Happy September, it’s the last month this year without NHL hockey on!
I'm going to continue my train of thought on how I prepare for the fantasy season each year. Last week I went over my mock draft practices, and the week before I dove into the beginning of my offseason planning, which starts with some player evaluations. This week I'm looking a little more towards the research and planning of the season.
In a keeper or dynasty league, even before entering the draft you should have an idea of where you stand in the pecking order of your league. Are you one of the two or three real wire-to-wire title threats? Are you a sure-fire playoff team that is going to try to load up and pull an upset? Are you a bubble team that will take things as they come for the first couple of weeks and adjust from there? Or are you maybe out of contention this year, and looking to load up on some buy-low opportunities like injured assets and future stars that just aren't ready this year? Knowing where you are and what direction you are taking is key to managing your expectations, keeping your moves in check, and planning your strategy.
For example, in a partial keeper, if you're a playoff team or a bubble team, and you're hoping to pull a bit of a Cinderella run (without hurting your chances in future years too much) then you might make some big risk/reward swings in the draft, and give yourself some real opportunities in more volatile categories or positions (*cough* goalies *cough*).
The other thing that you can do to get a leg up on the competition, is be more well-informed, more well researched, and have a more optimized roster. I have won leagues with rosters that did not deserve to win solely because I planned an extra 5-10 man-games through the H2H fantasy playoffs over my competition. To be able to do that, you really need to be sure you will be a playoff team, and from there you can slowly turn over the pieces that don't play the most in your H2H weeks this year, and acquire players that do. Now, I will preface that this strategy is tougher in a pandemic world where the schedule is more fluid; add onto that an Olympic year, and it's not something you want to be banking on.
That being said, it's still something to have in the back of your mind, and is definitely worth consideration as the trade deadline looms. Usually I sketch out the schedule and the playoff weeks myself, but with a newborn at home I just don't have the time right now. Luckily, Forum member 65Jeff has you covered with a Google Doc outlining the season schedule. With it, and knowing that most leagues have their playoffs during week 21-23 of the season, we can see that St Louis and the Buffalo are the only two teams with 12 games during that stretch. On the flip side, Chicago, Colorado, Montreal, New Jersey, Vancouver, Vegas, and Washington all only play nine times (the Habs and Hawks also only play twice in week 22 – that's a killer). What we do with that info, is at some point during the season we look to flip