Are you in first in your Fantasy league right now? If so, this isn't the post for you. Most likely, you drafted pretty well, got lucky with injuries, made a nice waiver wire move or two and maybe pulled off an incredible trade. Good for you, well done, etc.
This is post for the owners who find themselves toiling at the bottom of their leagues. The ones who realized weeks, maybe even months, ago that this wasn't their year. With the season finally winding down, it's a good time to look back and re-evaluate where you went wrong. Were things lost during the draft? Or did a few poor in-season moves sink you? Let's take a look at some of the popular reasons Fantasy teams stink, and talk about how owners can improve next season.
Were you sunk by injuries? Did you draft Jose Fernandez and Joey Votto in the first four rounds of your draft? Was Bryce Harper in there too? Injuries are unavoidable, and they make it incredibly hard to evaluate a draft. Owners can look at these situations and say "my process was strong, but I was unlucky." That's not a bad way to approach things when you look back on an injury-riddled season. Prior to the beginning of the season, it was hard to call any of those guys injury-prone. Votto missed time a few seasons ago with a knee injury, but stayed healthy last year. Harper missed time after crashing into a wall last season, but that was it. Fernandez is a pitcher, and, unfortunately, pitchers get hurt. Injuries suck, but at least you weren't done in by bad decisions.
Did you make the wrong moves? Look, we've all made terrible trades. Three weeks into Josh Hamilton's 2008 breakout, I offered him to an owner for Rich Harden. Fortunately for me, Harden got hurt a couple minutes later (surprise), and I was able to pull the deal off the table. Perhaps you dealt for Matt Cain expecting a rebound. Or maybe you bought in heavy on Dee Gordon. Owners can take things away from these situations. Did you buy into the narrative before doing a bunch of research? Are you doing the right kind of research? These are fair questions to ask.
Did you blow it in the draft? Hey, I thought Ryan Braun would be elite again too. Missing on early draft picks can sink a team, but at least there's something to be learned from it. Braun and Chris Davis are certainly talented, but came with a lot of risk. Same with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Eschewing risk early can help, obviously, but you also want to make sure you're getting high-upside players.
There are different ways in which blowing it in the draft can emerge. Did you spring too early for young players with upside who didn't pan out? Or did you play it too safe with veterans who were steady, but not elite? Examining your draft patterns can help for next season. Typically, a solid mix of both strategies can work. For every youngsters you miss, hopefully you'll have a steady veteran to take over.
This is all easier said than done, of course. Very few owners leave the draft thinking their team is awful. Take this time to evaulate where you went wrong. See if any biases emerge. Adjust so that you can dominate your league next season. It's not a fun way to spend the last weeks of a lost season, but it's necessarily if you want to get better.