Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
You hear that? That's the clock ticking on your fantasy season.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if you're still trying to make a run at first in your roto league, time is not on your side.
The good news is, you do have some time. Ten days, to be exact.
Making up the ground won't be easy. Unless, of course, you follow these eight simple steps.
1) Be category conscious
Take inventory. What areas are you lacking in? Some categories might be a lost cause (if you're a half run behind in ERA, you're probably not coming back) while others may be up for grabs.
In one of the leagues I'm competing in right now, it's a logjam for the lead in stolen bases. Four teams are separated by only three steals.
An easy solution would be to pick up either Rajai Davis (42 SB) or Eric Young Jr. (39 thefts), who are both available in the majority of Yahoo fantasy leagues. Quick-fixes like these are all over the place if you know where to look.
Let's go back to my stolen base example for a minute. While a player like Rajai Davis may give you an edge in steals, his lack of productivity in other categories make him a liability (hence why he's still available in most leagues).
It's up to you if you're willing to sacrifice home runs and RBI for stolen bases. If you have a comfortable lead in those categories and you don't think it will hurt you, go right ahead. But if you have teams breathing down your neck, you may be better off with the guys you already own.
3) Pull the plug
The time for being patient has come and gone. You need results ... NOW.
If you've been holding on to Joe Mauer (concussion) or Carlos Gonzalez (sprained finger) in hopes that they'll be able to play again this season, just give up already. Who cares if A.J. Pierzynski and Denard Span are inferior players? They're healthy.
The same goes for Jacoby Ellsbury (fractured foot) and Allen Craig (sprained foot).
Slumping hitters and pitchers should be handled the same way. There's no time to wait around for Kyle Seager (2-for-23 in his last six games) or Anthony Rizzo (one for his last 17) to get it together. If they can't produce now, you need to get someone who can, and fast.
Of course, if you're in a dynasty league and Seager and Rizzo were going to be your keepers, that changes things a bit. If not, well you know what to do.
4) Be sneaky
This is when the innings limit comes into play. If you're well below the limit, this is the time to take advantage. Pick up as many starters as you can. Get a new one every day if you have to. Whatever it takes to catch up in wins and strikeouts.
Some leagues have an add/drop limit but many don't. If you're in one of the leagues that doesn't restrict the number of transactions you make, feel free to turn your starting rotation into a revolving door.
Obviously roster space is limited, so you're going to have to drop players when they're not pitching. But if you play it right, you should be able to pick them up again before their next start (assuming another owner doesn't snatch one of them first).
Sure, it's a little sketchy but desperate times call for desperate measures. You want to win, don't you?
5) Take a knee
If you have a commanding lead in a stat that can fluctuate rapidly like batting average or ERA, why risk it?
That doesn't mean you should bench everyone. But if one of your borderline guys like Jon Niese or Dan Haren is facing an unfavorable matchup, I wouldn't hesitate to sit them. Same goes for low batting average guys like Mike Napoli or Yoenis Cespedes against strikeout pitchers like Yu Darvish or Max Scherzer.
Be VERY careful with matchups down the stretch. You don't want to lose any ground.
6) Ditch the Dodgers
Seriously, have any of them even played in the last week? Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez have all been playing sporadically and it's easy to see why. With a nine and a half game lead in the NL West, they virtually have nothing to play for, unless they suddenly become interested in home field advantage (the Dodgers actually have the best road record in the NL so they might not want it).
If you're in catch-up mode, the Dodgers and other teams in the same position (Atlanta and Boston are close to clinching as well) won't be able to provide much help in fantasy.
By that same token, many of the teams that have already been eliminated are taking the same approach. For example, the Marlins (30 games back in the NL East) decided to shut down Jose Fernandez, easily their most consistent fantasy contributor this season (12-6, 2.19 ERA). The Blue Jays acted similarly by letting Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion take the rest of the year off. Which leads us to step No. 7.
7) Watch the pennant race
While the Dodgers and Braves will be taking it easy over the next week, there are plenty of teams out there that won't have that luxury. The Indians, Orioles, Rays, Rangers, Royals and Yankees are all fighting for their playoff lives right now. And though the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds are all postseason-bound, the division is still up for grabs and I guarantee none of them want to play in the do-or-die Wild Card game.
None of these teams will be resting their starters, which means fantasy owners can rely on them down the stretch.
8) Experiment time is over
It's natural to be curious about guys like Xander Bogaerts and Billy Hamilton. Both are top prospects and you never know who is going to be the next Bryce Harper or Mike Trout.
But don't let that curiosity get in the way of your ultimate goal, which is winning the league THIS season. It's way too late in the season to waste a roster spot on a work in progress. You need guys that can contribute right away and that's not a quality September call-ups normally possess. Feel free to draft them next season but don't let them get in the way of what you're trying to achieve right now.