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Closing Time: End-of-season strategy session

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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If you're still reading baseball content on September 24, then you've obviously had a good year – maybe not great just yet, but good.

And if you're still reading baseball content, let's assume that you've also figured out the following things: Juan Uribe(notes) has been obscenely hot (1.078 OPS in September), Brian Duensing(notes) keeps winning (5-0 in his last seven games), John Smoltz(notes) and Tim Hudson(notes) can be safely started (12 IP, eight Ks, 3.00 ERA combined on Wednesday), Will Venable(notes) remains useful (12 HR, six steals), Matt Wieters(notes) is raking at the best possible time (.366/.425/.549 this month), Randy Choate(notes) may poach a save if lefties are up (five for the year), Adam LaRoche(notes) is doing his usual second-half thing (.332/.394/.588 post-ASB), Drew Stubbs(notes) is an unstoppable power/speed machine (two more steals on Wednesday) and Milton Bradley(notes) is very sorry (but not really).

Also, Brad Lidge(notes) is a run-making plague, but Charlie Manuel can't quit him.

Today, instead of digging deep into stories we've already told, let's talk year-end fantasy strategy. Not all of the tips below will apply to your specific situation, of course. If we've missed something (unlikely, but you never know) please share your secret knowledge and favorite end-of-season tactics in comments. Or charm us with a haiku!

Know your tiebreakers

Every season, owners are blindsided by the Yahoo! tiebreaking system. Everything you need to know can be found buried in the game rules. The first Yahoo! tiebreaker is ERA, then AVG, then WHIP. If you finish the head-to-head week tied 5-5, but your team's ERA is worse than your opponent's, then you lose. You don't share the title. You lose.

If a player doesn't have a game today, then he can't help you today

That seems obvious enough, but owners are still holding replacement-level fantasy talent on their benches during off-days. It's brutally wasteful. Don't let your loyalty to Mike Cameron(notes) prevent you from reaching a games max. Only 20 teams are in action next Monday, so plan to add/drop on Sunday. (Schedule here). On Thursday, just 22 teams take the field. (Schedule). The Cubs and Pirates play a double-header next Wednesday, too. Every at-bat matters, gamers.

It's possible (and legal) to exceed a games or innings max

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Again, we'll consult the official rules: "All players active on the day a maximum is reached will receive credit for their stats."

Let's say that your rotisserie league has an innings maximum of 1250, and your squad is at 1248.1 IP. Depending on the impact that a few extra wins or Ks might have, you may want to load up on probable starters. Every stat accumulated on the day you reach the innings max will count. In the Friends & Family League, I just did the mass-add of starting pitchers in preparation for hit-the-limit day. (And then I later dropped half my pitching staff, picking up a few of the best available bats). The end result is that my team will finish the year 28 innings beyond the max (pictured). With any luck, that move will net me an extra point. With incredible luck, I'll get an extra 1.5. Thanks, Kevin Correia(notes).

Please note that this innings/games max maneuver isn't cheating, nor is it a loophole. These are simply the rules. We're playing a game, and you need to actively manage.

When facing a streamer, stream a day ahead

If you're in a head-to-head league and you're matched up against an owner who adds five new probable starters each day, then take away the best options a day in advance. (Or two days in advance. Whatever it takes). This requires you to scan the Scores & Schedule page each day. For example, it might be wise to remove Saturday starter Tom Gorzelanny(notes) (at SF) from the free agent pool now, leaving your opponent to choose between, say, Jason Berken(notes) (at CLE) or Lenny DiNardo(notes) (vs. MIN).

There are no bonus points for a 10-0 win

By the final days, you might find yourself in position to guarantee a 6-4 win in the head-to-head finals – or a 5-5 win, per the note above – by benching everyone. If that's the case, just take the win. Go to the kneel-down, the "--empty--" formation. In the regular season, you're trying to win every possible category each week in order to secure a bye. However, in the playoffs, you're only looking to come out ahead, even if the margin is close.

Similarly, if you're facing an owner who's punting a category, don't worry about piling on stats. If your opponent doesn't carry a closer, then you'll likely only need one save to take the category. (Call it two just to be perfectly safe, to guard against flukiness). Every stat you get beyond what's necessary to win is simply waste.


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