A couple years ago, I got an idea to create my own fantasy game that would be far more in-depth than anything currently offered on the intertubes. My league would be an all-year-round dynasty league that would have extended rosters, prospect rosters and would use real major league contracts. Unfortunately, my idea was too large for anyone to really get behind and I lacked committed friends to put the idea into practice.
Then along came everybody’s favourite stats site FanGraphs and master fantasy guru Niv Shah. Mr. Shah decided that he too was sick of the ordinary fantasy league and its arcane statistical categories, single-season rosters and lack of realistic involvement; so he developed a new fantasy game called OttoNeu.
Why OttoNeu? Because a player named Otto Neu is one of the most statistically odd professional baseball players who’s ever lived. As the site explains:
Otto Neu [was] a shortstop who played in one game in 1917 for the St. Louis Browns. In this game against the Yankees, he did not have a fielding chance or an at-bat.
His FanGraphs page is fascinating for its ridiculousness.
As for the game itself, OttoNeu incorporates 40-man rosters with 23 spots for major-league players and 17 extra spots that will mostly consist of high-ceiling prospects and maybe a flier or two.
The league also runs all-year-round with keeper deadlines, trade windows and a really cool arbitration process that keeps the league competitive.
You’re given a hard salary cap of $400 and rosters are stocked using live auction drafts where the winning bid price becomes the player’s salary for that year. Major League players see their salaries increase $2 per year and minor-leaguers increase by $1 every season.
Waiver wire pickups are done through a 48-hour blind auction meaning you’ll never miss out on that red hot rookie shortstop because someone got to their computer faster than you.
There are options for the scoring system your league can use that vary from the standard 5×5 roto leagues to a new weighted points system that allows you to fully integrate a sabermetric approach.
By far the best aspect of OttoNeu is its complete integration with FanGraphs, meaning you can call up player stats, graphs and leaderboards all from within the league. You can even write articles about the progression of your team in hopes that they will be published on their sister site RotoGraphs dedicated to fantasy baseball.
Normally I’m not one to advertise for a service, but this has already made my fantasy baseball experience a million times better and I’ve joined two leagues, one of which has already had the first part of its draft.
It’s not for everyone, of course. There is a $9.99 administrative fee (plus prize-oriented leagues that are much more expensive, if that’s your thing) and to be honest, the level of dedication required for these leagues is not something we all have time for. But if you’re tired of the run-of-the-mill fantasy league and you’re looking for a more in-depth and realistic experience, OttoNeu may be for you.
The concept is new so there are bugs and inconveniences, but no doubt they’ll be worked out in the future and none of them are annoying enough to prevent you from loving the experience.
And there goes your social life.