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Here is What I tell First-Time Ottoneu Players

Know the rules. It is a mantra worth remembering. It is the First Commandment in the 10 Commandments of Fantasy Baseball. It is, I have found, more relevant for newcomers to Ottoneu than any other platform. Indeed, much of what hooks people on Ottoneu is its unique rules and structure, which, unfortunately, also scare people off. I have seen it. So, every time I pitch Ottoneu to new players there are several things I tell them that they need to understand beforehand in order to push them up the learning curve. I have written various versions of this so many times that it is time to reduce it to link form.

(Note 1: I have made the pitch that everyone should play Ottoneu. Read that here. It is relevant.)

(Note 2: I only play Old School 5x5, so I'm not your guy for the other formats, though much of this is universal on the platform.)

All Free Agents Are Added Through a Blind Mini-Auction Process

There is no FAAB, quickest-to-click, waiver order, or anything like that in Ottoneu. If you want to add a player to your team via free agency, you have to nominate that player for an auction. Every owner in the league will be put on notice that someone in the league wants to add that player. Everyone will have 24-48 hours to research that player and bid (subject to salary cap restrictions; see next section). In active leagues these mini-auctions are going on every day, all season. It's a fun process that rewards those who pay close attention to the league's activities.

The Salary Cap Works in a Way That is Unlike Any Other Game You Have Played

A good number of fantasy players are familiar with the concept of a salary cap, particularly in keeper formats, but I've come across no other format that works quite like Ottoneu. The basics are these: Each team has $400 to spend on a 40-man roster. In your auction draft, you need at least $1 for every player. What gets people is the in-season salary cap management. If a team busts the cap at any point, they're locked out of setting their roster or conducting any transactions until they cut enough salary to get back in compliance. The difficulty is that cutting a player only frees up half of the money under the cap spent on that player's salary. So, for example, if I cut a $6 player, I only free up $3 of salary cap space. There is no rounding up either. Cutting a $5 player only frees up $2 of cap space, cutting a $3 player only frees up $1 of cap space, and, most importanty, cutting a $1 player frees up no salary cap space.

What can quickly happen under those conditions if you are active in free agent bidding and close to the $400 cap is you can find yourself unable to make transactions, or, worse, locked out of your team and forced to cut a player you don't want to cut.

Consider this scenario: You have a full roster of 40 players, you're $2 under the cap at $398, and you win a free agent auction for $3. At 41 players and $401, you need to cut a player with a salary of at least $2 to make your team legal again. You need to know what your plan is before you do that to yourself.

You want to have salary cap flexibility (which means roster flexibility) all season. Here are some tips:

  • Don't draft a $400 team. Walk away from the auction with some salary cap space to maneuver with so you can be in on those April auctions. I like to walk away from pre-season auctions with roughly $20 to play with, but I've left myself as much as $50 before.

  • Be aggressive cutting injured players. $15 of cap space in many cases is more valuable than a player sitting on your IL for half the season.

  • Understand that if another owner "claims" a player you cut, you get the full salary (not half) back for that player immediately. So, if you really want to free up some space, cut someone you think there is a good shot will get claimed by another team.

  • Re-auction your previousy cut players after 30 days. Say you cut a $20 player to free up $10 of cap space. After 30 days you can nominate that player for auction for $10. If someone else bids on the player and wins, you get the rest of your $20 back. If you win the player for $10, you can immediately cut him again and get another half (in this case, $5) back. You can repeat that process until you get the player down to $1. There is a tool on your team page that helps you manage this process.

  • Trade a player for a loan. Teams can trade salary cap space. For example, I could trade a $50 player to a team that is at the salary cap if I include a $50 loan to cover the cost of the player. This is beyond common. It's standard practice. But you can use this in more creative ways. If I can see that I'm coming up on cap issues, I can look to see which teams have cap space to spare, offer that team a player in exchange for nothing but a cap space loan. If a team traded me $20, that would lower their cap to $380 and raise mine to $420. This all resets in the off-season.

I haven't listed every tip on salary cap management, but this is a good starting point. The important thing is that you go in understanding how it works and that it is something you need to keep at the front of your mind all season.

There are Many Ways to Skin a Catcher

Ottoneu rosters have two Catcher slots, but catcher starts are limited to 162 games. It doesn't take long to realize that this setup is perfect in that it allows you to approach the position several ways. You could grab two top catchers and mix and match them all season to create a kind of super catcher. You could draft one top starter and pair him with a cheap backup catcher who hits for average. You could also draft two mediocre catchers and mix and match their starts all season to maximize their impact.

There is no Corner Infield Slot

This may be the only Ottoneu feature I don't care much for, but I point it out to people because they typically expect to fill a CI slot.

In Conclusion

Other features, including off-season arbitration and how to use the roster organizer and chat features, become familiar in their own time. The main purpose of this article is to cover the "I wish I had known" features I have seen new owners mention.


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Thanks for reading!

- Russell

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Anthony Pumilia
Anthony Pumilia


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