This just in: there are officially more Fantasy Baseball players that use a Head-to-Head scoring system than those that use the traditional Rotisserie style.

If Daniel Okrent were dead, he'd roll over in his grave. (Okrent is credited with creating Rotisserie Baseball in 1980.)

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Despite the popularity of Rotisserie-style ball that has finally given an outlet to number-crunchers and stat-freaks alike, Fantasy Football has birthed a secondary group of Fantasy Baseball players that feel the need for weekly combat, rather than the long slow climb up 10 sets of categories. Fantasy Football owners use Head-to-Head baseball to get through the long gridiron offseason.

If you aren't already playing Head-to-Head Fantasy Baseball, then start now. It's a different game and it definitely gives you weekly gratification. If you are only a Head-to-Head player, consider adding a Rotisserie league to your profile. The six-month grind is a test of both your patience and skill.

Here are some strategies that should help you in your quest to dominate your fellow Head-to-Headers. Try to remember this: Don't draft a kicker in the last round this spring.

Using Your Head(-to-Head)

2006: Top 10 in
Quality starts
Player QS
T-1. Roy Oswalt, HOU 25
T-1. Chris Capuano, MIL 25
3. John Smoltz, ATL 24
4. Johan Santana, MIN 24
5. Mike Mussina, NYY 23
6. Bronson Arroyo, CIN 23
7. John Lackey, LAA 23
8. Brandon Webb, ARI 23
T-9. Tom Glavine, NYM 22
T-9. Kevin Millwood, TEX 22
T-9. Carlos Zambrano, CHC 22
T-9. Brett Myers, PHI 22
Obviously, there are so many variant scoring systems and point values in Head-to-Head play, it's difficult to just say, "Starting pitchers are the most valuable." Think about it. If one league scores 10 points for each win and save and no points for innings pitched or strikeouts, then it would be safe to say that the top relievers would be more valuable. So consider your scoring system and apply the following strategies accordingly. Take a look at our projections in your league, which would show how many Head-to-Head points your scoring system would reward each player. This would give you an excellent idea of what types of players your system values more.

Here are some questions you'll want to review before entering your Head-to-Head draft:

  • Are relief pitchers and starting pitchers separate in your starting lineups? If so, then remember that a starting pitcher that has relief pitcher eligibility, with two starts in a given week, is quite valuable (Jonathan Papelbon for instance).
  • Does your scoring system subtract points for strikeouts by a hitter? If so, then ratchet back the rankings of players like Adam Dunn and Curtis Granderson. While they can provide points in other areas, those positives would be partially offset by the negatives.
  • And do they reward the same amount of points for walks by a hitter? If so, then move Dunn back up the rankings, since he landed in the top six in walks for the third straight year in '06. And move a player like Brian Giles up your cheatsheets because of his stellar 1.73 BB/K ratio.
  • Do you lose points if your baserunner is caught stealing? If so, let someone else take a chance on someone like Scott Podsednik late in your draft. Last year, he had only 21 net steals (40 SB - 19 CS), which ranks him even lower than Eric Byrnes (22), Orlando Cabrera (24) and Willy Taveras (24).
2006: Top 10 in
Net Steals
Player QS
1. Carl Crawford, TB 49
2. Jose Reyes, NYM 47
T-3. Dave Roberts, SF 43
T-3. Ichiro Suzuki, SEA 43
5. Juan Pierre, LAD 38
T-6. Chone Figgins, LAA 36
T-6. Hanley Ramirez, FLA 34
T-8. Felipe Lopez, WAS 32
T-8. Jimmy Rollins, PHI 32
T-10. Brian Roberts, BAL 29
T-10. Derek Jeter, NYY 29
  • Do you lose points for losses by your pitcher? If that is the case, then starting pitchers lose some of their luster compared to solid closers. That also makes good pitchers on bad teams less desirable. Run support provided by a pitcher's offense is usually a good indicator, although Randy Johnson led the majors with 7.51 runs scored in support with the Yankees last year, and he still lost 11 games. Can that improve now that he's with Arizona, a team that scored 157 fewer runs than the Yankees in '06?
  • Do you lose points for both losses and blown saves? If so, avoid the shakier closers altogether because of double jeopardy. In deeper leagues, grab a quality middle reliever late that picks up strikeouts (Scot Shields) or some wins in relief.

Pitching an idea

The key to Head-to-Head pitching is usually grabbing as many high-win, high-strikeout pitchers as you can and mix them with some decent pitchers with two-starts against favorable matchups. If you are in an AL-only or NL-only league, the odds of picking up decent two-start pitchers off the waiver wire each week are much slimmer than if you are in a mixed league. So in those deeper leagues, try to stock up on starting pitchers to keep on your bench for two-start weeks. They'll serve you better than a backup outfielder or second baseman.

Also, try to lean toward consistent pitchers, even if they aren't the type to strike out 10 or toss a complete game. You'd rather have a player like Chris Capuano, who co-led the majors with 25 quality starts last season, over someone like Cliff Lee, who is streakier than a nudist colony.

It's also important to understand that last season's rookie pitcher explosion won't happen this year. Young pitchers are rarely consistent from one month to the next. So if you take some rookie starters that thrive early in the season, consider trading them immediately while they're hot, before they face opponents for the second time.

Obviously, you'll want to wait on some low-strikeout pitchers, but if your league also deducts for hits allowed, then avoid pitchers that combine both blemishes. Mark Buehrle is obviously coming off a bad season, but realize that he has averaged 246 hits allowed and only 133 strikeouts over the past five seasons. Those are tough numbers to overcome. On the other hand, look at Buehrle's teammate Javier Vazquez, who has averaged 206 hits allowed and 192 strikeouts over the past four seasons.

Power is king

Pssssstt ... Pssssstt ... Hey! ... Pick up home run hitters in Head-to-Head Fantasy play!

2006: Top 10 in
Extra-base hits
Player QS
1. Grady Sizemore, CLE 92
2. Alfonso Soriano, CHC 89
3. David Ortiz, BOS 85
T-4. Matt Holliday, COL 84
T-4. Ryan Howard, PHI 84
6. Albert Pujols, STL 83
T-7. Aramis Ramirez, CHC 80
T-7. Carlos Beltran, NYM 80
T-9. Jimmy Rollins, PHI 79
T-9. Mark Teixeira, TEX 79
Here are some other obvious tips: Never scare an ex-con while he's working with a chainsaw. Avoid any movie that starts with "Ernest Goes To..." And never guzzle hot coffee through a straw.

Of the top 10 Head-to-Head Fantasy hitters in a basic scoring system, six hit 40 or more home runs in '06. Combine that with the RBI and run-scoring opportunities they get because of their own power, and you now understand why hoarding power is a good thing. But again, check their strikeout numbers if you lose points there.

Something else to consider isn't just the long-ball hitters, but all those players that rack up doubles and extra-base hits. Take a look at the leaders in hits and you'll see some interesting items. For instance, Magglio Ordoñez might have been in the top 30 in hits last year, but he had only 57 extra-base hits, which ranked him 75th in the majors. Jose Lopez was in the top 50 in hits, but with only 46 extra-bases and five stolen bases, he's not someone to target until late in most drafts -- and that's only because second base is so thin.

The need for speed

2006: Top 10 in
Player QS
1. Juan Pierre, LAD 699
2. Ichiro Suzuki, SEA 695
3. Michael Young, TEX 691
4. Jimmy Rollins, PHI 689
5. Chase Utley, PHI 658
6. Grady Sizemore, CLE 655
7. Rafael Furcal, LAD 654
8. Jeff Francoeur, ATL 651
9. Miguel Tejada, BAL 648
T-10. Alfonso Soriano, CHC 647
T-10. Jose Reyes, NYM 647
Instead of concerning yourself with players that steal a lot of bases, try to concentrate your attention on good leadoff hitters. Stolen bases are just too inconsistent to rely on in a weekly scoring format. But a leadoff hitter's exceptional on-base percentage will convert to Fantasy points and they'll likely steal some bases as a Fantasy bonus. The fact that they'll reach the plate once more than most of the other hitters on their team means they have around a 20-percent chance of doing more for you than someone hitting seventh in the order.

And just because power hitting is king, don't discount what a solid speedster can do for you. Consider that a home run is worth at least six points (HR (4) + RBI (1) + run scored (1). A triple might be worth only three points, but factor in that the top 10 triple hitters also averaged over 37 stolen bases and 91 runs scored and you realize that you don't have to avoid speedsters just because they can't go four bases on one hit.

There is certainly a place for Head-to-Head Fantasy leaguers at CBS SportsLine. The strategies might be a little different than Rotisserie, but for the most part, talented hitters and solid pitchers can help you in all formats. But, just like any Fantasy game, learning the nuances of your league's scoring could mean the difference of being a champ or a chump.

Have a question for the Fantasy Baseball writers? How about a comment or a suggestion? Feel free to email us at Please add "Attn: Head-to-Head" so we know which column you are referring to. We might not be able to answer all questions due to a large volume, but we’ll do our best.