Too Many Owners Suffer from Post Draft Rigor Mortis.
Just because I’m the curious sort I went to Google today and typed in variations on “after draft strategy” articles. Nothing, zero, zilch. Every one has an opinion on how to help you make the best choices with those 20 or so draft picks, but no one has any more advice until the first game of the regular season is under way. So for many of us the draft is over, and now we’re just waiting for the season to start. But for smart owners, the season has already begun.
Here are a list of things to do to prep yourself for the season and get a leg up on those other owners in your league who would steal your thunder and bragging rights. This season belongs to YOU!
Assess Your Roster ~ When your draft is over the first thing you’ll want to do is take a good solid look at your roster. It’s never as good or as bad as it felt like it was during the draft. Be objective about where your strengths, weaknesses and depth are. Where can you fortify your roster and where can you afford to give something up?
There are typically three types of owners in fantasy sports:
The Drafter – those who aim for the perfectly balanced draft and fall in love with their roster. Owners like this hate making trades. What was the point of the draft if you’re merely going to trade them all away? The flaw here is that no draft is perfect, and at some point an injury or poor performance will force this owner to make a trade…when they are desperate.
The Trader – those who try to stock up on depth at the key positions so they can trade their way to the perfect team. These owners often try and corner the market on a specific position. Then they can hold desperate owners hostage in trade scenarios. These people trade simply to trade and the offers start within hours of the draft’s end and last all season. The flaw here is that quite often they do not get value for their trade. Other owners know the Trader has to make a trade because he/she are driven too, and have key players to unload who are clogging roster space. A trader in my league swooped up Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Nice. But now he can’t get value for either because the whole league knows both QBs share a bye week. Now this manager only has a few short weeks to move one of them, and desperation is setting in.
The Genius – those who go into the draft infinitely more prepared and more educated then the other managers. This covers anyone reading this article, right? I thought so. The genius drafts a well-balanced team but is open to improvement and aware of all opportunities. The flaw? There is none, you’re a genius. If you fall into this category read on…
Check the Competition ~ Good owners don’t stop the assessment process with their own team, they will also check the remaining team rosters for their strengths, weaknesses, and where they are stacked. This is the time to find which teams snaked those key players you thought you were going to get until someone reached for them early and ruined your genius draft planning. Rookies. Who was griping that you sniped their player during the draft? Do they have someone you really want?
Go Fishing ~ I know the draft just ended, but take a good look at your league’s free agent pool. Did a gem get overlooked? It happens. Was there a sleeper you couldn’t grab because you’d already filled your quota at that position? Check your waiver status. If you have an early waiver slot you may not wish to waste in on free agent fodder this early, but if you have a late waiver slot, grab free agents to your heart’s content.
Go To Market ~ Most every fantasy sports site has some form of trading block that your league can use to announce players or positions you are willing to part with in trade, or that you are looking for. See which players other teams have put on the market. The Traders usually start with the flotsam and jetsam of their roster. Players you probably wouldn’t even have drafted. The fact that they posted any players at all let’s you know they are willing to make trades, which is useful information all by itself.
A good owner knows he/she will have to surrender a solid player to get a solid player. The best trades help both teams. Hopefully, you get the better end of the deal, but don’t go into trade negotiations trying to steal Adrian Peterson for Darren Sproles and Roy Williams. You’re only going to piss people off. Be cunning, but be fair.
Some owners believe it’s crafty to leave their own trading block empty and simply let people come to them and make offers. There is nothing wrong with this plan. Mystery is always good. I prefer to dangle a bit of bait just to see who bites. One rule I live by is never to list anyone as “untouchable”. Even if a player is in my mind off limits, I’m still willing to listen to all offers for two reasons: 1) an owner may surprise me with a trade for a player I assumed would be off limits, and 2) by leaving the door open, I find out what other managers are looking for and who they are willing to give up. The trade they want may not happen, but I might be able to get someone I want from them using other players in return.
The Art of the Trade ~ Draft day has now come and gone for many fantasy football leagues. You may think that now you just sit back and wait for the season to start, but trades can be a key component to forming your team prior to the start of the season. Trades for the sake of activity are obviously never recommended, but there are several scenarios in which a properly executed pre-season trade can turn a good draft into a dominant season.
Balanced vs. Top-Heavy – One way to evaluate your team after draft day is to determine if your team is balanced or top-heavy. A balanced team has solid, but maybe not great, fantasy players to fill in all starting positions. Teams with the best balance tend to be those with mid-round picks as they have the same amount of wait-time between every selection. Consistency will be the trademark of any well-balanced team, but without that big-time performance every now and then even the most balanced teams could find themselves in trouble. This is when team “Balanced” needs to identify team “Top-Heavy”. A top-heavy team will most likely be either an early or late round pick, getting two good players in a row in the early rounds, than waiting for everyone else to snatch up all the rest. As a result team “Top-Heavy” often ends up with 2-3 great starters to go with a bunch of backups and time-sharers. So the marriage between teams “Balanced” and “Top-Heavy” begins. Clearly the object of this trade will be for team “Top-Heavy” to give up the best player in the deal and maybe another lesser player in exchange for 2 or 3 solid players from team “Balanced”. Be honest with yourself after the draft and if your team leans too close to either extreme a trade may be beneficial.
The Sleeper That Didn’t Sleep – Have you ever waited just one round too long to grab that super-sleeper and the guy 3 picks ahead of you takes him, not even understanding just how much you wanted him? If you still want him your first step is to find a player on your roster that you believe to be over-valued. Be careful about offering a 1-for-1 trade as the other owner may realize how valuable your target is to you. This is when you have to be just a little more sly in your maneuvering and try to hide your true intentions as much as possible by using the player you believe to be over-valued. Make your true target look like a throw-in player and your trade partner will never know how much you wanted him. When push comes to shove, however, you may have to let your intentions be known, just be sure you don’t get roped into giving up a sure-fire player for a guy you think will be great.
Drafter’s Remorse – We’ve all been here; months of preparation, dozens of hours watching preseason games and countless mock drafts all culminate into one night of drafting – and you blew it. You drafted a player you knew you did not want but his ADP, your home-team bias, or that idiot sitting next to you convinced you to take him. Who do you trust more, the intelligent, studious version of yourself that decided the guy was not worth drafting or the impulsive, fickle version that showed up on draft day? Listen to your smarter half and get what you can for him before the season starts and everyone sees why you do not want him.
Another strain of Drafter’s Remorse is caused by draft day coming too early. Many starting positions are not determined until the third or fourth preseason games, and even more often key injuries occur in the second half of preseason. If your league drafts before the third week of preseason you need to keep a keen eye on all NFL news. For example, we've already seen the loss of WR Sidney Rice for at least half the season. Or perhaps you drafted Darren McFadden thinking this was his year, but now it looks like Michael Bush is the man. In trade scenarios, you'll need to find someone very high on McFadden or Rice to make a trade worthwhile.
A Final Note – The best piece of advice when it comes to all fantasy football trades is patience. Don’t be too hasty in accepting any trade. Always take time to weigh the pros and cons with all players involved and above all, make informed decisions.
Tools and Resources ~ Every year I spend money and hours preparing for drafts, reading yearly fantasy rags, and combing the internet for anything useful that might help me draft a better team, and keep me in the hunt all season. The problem is once the season starts, I start to get caught up in the rest of my life. Fantasy rigor mortis sets in. I cannot devote the level of energy I spent on my draft to preparing for battle from September into January. Even when I try I always seem to be too late: I’m watching the Denver- Kansas City game, and Ryan Grant breaks his leg. By the time I know to pick up
Brandon Jackson, I’m way too late to snag him from the free agent pool. How do these other owners know before everyone else? I discovered I needed an edge. Last season I spent about $40 on a season long service that kept me updated on everything I needed to know such as last minute injury reports, mid-game waiver alerts, even weather conditions that might impact my players value each week. It was a worthwhile investment. I placed in the top three in every league I was in, and won two of them.
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Remember, every move you make from that first pick to that final roster adjustment in the play-offs is to win your league. Don’t put full effort into the draft then slack off mid-season. The owners that stay active and alert from beginning to end are the ones who consistently win or place season after season. Be active, and make use of the resources that will help you survive the grueling grind of fantasy’s gridlock tundra.