Strategy Room: Patience is a fantasy owner's greatest tool early

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Unless you are among the traditionalists who still draft during the first weekend of the season, you are probably wondering "OK, what do I do now?" Other than the obvious advice of be patient with your stars and enjoy the games, there are a number of things you can do early in the season to improve your chances of competing at the end.

Chances are you have a few fungible roster spots with the hopes of upgrading the player from the free agent pool. While it is prudent to stay the course with the core of your squad, it is never too early to embark on the process of finding the surprise player to emerge from those originally not drafted. Perhaps you misjudged some playing time situations and can roster more at bats with a move. Or maybe you are short a starting pitcher and now that rotations are set, you can fortify the back end of your rotation.

Early season trading is a hot topic, especially since this is feature of the recent documentary Fantasyland, based on the book by Sam Walker that chronicles an outsider's plight in his attempt to win Tout Wars, the premier industry showcase league. Jed Latkin, the documentary's principal, hits the phones before opening day. This is portrayed as a managerial strength for Jed and the implication is this practice has been highly successful in his home leagues.

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to handling those incessant traders that look to wheel and deal from the get go. Many are turned off by early offers, content in the makeup of their squad, wanting to let things play out a bit. Others subscribe to the "draft for value, trade for balance" mantra and might be more receptive if the offer addresses a team weakness. Generally speaking, even if you are annoyed with being contacted before a single pitch has been thrown, it never hurts to at least listen, and if the offer is not to your liking, simply respectfully decline. You never know when you may be presented the proverbial Godfather offer.

One of my favorite early season tactics in daily leagues is steaming of hitters. Yes, I meant hitters, not pitchers. The idea here is April really lends itself to the process as there are more off days and the quality of the available hitters to employ is as good as it will be all season. And to paraphrase the famous saying, a homer in April counts as much as a homer in September. The key is to stay ahead of your competition and pick up the useful hitter a day or two before you plan to use them in the event others have the same plan as you.

Something you may read elsewhere concerning auction leagues that on the surface appears to be clever but in reality is more fluff than substance is to contact the person with the losing bids on the players you bought, especially if they seemed distraught you got them. The theory is they favor the player, thus might be willing to overpay to acquire him in a deal. But think about it for a second. If they really wanted the player, why didn't they bid the extra buck? A skilled auction gamer does not have any favorites. All they see are statistics-generating pieces of meat. By focusing too much on the owner with the runner-up bids, you may overlook another more desirable option.

Something not to do is along the same lines as being patient and that is not to get hung up on the early season standings. Sure, it is fun to see how your squad is doing, but so long as your team is healthy, the standings are irrelevant until at least the months begin with the letter J. You may recall we discussed that if you finish in third or fourth in all the scoring categories, you will accrue enough point to win. Similarly, do you know what they call the person that averages a third or fourth place finish in the standings each week over the course of the season? That's right, he is called Champ.

Perhaps most important, simply enjoy the fact America's pastime is back. Vicariously live the story that is Jason Heyward's debut. Marvel in the beauty of a Mark Buehrle between the leg flip. Watch Colby Rasmus bring back a home run and see Garrett Jones send balls into orbit that no one can bring back.

Play ball.