscape dramatically. You will need to adjust accordingly.
Changes include now healthy players who would have missed the beginning of the season, concerns over players who may sit out a shortened season, and changes in the schedule that will significantly change player match-ups. Additionally, the MLB and MLBPA reportedly agree on a league-wide designated hitter for 2020.
Modify Your Fantasy League Rules
According to Rotowire.com, there are four different styles of fantasy baseball leagues: Categorical, Points Style, Head-to-Head Points, and Head-to-Head Categorical. There is likely no way your current set of rules line up with a condensed baseball season. Changes will need to be made.
Head-to-head league’s schedules will be significantly shorter. In fantasy leagues with 10-12 teams, this will also mean an unbalanced schedule. It may make sense to split leagues into divisions or conferences and expand or even shorten the playoffs. Other items include the trade deadline, expanded tie-breaker rules, and playoff format.
Don’t Forget To Have Fun
The most important note is to keep it all as simple as possible. You may have some members of your league disagreeing with changes or formats, but keeping the league rules clear and easy to understand will make it more fun and keep everyone active. The goal here is to have a good time.