Updated: Jan 7, 2022
Let's take a short break from rank analysis to discuss something I consider to be of the utmost importance: etiquette. Having played this game for nearly two decades across just about every format and platform, with friends, family, and quite a few strangers, and as a commissioner and a participant, there are certain rules I've come to consider unassailable. They make the game fun. They protect league integrity. You should always follow these rules and demand no less from your league-mates. Here are Armchair Roto's 10 Commandments of Fantasy Baseball:
1. THOU SHALL KNOW THE LEAGUE RULES
Seriously. This is obvious, but people jump into drafts or get invited invited into leagues all the time without taking a minute to find out whether the league is head-to-head or roto, batting average or on-base percentage, weekly or daily, one catcher or two catcher. All of these things matter and it takes 5 minutes to look at the rules ahead of time and understand what kind of team you should draft.
2. THOU SHALL PAY LEAGUE DUES ON TIME
It's the commissioner's job to make sure everybody pays up before the season begins, and one of the worst situations a fantasy league can be in is to reach the end of the season and not have all of the winnings in the pot ready to be paid out. That's a failure. With League Safe and a host of similar options out there, that's inexcusable in today's game. Still, don't be the guy the commish has to email repeatedly to get the money in. Make it easy on everyone. Pay up and do it in a timely manner.
3. THOU SHALT NOT MISS THE DRAFT
Finding a draft date and time that works for everyone is hard. Be flexible. Move your schedule around. Make it work. Don't be the "I'll just autodraft" guy. Once the draft is scheduled, put it on your calendar. Set a reminder. Don't be the guy who forgets. It's pretty deflating to enter a draft and have people no-show. It's the most fun time of the fantasy season. Show up.
4. THOU SHALT NOT BE THE GUY WHO MAKES THE "IS [PLAYER X] STILL OUT THERE?" JOKE IN THE DRAFT
It doesn't matter what kind of league you are in. Whether it's a home league full of friends and family or an online league full of strangers, there is one universally stupid joke that someone will always tell. It takes many forms:
"Hey is Tim Tebow still out there?"
"Draft Jose Canseco!"
"I don't see Rickey Henderson..."
It's the oldest joke in the history of online drafts. It is the dumbest joke in fantasy. Save everyone the eye-roll.
5. THOU SHALL ALWAYS RESPOND TO MESSAGES AND TRADE OFFERS
You agreed to be in the league. It was your choice. So be in the league! If someone sends you a trade offer, you should at minimum accept or decline the offer. You don't have to explain your reasoning (though it is much appreciated), but don't leave a league-mate hanging. Maybe you checked out, but people are playing and trying to make moves. Don't make them put everything on hold while while they wait on a reply you never give. It's the worst. And you don't realize it, but the reputation you earn as the guy who never responds will stick with you and it doesn't take long before you aren't included at all.
6. THOU SHALT NOT ACT LIKE A USED CAR SALESMAN IN TRADE NEGOTIATIONS
Did I say that people who don't respond to trade inquiries are the worst? That was wrong. The guy who tries to talk you into accepting his offer is much worse. It is one thing to explain your reasoning and what you're trying to accomplish with a trade offer. It's another thing completely to try to argue someone into accepting a deal that they don't want to accept. You don't understand their team better than they do. You don't have a monopoly on the reasoning that should go into accepting or declining an offer. It doesn't even matter if they're declining a no-doubter or saying no to something that is clearly in their team's interest. People can decline a trade offer for any freaking reason they want. Move on.
7. THOU SHALL ALWAYS GIVE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT WHEN WIELDING THE VETO BUTTON
Nothing destroys a fantasy league faster than trade vetoes. I've been there. The conclusion that I've come to over the course of many years is that trades should be given extreme deference. This is most important in dynasty and keeper formats as lopsided trades can often be the rule, rather than the exception. But it should also apply to redraft leagues. No trade is 100% even. I've traded top 10 players for fringy closers at the deadline because the move would help me win despite being objectively uneven. If you can squint and see what the trade partners were trying to accomplish, even if you don't agree, then let it go. And don't ever wield a veto as part of an attempt to kill a trade that helps a league-mate compete against you. It's lame.
8. THOU SHALL GET TO KNOW YOUR LEAGUE-MATES
Send messages. Build relationships. Check in from time to time. When it's August and you need a trade partner, you'll find more willing participants when you've made a previous attempt to reach out, even if it was as simple as an April "Hi, I'm XXXX. Good luck this season. Let me know if want to discuss any moves. I'm always willing to listen on an offer." This is particularly true in keeper and dynasty formats where you're trying to build something over multiple years. There is no off-season in those leagues.
9. THOU SHALL PLAY TO THE END
Set your rosters. Put your injured players on the IL and activate players who are playing. Check the waiver wire from time to time. Respond to trade offers and messages. If it's clear that you are completely out of the race in July, that's fine. You don't have to engage in daily micromanagement, but have some pride and try to climb a few spots. Help maintain your league's integrity by fielding an active roster.
10. THOU SHALT NOT BE A JERK
You play with those guys. Take note and don't play with them in the future. But it isn't just them. Have you ever wanted to send a snarky reply to a trade offer? Do people in your leagues annoy you? Rise above it. Don't give yourself a bad reputation.
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