If you follow me on Twitter, you probably feel like you’re at church sometimes. Why? Because I’m constantly preaching about how dynasty owners need to draft the best player available, regardless of team need. If you draft talent, you can trade for your needs. It’s that simple. My theory is this – if a player possesses enough talent, opportunity will eventually present itself, unless of course your name is Jonathan Stewart.
So instead of preaching, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and expose one of my own teams as an example of how drafting talent can help you with this season’s outlook, without reaching for team need via your rookie drafts. I’ll show you first hand how using the rookie draft to “stock the backend” allows you to trade for your team needs, without mortgaging your future.
Let’s start off by examining my roster and determining what its “needs” are.
My Roster (before the rookie draft/trades)
Starting & Roster Requirements: 10 team PPR: 2QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 3 WR/RB/TE Flex (27 man rosters, 1 TS (taxi), 1 IR)
QB: Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Ryan Tannehill, Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Kirk Cousins.
RB: Jamaal Charles, David Wilson, Rashard Mendenhall, Ahmad Bradshaw, Isaiah Pead
WR: Julio Jones, Randall Cobb, Justin Blackmon, Torrey Smith , Antonio Brown, Kenny Britt, Rod Streater, A.J. Jenkins
TE: Dennis Pitta, Ladarius Green
Draft Picks: 1.04, 2.07, 3.04, 4.07, 5.04, 6.07, 7.04
Being a realist when I look at my own roster(s) is imperative. There’s no reason to convince myself I’m a contender if I’m not. I believe this team as it sits currently, is a borderline playoff team at best. It’s pretty obvious what my holes are if you look closely enough.
- I don’t have a proven top 15 QB2 (which is HUGE in 2QB leagues).
- My RB3 (Mendenhall) is injury prone and could lose his job at a moment’s notice.
- My RB4 doesn’t even have a team.
- My TE2 has a ton of potential, but isn’t quite startable yet.
Needless to say, I had some work to do in order to make this team a solid contender. The rookie draft is always a good place to start.
The Rookie Draft (my picks)
1.04: DeAndre Hopkins WR, HOU– It’s worth noting that Giovani Bernard was mine for the taking here if I wanted him, but I had to stick with my best player available approach. In my mind, Hopkins is a much more talented player than Gio and also has a much higher floor. Taking Hopkins here also makes me more comfortable using some of my wide receiver depth as trade bait.
2.07: Christine Michael RB, SEA - Never in a million years did I expect who I felt was the best running back in this class to fall here, but he did and I was absolutely ecstatic. I’ve said on many occasions I feel Michael could have more dynasty value than any other player in this class within two years, so to me, he’s just money in the bank and a prime example of “stocking the backend.”
3.04: Quinton Patton WR, SF– I’ve been talking up Patton for a while, so taking him at 3.04 was a win for me. Having Patton and Jenkins should ensure I have San Francisco’s future WR2 after Anquan Boldin calls it quits.
4.07: Tyler Wilson QB, OAK – In a 2QB league, this was a tremendous value pick in the fourth round. It’s not out of the realm of possibility another quarterback with the last name of Wilson beats out Matt Flynn for the starting gig this year. How ironic would that be?
5.04: Charles Johnson WR, GB – Upside, upside, upside. Man, this guy has a ton of it. I immediately designated him to the taxi squad after drafting him. He could be looking at a WR3 role in Green Bay as soon as 2014.
6.07: Marquess Wilson WR, CHI – A year ago, Wilson was being touted as one of the best wide receivers in the 2013 class. However, his stock dropped due to character concerns. I love the value I got here. He also landed in a pretty nice situation and has enough talent to make a strong push for the WR3 job in Chicago very soon.
7.04: Chris Harper WR, SEA – Most mock drafts I’ve seen have Harper going anywhere from the mid-third to early fourth round, so getting him this late is a solid value for my team. He could get an opportunity for early playing time if Sidney Rice, Golden Tate or Doug Baldwin go down, which is not out of the realm of possibility.
Draft Day Trades
This was an old school live draft where everyone was drafting by writing their picks on a piece of paper, which I love. However, when you get ten guys together in the same room, it usually means there’s going to be a lot of trade offers flying around. Needless to say, I put on my hard hat and got to work.
While on the clock at 3.04, an owner offered me Greg Olsen for Kirk Cousins (he’s obviously the Robert Griffin owner) and 3.04. I declined because I felt Cousins and Olsen have very similar value in a 2QB league. I ended up making my pick and we finally agreed upon Cousins straight up for Olsen.
So if you refer to my list of needs above, that trade immediately fixed the problem I had at tight end, giving me two solid starters and also a high upside player for the future.
If you looked at my roster close enough, it was painfully obvious that wide receiver wasn’t even close to a need of mine, but I chose to draft Hopkins regardless. I felt I could “stock the backend” with the safest player in the draft. So what that meant to me was either Torrey Smith or Antonio Brown were expendable and it was time to use my depth to go out and get myself a running back.
Fortunately for me, the person who owned Daryl Richardson selected Zac Stacy in the mid-second round. This made him the ONLY owner to dump Pead on. We ended up working out a deal where I sent Pead and Brown for Lamar Miller. This immediately fixed my second problem (listed above) giving me a player who could end up being a huge difference maker in 2014, as well as a legit RB2 with plenty of upside. It also pushed Mendenhall into my RB4 spot, created an extra roster space and deepened my options due to injury or bye weeks.
Every once in a while, if I feel strongly enough about a player, I’ll overpay for him. That was exactly the case when another owner sniped me on Latavius Murray. I wanted him so badly; I paid a two second round picks and Tyler Wilson to obtain his services. With Darren McFadden being highly injury prone and also in a contract year, this trade could pay huge dividends in the very near future. I’m not averse to shooting the moon every once in a while. A year or two down the road, this could be one of the best or worst trades I’ve ever made. Only time will tell.
While I think Miller has a ton of upside, he’s also very unproven considering he’s only toted the rock 51 times in his career. So to give myself a little insurance, I ended up giving away two third rounds picks to snag Mike Gillislee shortly after the draft ended. He’s not one of my favorite players in this class, but he’s a solid insurance policy should Miller go down.
My Roster (after the rookie draft/trades)
QB: Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Ryan Tannehill, Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne
RB: Jamaal Charles, David Wilson, Lamar Miller, Rashard Mendenhall, Ahmad Bradshaw, Christine Michael, Latavius Murray, Mike Gillislee
WR: Julio Jones, Randall Cobb, Justin Blackmon, Torrey Smith, Kenny Britt, DeAndre Hopkins, Rod Streater, Quinton Patton, A.J. Jenkins, Marquess Wilson
TE: Dennis Pitta, Greg Olsen, Ladarius Green
TS: Charles Johnson
At this point, the only issue I haven’t addressed is that top 15 QB2. Although neither has proven to be that yet, no two quarterbacks in the NFL saw their situations improve more than Bradford and Tannehill this off-season.
I’m highly optimistic one or both of these players can sneak their way into the top-15 territory with the new weapons their respective teams have surrounded them with. If that happens, I’ll be looking to package one of them up with a couple of other players and get myself another high-end quarterback to take this team to the next level.
This team is now primed to make a serious run in 2013 (at least in my opinion) thanks to making a few advantageous trades, drafting talent over need and taking a truly objective approach when evaluating my roster. While I think it would be nice to go out and get a solid QB2 now, waiting for the season to start could see some of the talent I have stashed on the backend develop.
That’s what dynasty football is all about. Sometimes, you just have to have the patience to let it happen.
Follow me on Twitter @harahduh2