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Strategy for Orphan Teams

So you want to take over an orphan team? Here is why you should have a strategy or two to help you rebuild into a championship team.

You probably have been playing dynasty fantasy football for a few years, and someone has approached you to see if you want to take over an orphan team. What is an orphan team? Well, it’s a team in a league that had its owner leave it, and now it needs a new owner to take over the team. This article will explain why you want to take over an orphan team and some strategies behind them. I’ll break down an orphan team I took over last off-season.

Why take over an Oprhan Team?

Why would you take over an orphan team rather than start a new dynasty league? That is a tough question since taking over an orphan team is not the norm. Most owners would rather have a fresh start with a start-up than take over a team. Rarely will a team have an elite squad to take over, and you are sitting pretty with that squad.

Unfortunately, more often than not, many orphan teams are based on poorly managed owners who have dreadful rosters. An orphan team is an excellent way to test your skills as a fantasy football GM and change the team to fit your liking. It’s great for those who like to make trades because you’ll be doing many early in your league. It would be best if you had the mindset that you’re tanking the first season and rebuild how you want to see this team.


It’s hard to give a detailed strategy for an orphan team since every team is different and looks different. More times than once, you’re taking over an older veteran team that is hanging off a cliff and doesn’t have much depth to your roster. Suppose you see the depth of Jeff Wilson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Terrace Marshall, Robert Tonyan, and Tyler Boyd. Well, that won’t be fun to rebuild, but it’s the challenge that excites folks.

Unless you believe you have an elite team that could win the year you take it over, you are retooling or rebuilding. When I take over a team, I want to sell off as many veterans as possible so I can rightfully tank to get a top pick in next year’s draft. Yes, you are often tanking in year one of an orphan team.

Photo Courtesy of Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

I will look to sell aging veterans, primarily for young receivers or draft picks. When trading for picks, I’m not shooting for current-year picks but two years down the road and building up that way. This year, for example., I’m not looking at 2024 as much since they will cost more but for 2025. This is because the value will be easy to obtain, and you can likely get more picks for the future.

The best way to secure your team’s future is to start loading on young, talented upside at receiver. I genuinely believe that having an elite core at receiver goes a long way in rebuilding an orphan team. You can always buy running backs when you are ready to compete.

The quarterback position is more challenging, especially in Superflex leagues, but you should be looking toward the draft to rebuild that position. I’ve often seen those orphan teams have one elite quarterback, and then they trade them for a few picks or players. By experience, that may not always be the best move since the quarterback position has a long enough longevity to last your rebuild. 

My Experience With Oprhan Teams

I took over an orphan team in late July of 2023. Clearly, there were some heavy hitters with Jalen Hurts, Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry, and Mike Evans. The draft capital for 2023 wasn’t there, but it had all my future picks, which I was lucky to have. This could have been a team to go all in and try to win, but we know that Kirk Cousins, Kenny Pickett, Taylor, and Dallas Goedert would all miss time in 2023. That would have set back the team for the long term.

Jalen HurtsDerrick HenryMike EvansDallas Geodert2 – 2023 3rd Rounders
Kirk CousinsJonathan TaylorTyler BoydZach ErtzAll – 2024 Picks
Kenny PickettTyler AllgeierRomeo DoubsChig OkonwkoAll – 2025 Picks
Dalvin CookDJ CharkCade Otton
Russell Gage
Late July 2023

Moving forward to the 2024 offseason, my team looks like this. While I don’t have the security at quarterback, I know that 1.03 will likely be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2024 draft. My backfield used to have Taylor as the youngest but moved to the oldest on my team at 25. My receiver group has two up-and-coming players, Nico Collins and Rashee Rice. I have many upside receivers who have a chance to do more in 2024. My tight ends didn’t change, but Goedert missing a lot of time didn’t help with trades. The biggest upside is that my draft picks jumped from six to 16 over the next two drafts. This allowed me some flexibility on how this team will run moving forward.

Justin HerbertJonathan TaylorNico CollinsDallas Geodert2024 – 1.03
Sam HowellJahmyr GibbsRashee RiceChig Okonwko2 – 2024 2nds
Aidan O’ConnellTyler AllgeierRomeo DoubsCade Otton3 – 2024 3rds
Zach CharbonnettTyler Boyd3 – 2025 1sts.
Keaton MitchellParker Washington3 2025 2nds
Michael Wilson
Dontayvion Wicks
Trey Palmer
Early January 2024

I built this team by making some smart trades that I knew would help in the future seasons.

  • Kenny Pickett for 2023 1.11 & 2.12 (I wasn’t a fan of Pickett from the start)
  • 2023 1.11 & 2.12 for 2.03, 2.07 & 2024 2nd (team had bad depth needed more youth)
  • Kirk Cousins for Sam Howell & 2024 2nd (the one time should have held a good QB)
  • Dalvin Cook for Nico Collins & 2024 3rd ( Cook just signed w/ NYJ )
  • 2025 1st for Derrick Henry & 2024 3rd ( May have been early, but I had concerns with Henry)
  • Mike Evans for 2024 3rd & 2025 2nd ( this one hurts, but I was not expecting Evans to stay elite)
  • Jahmyr Gibbs for Puka Nacua ( I mostly wanted that Gibbs share – no regret)
  • Justin Herbert, 2025 1st & 2nd for Jalen Hurts ( Have no trade deadline – playoff teams get desperate)

I can’t say I’m happy with every trade I made, but the overall look at my team, I do feel good. You will not win every trade, but you know you made the right moves in the long term. I followed the guidelines for an orphan team strategy. I made it so I can draft my next star quarterback for my team. Despite trading away Nacua, I loaded up on young upside receivers, but I’ll stick to my gut in wanting one Gibbs share. My tight ends didn’t see much change, but I will look to move Goedert if I can this offseason. 

Go Get an Orphan!

At the end of the day, every orphan team is going to be different. It’s essential to understand how you want that team to work for you. You should also look at trades in the league to know how often and how many trades happen. You also should look at the other league owners and if your team could compete against them. The feeling of turning a bad team into a championship team is terrific.

4 Responses

  1. Loved the article. I prefer Orphans to startups. In 2023 I fielded 16 teams (12 were orphans) on 3 platforms. 12 teams made the playoffs, with 2 teams getting into the championship game, but both lost. One of those leagues was a Superflex.

  2. How about an article about a dispersal draft when a league is bringing on 2 or 3 new owners…This is what I’m about to start, and its Devy as well…

  3. That was a very good article Steven. Rebuilding an orphan will not only test your skills but help improve them as well.

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