Stating the Problem
It seems every effort I make to complete my dynasty roster with a solid and reliable RB1 something happens. My league has dubbed me 'The RB Killer'.
The last solid and reliable RB1 I had on my team was Todd Gurley, who I drafted in 2015. He slumped in 2016 and I ended up trading him away right before his best years, 2017 and 2018.
Since then I have drafted Leonard Fournette (2017), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (2020) and Tyler Allgeier (2022). Each of these started off with great potential. Fournette even gave an RB1 performance (11th in overall fantasy points in my PPR league) last year. CEH seemed off to a great start his rookie year, where he was the 10th overall RB for the first 11 weeks, and then fizzled into near oblivion. And Tyler Allgeier achieved 1,039 total yards from scrimmage his rookie year looking all set to take over for the aging Cordarrelle Paterson who turned 32 last March, but whose RB1 hopes have been all but snuffed out when Atlanta took Bijan Robinson with the 8th overall pick.
I still have Fournette, CEH and Allgeier on my roster for now. In addition to these, I picked up Cam Akers (3rd round pick), Jerick McKinnon (waivers) and Miles Sanders (two 2nd round picks) late last year going into the playoffs. I also have Rashaad Penny who I picked up in 2021 and, despite a promising start to the 2022 season, now finds himself buried on the Eagle's roster after Philly traded for D'Andre Swift.
Do you see why my team is dubbed 'The RB Killer'? It is not for a lack of trying, but now I find myself with two RB3s, Cam Akers and Mile Sanders, two homeless RBs in Fournette and CEH, and everyone else buried on their roster.
It's time to panic! How am I going to fill this gaping hole in my roster?
The knee-jerk reaction is to try to make trades now to reach for an RB1 and fill that hole in the roster, but the first thing I am going to do is try to keep cool.
Maybe some of you are in a similar situation. If not for RB, maybe for QB, WR or TE.
The first thing to do is to remember the goal is to win the league and there aren't any games being played right now, so don't panic.
The first step is to assess your overall team. Do you have draft power? How would your team do as it is now?
Here are the draft picks I have going into our 2023 rookie draft: 1.07, 1.09, 2.03, 2.05, 2.12, 3.04 and 3.09.
How about the rest of my roster? How far can I get with my current roster?
In our league, our starting lineup is 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB/WR/TE, K and Def. If I enter my lineup on MyFantasyLeague.com, my projected score for Week 1 is 135.4 fantasy points:
- QB: Jalen Hurts - 25.97
- RB: Cam Akers - 14.95
- RB: Miles Sanders - 13.37
- WR: Tyreek Hill - 18.05
- WR: Deebo Samuel - 14.28
- WR: Mike Evans - 14.24
- WR: Zay Jones - 10.74
- TE: Evan Graham - 8.94
- K: Graham Gano - 8.84
- Def: KCC - 6.05
Last year, the average fantasy points per team from highest to lowest were: 144.1, 137.5, 136.6, 135.1, 134.0, 125.3, 122.3, 118.8, 111.7, 109.2, 99.2 and 94.1.
My average was the 4th highest at 135.1. I finished in 3rd place, but I also had the highest total fantasy points in the playoffs, and a killer Week 14, the week before the playoffs, where my team scored 211.15, missing the all-time league record of 211.40 by only 0.25 fantasy points.
So summarizing the assessment of my team, actually, I don't need to panic. I might not have a solid RB1, but my full roster as it stands now seems to be strong enough to get me a playoff berth and I have an arsenal of draft picks that gives me a lot of flexibility.
How ever the assessment of your team comes out, the plan is to improve. If you are in the basement of your league, the first thing you need to do is build an arsenal of draft picks, and then to fill the QB position because it's the highest scoring position with great NFL longevity, and then to fill your WR corps, which also has great NFL longevity. At the bottom of this article, I list other articles that can help - in particular I recommend "How to Win your Dynasty League".
How to Improve
How can I improve my team?
1) I can draft RBs, taking dart throws at players like Chase Brown (Cin - could take lead from a faltering Joe Mixon), Zach Charbonnet, Tyjae Spears, Tank Bigsby.
2) I could try to trade up into position to take Bijan Robinson or Jahmyr Gibbs.
3) I could try to trade for existing proven RBs. I have had offers to trade for Austin Ekeler, Alvin Kamara, Brian Robinson but I am not currently willing to pay the ask price.
4) I can trade this year's draft picks for future picks.
A guiding factor to deciding what to do is what is going to make my team go up in value versus down in value.
For example, draft picks always go up in value. They are never more valuable than right when the draft starts. Our draft is an email draft that takes two or three weeks during the NFL pre-season games. Media hype and pre-season game action will give me a shot to get a future 1st for my 2.03, and if I bundle it with my 2.12, there is a good chance I can get a future 1st and 3rd. It's guaranteed, that the 3.09 pick will seem quite valuable to someone in my league who watched a pre-season game, listened to media hype and believes he has found a really great sleeper. The urge to go for that sleeper might overcome the desire for someone to hold onto two future 3rd round picks, that each have a 2 out of 3 chance of being higher than the 3.09. Or maybe I can bundle two 3rd round picks together and acquire a future 2nd round pick.
By holding on to draft picks to the last minute and trading for future picks, I can increase the number of draft picks I have and move up in future years.
The other thing I can do is use draft picks to draft rookies. The rookies might be worthless in a year, or they might pop. We are hoping to get a big return on the investment (of spending a pick) but we are also risking that the player we take has no fantasy value for our team a year later. So the value of a rookie draft pick can go up or down.
Finally, the last thing I can do with draft picks is trade for proven veterans. They will be more expensive than the rookie you can pick up in the 2nd or 3rd round, but they are more likely to help your team. However, the value of veteran players go down as they age.
I try to make as few moves as possible that lose value. I try to only draft rookies that I feel confident are going to be valuable in the future, so I generally make very few picks and draft near the top of the draft. However, sometimes the players I feel the most confident about are not in the mainstream media hype, and I can get them in the bottom of the 1st or in the 2nd round. If I am going to pay outright for a veteran, I want to take him only when I really need him.
It's even possible that my RB1 crisis will take care of itself. Maybe Fournette will land on the Dolphins, and be their lead back and give one more RB1 year. Maybe Bijan Robinson or D'Andre Swift will be injured mid-season and spring Tyler Allgeier or Rashaad Penny loose for delivering RB1 numbers in the back half of the season.
So to summarize:
- Holding picks: value goes up
- Drafting rookies: value goes up or down
- Trading for veterans: value goes down - but is the most sure way to fill roster needs
So right now, doing nothing is the right strategy. My draft picks are going up in value. I can't draft rookies until the fall. And any veteran I trade for now, will generally have a downward trend in value over time, including the chance he will be injured. Also, only about 1/3rd of my league is active right now. I might be able to get better deals from the other 2/3rds of the league if I wait until when the league is fully active.
The value of my team is going up by me doing nothing.
There is the old adage, "Don't just stand there, do something". But sometimes the right saying is "Don't just do something, stand there."
What will I do on draft day? I don't know yet. I definitely have some targets for the draft, but for each pick, I will look at who is still on the board, what I can get trading that pick forward, or see if I can get a bargain on proven veteran. Then I will do what I believe is best for the team at that moment, when that pick has its highest value.
As long as my team can stay in position to be a playoff contender, I have the option to wait until Week 13 to trade for a veteran RB that can fill the RB1 hole on my roster and the more my draft picks will be worth (because I traded forward and up) and the more certain I will be that the veteran will have the impact for my team that I am looking for.
There is a movie I recently watched, "Remember the Goal". (It's a great motivational family movie and emphasizes the importance of team.) Although the strategy applies for cross country running teams, it is exactly the strategy I am following for my fantasy team. I am going to keep the "tempo-pace" (stay in the playoff race - but not seek to dominate the league all season) until it matters. Then when it does matter, I will judiciously draw from my arsenal of draft picks to surgically add whatever players are necessary to be competitive in the playoffs - hopefully veteran players I can get at a bargain from teams going into rebuild mode.
Other deep dynasty football strategy articles by Leonard:
How to Win Your Dynasty League
Dynasty Rookie Draft Picks - Value Analysis
Quarterback Carousel & Handcuffs