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 18 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 short 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:
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) 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 Laveranues Coles. 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 ~ Last week my colleague Alex Olson wrote an excellent article on the art of preseason fantasy football trades. I won't repeat it all here, so please read the article. What I will say is, don't make trades simply because you're amped for the season to start. Work trades that make good sense and will ultimately improve your team's chances for a victorious season. Don't let the preseason fantasy hype get you trading away a historically solid player for someone who is playing out of their mind in the preseason. You'll pay too high a price for a maybe.
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. This year the Top Fantasy Football brain trust has brought our readers the same tool for one-fourth the price (one tenth the price if you get it before the season starts). Top Fantasy Football's Dominator Service will keep you up-to-date all season long on the players you draft, injury reports up to game time, weather conditions, and waiver wire suggestions to snatch victory from the hands of your other league owners. You invest hours preparing to win. How much is your time worth over 5 months. Check it out.
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.