Fantasy Baseball: 8 'Rookie' Mistakes to Avoid During Fantasy Playoffs

Dan KuklaCorrespondent IIISeptember 11, 2012

Fantasy Baseball: 8 'Rookie' Mistakes to Avoid During Fantasy Playoffs

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    No, I’m not kidding you: We’re talking about playoffs—fantasy baseball playoffs, to be exact.

    You’ve likely reached the fantasy promised land if you’re reading this. Congratulations! You survived the long grind of the regular season. You distinguished your team as one of your league’s best. Take a moment to celebrate and enjoy the accomplishment.

    OK, your moment is over. Now it’s time to focus. Now it’s time to finish.

    The cold, hard truth is that no one remembers playoff teams. They don’t even remember No. 1 seeds. Only one thing matters in this business: championships.

    Here are eight rookie mistakes to avoid during the playoffs to make sure you win one.

Act Like You've Been There Before

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    The first rookie mistake to avoid is acting like a rookie.

    Treat the playoffs like the end zone. Act like you’ve been there before. Celebration is allowed and even expected. Taunting is not. Excessive celebration will be flagged.

    Send your rival on the outside looking in some quick and witty smack talk. Don’t send him anything longer than two sentences.

    Let you league know who runs the ship. Don’t make any guarantees.

    Making the playoffs is a nice accomplishment, but it can vanish in only a week’s time. Nothing is more embarrassing than following up big talk with an early exit.

Dance with the Ones Who Took You There

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    Switching from a marathon to a sprint often makes fantasy baseball managers freak out.

    Too much emphasis is given to matchups. People drop household names for streaky free agents in frantic attempts to exploit the given week’s schedule.

    Making the playoffs means your team is good. Don’t over-manage. Don’t try to be a genius.

    Talent often trumps matchups. Play the roster that took you to the big dance.

    But…

Keep Your Options Open

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    …Remember that it’s just a dance. You’re not married.

    Overthinking matchups is a mistake. So is sticking out a slump.  There’s no sense in showing loyalty to a struggling player when your season can end in a week.

    Keeper formats make things tricky, but pure re-draft leagues are cut and dry. You must do whatever it takes to win. Don’t hesitate to bench or even cut a past regular for a hot free agent if he is not helping you now.

Change Your Weekly Goals

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    The regular season is about winning as many statistical categories as possible. The playoffs are just about winning.

    Don’t get greedy. Don’t make the rookie mistake of playing the postseason like the first five months.

Change Your Weekly Strategy

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    The subtle change in weekly goals should subtly change how you manage your team.

    Figure out the minimum number of categories it takes to win a weekly matchup in your league, and focus on filling that quota. Balance is no longer important. “Punting” one category to dominate two others is not only acceptable; it’s advised.

    You can sacrifice speed for power. Losing steals to win home runs and RBI pays off now.

    For leagues that count pitching losses, you can sacrifice that category to win wins and strikeouts with a high-volume approach.

    Does your league count holds? Using all relievers can protect your pitching ratios while dominating the bullpen decisions.

    Take advantage of the format, and do whatever it takes to advance.

Change Your Perspective

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    Looking for free agents requires a new perspective during the playoffs. Don’t make the rookie mistake of using the same approach as you do in the regular season.

    A week-long hot streak doesn’t make much of a dent during a five-month marathon. It can make or break a championship run.

    The regular season requires keeping mindful of talent levels and the big picture. The playoffs just require riding the hot hitters and pitchers.

    Sort free-agent statistics with recent windows when scouring the waiver wire. Look at production from the last week, two weeks and month. Don’t worry about a player's overall stats.

Don't Make Bye Weeks Off Weeks

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    A bye gives your team the week off. It should not give you a week off from managing.

    Don’t make the rookie mistake of checking out for a bye week to focus on fantasy football.

    A bye week gives you more advantages than just advancing a round. Not playing for a week also allows you to set your roster up for the following round without any immediate consequences.

    You get first dibs on next week’s streamers while wild-card teams must wait to survive with starters from the weekend. You can also roster a future call-up like Wil Myers while wild-card teams require active MLB players to win now.

    Look ahead at next week’s schedule. Set your roster accordingly.

Don't Kid Around

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    Take the playoffs seriously.

    This is not a joke. Don't kid around.

    Now is the time to make all your hard work pay off.

    You play to win the game. Go win it.