End of the Road: When to Move On

I’ll keep it 100 here for you all: If you’re content with merely making the playoffs every year and never building sustainable success or improving your odds at title runs, stop reading now. Seriously. Maybe you should consider a different hobby, preferably one where you don’t have to worry about being competitive. Model railroads would probably be more your speed. Go Google local hobby stores and forget all about this “dynasty football” hogwash.

I like winning and not just because Charlie Sheen told me so.
Excellent! Allow me to tell you a little story. Don’t worry, this won’t take too long, you’ll still have plenty of time to go play Pokemon Go after you’re done reading this.
Recently, I was talking with some people on the Twitter machine about gut check time in Dynasty. No, I don’t mean throwing all your chips in when you think you’ve got a chance at the title, although that certainly qualifies as a potential gut check moment. Today, I’m talking about when you’ve got a team that has barely made the playoffs the past couple of years, on track to barely make the playoffs again this year, has a lot of assets that are starting to get past their prime, and you’re wondering if you’re stuck in a rut like the Bucks were for so many years in the NBA under Senator Kohl.
Uhhh, thanks for the basketball reference. What do you mean?
Simply put: You’ve found yourself always fighting for that last playoff spot in your 12 team Dynasty league over the last couple of seasons. You’ll trade away a piece or two to make sure you make the playoffs on a yearly basis because, like the Senator always said, “Anything can happen in the playoffs.
So what if we’re matched up against LeBron, Bosh, and Wade in the first round? We can win!”
Sure, I guess; maybe if your opponent completely takes a dump in the bed and every one of their high-scoring players decides to throw up a goose egg or gets hurt. You’re entitled to think that! I think Andy Samberg said it best:

Wait, so… just because I make the playoffs doesn’t mean “anything can happen?”
In almost every situation, the answer to this is a resounding “no.” If you’re a 6 seed, you have to win 3 matchups, versus the 3, 1, and 2 seeds (in all likelihood), to win the title. That’s… very difficult, to say the least. Obviously, sometimes craziness transpires, as I said before, but really – you can’t bet on that. If you are betting on that, please make sure you stay out of casinos. You’ll lose lots and lots of money otherwise.
Ok, so back to your team and always getting that last playoff spot: I get it. You like making your money back (assuming it’s a league that pays out to all teams that make the playoffs). It keeps it fun; makes it worth coming back. But let’s be real: does it really make it more than another free league where you’re going to be just active enough to make the playoffs and then focus on trying to win in the playoffs when you’re clearly outgunned by teams that actually have, you know, talent?
I’m getting my entry fee paid for every year, why does this matter?
Maybe you should go make yourself a participation trophy for the league that you can award yourself at your personal end-of-season banquet at Golden Corral while you celebrate by sticking your head into the bottomless chocolate fountain. Or, maybe a medal that says “I Made the Playoffs” that you can clutch at night after your fourth straight first round exit. Really, if that’s all you want out of your dynasty league… yay? Didn’t I tell you before to go look up your local hobby store and build model railroads instead?
Ok, for the rest of you who actually care about your team, you want to be able to make deep runs into the playoffs on a regular basis. That’s the first – and most important – part. You care about how successful your team is and want to do something about it.
So what are you going to do to break the cycle? You’ve got two choices.
Do you…
  • Trade away some assets with future potential (e.g. first round picks and high-ceiling folks like a DGB or a Parker) for studs that can push you over?
  • Trade away assets that can help a win-now team for future assets (e.g. mid-high first round picks and young, high-ceiling folks like a DGB or a Parker), knowing that you may not compete that season but should be back in it the following year?
There are merits to both of these approaches, and let’s be honest: To get out of 6-Seed Limbo, you have to do something different, and that means either moving assets to get you over the hump, or moving assets to get assets to build you up stronger.
So I’m moving assets regardless of what option I choose. How do these situations differ and how do I know which one I should pursue?
Look around your league. Look at the teams that are likely capable of deep playoff runs this year, then ask yourself this: “Would a couple of simple moves get me a roster that can reasonably knock them out of the playoffs, barring their team completely falling apart?” If the answer to this is yes, then it’s time to put on your grown-up pants and make some moves. Young MC implores you to not just stand there. Listen to the man.
Realistically, you should be looking to move your 2017 1st rounder to a team who is clearly out of contention, along with a peripheral piece, to get something to help you get past the first-round exits you’ve continually suffered through ala Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. You’ll probably want to target a back-end WR1 or mid-pack RB1 type in such a deal to help you along.
Ok, great, but what if I’m keeping it real with myself and realize that going for it would leave me in a bad situation both this year and beyond?
This is the moment where you realize that it’s time to get assets to help you out past this year. It is time to start focusing on 2017 as your return to competitiveness. You can give up on your league dues this year for greater glory in the long haul. I get it. This is a total shock to your reality where you’ve been comfortably collecting your participation trophy – I mean, being a one-and-done playoff team – for some time now. You mean you’ll have to pay a year of dues? THE HORROR. Get over yourself and let’s get down to analyzing your team.
Really? I don’t want to sell anyone or anything of value. I’m having cold feet.
You can’t be serious. 30 seconds ago, you were willing to do something to get your team more competitive for the long haul. Whatever. Your loss.
Ok, let’s do this. How do I start if I’m going to sell assets?
So… let’s take a look at your team. What are the assets you want to build around? You have A Rob? Maybe a Todd Gurley type? Yes, keep those. Obviously. Let’s say you have someone like a Dez Bryant or a Demaryius Thomas. Will those assets still be valuable for the next couple of seasons? Absolutely! Are they what you need to flip in order to get better over the long haul? YES! I personally love Dez and DT. Both of them have top 5 ceilings and top 15 floors over the next 3 seasons. But both of them have admittedly rough situations entering the 2016 season. This is why you’re not trading them before the start of the season: You need Dez to prove he’s healthy and as dominant as ever and you need Butt Fumble to show he’s capable of actually getting the ball to DT (assuming Sanchez is the Week 1 starter in Denver).
If you sell either of these WR’s before week 3 of the preseason, then you’re doing yourself a disservice as you’ll clearly be selling them both below their true value. Sit back and have some patience.
Of course, if you’re reading this and its approaching Week 7 or later in your league and you know you need to reload for 2017, then start floating offers for young WR’s with upside and picks that you expect to be in the first half of your league’s 2017 draft.
Note: I said and. I didn’t say “or” – you should be able to get both of these assets in return for either WR if they’re healthy and performing.
Caveat emptor:
If you do NOT get an expected early 2017 for either of these WR, think long and hard (that’s what she said) about the package (um, phrasing???) you’re getting back. You need to get an early-mid 2017 1st AND a talent with big upside coming back for either of these guys. If you don’t, keep shopping. If your league has a deadline, you’ll get a good offer…if there’s no deadline, one of the teams that’s advancing to the semis or championship round should be willing to pay up in some fashion. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine what you’re willing to accept. I’m just another Banana writing an article on the Interwebz.
Um, great. You’re drunk. What do I need to take away from this article?
Great question, and you suck! I may be drunk, but I still know what I’m doing. I think. Maybe. Anyways, here are the key takeaways:
  1. Don’t be afraid to take an honest look at your roster. Change is hard. You’ve made the playoffs the past four seasons, yet you can’t get out of the first round as a wild card team. Be real with yourself. Do you honestly expect to be able to make a deep run into the playoffs with your team as-is?
  2. If you think you can compete, have the cojones to make the moves you need to make. I get it. It’s tough parting with players with a high upside as well as potentially valuable 2017 draft picks. But let’s be honest here: If you want to compete, you need to pay for the assets that’ll make you capable of sustained deep playoff runs for the next few years.
  3. If you feel you can’t make enough reasonable moves to compete this year, then sell off non-essential assets for picks and high-ceiling players. Don’t short sell your players. I’ll hit this point in an upcoming piece, but you need to get assets that’ll help you compete starting in 2017, but also and for a sustained period beyond that. Remember this: you’re likely helping a team towards a 2016 championship; your assets are worth a lot for a team looking to make a run and win it all.
There you have it, folks. Follow these tips in assessing your lineup and, one way or another, you’ll set yourself up for long-term #DynastyValues! As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me on Twitter at @VanBerf. Best of luck as we begin the 2016 season!

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