Fantasy Baseball: Shallow League or Deep League?

Every fantasy baseball league must decide how many teams will participate. This is very important since it will have a big affect on the entire season.

When eight-ten teams exist in a league, it is known as “shallow.” Leagues with about 12-14 teams are known as “deep.” Most guys playing fantasy baseball consider shallow leagues to be the easier option.

Although deep leagues are usually more challenging, many fantasy participants actually prefer them. Some team owners enjoy the extra strategy needed to succeed in deep leagues. Those unfamiliar with Major League Baseball (MLB) are usually not advised to play in deep leagues.

The following paragraphs explain how roster size impacts draft choices and in-season roster management.

Shallow League Drafting
A shallow league has fewer overall roster spots to be filled on draft day. Therefore, more players will be left undrafted. This creates somewhat of a safety net for shallow league owners to make some risky picks.

An example situation could be a shallow league owner drafting a third baseman with career-long injury problems. Maybe the player is considered one of the game’s best hitters, but makes frequent trips to the disabled list. If that third baseman is hurt again during the season, a few quality free agent replacement options should be available.

Deep League Drafting
The total of drafted players in a deep league will be much higher. Generally around half of all MLB players will be on rosters in deep leagues. Owners should draft with the notion in mind that free agents will probably not be much help to them later on.

Since the draft will include more players, deep league team owners have to do more research. Rookies and lesser-known players should be evaluated very closely by owners before the draft. There is a much higher probability that such players will be needed to fill roster spots in deep leagues.

Shallow League Roster Management
As a season progresses, certain players will not live up to expectations. The larger free agent pool allows shallow league owners to be less patient with under performing players. Even high draft picks and star veterans are likely to land on waivers if they are playing well below potential.

Situational free agent moves are also more common in shallow leagues. This means that an owner drops a player and picks up another just to use for very short periods of time. Frequently this is done to get extra pitching statistics from a free agent hurler that is scheduled to start.

Deep League Roster Management
Proven players in a prolonged slump will probably be given more time to improve in deep leagues. The general lack of quality among possible free agents makes it nearly pointless to try replacing that player. When facing this situation, many deep league owners would just bench the underachieving player for a while.

On occasion, quality players will get dropped from teams and become free agents in deep leagues. Since very few talented players are on waivers, another owner will probably pick up any of them very quickly. Because of this, owners that drop players with high potential have very little chance of reclaiming them later.