The Great Fantasy Tank

A Visit to the Mound

Baseball fans over-analyzing an over-analyzed game
Image result for mound visit
"You're staying in Charlie"
"But Skip, I'm done"
"You're staying in"
A Visit to the Mound is regularly updated series of emails touching on a wide range of baseball subjects. 


I had this thought about tanking in fantasy sports like the  Buffalo Sabres are doing now. They and the Arizona Coyotes are both tanking and they play each other twice within the next week.  it's like the reverse Stanley Cup.  The Connor McDavid bowl.   Like, if you knew Mike Trout was going back in the pool in a keeper league you were having a bad season, would you purposely sell off assets to get the top pick? That only works in snake drafts.  I suppose in auction you'd just have to free up a lot of salary.  And would it be worth it?  Would other owners take a moral high ground about it? 

Uncle Bones

To tank or not tank, that is the question.

On a real, professional level its a debate with no easy answer. Everyone wants to root for a winner and tanking is a strategy directly in conflict with that. But when the Indianapolis Colts threw a season away with Curtis Painter at QB they were rewarded with Andrew Luck and a prompt return to the status of perennial playoff team. On the surface (and as a Bills fan) it seems like an obvious choice, but when the vast majority of professional sports teams play in publicly funded stadiums, are given generous tax breaks, and derive income from those of us who root for laundry it complicates the picture. Shouldn't each team, every year put the best team forward possible? If we are owed anything as a fan, I would think it would be promise that our favorite organizations would try to win every year. Then again, that's what the Buffalo Bills have been doing for the last 15 years and well, the results have not been so pretty. So maybe its a good idea for the long term health of an organization to raze the fields every now and then.

When it comes to fantasy sports, you don't owe nothing to nobody. You paid your league fee and if you want burn it to the ground with an eye on more fruitful days be my guest. Like you said, its probably dependent on your league format, but I can see ways to accomplish either draft formats.

In a keeper snake draft format I would probably announce my intentions to tank the moment I knew I was going to pursue that strategy. If that's in July, its a fire sale. If its in May, then I start letting assets go in calculated manor. If I look at my team during draft prep and see no way to compete (a rare, but possible situation) I'd announce it right at the draft then proceed to draft a team that has a very specific theme. Maybe I'd draft a team composed entirely of Yankees and Mets (an all out declaration of tanking). Maybe I'd draft a rainbow team of equal parts White, Black, Hispanic, & Asian players. Then again maybe I would just draft a team that ensured maximum chaos starting in the first round with middle relief and go from there. The point is, I'm not going to hide anything.

In an auction league I'd be much sneaker. If it was a season long plan, I'd head into the draft with the plan of bidding up every player that I could. If I wound up paying $45 for Wil Myers so be it. I can always just drop him later on and rebuild a team off of the waiver wire. But at that point everyone would be wondering why everyone on the waiver wire is so damned expensive and why they are stuck with the team that they have. Then at the end of the year I would keep nobody and head into the next draft with the flexibility to not be outbid. A mid year tank job would be your standard trade off the best players for cheap ones, but that's not funny or interesting.

Really, any strategy that I undertook to tank would be designed to elicit the maximum amount self-righteous condemnation possible. I would love nothing more for other members of my league to seethe and boil over in disgust in email chains. I want the other owners to be so angry with me that are openly calling for my resignation from the league, because they don't have the testicular fortitude to suggest my expulsion. 

After all, I paid my league fees and maybe being the most hated owner is the kind of fantasy that I enjoy.


Every fantasy sports league needs a heel. You should take it all the way and give a pro wrestling style diatribe to open the draft, labeling people's hometowns as "stinktowns."  Ultimately it would unite the league in their singular mission of not letting you win. ::Gary Oldman gravely voice:: "He's  the hero the league deserves, but not the one it needs right now.  So we'll hunt him, because he can take it. He's a silent hero, a watchful protector..." 

On a pro sports level, I can see why you'd ultimately root to tank for the long term future of the franchise, and also why that concept would make you cringe. The tank vs. non tank debate  over the Buffalo Sabres has become so insufferable, I think I'd rather watch Skip Bayless and Bill O'Reilly host a book club. The old guard is steadfastly against it but able to add a nice helping of finger wagging, moralizing and old man yells at cloud-ing. The younger, analytics savvy crowd are pro tank but practically trip over themselves to point out examples where finishing low to get a high pick has worked. Their insecurity is at Rivers Cuomo on Pinkerton level, and not anywhere near as chiming. And almost as creepy.  

I like your idea of above board tanking, but you risk the rarely employed fantasy sports trade embargo, used only for bots and players who offer you Lucas Giolito in a short term keeper league and try to sell you on "upside." These are the same people who lose at poker then complain the other players are "jackals" who "chase cards." Prospect potential in fantasy sports is sort of like rustproofing and undercoating on your car: fine buzzwords but no real practical value.  I think we've all spent long nights researching prospects, wasting roster spots, hoping for the next Clayton Kershaw.  More often than not, they turn out to be the next Daniel Bard. I feel there's a life lesson in there somewhere, and the sad walking away music from the Incredible Hulk should accompany it.

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