When attempting to reboot a dynasty roster, it’s imperative to take advantage of the rise and fall of perceived values. These fluctuations can be correlated with specific times of the year: NFL playoffs, beginning of the league year, pre and post free agency, and during the NFL draft. Using the information available to manipulate the market while extracting information about the opinions of your league mates through the use of DMs or the main league chat can catapult a dynasty roster from worst to first over a few weeks.
During the NFL playoffs, most managers are still fairly active. Although I don’t tend to have success trading at this time of year, it is a great chance to ask people what they think of players. Many dynasty players let their guard down without anything to play for and are much more candid with their responses. The lead-up to the start of the league year, however, is a different story. Mock drafts are being released, trades are being completed, and rumors are swirling galore. This is the best time to take advantage of value swings. Nothing is set in stone, but people love to call their shot anyways.
Next is free agency. Identifying those players who will get signed to contracts in solid landing spots and getting out of those looking for lucrative contracts regardless of landing spot can help dynasty managers increase the value of their overall rosters. Aaron Jones and Chris Carson returning to their teams were great opportunities to underpay for shares of those players, whereas Kenny Galladay looking for a big payday and eventually heading to New York was a less than ideal situation.
Core Roster Construction:
2.11, 3.03, 3.05, 4.02, 4.05 5.05
All my own
All my own
Coming off of a disappointing 2020 season, I just missed the playoffs and was in need of an overhaul. The empire pot was a crucial factor in my decision to attempt to win the first season I took over. Winning back-to-back seasons has a substantial payout and would cause the league to redraft from scratch, so the winning window can be much smaller. I traded out of the first and second rounds of 2020 and 2021 rookie classes to do so. However, I was able to regain some late draft capital with some trades during the season but nothing earlier than pick 2.11.
I immediately got to work attempting to trade back into the 2021 rookie class following Week 17. Draft picks rise in value as the offseason goes on and rookie drafts approach, whereas known commodities value can fluctuate greatly. The security of rookie picks and using them as currency can not be undersold as an offseason strategy to reboot a dynasty team.
Deciding who to move was key here as predicting the future of assets can pay off in a big way. This can also be a double edge sword. When evaluating my roster, there were several players whose value would fluctuate greatly in the coming weeks.
- Wentz was demanding a trade
- Brees was mulling over retirement
- The aging Adam Theilen would lose value in the offseason
- There are constant rumors of the LV Raiders moving on from Carr
- Kenyon Drake still didn’t have a deal from Arizona
- The Lions would surely do something that would lead to Kenny Golladay losing value
- I lacked early draft capital and was left with very few pieces that would retain value.
Trading into the top 15 rookie picks and shedding anyone who I perceived would lose value was paramount early on in the offseason. This starts during the NFL playoffs when everyone is active. Extracting the information needed leads directly into trades before the start of the NFL league year.
Step One: Identify Trade Partners
My first move was to identify trade partners. Targets include team managers looking to acquire veterans in pursuit of a title run and those with a plethora of first and second-round rookie picks that could be convinced to move some of those assets to limit their exposure to hit rates. The bottom line is rookie picks can bust. Convincing someone to move multiple for a known asset is a key selling point when looking to reload a squad.
When doing my evaluation, I believed that the top 15 rookies selected would have the most value by far. I had my rookie tiers in place. Anything past the top 15 is simply a rookie pick I would use to push a trade over the top. I found two managers that fit that bill. One had picks 2/3/7/9 and several second-rounders in 2020. I was in a complete rebuild. The other had picks 2.01 and 2.03 coming off of a championship and looking to win the empire pot.
Step Two: Establish lines of communication (week 17/ as soon as fantasy playoffs and end)
Direct messages work great but dropping some tweets or articles in the main chat can also be very effective. Any answer given is another piece of information that you can use to identify trade partners. Asking what a team’s ultimate goals are (rebuild, compete, add value regardless of the player, or simply getting their favorite players), identifying who they are out on, and then cross-referencing that information with the other managers in a league to create a follow-up deal is crucial. Perhaps the offer on the table isn’t something that you would initially do. However, if you know a league mate would be interested in one of those pieces, you can string trades together. One trade hitting the league chat often leads to a follow-up offer.
Step Three: Kick the dust up (NFL playoffs)
I begin each offseason by making a small deal to stir up activity. I attempt to get pieces that I have learned others are higher on than myself. With Clyde having a solid performance in the super bowl, I began to shop him. The best offer I could get from the two managers mentioned was the 2.01 and 2.03 for Clyde. This is an offer I surely couldn’t accept. So I began to reach out to other managers to secure another lesser running back. One that I would be comfortable trading for the 2.01 plus.
The first trade I executed was Clyde and Carr for 1.07, Chris Carson, and Matt Ryan. The 1.07 was a target of mine, as noted above, and Ryan’s situation, at the time, was much more concrete, as well as his floor being Carr’s ceiling. I then flipped Carson and some bench pieces (Lazard, Schultz, and 3.05) for the 2.01 and Hollywood Brown within the hour. The league chat blew up, and I now frantically began to answer DMs searching out those that believed I had “won” the trade, thus identifying that the player I received was worth more than what I had exchanged for them. This leads me to begin offering those acquired pieces in an attempt to turn an instant profit value-wise. It’s best to make another deal before the dust settles, taking advantage of instant reactions and emotions.
Step Four: Follow up trades (pre NFL league year start)
Using the information gained through the league chat and DMs, I made a flurry of moves to trade out vets and key assets that I believed were overvalued. As soon as footage of Drew Brees training hit Twitter, I immediately began to search for suitors, the Taysom hill owner being the primary target. I was able to move Brees and Parham for the 3.06 and 3.07, stabilizing value. Then, while Nelson Agholor was rumored to be resigning with LV and the Jets projected to take a QB (this being perceived as an upgrade), I was able to take advantage of the dip in Brian Edwards value and the spike in Jamison Crowders simultaneously netting Edwards and the 3.02 for Crowder, the 4.02, 4.05, and 5.05.
I then circled back to the manager with all of those 2021 first-round picks. He had no desire to trade for a WR as he is “a running back guy,” so I was forced to pivot again. This is February, so Kamaragedon (NFL record 6 rushing TDs in week 16) was still in the back of everyone’s minds. I moved Wentz, Kenny G, and my 2022 1st for Alvin Kamara. Now, this is not a trade I wanted to make. Three for one is rarely a square deal in the offseason as that one player you receive has exceeded expectations. However, I was a firm believer that Wentz would lose Doug Peterson, Golladay would lose Stafford, and that the 2022 first would be attainable later on in the offseason.
The night I made this transaction, the manager who was so keen on trading for a running back announced he was leaving the league and was quickly replaced by another. Immediate DMs were less than ideal. The new manager had no desire to trade for Kamara, and my team was now stuck in limbo. He was, however, willing to trade for Calvin Ridley. Calvin and the 3.06 for Tua and the 2.04 was a quick deal. This gave me two quarterbacks and solidified my future for the time being. Tua could only rise in value as the Dolphins were sure to add weapons or an offensive lineman in the upcoming NFL draft.
I was forced to pivot from trading Kamara, and suddenly in a much more win-now position without my future first, I looked to acquire another running back to fill out my roster. I made a short-sighted deal (mainly due to the empire pot aspect) trading Edmonds, my own 2023 1st 2nd 3rd, and the 2.04 for Clyde and the 2.06. Regaining Clyde was huge. However, this pushed me outside of the top 15 picks, and moving back in was a goal of mine from that point forward.
This deal caused the manager I had just traded Ridley to inquire about Clyde. We quickly struck a deal of Clyde for Melvin Gordon and the 1.05. This gave me a top asset in the rookie draft to either replace Clyde or use as premium trade fodder and an RB2 to go along with Kamara, who I was essentially stuck with at the moment.
Then next morning, I had a DM from the owner I traded Carson to just days prior, congratulating me on some solid moves. This is the same manager with the 2.03, and moving from 2.06 into that spot was a key target. I assured him I was in rebuild and wanted to shed some vets with short-term upside, which could help him win the empire pot. After some convincing, I traded Adam Theilen and the 2.06 for Deebo Samuel, the 2.03, and a 2023 third, replacing the one I moved to attain Clyde.
Without my future 1st and trading away, my producing vets left me uneasy, so I attempted to regain my 2022 first. Matt Ryan, Melvin Gordon, and my 2022 second netted me 1.11, 4.01, and that 2022 first back. This left me with a depleted roster but with draft picks and the security of them rising in value.
The next day I was again able to obtain information from reactions to trades I had made from those managers who were just catching up. I was able to move Hollywood and Cephus for the 1.10. Once again, with the dust kicked up, this trade led to another. I moved Kenyon Drake for my 2023 2nd back right after Drake signed with the LV Raiders. I now had regained some draft capital and positioned myself to get younger while gaining six picks in the top 15 for the 2021 rookie class. This all happened before March 15th. Once again, this left me with a depleted roster and a ton of desired draft capital.
Core Roster Construction:
|Tua Tagovailoa||Alvin Kamara|
1.05, 1.07, 1.10, 1.11,
2.01, 2.03, 2.11,
3.02, 3.03, 3.06, 3.07, 4.01
My own 1/3/4/5 plus a 2nd
My own 2/4/5plus a 3rd
Step Five: Wait it out (NFL draft)
The build-up to the NFL draft can be an exhilarating and nerve-racking series of events for all dynasty players, but no more so than those with a multitude of rookie draft picks in the middle of a reboot. Throughout April, I was only able to make two deals. Moving the 1.05 and 2.11 for the 1.04 (locking up a quarterback) and John Ross for a 2023 4th (information gained from multiple trade negotiations). If someone shows interest in someone you will drop, be sure to attempt to get some sort of value for them, even if it’s a late draft pick. These moves served two purposes: to secure one of the four high-profile quarterbacks in the rookie draft and to stir up the dust once again. At this point, it is clear that I am not only willing to make moves but initiate and send trade offers.
Final Step: Rookie Draft Execution
Once the draft started, no one was willing to trade for a specific spot, instead waiting to see who falls. This was problematic but did allow me to unload Alvin Kamara finally. I made it clear I was selecting Najee Harris with the fourth overall selection and was comfortable taking whoever fell to 7 or Mac Jones at 10. Whether this was true or not was irrelevant as the seed was sown.
The player with pick five needed an RB but didn’t believe in anyone outside of Harris in the class and was set at QB. This is the same manager that I moved the 1.05 and 2.11 to secure this position allowing me to squeeze them during the rookie draft. Kamara went for the 1.05, 2.11, Derrick Carr, and a 2022 second-round pick. This set me up to pivot in the draft because of the stopgap that is Derek Carr, the fourth and fifth picks to secure elite talent, and to, in fact, select Najee Harris. This also replaced the second I had already traded away, giving me a pick in every round in 2022 and some trade fodder.
To no one’s surprise, Lawrence, Lance, and Fields went 1/2/3. With the flexibility of having two quarterbacks and the glaring need without a single starting running back on my roster, I elected to select Najee Harris and Ja’Maar Chase with picks four and five. Wilson went sixth, making the decision to take Travis Etienne a simple one.
Picks 10 and 11 would surely be Mac Jones and either Javonte Williams, Devonta Smith, or Rashod Bateman if I couldn’t trade out. Devonta went ninth after Kyle Pitts, so I gladly selected Mac Jones and Javonte Williams to secure my third running back and quarterback. Pick 13 ended up being Rashod Bateman after Waddle went 12th. Rondale Moore went 14th, so I was left with a decision between Elijah Moore, Terrace Marshall, Trey Sermon, or Michael Carter.
I attempted to trade back numerous times only to settle on Trey Sermon for his size profile and the Kyle Shannahan connection that is easy to sell. Within the hour of selection, I was able to trade Sermon for the 2.06 and Rob Gronkowski. Selecting Michael Carter (the last one available of my four targets) and adding Gronkowski for TE depth behind Kelce allowed me to get one of my targets and something on top for essentially nothing. If Carter is so much as rumored to win the job in camp, he will be an easy sell as well.
This was when the draft got spicy, and patience paid off. After the clear tier break from Michael Carter, I began receiving offers for those I had previously selected and the plethora of thirds collected through previous trades. It’s important to note that the turnaround would have been solid even without these draft day trades. However, rookie Fever tends to set in quickly, and taking advantage of those emotional plays can be astronomical for one’s roster.
With the legal trouble surrounding Deshaun Watson and the drama that is Aaron Rodgers, and the selection of Kyle Pitts to ATL, I reached out to each manager in an attempt to flip picks 10/11 for one of Watson, Rodgers, Devante Adams, or Calvin Ridley. My attempts earlier in the offseason were quickly batted away, but after Mac Jones and Javonte Williams fell to those spots, I was able to strike up a dialogue. Javonte, Mac, 3.06, and a 2022 third went for Deshaun Watson and Antonio Gibson. If it weren’t for the uncertainty circling around Watson’s legal trouble, there is no way this would go down, but security and additional draft picks tipped the scales for this particular manager.
The next morning I circled back to that same owner in an attempt to flip more youth for established vets and double down. If someone begins the process of rebuilding, it is best to get out ahead of your competition and make moves for production before it’s too late—shear those sheep. Tua, 3.02, 3.03 (currently on the clock), went for Russel Wilson. This left me with a solid roster and 4 of the elite players in those top 15 picks I was after. I rounded out the draft with Amari Rodgers at 2.11 and Seth Williams at 4.01.
2021 Rookie Draft selections:
- 1.04 Najee Harris
- 1.05 Ja’maar Chase
- 1.07 Travis Etienne
- 1.10 Javonte Williams (traded)
- 1.11 Mac Jones (traded)
- 2.01 Rashod Bateman
- 2.03 Trey Sermon (traded)
- 2.06 Michael Carter
- 2.11 Amari Rodgers
- 4.01 Seth Williams
My own 1/4/5 plus a 2
My own 2/3/4/5 plus a 4
All my own picks
In all, I made 19 trades, mainly with the same four managers, from February 7th through the end of the rookie draft on May 7th. Identifying trade partners through roster constructing, establishing lines of communication, extracting information through the league chat and DMs, and scouting rookies to target in the rookie draft allowed me to position myself to take advantage of the rise in value throughout the offseason. Coupling this with some patience come draft night and being willing to take the risk on players in less than ideal situations has allowed me to set myself up with a roster that will compete in 2021 and have enough pieces to once again reload in 2022.
Empire pot or not, it’s important to compete for a title every season. If you can get into the playoffs, anything can happen, and no roster is too far out of contention if you have a dedication to the craft of roster construction and perseverance through the constant trade rejections. There is always more juice to the squeeze. Go win the championship this year and for many more to come.
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