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April Fools' don'ts: 10 fantasy tips to ignore

Following some common pieces of fantasy advice can be detrimental
March 29, 2017

April Fools' Day is a time for pranks, but some of the most common fantasy baseball tips are unintentionally deceiving. If someone ever feeds you one of the following 10 opinions, feel free to laugh out loud and ask them if their calendar is permanently stuck on April 1.1. Saves

April Fools' Day is a time for pranks, but some of the most common fantasy baseball tips are unintentionally deceiving. If someone ever feeds you one of the following 10 opinions, feel free to laugh out loud and ask them if their calendar is permanently stuck on April 1.
1. Saves are easy to find on the waiver wire.
Sure, you can grab saves off waivers at any time in the league you formed with your grandmother and her bridge club. But in a league comprised of attentive owners, competition for closers is fierce. Those who have the confidence to join challenging leagues should ensure that they have a strong base of saves at the outset of the season.
2. Useful starters are at a surplus.
As a result of the league-wide power surge in '16, the starting pitcher pool is not as deep as it was in recent seasons. To get a strong foundation for their ratios and strikeout totals, successful owners need to roster one or two ace-caliber starters. A competitive rotation cannot be made up entirely of pitchers like Jason Hammel, Francisco Liriano and Robbie Ray.

3. Productive middle infielders are scarce commodities.
Second-base options are more plentiful than ever, and the shortstop position is laden with exciting youngsters. Owners do not need to overpay for middle infielders in their drafts or on the trade market, as a multitude of options should be available at all production levels throughout the season.
4. Closers help with only one category.
One of the longest-running fantasy myths is that quality closers do not help in more than one category. Kenley Jansen owns a lifetime 2.20 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. Even across just 65 innings, his ratios will make a substantial impact on a fantasy squad. Also, top-tier closers will typically compile 30 more strikeouts than the average player at their position. Those who nab a pair of outstanding stoppers will get more than 80 saves and helpful boosts in three other pitching categories.
5. Owners should wait until May to make significant moves.
While panic-driven moves are not recommended, smart owners will start the quest of improving their rosters immediately following the completion of their drafts. Making a smart waiver-wire transaction or trade on April 1 can have a larger impact than making a similar move later in the season.

6. Steals are easy to find late in drafts.
Owners who wait until the late rounds to secure steals will likely be forced to add a one-category contributor. Speedsters such as Jarrod Dyson and Travis Jankowski are projected to provide little power and an unimpressive batting mark on their path to 35-steal campaigns. Wise owners will be ready to use an early-round pick on a basestealer with a more balanced profile, such as Jose Altuve, Starling Marte or Trea Turner.
7. Players on non-contending teams provide little production.
While many fantasy owners drool over stars on the Cubs, Red Sox and Indians, players on projected cellar dwellers can still be productive assets. The Brewers may score many runs this year, the Twins have a handful of exciting lineup members and the Phillies could provide some productive hurlers. By paying close attention to all 30 Major League teams, owners will give themselves the best chance to find valuable assets who might be underappreciated.

8. Younger players are preferable to older ones.
Wise owners will not disregard veteran players. For example, David Ortiz and Nelson Cruz collectively recorded 81 homers and 232 RBIs last season after beginning the year with a combined age of 75, while Robinson Cano belted a career-best 39 home runs as a 33-year-old. While some owners were chasing Carlos Correa and Giancarlo Stanton, the league winners were not turning their backs on those who were seemingly several years removed from their primes. 
9. Innings limits matter.
Does your to-do list span to September? Of course not. Similarly, successful owners will not look too far down the road. Few squads will remain in contention by the time owners have to deal with skipped starts for Lance McCullers, Jameson Taillon or Vince Velasquez. Successful owners will focus on the first five months of the season and patch together their September lineups when the moment arrives.

10. Hitters with poor plate discipline will struggle to excel.
Owners can chase pitchers with a high K/BB ratio, but they do not need to avoid the hitters who struggle in the same areas. Rougned Odor, Jonathan Schoop, Starling Marte and Matt Kemp were all valuable '16 fantasy assets despite whiffing frequently and rarely walking. True, these players would likely benefit from drawing a few more free passes and reducing their strikeout rates. But players such as Adam Jones have proven that a hitter can have an aggressive approach and still hold long-lasting fantasy value.

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB