We’ve all seen the perfect rosters posted on forums that look like they’re from a four team league, but realistically you won’t be able to fill every roster slot with stars. If you can, that’s great, but there was likely either a lot of luck involved or you may want to look for a more competitive league.
What you can do is mine for talent, either in the deeper rounds of your startup draft or by making cheap trades to build the end of your roster. Every roster spot on your dynasty team serves a purpose, whether it’s a prospect you expect to start for you within two years (Greg Little comes to mind) or a solid bye week filler (Malcom Floyd). Understanding this and putting it to good use goes a long way to making you a competitor. Instead of holding Rex Grossman or Brian Robiskie, look for ways to maximize those roster spots. This article is meant to outline a few strategies that can be used to solidify the depth on your roster.
1.) Don’t Overspend on your QB2
Let me say right off the bat these are things I do and aren’t necessarily right or wrong. In a fantasy sense, I’m typically one of the cheapest people in my leagues, and when it comes to QB2, I’m not willing to overpay for a guy I hope will only see the field once a year when my QB1 is on bye.
Sure, because I’m so cheap, I currently have six leagues where I don’t have a QB2, but I have all offseason to find a decent deal to back up my starter. Because of supply and demand, I should be able to find a cheap quarterback by the end of this summer. After all, whoever I acquire him from won’t have any need for him because they probably have 3-4 starting quarterbacks on their roster.
If I was drafting an ideal roster for myself, I would draft an elite quarterback. I’m cheap, so it probably wouldn’t be Aaron Rodgers, but more like someone a few slots below like Matt Stafford. I’d back him up with a cheap QB2 who I like, and have a third developing quarterback waiting in the wings. I’d love for the third quarterback to be a young projected starter such as Christian Ponder or Ryan Tannehill, but if that’s too expensive, I’m fine with someone like Ryan Mallett or Brian Hoyer.
Here’s an example of a trade I made to acquire what I see as a nice QB2:
Gave: 2013 2nd, 2013 3rd
Received: Carson Palmer, QB OAK
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Palmer are a couple of my favorite players as QB2’s. Both may be acquired for a second round pick, but are capable of putting up QB1 numbers. I actually won a championship last year in one league with Fitzpatrick as my starting quarterback, so you never know.
Carson Palmer isn’t going to blow anyone away, but after a full offseason of practice he’ll put up decent numbers and has nice job security, plus he’s often a cheap buy.
While Fitzpatrick has slumped in the second half of the season for two years in a row, it is swept under the rug that he put up QB1 numbers for the first half of those seasons and reportedly played with four cracked ribs that he suffered in Week Eight of 2011. He’s capable of putting up good numbers as long as he is in Chan Gailey’s system and his big contract ensures he’ll stick around in Buffalo.
The advantage of buying a cheap QB2 is that you keep more of your assets (picks and players), but still get the benefit of having decent depth at quarterback. Palmer and Fitzpatrick aren’t exactly sexy players to own, but they provide security behind your starter and are easier to acquire than a more highly regarded quarterback that others may roster as a QB2 such as Jay Cutler.
2.) Emphasize Depth and Upside at WR
I play in mostly deeper leagues so this may not be as true for smaller leagues, but it is much easier to find wide receiver talent either through the end of your start up draft or on the waiver wire. Only one or possibly two running backs per NFL team are usually valuable in fantasy, but it is not out of the ordinary to have three wide receivers on an NFL team who can start for a team depending on injuries and situation.
Unless I am rebuilding, I’m not one to throw running backs at the wall until one hits. I do feel that way about receivers, though. Behind my starters at receiver, I want the following mix of receivers:
1.) Ones who aren’t quite starter quality, but may post a 100-yard game on occasion.
2.) Ones who may offer little long-term upside, but can cover my byes
3.) Ones who may or may not produce, but are in a situation that presents an opportunity in which they may develop into a future starter.
This strategy is most easily accomplished by following it throughout the startup draft. Even if you follow the strategy of going running back early, once you are set with a solid running back stable, turn your attention to drafting a deep set of wide receivers. If you find the right mix of running backs (six or seven running backs should be plenty), you can focus on drafting a well-rounded wide receiver corps.
Here are a few guys I would consider great depth to have when building your wide receivers:
Pierre Garcon, WR WAS
I know he’s drafted fairly early in startups, but there are some people who will sell him for pennies even now. I wouldn’t pay much for him since we’re talking about him as depth, but if you find an owner looking to unload him, pounce.
Titus Young, WR DET
According to PFF’s early dynasty ADP, he is coming in at WR39. Young is in a perfect situation to put up good numbers, and should come on strong after a full offseason. WR39 is a small price to pay for his potential. Young’s ADP may fall even further after the Lions drafted Ryan Broyles, but I don’t expect Broyles to hurt Young’s value.
Brandon LaFell, WR CAR
Carolina drafted a wide receiver in Joe Adams. His value takes a hit, but he still remains a big bodied receiver who has shown nice potential. LaFell can be drafted late or added via trade for a mid-round draft pick and offers much greater upside than players drafted around his ADP.
Malcom Floyd, WR SD
Floyd is one of those veterans I was talking about who can put up a good game from time to time. You can count on him missing a few games, but when your starting wide receiver’s bye week comes around, hopefully he will be there to help you out.
Nate Burleson, WR DET
Burleson represents more veteran depth that can fill in for you if you’re in a bind. The best thing to do would be to pair Young and Burleson together. Young will be a better player to have in the future, but for 2012, Burleson may be the guy who helps get you through the bye weeks. Burleson’s role may be muddied by the Lions’ pick of Ryan Broyles and Young’s continued emergence, but he may still be a nice bye-week filler in 2012. That status is up in the air for now, but if you can get him for cheap he may get you out of a bind.
3.) Push Draft Picks Into the Future
If you’re like me, you never quite know what to do with those mid-second round picks in rookie drafts. It’s usually a toss-up between players there, and that range is a nice place to go get “your guys,” but it’s like throwing darts, even if you have a good feeling about a player. If you’re on the clock and not sure what to do, shop your pick around for a future first.
Don’t get me wrong, you can land a great player in that second round range, but a first round pick will give you a better chance. I landed Cam Newton in one league last year in the mid-second, but I wouldn’t count on that happening very often. If you want to turn those seconds into firsts, look around your league and find a team that doesn’t quite have the promising outlook that I’m sure yours does. One way to find your targets is to find about four teams you expect to have a hard time making the playoffs in the upcoming season. Look at their starting lineups as well as their depth.
Find your target teams and start out by offering your current year’s second for their next year’s first and a later round pick this year. Even if you end up selecting a team that makes the playoffs, the difference between 2.5 and 1.9 or another late first will usually come out in your favor. Even if you end up only gaining a few spots and have given up a year of production from your second round pick, the chances of that second becoming worth anything of value are much less than hitting on a first round pick, so all is not lost.
Editor’s Note: Chase Wheetley can be found on Twitter @Chase_Wheetley.
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- Trading Tactics: Mass Trade Offers - July 20, 2011