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How to Trade for a Quarterback in Superflex Leagues

Keith Ensminger (@TheSmingDynasty) takes a look at a few strategies for acquiring quarterbacks in your Superflex leagues.

Whoever first said, “If you think you have two quarterbacks, you actually don’t have one” never played in a Superflex league. Quarterbacks are exceedingly important in Superflex leagues. The most veteran Superflex players strive to have at least three usable quarterbacks on their roster to cover bye weeks and injuries. With 12 or even 14 teams in your Superflex league each vying to roster at least 3 from the 32 possible starting quarterbacks, the issue with the supply, demand, and value of quarterbacks becomes obvious. 

The New “Standard”

As fantasy football, and more importantly, dynasty fantasy football, became increasingly popular over the past several years, one popular strategy has been the late-round quarterback strategy. The debate over the question, “is your second quarterback really that important in Superflex” has raged in the community. Others have written about the late-round quarterback strategy far better than I ever could in this article. I am only mentioning it now to quickly go on record to my personal thoughts and analysis: 

First, yes, I believe the quality of the second quarterback on your Superflex roster is extremely important. It goes without saying that the quality of your first quarterback does as well. 

Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Second, I too, fully embraced the late-round quarterback strategy for years. However, I believe the landscape of the NFL is forcing us to re-evaluate that strategy. The popularity and success of the strategy paralleled the tail end of the careers of many future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Players like Payton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and Eli Manning have all been popular and cheap late-round targets for years. Dynasty owners annually awaited news on “surely they’re retiring this year, right?” Gone are the days of snatching a future Hall of Fame quarterback with a late rookie pick to shore up your Superflex roster.

Dynasty Superflex players have also gotten smarter, and the way that many owners value quarterbacks has likely never been greater. Again, that is all a discussion due much deeper analysis for another day. I recognize that mid-tier quarterback scoring is very flat. The difference though in the increased cost of those mid-tier quarterbacks is the youth factor. So many of those mid-tier players now available to dynasty owners. As I said, I am only mentioning my thoughts to let you know my mindset when writing this article. 

I have broken the acquisition of quarterbacks in Superflex leagues down into what I feel are the four most common methods and scenarios:

Scenario 1: Your startup draft

Let’s get this scenario out of the way first. I do feel it’s important to at least mention it in an article such as this. The best strategy I can tell you for trading for quarterbacks in your Superflex league is simple – make sure you don’t have to worry about it at all. At least hopefully not any time soon. Naturally, every fantasy football strategy works when you draft the right players. So, it’s easy for me to say something as inane as, “Hey, just draft well!”

What I’m trying to say is that if you can solidify the quarterback spots on your roster with both proven and relatively young quarterbacks right from the start, it could be years before you’ll have to worry about quarterback issues for your team. Don’t get too cute and make the mistake of passing on these quarterbacks in your startup draft. You’ll be able to fill in players around those stable pieces much more easily through trades, your rookie drafts, and possibly even waivers. The need rather than the want to trade for quarterbacks in Superflex leagues typically arises through desperation – you need a quarterback, or at least a better quarterback, and the only way you’ll get one is to take them from another owner, thus weakening their own team.  How then can you make it work?

Scenario 2: Your rookie draft

Quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. But, every spring more become available to the NFL and in turn to your dynasty teams. I am, of course, talking about your rookie draft. While the hit rate of rookie quarterbacks isn’t something to bank your dynasty success on. It is often the easiest way to acquire a valuable quarterback for your Superflex roster after your startup draft. Although this is an article about trading strategies, using one of your own draft picks to get a quarterback, should it be early enough, is a simple solution to the problem. Unfortunately, that strategy also requires your dynasty team to be bad enough to earn an early pick.

Credit: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Trading for a draft pick which could be used to target a top-tier quarterback, however, is a different story. The key is to make these types of trades well in advance. By the time the offseason rolls around, owners of the earliest picks in a Superflex rookie draft know where their pick will land and what players will be available for them. Looking to make a move this summer for the pick that lands you Joe Burrow? Good luck.

Can You See the Future?

No, instead target a team’s future first-round picks right now in the offseason. Go through your league and look for middling teams. Owners who perhaps falsely believe they’re one or two pieces away from contending. This strategy certainly depends on trading them fading, veteran assets. Assets which (you hope) won’t improve their roster to the point where you’ve devalued the pick you received in return for your trade.

Many of us have played fantasy football long enough to know no matter how good a fantasy roster looks on paper, anything can happen once the season starts. The more first-round picks you get in advance, the better your odds will be of landing an early pick. Depending on the other owners in your league, it doesn’t have to be the first overall pick, either. There have been plenty of stories from the past month of rookie drafts where owners are able to get Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa at the third pick and later. Would I count on that happening in your league? No, of course not. But putting yourself in a position to at least have the chance to trade up a spot or two in your rookie drafts if need be couldn’t hurt.

Dynasty owners holding the 1.01 and 1.02 with stable quarterback situations have been looking to trade back for months. If you planned ahead and are holding any of the picks immediately afterward, there’s your chance to make a move for a quarterback.

Late Round Lottery Luck

In the past few years, it’s also been possible to find quarterbacks with great NFL draft capital who aren’t the toast of the dynasty community. Go back and look at rookie mocks from around this time in 2018. Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson were near afterthoughts. They came off the board in the late first and even early second rounds of rookie drafts. In fairness, I have the gift of hindsight, and I’m able to cherry-pick success stories, as anyone who drafted Josh Rosen will tell you. Similarly, players like Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins were able to be had later in 2019 rookie drafts. In 2020, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love have often found themselves with much later ADP than their more highly-coveted brethren.

Scenario 3: A trade involving you sending a quarterback

In my experience, this is the most common scenario in Superflex trades involving quarterbacks – upgrading or downgrading from another quarterback on your roster. Neither owner is sacrificing an entire piece at the most important position in the format. Therefore, it’s the most likely trade you’ll get done. The question is – at what cost?

As many will mention when it comes to dynasty trades, ranking your players in tiers is crucial. Rank all of the quarterbacks in tiers. Do you find that you own a quarterback at the top of a tier? Maybe it would benefit you to move that quarterback for another at the end of your same tier and get something added on in return. Want to move up a tier? Find the potential differences in your tiers, Superflex rankings, and ADP. Hoping to trade an aging quarterback for a younger option? Again, find the value within your tiers to get the best return possible.

I Know You!

This is where knowing the owners in your league will help you immensely. Flip quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers to the owners who typically prefer veteran assets. In return you add younger options they may have on their roster. Don’t be afraid to cash out on a community darling whose cost has risen enormously during the course of the offseason.

Credit: Sports Illustrated

For example, last offseason, after he reached the top three ADP for quarterbacks, I flipped Baker Mayfield and a draft pick to get Patrick Mahomes. This offseason, players like Drew Lock and Daniel Jones have gained a great deal of value. Now may be the time to add to those unproven players to move up a quarterback tier or two. Could those two prove their worth and find themselves near the top of the list come this time next year? Certainly, but that’s why we all play this game.

Another strategy I like to use when trading quarterbacks in this scenario is to flip my quarterback with a second player of greater value for another quarterback I value more with a second player of lesser value. Let’s say I’m trying to trade Carson Wentz, the Nerds’ 10th ranked quarterback for Dak Prescott, our 6th ranked quarterback. I’d add a player like Kenny Golladay and ask for a player like Jarvis Landry in return. I’m upgrading my quarterback position, which is more difficult to accomplish. While downgrading at wide receiver, a much deeper and more replaceable position.

This Will be Good for You, Trust Me

In order to get a trade done, you need to give the owner a reason to make the move. So don’t be afraid to give up multiple pieces with one of your quarterbacks in order to solidify your own quarterback position. As I said, your other positions are much more replaceable. Top tier quarterbacks are not. Want to upgrade all the way from Kirk Cousins to Kyler Murray? Would you be afraid to give up both Deebo Samuel and Diontae Johnson to do so? Don’t be! In Superflex, you can draft and trade for positional players much more easily and for much cheaper than highly valued young quarterbacks.

Consider how many well-regarded running backs and wide receivers have come into the league with this most recently draft class in comparison with the number of well-regarded quarterbacks. It’s simply a numbers game. Once your roster is set with quarterbacks, you can build around them. You can improve your team with draft picks rather than being desperately hamstrung into using an early pick on a rookie.

Scenario 4: A trade involving you not sending a quarterback

We wrap up with, in my experience, the most difficult Superflex trade of all. A trade where you’re trying to get a quarterback without sending one back in return. The very first mantra in this scenario? If it will leave the other team short on starting quarterbacks themselves, just don’t bother. The only way you’d get a trade like that done would be a significant overpay. You must make it worth their while. Even then it’s likely they wouldn’t put themselves into the same desperate spot you just found yourself in.

Look through your league’s rosters and find the teams who can afford to lose a quarterback. If you’re in a spot where you need a quarterback, that almost certainly means there are others with a few to spare. That’s the biggest problem if you ever find yourself caught in this scenario, though. Like a man dying of the thirst in the desert who’d do anything for water, the other owners in your league know they’ve got you dead to rights with your obvious need. Before you set foot down this path, consider just how desperate you are to get a deal done. Would you be better off calling it a season and trying to draft a rookie rather than gutting your roster? These moves do not come cheap, so weigh the cost of doing business and the actual need for doing so. 

That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton

Remember, you do not have to start a second quarterback in the Superflex spot. Still. it’s almost always to your advantage to do so. Could you tough it out until season’s end with what you have and hope for the best? Did you lose a quarterback to a season-ending injury? You could possibly flip that injured quarterback to a rebuilding team in return for one of their starters. This may hold your team together for a championship run. Did one of your quarterbacks retire or lose their starting job? Superflex owners who lost Andrew Luck in the preseason last year knew their title hopes were likely sunk at that very moment. Consider the entire situation and your level of desperation before making such a bold move.

Credit: Bleacher Report

If after all of that you still want to try to get a quarterback, again, the key is to both find a team who can afford to lose one and to make it definitely worth their while. Your likeliest bet is to find an owner who stumbled into value by owning a surprise starter; a quarterback like Gardner Minshew, Teddy Bridgewater, or Ryan Tannehill. The question is – do you make a move for the surprise starter or do you make a move for one of their other more established quarterbacks? Gauge their level of value on the quarterbacks they roster. Do they feel confident their surprise starter will have some long term value? Are they looking to sell while their new toy’s value is hot? Are these moves risky? They sure are, but (stop me if you’ve heard this before) that’s why we all play this game. If the quarterback you acquire doesn’t pan out, you’ll find yourself back in this same situation all over again. You’ll need to take on some risk, but be careful not to make things worse.

One Last Thing

A final thought on this type of move – keep in mind, trading for a quarterback doesn’t have to end after your first move. Let’s say you do trade for one of these riskier starters. At least you now have a quarterback! Congratulations, you’ve now moved to scenario three. Scenario three is a far better place to work from than not having a quarterback at all. Once you get your foot in the door and at least roster a quarterback you can make available in trade, you’ll have a much easier path to getting a more established player at the position.

But really, maybe you should have just drafted better in the first place.

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