“Luther, here’s a dollar. Luther, here’s a quarter. Take either one you want, old man, now which one will it be? Then they’d all whoop and holler, and he never took the dollar. He’d take that shiny quarter, smile and walk away.” — Boxcar Willie
An old country song keeps filling my mind every time I think about fantasy football teams and owners that need to make some major decisions. The same teams that have struggled through most of the season and managers who need to make drastic changes to salvage a decent record, a chance at the playoffs or at least a little pride.
How does an old twangy song hold the key to fantasy football resurgence? Let me explain …
First things first, this column will address what you should do in a redraft. Where you want to do all that you can to win now.
In dynasty or keeper leagues, this is the part of the season where you need to weigh whether it is best to make a play for this year’s playoffs or build your team for next season. We’ll talk more about that in a future post.
In redraft leagues, you aren’t penalized for putting all your chips in the middle and going full-bore for the title this year, regardless of where you currently sit in the standings.
1. Analyze your team, and then analyze it again.
This is something that is critical to making the right decisions moving forward. I personally like to put values to each player, based on what they’ve done this season … not on their preseason expectations.
To steamline things, tier your players by value. Which are your elite players? Likely not many, if any. To me, these are dollar players.
Who are the guys who’ve been scraping the bottom of the statistical barrel? The ones who could be placed on waivers and no one else would bat an eye? To me, these are penny players.
Everyone else on your roster falls somewhere in between. It may sound goofy, but evaluating player values from position to position and team to team needs a common denominator.
Lastly, don’t rely on your own anaylsis. Get assistance. Have some unbiased parties check out your roster and evaluate it top to bottom, looking for the best players to trade away, the best to hold onto, etc.
2. Evaluate other teams in your league.
Like suggestion No. 1, you need to know who your probable trade partners will be. Maybe one contending team is struggling at starting receiver or recently lost their elite tight end. These squads will likely be more desperate to make a move and keep in contention.
Compare your strengths, as few as there may seem to be, with the weaknesses of other teams.
3. Apply the “Luther” philosophy.
In the song mentioned earlier, old man Luther is given a choice by people at a bar that are ready to rag on him. Take a dollar or take a quarter. Each time, he takes the quarter, and everyone thinks he is insane. So, each time he comes into the bar, the drunks give him the same choice, and each time he takes the quarter to the laughs and jeers of those around him. Until the end of the song, when a large bag of quarters is found in his home.
Many fantasy “experts” will tell you that you lose any fantasy trade where you don’t get the best player. This is one myth that couldn’t be more wrong.
Too many times, people turn down deals where they could be improving at multiple starter positions because they’re not getting the deal’s one true stud player. However, let’s say your team has eight starters (one QB, two RB, two WR, one TE, one K, one D/ST). Let’s also say your team has one stud player (such as Adrian Peterson) and a bunch of penny and dime players at this point of the season.
Dealing Peterson and some of the low-tiered players for three 50-cent options and maybe a quarter or two will drastically improve your team’s overall value. The key is finding the right players who are buy-lows with an opportunity to break out right away.
4. Start communicating your trade intentions.
Don’t be bashful. Your season is in jeopardy. Time to let people know you are serious about making moves. Send a mass e-mail to your league, telling them you are looking to make moves and want to do something sooner rather than later. Drive home the fact by suggesting that you plan on making a trade or two by a certain deadline.
At the same time, find teams that line up well with your own in terms of trades. Looking to move your Adrian Peterson? Find the squad that is weak at RB and send them an offer. Remember to start high. You may be desperate, but you also hold the cards in your hand. You are the aggressor, and you have the ability to pull the trigger or walk away.
Also realize that successful trading usually takes time. Like negotiating with a used car salesman, the offers will be high to start, with some compromising on both sides over time. Taking offense to a one-sided offer early in the process may burn a bridge with the respective owner, so simply turn down such an offer and send back something more to your liking.
The more back-and-forth negoations, the better idea you’ll get of which players the other owner wants, which he is likely to move and where a good compromise can be developed.
5. Continue to get outside assistance.
It is impossible for one person to totally look at his team with an unbiased eye. Certain players were pet projects from draft day, and you’ll likely drag your feet too long waiting for them to turn it around. And vice versa.
Finding a good resource for trading feedback advice is critical. You can chat with us about your individual team needs by posting something below, going to our interactive forums or e-mailing me directly.
In the end, it is impossible for a team that is truly struggling at this point to majorly turn things around without making some smart moves. Remember that smart waiver wire pickups can salvage a season on top of the trade advice provided above.
And, when push comes to shove, and someone offers you quarters on the dollar, perhaps you have a fantasy trade scenario brewing.
What are your suggestions for improving a bottom-up fantasy team after seven weeks? We’d love to hear about it.