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Dynasty Moneyball


The question that I get asked most often is, “how can I turn my mediocre team into a contender NOW?” Truth is, there’s no easy answer or foolproof method. I’ve had some powerhouse teams over the years and also had a few mediocre rosters I couldn’t quickly re-tool. I do know one system can be effective if you’re willing to take some risks –  it’s the “Moneyball” strategy.

The name “Moneyball” is a new term for an old idea. In fact, I didn’t even have a name for it until I saw the Brad Pitt movie (never thought I’d ever include Brad Pitt in a fantasy football article) recently, but the title and theme fit the strategy.

I warn you. This method takes guts, conviction and a gamblers mentality to pull off. The old saying of “no guts, no glory” definitely applies. The way I look at, you have nothing to lose. I hate the feeling of finishing just outside the big dance. I hate losing more than I like winning. As such, I will always be aggressive in my pursuit of a championship. If you’re willing to take up the same mindset then you can go from pretender to contender in a hurry.

So what is this Moneyball strategy I’m referring to? It’s really simple. You fill your roster with as many second tier players as you can find. I’m referring to older players, players who are number 2 or 3 targets, or players on the bench who are one injury away from getting the nod. I’m not referring strictly to stats.

The key here is player perception. You’re looking for guys that are not at the top of the radar by most owners in your league. You also want guys that you can buy for a reasonable price. Some owners are even going to thank you for taking these players off their hands. Step one is to target enough of these guys by trade or whatever methods are available to you.  Step two is to hit on your rookie pick(s).  And boom, you’ll land yourself a formidable roster. It’s risky, yes, because you could be wrong. But if you do your homework, you can come out on top with most of your transactions.

The goal is to commit to winning your league championship that year, while not selling your team’s future. So with that in mind I’ve made a sample list of guys I foresee to have a perceived lower value than what they will actually produce. In other words, I’ve done some of your homework for you to get you started. Another good way to gauge perception of value is to track the ADP of where guys are going in mock drafts, just like the recent DLF Mock draft I participated in. Keep in mind the goal is to get two or three of these guys along with a solid rookie pick for this to work.

David Nelson, WR BUF

I’ve labeled 2012 as David Nelson’s breakout year. He’s got all of the makings to be a number 2 level PPR wide receiver. Will it happen in 2012? I don’t know, but I’m betting it is likely to happen. I traded for him early last year because of my belief he’s a budding solid fantasy start.

Brandon Lloyd, WR FA

Lloyd seems to be the receiver no fantasy owner seems to want – at least that’s the perception I get in my leagues. Despite a horrible quarterback situation and being traded last year, he still finished in the top 25 in PPR leagues. Most people bail on Lloyd because the perception is he’s a one year wonder and is getting old. He’s 30 and is still solid. He’s treated like he’s bench fodder or washed up. For me, I will look to grab in leagues if I can get a proper deal negotiated (you never know what the owner is thinking).

Marques Colston, WR FA

This one is self explanatory. Everyone is afraid of Colston’s microfracture procedure last offseason. I’m not afraid of it though. I give the guy two more years of high production before his knee quits. Many dynasty owners are afraid because they tend to look too far into the future. For those owners, take a shot at landing him for your 2012 run. Personally, I traded him last offseason, but that’s because I got what I perceived to be proper value (David Nelson, Fred Davis and two second round picks).

Laurent Robinson, WR FA

I’ve seen Robinson undervalued because of the other big named receivers in the Cowboys’ offense. Because of that perception, he’ll slip in drafts, and also could be had for a lot less than the numbers he’ll put up. Given he’ll likely be a third wide receiver on your team, he can be a difference maker for your team on his big weeks. Think of him as a wild card, especially if he’s back in Dallas.

Michael Turner, RB ATL

The talk of the Falcons becoming a more passing oriented offense has seen the steady Michael Turner’s value decline. Turner ended the year as the eighth ranked running back in PPR leagues. I personally don’t believe he’ll be phased out that quickly, but many fantasy owners are ready to dump him because they fear his numbers will take a sudden nose dive. I don’t believe Turner’s 2012 value will drop as far as many perceive it to be. In the DLF Mock Draft, Turner wasn’t drafted until the ninth round, well after many backs he’ll outproduce in 2012.

Pierre Thomas RB, NO

Pierre Thomas is one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL. In fact, he’s perceived to be the third best running back on his own team. Don’t give away his starting position to Mark Ingram so quickly. Thomas finished last season as the 21st ranked running back in PPR leagues. Ingram is far from having proven himself and Thomas is under contract for several more years. He will have something to say about his role in this offense. I’ll bet on a repeat performance of 2011 and which makes him a very strong flex play.

Charles Clay RB/TE MIA

Clay is one of my sleeper players for 2012. He may have been drafted as a fullback, but his main position for the Dolphins is as an H-Back. Clay is very raw, but I saw him flash on many plays and he really got my attention. With a Green Bay type offense now headed down to South Beach, I see loads of unrealized potential in Clay. He’ll be a cheap get with loads of upside.

This is my list of “Moneyball” candidates. There are many more that could fit this strategy. Who are your candidates?

 Paymon Shokoohi can be found on Twitter @setmyroster. Paymon also blogs at setmyroster.com. Be sure to catch him there as well. 

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Phorts
10 years ago

Andre Johnson is the ultimate moneyball player this year.

Krcil
Reply to  Phorts
10 years ago

I believe you are missing the concept here. Even now with Andre being 30 and coming off an injury riddled year that you will be able to buy him that cheaply and even if you could that is just basic trading chance and special situations.

Cyrus
Reply to  Phorts
10 years ago

I agree, and disagree with Krcil.

I targeted Andre during the season because I thought he was undervalued. His value has continued to drop, to the point where nobody is willing to give me a respectable offer.

This doesn’t mean other owners aren’t, but in the leagues I am in, he can be had for what amounts to a late first or so because owners are concerned with his age. I have Andre and Colston and think that if Colston deserves to be on this list, Andre does too.

Nickdib
10 years ago

Malcom Floyd could be huge if VJ leaves

Coach
Reply to  Nickdib
10 years ago

id look more to vincent brown to be honest

Drop
10 years ago

I like Curtis Brinkley personally. I think he makes for a pretty good “money ball” candidate. The whole situation in San Diego could leave a wide open door for him. Tolbert could leave via free agency, and even if he doesn’t he and Matthews both have some injury concerns. I think he’s in a great position to do some things if, and when his name gets called.

Confused
10 years ago

Is there a website or somewhere that I can understand a little further about how the moneyball theory applies to fantasy football? I like this article but I’m really unclear when I try to equate fantasy football with moneyball theories in baseball. I may be making more of it than I need too.

Reply to  Confused
10 years ago

No website needed to explain it. Think of “Moneyball” as a concept rather than it being a formula. It’s about acquiring undervalued players due to perception and age, which is precisely what they were doing in Oakland. You’d be going against the grain of what all of your other league mates were doing. It’s not for everyone but it is another way to compete for a title.

Confused
Reply to  Paymon Shokoohi
10 years ago

Paymon I agree with you actually. I think much of what you are saying comes naturally to us as a stop gap. I understand the idea of building a team the way you say, but how do you maintain a dynasty team buy taking a chance on guys who don’t have as high of perceived value because if they are older at some point you have to trade them I assume. I am missing how you maintain a dynasty franchise, not how you win in a given year using this idea.

Thanks for the article it was useful.

Reply to  Confused
10 years ago

That’s one of the factors that makes it challenging. You have to keep your roster integrity, but since you’re only going after 2 or 3 of these guys, it’s doable. Plus, we dynasty players tend to play for the future way too often. It’s ok to play for the present and think “how can I win my league this year?”.

Confused
Reply to  Paymon Shokoohi
10 years ago

Thanks Paymon. I have to say that I don’t see this article now as much different from what good dynasty owners do anyway in my experience. “2 or 3 players” is not a lot really and we often adopt this approach situationally. I assumed you meant this approach as the core of your team. I appreciate your article but I don’t see it now as any great departure from what good owners do anyway. Just my two cents.

tstafford
10 years ago

Paymon,

I agree 100% on Pierre Thomas. What people seem to miss is that he ended as the RB#21 in PPR ahead of guys like Mendy, Beanie, Benson, D.Will. Carries much less value than them – was picked in the 12th round in the recent #DLFMock.

A higher level guy who also doesn’t get the respect: Matt Forte.

Thanks.
Tim

Mefisto
10 years ago

I must say that from personal experience this method does really work! I made it to the superbowl last year starting Matt Ryan, March Sanchez, SJax, Reggie Bush, Donald Brown/PTCruiser, Brandom Marshall, Greg Little and Nate Burleson. People shit on my team all season for lacking any #1 players, but i proved most of them wrong.

Reply to  Mefisto
10 years ago

Congrats. I’m sure when you are successful with that roster, it’s considered luck. Best method to shut people up is to take their money. 🙂

darren
10 years ago

Sorry but I’m not sure you really get moneyball, and it’s a lot more than just the movie…

Camperhead
Reply to  darren
10 years ago

True, though he does come closer than Joe Morgan ever did!

MikDev87
10 years ago

I agree with all of the players that are listed in this article, especially with Pierre Thomas and Micheal Turner! Here is a list of players that I believe you can get reasonably cheap through the “Moneyball” approach:

Santonio Holmes
Reggie Wayne
Sidney Rice
Joe Flacco
Kellen Winslow
James Starks
Josh Freeman
Here’s a BIG one: PEYTON MANNING

Im sure that there are more, but these are the few that come to my mind right now.

Detroitcity
10 years ago

I used a similiar strategy last year and picked up S. Smith, Mcgahee, and Hightower…worked out pretty well:)

Here are a list of guys I would target and why:

Kenny Britt: injury concerns, off the field issues, and uncertainty at QB (locker or hasselbeck). This guy is a top 5 WR if he stays healthy, and even if he only plays 10 games.. he will still win you a few

Manningham: a lot of people will be down on him if he stays in NY due to Cruz/Nicks and if he signs elsewhere (most likely) people will doubt his ability to be a #1 or #2 WR again

Andre Roberts: this would obviously depend on whether AZ signs a respectable free agent WR…if they dont.. give him a full offseason w/ either Skelton or Kolb and I think he yields some value

Fred Jackson: While I think Spiller did enough to earn a bigger piece of the pie.. I think Jackson also did too much last year before going down to have them just give the gig to Spiller

Mike Tolbert: For the same reason he was success in San Diego, he will be successful somewhere else. He has a full skill set and can play every down and hawks those goaline carries

Peyton Hillis: between the injuries, the contract issues, and his disappointment in relation to where he was drafted last year i think people are pretty down on him and Im calling a comeback year, whether it be in Cleveland or somewhere else

Greg G.
10 years ago

Heelllppp!!!!

I have number two overall pick in upcoming draft. First guy is taking Luck for sure. Thought I knew who to take but now I’m torn. Help guys. Who would you take second overall? PPR.

Here’s what I have…

Stafford, Cutler
Sproles, Rice, Wells
Fits, Wallace, Nicks, Harvin, Young
Finley, Hernandez

Thanks!!! Last time, I swear!!!

Nickdib
Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

Trent Richardson and it isn’t close

Tony
Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

I agree, with that Roster i would go T.Rich!

Greg G.
Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

You guys are awesome. Thanks.

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

I wish i could buck the trend and recommend Blackmon…but, no, it’s T Rich all day.

Greg G.
Reply to  Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

Consensus

Paul
Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

Agree with Richardson. Did you trade for the second pick because that teams awesome?

Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

Let’s make it unanimous…I also on board the T-Rich train.

Josh G
Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

Agree..and pray he isnt taken by Shany

Greg G.
Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

Traded Jahvid and my 1.12 for the pick. Won my title last season in epic fashion. Thanks for the feedback fellas!!!

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