est. 1999 Atlantic Coast League

Dec
04

Filling up your Fantasy Toolbox

Editor's note: All of the links to the tools that David highlights in this column will only work when viewing the column within your league's site on CBSSports.com.

Draft Day is officially behind you ... Now what?

CBSSports.com has an overwhelming amount of tools at your disposal to help you manage your team. But if you don't know where those tools are, what they do or how to use them, you could be as lost as a Fantasy writer in a weight room.

I wanted to help you help yourself. So here is a breakdown of some of the tools (old and new) that can give you a leg up on the lazier members of your league. Consider bookmarking this page for reference throughout the season. Or you can click on "My Quicklinks" at the top of this page under your profile info, and bookmark it there so it's always available wherever you come to the site.

What do I do now?

Let's start with extreme basics first -- go set your lineup. Under "My team," click on "Set lineup." From here, you'll be able to set your lineup for the upcoming week -- as well as the following week, in case you know you will be out of town. On this page, you'll see the player's MLB status, his upcoming matchups (home or away), and little player tags that tell you if he has had an update from myself or one of my colleagues in the past 72 hours (yellow) or 24 hours (includes a burst). Those tags might also indicate a Fantasy trend for said player: Hot (orange) or cold (blue). If you see a red cross, you can mouse over it to see the injury and the player's expected return date.

The player's owned and started percentages are also indicated on the far right. This gives you an idea of how many leagues this player is available and is either owned or starting. So Alex Gordon is owned in 93 percent of leagues and he's starting in 70 percent. Those percentages do not include NL-only leagues, since he's not available to be drafted in those leagues. (By the way, for future reference, figure AL- and NL-only leagues take up about 10 percent of CBSSports.com leagues each, with mixed leagues taking up the final 80 percent.)

For pitchers, a little baseball (ain't it cute?) next to a team name in the matchups section indicates when that pitcher will start. Two baseballs equal two starts for that scoring period. If you mouse over the baseballs, you can see who their expected opposing pitcher will be.

Just under the "Set Lineup" button, you'll see other links too. Under "Matchups," you'll see each starting pitcher the hitters are expected to face, with their career numbers (BA and HR) against them. If they hit above .350, the numbers are in red (for hot), if they hit below .250, the numbers are in blue (for cold). For pitchers, it shows their career pitching record against the teams they are facing, with hot and cold numbers also. Then there are also links to stats from "Yesterday," "Last 7 days," "Last 14 days" and "YTD stats," so you can track how the players in your lineup are performing over different periods.

Weekly planner help

But before you set your lineup each week, you might want to check out our new Weekly Planner tool, located under the "Stats" section on the top rail of your league's pages.

On the Weekly Planner, you'll see the upcoming MLB schedule for the next scoring period. Teams colored in green indicate a top-10 hitting matchup vs. a bottom-10 pitching matchup, whereas any teams colored in red indicated a bottom-10 hitting matchup against a top-10 pitching matchup. For instance, the Red Sox were a top 10 team in ERA last season, and the A's were among the lowest scoring teams in '07, so OAK is in red.

The next table shows how many games each team has to play that week. You'll see some with eight games during double-header weeks, and sometimes you'll even see five games, with a two-game series. But that difference is important when setting your Head-to-Head lineups.

Finally, the third table breaks down the hitting and pitching stats (click on "Hitters" or "Pitchers" to switch between stats). Right now, the stats under each column are indicative of their 2007 numbers (HR/BA), including both home and away. But soon we'll switch over to the 2008 numbers once teams get some games in. On the far right, the top 10 hitters and pitchers are noted. Again, we're just using 2008 projections for now, then we'll turn it over and count just the top 10 hitters (and pitchers) for the past seven days.

We will also be posting our Hitting Planner and Pitching Planner on Saturdays and Sundays respectively. These columns will give you a team-by-team breakdown of injuries, lineup switches, and upcoming probable pitching matchups you'll want to know come Monday.

You can check out "Probable Pitchers" yourself, by mousing over "Stats" for the link. This will show you the probable pitchers for each day, with details, as well as a weekly outlook.

Fantasy Baseball has made "two-start pitchers" a need-to-know item. So it's also a link under "Stats." Look down the "Team" column to find the two-start free agents. You can scan over to the right to see which teams (and which opposing pitchers) they'll be facing, as well as their start and owned percentages. Emack also discusses which two-start pitchers are good and bad in his Pitching Planner.

Game time!

Once games get rolling, you can check your team's boxscore by going to the "Fantasy GameCenter" under "Live Scoring" on the top rail. For Rotisserie owners, it gives you an instant look at the standings with every at-bat, including if you are moving up or down with the day's events. There are a number of fun links on the bottom table for you to sort through also.

For Head-to-Head owners, it shows the scores, along with how many "Pitcher's Starts Remaining" (PSR) you and your opponent have, and if you click on the points total next to a player's name, it will show how they got those points this week exactly.

We even have a chatroom at the bottom of the Fantasy GameCenter page now! Feel free to make fun of your opponent for starting Mark Hendrickson -- but then be ready to take the abuse when he goes six scoreless innings against the Nationals.

Along the same lines of the GameCenter, under Live Scoring, you can click on "Preview" to see what the estimated score will be for your upcoming Head-to-Head matchup. These stats use predictors that are previous stats and projections combined, with the latter decreasing as the season wears on.

How do you stack up!?!

Your league's standings page is just part of the picture. Have you ever scored the second-most points in a week -- only to lose to the guy that scored the most? Or on the other end, how many times have you won with a low score, only because you played the worst team in the land? If you check out "Breakdown," you can see how you fare against every other team in the league singularly (great chance for trashtalk for guys that are in the bottom portion of the standings with a 5-12 record, but still 3-0 against the league leader. And you can check out the weekly "Power Rankings" to see where the combined effects of the standings, breakdown and points scored ranks you among your opponents. This takes schedule out of the equation almost completely.

Are you the next Tony Lucadello?

Ever heard of Tony Lucadello? He's the major league scout that found Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins and Mike Schmidt -- not to mention Mickey Morandini! CBSSports.com now gives you the tools to put together a list of players to scout all season. Mouse over "My Team" and click on "My Scout Team." You can either add a name to the bottom of the page to search, or just go to the player's profile page and click on the "Scout this player" button under their name. You can track free agents for possible signing or players on other teams for possible trades.

Then, during the day, you can go to the "Fantasy GameCenter" and click on "Show Scout Team" to see how your boys are doing.

On your league's home page, under the Player News component, there's now a third tab next to "All players" and "My players" -- it's "My Scout Team."

Along the lines of scouting players, there's also a new page under "Players" on the top rail, called "New additions." No, this isn't a page dedicated to Bobby Brown's pop group from the '80s. This is where you'll see which players we have recently added to our available player pool. Most leagues won't allow pickups unless they're already on our site, so this is a good spot to see who to watch. New additions are also indicated in a message under the message center on your league home page.

Another must-utilize feature is the "Roster Trends" section under "Stats." This basically gives you a peek into the inner workings of what all of the Fantasy owners are thinking as a collective group. You can sort by position to find out:

  • Most Added/Dropped players: Which players are hot and cold in the transactions across the site, including their current owned percentage compared to last week.
  • Most Activated/Deactivated: Who should get the nod this week -- or sit the pine?
  • Most Owned Free Agents: I suggest you start here when looking to make an addition to your squad.
  • Most Viewed: Which player profiles are getting checked out the most this week -- then go there and find out why!
  • Most Traded: Who's swapping Fantasy jerseys the most? Why are people trading Erik Bedard more than any other player? That's for you to figure out. But if you click on Bedard's player page, you'll also see, on the bottom left, which players he was recently traded for (Carlos Lee and Grady Sizemore).

Don't forget that you can just go to our "Stats" page and sort free agents at each position by our '08 projections, their current stats or even their three-year averages.

We also update our staff rankings almost daily.

Ready to make a deal? Fill out your "On the Block" page, found under the "My team" tab, so that other owners know what you are willing to move, and what you want in return. In Rotisserie leagues, you can indicate which categories you are heavy in and which ones you need help in.

And if someone sends you an offer, click on the trade evaluator to get a look at their stats back-to-back.

Minor leaguers have major impacts

We will now be providing current year-to-date stats on all minor leaguers on their player profile pages. So when you're wondering how Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria are doing in Triple A -- you can go to their pages and check it out with up-to-date stats.

Sick of no one calling you on your cell phone?

Now you can set your lineups, follow live scoring, follow scoreboards, check live standings and player news all through your cell phone.

  • Through your mobile phone, go to wap.sportsline.com/fantasy to get set up!
  • Or you can text "fantasy" to 99888 to get direct access.

If your phone is capable, you can even watch our weekly Fantasy videos -- just don't drive into a bridge abutment while doing it.

Also, stay tuned to hear news about our Ultimate Sports App!

Still reading?

This season, we're going to put you into sensory overload! From seeing our ugly mugs in videos, reading our columns and daily blogs, to listening to our whiny voices in Podcasts, you'll get everything! All that's missing is getting to smell Emack's breath -- and you don't want that. I think he chews Doritos gum in the morning.

On your league homepage, you'll see that some updates in the Player News section remains at the top while other updates fill in below it. These are player news items that we particularly consider important, so we make them "sticky," so they'll stay near the top for different intervals (12 hours, 24 hours, etc.)

You oughtta know

Under the "League Home" tab on the top rail, you'll see "Calendar." You can see important Fantasy items and dates, like your trade deadlines, waiver start times and even first games start times. You can even set important baseball related dates in here, like June's Amateur draft. Maybe your league has supplemental drafts in season, you can set those too. Every Monday, I have it reminding me to "Start Diet."

Did you know you can email your entire league by just putting the league's ID in front of "@baseball.sportsline.com"? That's much easier than going through your message board to communicate to everyone about how you will be late to the draft because your septic tank is overflowing.

Under "Options," you'll see "Email Alerts" which takes you to an opt-in page for what you'd like sent to you every day or every week. From standings, daily stats, weekly stats, news, injuries or transactions, you'll know everything before you even get to the site.

Now that we actually have our community up and rolling with a big head of steam, you can build your profile's reputation up to "Superstar" status by posting content on the message boards, rating other people's posts and inviting friends to the site. Once you become a "Superstar," you can create your own blog and even glog a game on our GameCenters. Just think of what the chicks will think!

Attention Commissioners! ... and all people that like yelling at commissioners

Don't be shy! Feel free to utilize everything available to you on the site, like the scrolling ticker on the home page (the CommWire), that can show the standings, closest game, game of the week or any notes you want customized, like, "I spent everyone's league fees on Marshmallow Peeps this weekend."

Under League Home, click on "History" to see which landmarks some teams might be approaching and mention them in the CommWire or in a league-wide e-mail. The more people that get involved and have fun -- the more they'll want to return next season. Then you can tell your mom about your 11 non-imaginary friends -- unless you're in a 10-team league.

Before each week's lineup deadline hits, you can check out "Warnings" under "My team" to see if any team has an illegal lineup ... then you can yell at him or her. (Also, don't forget to hit "Start waivers" at the bottom of your Add/Drop page, or else you'll have 11 guys hollering at you.)

Have special rules or tiebreakers? Add them to the League Constitution so that owners will always have access to them. Or you can go right to your league's home page and edit the "Commissioner's Message" with whatever you need.

One of my favorite items is the "Add Story" link at the bottom of the cover story on your league home page. Write a weekly wrap-up making fun of everyone that's not you! I call that, my blog!

Enjoy the baseball season!

Look, you paid for the league, you set the whole thing up and you've drafted your team. Why not take advantage of every tool available? The hard work is over -- now you can enjoy the season while you plot your ascension from 11th place after Week 1.

Feel free to send me a question or a comment. Here are a few that you can just clip and paste. "Are you insane?" ... "What are you thinking?" ... "You're an idiot -- but can you tell me if I should make this trade?" ... "I have a beautiful sister that likes Fantasy dorks, want her number?" ... Send your comments, hate mail, credit card numbers and beautiful sister's phone numbers to me by clicking on my Columnist page.

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