Friday, January 16, 2015

Racket Rally Fantasy Insider

When I first started following tennis, I thought it could never be a legitimate fantasy sport, because the most important part of fantasy sports can't be done in tennis: the draft. However, I have been proven wrong on that front yet again, as Ben Rothenberg and Jeff Sackmann combined efforts to create a tennis fantasy salary game called Racket Rally that is both beautifully constructed and a tennis fans' dream.

Like every good fantasy game, Racket Rally needs its own "Fantasy Insider," and if there are no objections, I'll appoint myself. What I want to do is create an incomplete fantasy ranking here. Unlike fantasy ranking in baseball or other sports, which essentially serve as a positional ranking, the emphasis on my rankings will be fantasy.

Tennis already has its own rankings, but what I will do with my rankings is look at who has the most value relative to their price. Basically, I will look at how can you maximize the value of those $100,000 that you get to start the game.

The other thing is to cover some basic strategies that will lead to winning your league. The idea is that my fantasy insider posts will be a tool for the games most serious players, particularly those who are betting money in their fantasy leagues (which I highly recommend if you are a serious player).

Later tonight, I will release my first set of rankings to get ready for the Australian Open. For this post, I want to just share five basic strategies that will make any Racket Rally competitor a winner.

1. Don't just choose your favorite players: I'm starting with an obvious one, but it is worth sharing. My first instinct when I saw the game was to buy all the Serbs, but that isn't a legitimate strategy to win a league. Many leagues are built from fans of a similar player, so actually not buying that player has clear advantages. Also, it is not a good idea to only buy players from the WTA or the ATP, but instead have a mix of both. My rankings (at least for now) will only include the ATP, because that is what I know best, but there is certainly a lot of value in players from the WTA.

2. Pay attention to ranking points rewarded for each round: The ATP and WTA do have slight differences in what percentage of the total points go to players in particular rounds. Be aware of those differences and try to exploit them. A third round loss in a grand slam for the WTA is worth 130 points, while it is worth just 90 on the ATP. If you can pay the same for a third round appearance on the WTA as on the ATP, go with the player from the WTA.

3. Don't buy players the week before they defend a lot of points: The goal of the game is to pay as little for a player as possible. If you buy a player right before they go to a tournament where they are the defending champion, you are wasting your money. Wait until the tournament is over and buy them at a potentially much lower price.

4. Pay attention in general to where players have to defend points: It is not a bad idea to sell a player right before they have to defend a title, because you can just buy them right back for a lower price and use the extra money elsewhere. Also, buy in on a player that has little to defend over a long stretch of time. The idea is to buy a player when they are at their cheapest value. If you wait for a player to reach a career-high ranking to buy them, you are spending money that isn't necessary.

5. Pay attention to entry lists: This is a useful practice for good tennis fans in general, but particularly for Racket Rally. One of the rules many will miss if they don't make sure to read them carefully is that you can only sell one players' shares per week. That means that you don't want to have 10 players on your roster that all are taking the next three weeks off from the tour. A lot of players decide to treat February as an offseason for example. Don't get more than a couple of those players right before the mini-offseason or you will get stuck with them.

There will be more tips to come with each of my rankings. I will post the rankings going into the Australian Open later tonight.

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