The regular season is six months long, so there is ample time to experience many highs and lows. If you're new to fantasy baseball, you need a game plan that will help you focus and get to playoffs, when a championship will be within your grasp. But even seasoned veterans can use a month-by-month guide to keep everything straight. After all, fantasy owners have enough to think about with all those splits stats and box scores to devour. We at Fantasy Source have acted as your personal assistant, providing a calendar of reminders.
April: Excitement is high on Opening Day, so it's important to practice some restraint. Whether your league has an innings limit or not, budget how you use your pitchers. Some pitchers, especially those coming off injuries, won't be allowed to go deep in games early in the season. Take a wait-and-see approach with them. You'll save some innings while protecting your ERA and WHIP. With hitters, pay attention to roles. You might be able to make a quick upgrade to your roster.
May: Be patient with slow starters. The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. However, be skeptical about surprise players who have come out of the gates fast. For run-of-the-mill veterans, look at career trends to see if quick starts are the norm. For young players, consider whether they are entering their prime years or simply performing over their heads. This will clue you in on which players will be able to produce for the long haul and which ones are sell-high candidates. You don't want to be the owner who holds on to a player like Chris Shelton for too long.
June: We're one-third of the way home, and some trends have started to become established. It's time to take your team's temperature. For Rotisserie leaguers, this means locating statistical categories that are weak or have the potential to become problems. Now is the time to fix those leaks before they sink your team. Most of the teams in your league will have a problem or two, so it's a great time to talk trades with fellow owners. Act now on possible deals while most owners still are highly interested in their teams.
July: The All-Star break and the July 31 trading deadline offer two big opportunities for fantasy owners to put some spark in their midseason push. All-Star break stat splits are popular because they reveal which players traditionally "wake up" after the break and which ones fade into the background. The owners who stay on top of these trends usually hold the money at the end of the season. Speaking of money, let's hope you saved some of those free-agent bid dollars. When the big-league teams make their trades, you'll be in better position to add players whose roles improve.
August: The dog days are here, and your league's trading deadline is just around the corner. Rotisserie owners need to examine which statistical categories they have a legitimate shot to improve. Don't waste your time on deals that will help you in categories that won't gain you any Rotisserie points. For owners in head-to-head leagues, make sure you're covered in case injuries strike. There's nothing worse than trying to fish a flimsy free agent off the wire during playoff time. For owners in keeper leagues, you should have decided by now whether you're playing for this year or the future. Make last-minute deals that will put you over the top toward your goal.
September: Don't panic if you didn't solve all of your team's problems before your league's trading deadline. September callups can help you make little improvements down the stretch. Many Major League teams will be trying out youngsters to see if they can make it next season. If you pick up the right ones, they could help your team right now. With football competing for everyone's fantasy time, it pays to stay vigilant. Sometimes good stamina is all it takes to make a final push and finish in the money.
October: Enjoy that fantasy league championship. You earned it. We'll meet again next spring to go over your upcoming calendar. This is your personal assistant, signing out for now.
George Winkler is a senior editor and fantasy baseball expert for Sporting News. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.