Two weeks ago, I wrote my first article for Fantasy Assembly talking about trade targets for rebuilding and contending teams. However, I didn’t delve into what exactly a rebuilding team looked like compared to a contending team. Today, I will explain the difference between the two and outline what to do if you’re team does happen to fall into the rebuilding category.
Rebuilding vs Contending
One of the biggest misconceptions in dynasty fantasy football is the idea that you require a juggernaut of a team built around sub 28-year-old stars with top 20 ADPs. While teams with only young stars do exist, they’re not common and certainly are not a requirement for a championship. Fantasy football is wildly unpredictable, and that unpredictability allows for middle of the road or aging rosters to win championships. You may not have a perfect team, but you most likely don’t need to rebuild yet either.
My general baseline for determining my team’s position is to ask myself if I think I can make the playoffs. There may be two or three teams that seem to be clear contenders in your leagues, but as long as you can make the playoffs you have a solid shot at a title. The unpredictability of fantasy football can carry a mediocre team through a single elimination playoff round with ease.
Too many people seem ready to tear it all down just because they don’t have a perfect roster. But if you keep tearing down decent playoff ready rosters, you’ll never get there.
Similar to the real life basketball rebuild of the Philadelphia 76ers known as “The Process”, rebuilding takes patience if its going to be done right – which is yet another reason to not make the decision to tear things down lightly. But, if you follow the steps listed below your roster can be rebuilt to last.
Step 1: Sell, Sell, Sell
Once you’ve made the decision to start over, you are accepting that you have no interest in this years fantasy production. Excluding young stars or players who haven’t developed yet, almost everybody on your roster should be shopped. Be careful to follow all of your leagues rules regarding tanking, but don’t feel guilty about turning your roster into a barren wasteland of talent if it nets you a good return in future draft picks. Plus you’ll gain the added bonus of turning your own 1st rounder into one of the most valuable assets in the league.
Focus on gathering as many upcoming 1st and 2nd round picks as you can and you’ll be in an excellent position when the draft rolls around.
Step 2: Buy Injured Players
Obviously, an injured Keenan Allen is worth less than a healthy Keenan Allen since the injured version isn’t providing us with any fantasy points. But we’ve already established that we have no interest in this years points. So players like Allen last year represent great buying opportunities for us. If you still have productive players on your roster, offer them to the contender who just saw one of their players go down with an injury. They replace some of the lost production and you get a healthy player ready to go next season at a discount.
Step 3: Roster Turnover
This is the most tedious step of the rebuild process, but it is just as important as any other. Roster Turnover is all about scouring the waiver wire every week for the next player to break out. You’re looking for young unproven players who might be seeing additional playing time soon. Most of these players will not work out. That’s ok. The key is to keep rotating through these players.
On a dynasty team I was rebuilding last season, I churned through countless end of the roster fliers – Mike Davis, Jalin Marshall, and Karlos Williams to name a few. In total I added over 60 players throughout the season. Almost none of them stuck. But the few that did can turn your team around. Among those 60+ players, I was able to find hidden gems in Tyreek Hill, Tyrell Williams, Cameron Brate, Ty Montgomery, Robby Anderson, and Rob Kelley.
By constantly keeping my eyes peeled for the next breakout I was able to consistently roster these players before they burst onto anybody else’s radar. It can be time-consuming (I plan to do some mid-season articles on deep waiver wire targets to help mitigate this), but the reward is a huge acceleration of your rebuild. By keeping the back-end of your roster flexible and ever-changing you can find your own hidden gems and future stars.
Step 4: Be Patient
The team I referenced above was in bad shape when I took ownership before last season. I took it over and committed myself to a multi-year rebuild. I traded nearly every start-able player I had and scoured the waiver wire for hidden gems. I stockpiled draft picks and young players with potential and ignored my ever worsening win-loss record.
More than 12 months later things are looking up. I can now fill a competent starting lineup, my roster is littered with potential, and my supply of 2018 draft picks is already swelling. But, the process isn’t over yet. There is no quick fix to a truly broken roster. It is important to remember that my team still lacks depth, and potential doesn’t always result in production.
With that in mind, I urge teams entering year-two of this plan to hold steady. Don’t sell picks to round out the roster. Don’t stop tinkering with the back-end of your roster on waivers. Don’t pass on the opportunity to buy an injured star. Finally, accept that you may not be ready for the playoffs just yet.
The foundation of your house has been built through the draft and waiver wire, but the house is not complete. However, if you follow these steps you’ll be living in a fantasy mansion in no time.