It’s hard to believe we are already in Week 10. In most leagues there are only five weeks left to determine if your team will procure a playoff berth.
Maybe you are sitting pretty with 7-2 record or maybe you are essentially out of it with a 2-7 record. However, it’s more likely your team is in that middle ground, where the next five weeks are critical, either to fend off contenders or to climb up the rankings just a little to grab a playoff berth.
Now is the time you must decide – will you go for it or will you prepare for next year? There are three types of leagues, dynasty*, keeper** and redraft***.
Here is my guide for a multi-point tune-up to optimize your team for the remainder of the season for whichever type of league your are in.
No matter which type of league you are in, if you decide that your team has a decent shot at procuring a playoff berth, here are some types of waiver moves you can make to harden your team for the remainder of the season:
- Handcuffs: Do you have handcuffs for your quarterbacks and running backs? Maybe you can pick up players from waivers that could help your team in case one of your players gets injured in this last stretch of the season, or in the playoffs.
- Streamers: Look ahead at your players’ matchups. There are some players you start no matter what team they are matched up against, Christian McCaffrey, Tyreek Hill, etc. Other players might be more match-dependent. Identify which playoff weeks you might need to stream better starters for your RB2s and WR3s, etc., and then see if you can find any streamer candidates on waivers. If you have room on your roster, do it now before other managers in your league think to stream the same players. It’s early to pre-stream for kickers and defense, but if you can find some complimentary defense combinations, so all weeks are covered between two defensive teams, you should do that now also.
If you have determined your team is not a contender this year, then it’s time to start improving your team for next year.
- Stash: Whether you are in a dynasty or keeper league, you can start to stash players that have break out potential for next year or were injured this year and are a bit forgotten. For example, I have Michael Wilson (Ari, WR) on my roster and I am still holding out hope for Jelani Woods (Ind, TE) to have a break out season in 2024. It would be hard to imagine, but is Anthony Richardson available on waivers? I will pick him up in my keeper league if he is available.
Waivers can help somewhat to add depth or mitigate the impact of injuries. However, trades are likely the best way you can help your team win this season or prepare for next season.
In all cases, you have the best chance for meaningful trades when you identify trades that have mutual benefit. In the case of Dynasty and Keeper leagues, this means the team you trade with is usually on the opposite side of either going for it this year or building for next year. The two scenarios below (one for dynasty and one for keeper) are written from the perspective of if you are going for it. If you’re purpose is to start to build for next year, then the opposite logic applies.
- Get Soon to Retire Players for Picks: Go through the rosters of the teams that are out of it for this year and identify the older players on their roster. Then see if you can acquire them at a low cost. For example, Derrick Henry is a 29-year-old RB whose remaining years in the NFL are numbered. Can you grab him for a 2nd round pick?
- Get Top Players for Keepers: Go through the rosters of the teams that are out of it for this year and identify top players that can’t be kept next year. Look at your roster, and identify your best keepers. Then see if you can trade away a top keeper for one of their top players for this year. In one of my keeper leagues I am trying to get Derrick Henry (1st round pick) for Tyler Lockett (7th round pick). Since Henry was drafted in the first round, he really had no value for the other team because he can’t be kept next year. On the other hand, since Lockett was a 7th round pick, he makes a great keeper in our league, because in our league, he can be kept for a 5th round pick next year. With Nico Collins, Chris Olave and Josh Downs my WR corp will be okay without Lockett, but my RB corp of Saquon Barkley and Jerome Ford would benefit greatly by adding Henry.
Dynasty, Keeper and Redraft Leagues***
- Position Swap: If you are weak at one position and have exceptional depth at another position, identify a team with the opposite strength and weakness. Trade your 3rd or 4th strongest player at your strong position for his 3rd or 4th strongest player at your weakest position.
- Handcuff Swap: If you don’t have the handcuff for your top RBs, but you have some back up RBs on your roster see if you can do a handcuff swap with another team. At this point in the season, you are looking for certainty, not dart throws. Someone else's handcuff that is on your roster might pop if their RB goes down, but its more important to have the handcuff to your RB in case your RB goes down.
*A dynasty league is where you keep your players from year to year primarily drafting rookies next year to replace retiring veterans, and where you can keep and trade draft picks for future years.
**A keeper league is where you drop most of your players from year to year but can typically keep up to three players. These leagues generally require you to use a draft pick for you to keep a player and have various rules for which draft pick you must use. In my keeper leagues, we can keep up to three players, and must use a draft pick two higher than where the player was drafted the previous year.
***A redraft league is where you scrap your whole team each year and draft with a clean slate next year.