As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed that my body is starting to break down. Happens to everyone, even professional athletes. My aging has helped me to come up with a better game plan in fantasy baseball, basketball, and football leagues. There’s a specific age bracket that I’m looking for in fantasy leagues. If a potential replacement is obviously drafted by the team, then that player is completely off my big board.
I do not want to roster older players in weekly lock fantasy baseball leagues. They often will miss day games after night games that’s a lot of at-bats missed throughout a season. In a daily format I will give older plays more consideration since I can adjust the roster if they’re not going to play. Investing in an older player means I’ll need to possibly secure a high end backup.
I don’t want anybody over the age of 32 as one of my hitters. Too much wear on the player and signs may start to show. I don’t want a player to break down on my roster. I miss on good players in the process, but tend to have a healthier roster. I actually passed on Justin Turner this year even though I think Turner still a real good player just because of his age. I think very highly of Josh Donaldson, but he has shown too many signs of wear and tear. Donaldson slid in drafts this season, but I still didn’t want to invest at a discounted rate.
Just 4 fantasy baseball teams this season for me. The following is a breakdown of the oldest hitter on each roster. Buster Posey is my backup catcher this season and is age 32. I kept him for cheap and plan to use him as a bench player. Jonathan Lucroy at 33 is my backup catcher. Both teams the oldest everyday player is Anthony Rizzo at age 29. Yuli Gurriel is the oldest player I have in a daily categories league at age 35. I drafted Yuli with one of my last picks due to his 1B/2B/3B eligibility. Paul Goldschmidt is my oldest starter at age 31. On the last team Justin Upton at age 30 is the elder statesman.
Moving to pitching, I’m looking for starters that are in between their 2nd and 7th year in the league. Pitchers in that bracket tend to have a high strikeout rate and can go deeper into games. Going deeper into games increases the potential for Wins, K, and better ratios. Older pitchers done at 100 pitches have less of a chance of pulling out wins in this era of bullpenning. Rookie pitchers are out of my target age bracket because of growing pains and shutdowns due to workload at the end of the season.
Tommy John surgery can happen at any pitcher at any time it’s unavoidable. Older pitchers may show signs of shoulder problems and more importantly back problems. The velocity goes down incrementally making the hurler get by more on guile than stuff. Harnessed stuff outperforms guile in fantasy leagues.
Take Clayton Kershaw as an example, had a terrific age 27 season, was effective in 21 starts at 28, lights out at 29. Age 30 was still solid, but the strikeout per 9 dropped a bit. For the early round draft choice required to take Kershaw, that fantasy owner didn’t get return on his value. In my theory Kershaw won 21 games in his 7th season, but went on to have value afterwards. I missed out on that production, but also wasn’t left holding the empty bag in 2018.
With an 82-game season in the game of basketball I am very strict in terms of age limits. I’m looking for players aged 28 and under especially in weekly lock leagues. Younger players play more games and more minutes which in turn leads to more stats. Younger players don’t break down as often and don’t have maintenance days. Following the idea by Gregg Popovich teams are starting to build in rest days to the schedule. Can’t completely avoid the rest days, but try my best to limit them. Lebron James in 2017-2108 blows a hole in my theory playing his only 82 game season at age 33. This season however at age 34 played a career low 55 games. I squeaked out a championship in my basketball league this season. LeBron James cost $51 dollars at the draft. For that amount I was able to draft Devin Booker $23, Rudy Gobert $22, and Luka Doncic $6. I got maximum value on my $51 dollars and the team with LeBron ended up going 6-14 on the season.
Football I view in a similar fashion. Running backs John Riggins, Curtis Martin, and Thomas Jones all had great seasons into their 30’s, however a majority of backs that age go the other way. I’m looking for running backs in between their 1st and 6th seasons. Running backs take an absolute beating playing the position. I tend to track Yards Per Carry like a hawk each season as I prepare for drafts. If the YPC slipped was it poor line play, inept scheme, or diminishing skills? Often it’s due to loss of skills at that age. I tend to have the Hugh Hefner approach to running backs, I’m always looking for newer younger models.
Wide Receivers the age bracket I’m looking for is between their 1st and 8th seasons. Medical marvels like Jerry Rice and Randy Moss are exceptions to the rule. I’m tracking yards per catch totals in comparison to career average. The YPC can give me an idea if a receiver still has the ability to take one to the house at a moments notice. If the YPC is falling the receiver slides farther down my draft board.
Tight Ends I will often put a premium on the position and draft one of the top options early in drafts. The top options tend to fit into my age brackets as well. Having a premium TE is a such a huge advantage. The amount of TE that break out each season to make a difference is so small in comparison to RB and WR.
Quarterbacks are the one position where I will consider drafting a little older player. Escapability and arm strength are the aspects I look for in drafts. If a QB has his feet in cement, I’m avoiding him like the plague. Drew Brees and Tom Brady are sure fire hall of fame QB’s however I question their ability to be able to crank it up for 16 games. With the amount of passing that takes place in the league, younger options are available later in drafts.
I’ve really tried to refine my age brackets each season to fit how the leagues are trending. Avoiding the older players is not a sure fire way to winning, I’ve missed on quite a few good performances by veteran players. To minimize my risks I’m always looking for youth that is on the upswing. The strategy allows me to hit on lottery tickets and turn over my roster for the next big thing. Most importantly the strategy is the best way I’ve found to limit injuries.