With week 13 underway, most of our leagues are either in the first round of the playoffs or less than a week away from them. At this juncture, with trade deadlines having passed and most of the roster wrangling in the books, there isn’t much to do except set lineups and hope for the best. Well, that is if you are the passive type.
Those of us who favor a more proactive style of team management have already moved on to planning for next year. I may not be able to trade for a player I covet now, but I can plot my strategy as I bide my time, waiting for February to roll around.
Getting a head start on next season is doubly important if you are in a salary cap league. You should be assessing your cap situation to come up with a detailed plan of how you’re going to manage the cap leading into the rookie and free agent drafts over the spring and summer.
In dynasty football, it is never too early to plan ahead.
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What pending free agents should I be monitoring?
Because we don’t know who will be cap casualties yet, all we can do is look at those players whose deals will be expiring. As ever, the list is long and interesting, peppered with a number of fantasy-relevant names. Here are a few of my under-the-radar favorites:
Khiry Robinson and Charcandrick West – I am grouping them together because they are in similar situations. Both are restricted free agents (West is an exclusive RFA) who have shown very well in limited opportunities. While neither is likely the next Adrian Peterson, both are very capable of starting next season on any number of teams. With Robinson hurt and Spencer Ware making noise in KC, a very nice buy-low window has opened up. If your league doesn’t have a trade deadline, find out what both of these young bucks will cost ya.
Marvin Jones – Here we have a guy who is positively explosive (in terms of production) at times and a non-factor at others. A lot of that is his offensive role, as Jones generally finds himself as the fourth or fifth option behind A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, and the Bengals running back duo. On another roster as the second option, Jones could provide a massive return on his current WR5 asking price (which is crazy cheap in the first place).
Brian Quick – Come on, you knew he’d be on here. If my boo escapes St. Louis and ends up with a chance at significant snaps for a real NFL franchise with a real quarterback, Quick can be a top-36 fantasy wide receiver who you can acquire very cheaply.
Is C.J. Anderson back?
I became a bit frustrated this past Sunday night as the Twitter-verse was doing everything in its power to poo-poo Anderson’s big night. The thing is, Sunday wasn’t the only time he’s been good in recent weeks.
Coming in to the game against New England, Anderson’s previous four outings saw him with 35 carries for 203 yards (5.8 YPC). The sample is small, but the uptick in production coincided perfectly with his return to health following a series of niggling injuries.
When you include Sunday night’s game, Anderson now has 50 carries for 316 yards (6.32 YPC), eight receptions for 62 yards, and three touchdowns since November 1. Over the same stretch, Ronnie Hillman has posted a 72/264/3.67 line. This is a trend you want to get out in front of.
With Hillman an unrestricted free agent and Anderson a restricted free agent, it is certainly possible one is back next season while the other moves on. Either way, I like Anderson’s odds of being the starting tailback somewhere next season.
Do you have any advice for first-year salary cap players?
As I said in the open, this is a critical time of year in cap leagues. At this point you should be moving your roster, contract years, and yearly salary into a spreadsheet to track what your cap situation is over the next several years. From there you can plot who you may use a franchise or transition tag on, what players you’d like to cut and how the penalties for doing so will affect you, and what positions you’ll need to target in the off-season.
If your league doesn’t have a trade deadline, use this information to get a jump start on 2016. Many (Most?) owners don’t prep like this, and certainly not this early, so take advantage of the situation and get going on your cap management.
The biggest single thing people get wrong in salary cap leagues is they don’t work hard enough on the salary cap itself. I look at my money situation as though it is the most important player on my roster; I put my cap ahead of any individual player. This sort of strategy has helped me avoid bad contracts and given me ultimate salary flexibility when the vast majority of my opponents are always strapped for cash. That is an advantage you can’t put a dollar amount on.
Is this the furthest you’ve ever gone in a Burning Questions without saying something ridiculous?
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Love the Marvin Jones call. I’ve been a big supporter of his for a while and recently bought him in a couple of leagues for what would be considered an overpay right now. I believe in his talent and also believe that CIN won’t be the highest bidder on him this spring. Projecting his future is risky, but I can’t shake the feeling that he’ll be 2016s version of Emmanuel Sanders circa 2014 if he lands in a decent situation. Maybe not 100/1400 type of numbers like Sanders put up, but a player you can get at WR4-5 prices that could turn into a top 15-20WR next season.
Great article, as usual for “Burning Questions”. Would you be willing to write a similar version with a focus on coordinator changes? For example, CIN will no doubt have a new OC when Jackson gets an HC gig; and DET & IND, and are near locks for new staffs. Maybe that should wait until later in the offseason, but I always like to get a jump. Thanks!
I suspect there would be so much speculation involved in that sort of an article that I’m not sure how much value it would have. I will ponder it though! Thanks for the suggestion.