As I've previously stated, the fantasy season is a marathon, not a sprint. And while you can improve your team through savvy trades, an even more important trait is having the stick-to-itiveness to monitor your league's waiver wire, looking for that diamond in the rough that is just ripe for the picking. Paying close attention to the free agent pool and making the necessary adjustments to your roster directly translates into a successful fantasy baseball team. Playing the wire obviously entails some good fortune in picking up the right player at the right time, but you can improve your odds of doing so with the following tips:
Watch the box scores
Just a quick rundown of each night's games may uncover a virtual unknown who went 3 for 5 with 2 HR and 4 RBI. Depending on the level of your league's activity, it might not be necessary to pick up such a player immediately if you don't have the room for him on your roster. But keep him in the back of your mind (even jot down his name) and track him for the next few games to see if he goes on a hot streak.
Stay up-to-date on the latest news
Daily scan the baseball newswire on the web or in the newspaper, looking for any tidbits of information on the player who is being promoted to the starting lineup or simply filling in for an injured regular. If you spot a player whose name is unfamiliar to you, do some extra digging by going to his team's hometown newspaper web site to see if there are any relevant articles.
Know your league opponents
A good indication of your league's level of competition is the quality of players floating around in the pool. If you can pretty much pick up anyone at anytime, you will have a huge edge over your challengers. If you're finding that the pickings are slim, you'll have to double your waiver wire efforts.
Don't get "married" to players
So you find that prized free agent, and now it's time to bid farewell to one of your own, which at times can be a difficult decision. Remember, you're grabbing up a new player who is going to help you, so don't be afraid to cut ties with one of your slumping players, even if he is somewhat of a "name" or one of your sentimental favorites. Fantasy baseball is, in large part, about playing the trends – acquiring hot players and dropping cold ones. And if a guy you released is picked up by one of your foes and gets hot again, so be it. It's a long season, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to return the favor.
Beginning next week I'll rank the top five players (in order of preference), per position in each league, that have a higher probability of being available in your free agent pool.