Playoff season is now only a few weeks away and it’s time to lock up one of those final spots or solidify your strangle hold on a top seed. If it appears you’ll be missing the playoffs, I have some thoughts for helping build your roster looking to next season as well.
Contender vs. Pretender:
First things first. Know your league rules!! How many teams make the playoffs, is it based on overall records, do points scored determine the final playoff spot? Next you need to determine whether or not you’re an actual threat to do some damage in the playoffs. As an example I’ve attached a screenshot of the Power Rank tabs for one of my leagues. “What the problem is” is my team in this particular league. This is a 12 team league where I happen to be leading my division with a (7-3) overall record. Even though I’ll probably win the division (everyone else in my division being (3-7) or worse), looking at my “Power Rank” and “All-Play Record”, you can see I’m only the 4th or 5th strongest team in the league.
When reviewing the “Power Ranks” tab be sure to take into account factors that the raw numbers can’t speak to. Specifically current roster construction. If you recently pulled off a trade for Julio Jones, missed Tom Brady the first four weeks of the season or conversely just lost Alshon Jeffery to suspension or A. J. Green to a hamstring strain, there’s no way for that to be baked into these metrics. You’ll need to use some critical thinking when it comes to situations as described above.
Back to what these numbers mean. I have a playoff team in this league, just not a particularly strong one, based on my Power Rank. I agree with that assessment. My roster consists of a lot of win-now type pieces, including Larry Fitzgerald, Drew Brees, Frank Gore and the like. Any moves I make will be minimal. If you have 2017 1st round and/or 2nd round picks I would advise you to hold on to them, unless you receive something too good to pass up. Something along the lines of Antonio Brown for a single rookie pick, which is highly unlikely. Instead, look to “sell” your 3rd or 4th round rookie picks for areas of immediate production need. Such as, targeting older QB’s and productive Tight Ends. Typically, they can be acquired for those types of assets. Don’t fret over trading late round rookie picks, the hit rate on those picks is incredibly low and you can always acquire picks in those rounds in the off-season if you really want to.
I understand the urge to “sell off” picks and just go for it, because anything can happen in the playoffs right? Nevertheless, just be realistic if you grade out as an average team.
If you happen to be a team with a top 3 “Play-All Record” or “Power Rank” well then, that is a horse of different color. If you have what looks to be a realistic shot a Championship I have no qualms with you going balls to the wall to get that Championship. When I have a Championship in my cross hairs I’ll overpay for players with little regard for the future. Yes, I understand this is “Dynasty” football but the reason we play this game is to win Championships, at least that’s my ultimate goal. I’m not going to tell you who to target in trades here, I’ll trust that you are intelligent enough to figure that out on your own. Myself, I’m a “crush a fly with a crane” type of guy, so I target absolute monsters along the lines of Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, David Johnson etc.
I don’t know if there’s a worse feeling than losing your RB1 right as the playoffs are ready to commence. Well, yeah I mean there’s worse things in life but I’m strictly speaking in the realm of fantasy football. Losing a stud WR or QB to injury or suspension probably would be pretty bad as well but you really can’t handcuff your WR1 and frankly probably wouldn’t want to handcuff your starting QB. When feasible, you should be making trade offers or mining the Waiver Wire for the real life backups to your fantasy starting Running Backs. One note, make sure you actually know who the handcuff to your RB is. For your convenience, below I’ve listed the most talented handcuffs or those with the best opportunity if the starter should be lost to injury:
|David Johnson||Andre Ellington|
|Jonathan Stewart||Cameron Artis-Payne|
|Lesean McCoy||Mike Gillislee|
|Lamar Miller||Alfred Blue/Akeem Hunt|
|Ezekiel Elliott||Alfred Morris|
|Jay Ajayi||Damian Williams|
|Spencer Ware||Charcandrick West|
If you already own players with favorable schedules you have my congratulations, otherwise below are Quarterbacks, Running Backs and Tight ends to target with top 15 favorable schedules who hopefully shouldn’t cost your soul to acquire (No David Johnson, Zeke, Luck or Wilson’s below is what I’m saying).
Why am I not listing Wide Receivers? Wide Receivers are going to cost a lot more than anyone I list below and I don’t worry as much about Wide Receiver matchups. I know there are shut down corners out there. Patrick Peterson is a monster who shuts down every receiver he plays, I get that. But the Patrick Peterson’s of the world are finite and offenses can also do things to scheme Wide Receivers open in most cases. Run the receiver out of the slot, switch sides, screens etc.
|Ben Roethlisberger||Lesean McCoy||Delanie Walker|
|Philip Rivers||Jonathan Stewart||Zach Miller (IR)|
|Eli Manning||Latavius Murray||Kyle Rudolph|
|Frank Gore||Cameron Brate|
|Matt Forte||Zach Ertz|
There’s Always Next Year
No playoffs for you this season, I know it’s not a good feeling. You feel empty inside. The final three-four weeks of the NFL season just don’t matter as much to you. It’s hard to get out of bed on Sunday’s and forget about showering. Maybe you start drinking on Thursday’s to dull the emptiness in your soul. Too much? Yeah that’s a bit much. But still I get it, without skin in the game it’s just not as much fun. Too bad, do better next season.
As far as this season, take a look at your roster. Are you holding onto players with little to no value? Drop them and roster rookies or young players. At this point the Waiver Wire is not a pretty thing, but I’m sure you can find someone to pick up. Go back to your off-season rankings and see if they’re players you had some hope for who haven’t panned out for whatever reason.
Trade away veteran players that are still producing: Frank Gore, Tom Brady, Steve Smith, Legarrette Blount to name a few. Temper your expectations on what you expect in return, but don’t just give these guys away. If it’s a player like Tom Brady you’re looking to “sell”, keep in mind he will most likely be able to produce at a high level for another full season at a minimum.
Go discount shopping. Target players who were lost to significant injuries this season. Sammy Watkins, Keenan Allen, Eric Decker and Josh Doctson. Underperforming rookies and second year players that might be able to be had on a discount include; Laqoun Treadwell, Kevin White, Devante Parker. I would not pay anything close to what players like this cost initially, but if someone wanted to trade me Treadwell for Frank Gore or a 2nd round rookie pick I wouldn’t say no.
As always thanks for taking the time to read something I’ve written. I know you probably have a thousand better, different things you could do with your time and I appreciate that you give me any of your free time. Feel free to get at me anytime @DFF_Shane.