I have been playing in fantasy leagues for the past 10 years and have been pretty successful winning about half the leagues I’ve been involved in. Last year, I could not rise above second all year, as one of our readers, Brent Everson had the best fantasy team I’ve ever competed against. I thought it would be illuminating to pick his brain about how he goes about running a fantasy team.
Scott: Where do you live and what is your profession?
Brent: I grew up in a small town called Valley City, North Dakota. I work in Fargo, ND for Microsoft supporting a financial software package.
Scott: What was the key to your fantasy success in 2005?
1. Being prepared for the draft.
2. Not falling in love with guys’ names. When they’re stinking it up, take them out of the lineup.
3. Be on the look out for guys on a tear. Basically the same as #2. If I saw a guy on waivers tearing it up and I had a spot open, I’d grab him until he cooled down. It almost hurts a fantasy team when all the spots on the roster are filled with marquee players, because it is hard to drop big names.
4. In general, day to day management. I’d start righties against lefties and vice versa, and sit guys against the Pedros of the world, etc. My theory is by doing this you can turn a .280 hitter into a .320 hitter. Having guys with position flexibility allows you to do this.
5. Cohort in crime. This may be the most important. I shared the team with a guy named Heath Webber out of Grand Forks, ND. He is a master with Excel spreadsheets and shares the same passion for baseball that I have. He’s the Stockton to my Malone. (or maybe vice versa) He had us prepared for the draft using overall and relative value by position player rankings. He provided brilliant, in depth information along the way and filled in as the day to day point man when I was gone for work or on vacation. He’s the perfect guy to share a team with because he provides a ton of information and opinions, and he allows me to make most of the final decisions. Not because I’m better, but because you almost need one guy with ‘final say’ power.
6. Married with Children. Both of us have families, so while some of our competition spends 9 PM to bedtime boozing or chasing tail, we spend it on the computer with our fantasy teams. (insert loser joke here)
7. Only trade when it’s necessary. Heath helps me here. I love to trade, he’s conservative. In my 14 team money league I’ve gone 2nd, 7th, 3rd, and 3rd. I blame it on dumb trades.
8. Keeping up on injuries. Will’s Under the Knife was a daily read, and I frequented Onestopbaseball.com to check the local news on my players.
Scott: Do you have a basic strategy when drafting?
Brent: I like to draft durable, young guys when possible. For instance, our first pick last year was Tejada, because he was still relatively young and has a habit of playing 162 games/year. How can you go wrong? In the later rounds you can definitely take a few more chances, especially in a league like this where pickups are a free for all.
The afforementioned spreadsheets focus on guys that will give good overall value in as many categories as possible, keeping relative value because of the position they play in mind as well.
I also think it’s important to not just take the next guy off the list on your spreadsheet. Look at the top 10 guys or so and pick the guy that is the biggest lock out of the bunch since you probably won’t get them in the next round. For instance, last year for our second pick we took Miguel Cabrera even though it was about 10 spots earlier than he was projected. We knew he wouldn’t fall to our next pick and thought he was the safest guy available so we nabbed him.
Scott: How long have you been playing fantasy baseball?
Brent: I have been playing a 5X5 money league since 2002, and I was in a free Sandbox league with some work guys from ’99-’01.
Scott: Who is your favorite team and why?
Brent: I’ve been an Angels fan since I was 6 years old. I moved from Satan’s team (the Yankees) to the Angels in 1982 when they signed my favorite player at the time, Reggie Jackson. Thank goodness I didn’t know anything about loyalty back then, I don’t think I could have lived with myself being a Yankee fan.
Scott: Which type of style do you like to play in fantasy baseball: SABR, 5×5,
4×4, AL or NL only? Also which scoring method do you enjoy more: Overall stats or Head to Head?
Brent: I started playing fantasy baseball in a 5X5 format and not league exclusive, and since you always remember your first, that what I’m partial to. I do despise the average category, since a guy like Ichiro can be considered more valuable in average than a guy like Pujols. In my mind, the best case scenario for a league would have OBP, R, RBI, SB, HR, W, S, ERA, WHIP, and Ks. I enjoy overall stats leagues because that’s what I’m used to, and I think they’re less work. I do enjoy the ability to change the lineup daily and to be able to pickup players at will. Daily to me is actually easier than weekly because it becomes a routine. (take a shower, brush your teeth, set your lineup, etc)
Scott: What specific things do you remember about last year’s juiceblog.com league?
Brent: Last year was a fun fantasy year, highlighted by the final day where we started every pitcher we could get our hands on because we wanted to catch the guys ahead of us in the wins category. Worked out pretty well.
The year was definitely not without faults, though. Here are some examples:
1. Drafted the wrong Luis Gonzalez.
2. Dropped Utley because he was getting sat occasionally against RIGHTIES in favor of Polanco. We knew he was a stud, just didn’t want to wait for them to possibly trade Placido and waste a spot on our lineup. oooooops
3. Dropped the oft injured Geoff Jenkins, right before he went on his summer long tear of all tears.
Scott’s Postnote: Finding out that Brent has a team partner and uses spreadsheets to help plot things out, definitely made me feel better about my feeble attempts at trying to catch him in 2005. I’m a solo guy and the only spreadsheets I have any experience with are one’s located in the pages of Swank magazine. I should add that I met Brent at a comedy show recently and he’s a really good guy, which dissipated much of the anger I had built up for him. (It could be said I’m a bit too competitive.) Considering that Darrin Erstad is from nearby Jamestown, North Dakota, I thought that might be why he was such a big Angels fan, but Brent claims that his love of the team came back in 1982. Hopefully, you gained some insight into what one fanatical fantasy basebll player does to be successful. Good luck to everyone who signed up for thejuiceblog.com fantasy leagues, even though I hope to crush you all. Now I need to get back to my um, spreadsheets.