For weeks I’ve been saying “we’ll know more after Week 4.” I’ve been saying it about team defenses and points allowed by position, but really it doesn’t end there.
Week 4 is a quarter of the way through the fantasy season (including playoffs, which end Week 16 for most leagues) and a good time to assess your team’s situation.
Now is a crucial time to assess your team. If you’re 4-0 at this point only a disaster of a cataclysmic scale will drown your playoff hopes. Folks who are 0-4 have a monumental climb in front of them if they want to see the postseason. That being said, neither is set in stone. … Yet, because 0-5 and 5-0 seem a lot scarier and better respectively.
Depending on the number of teams in your league, the number of teams in the playoffs and the divisional setup you’ll probably need anywhere from 7 to 10 wins to make the playoffs, which makes week 4 an important mid-point in that quest.
What can you do to either keep rolling, or swim up from the depths of the winless? It’s the perfect time to take a good hard look at your team.
Where are you weak? Do you have any areas of abundance?
Obviously, to improve your team you’ll want to swap some abundance to improve your weaknesses.
Let’s start kick start this thought process with a discussion about the golden child of all fantasy circles, the running back.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, it’s a rare handcuff that is worth owning in this NFL economy. There are so many RBBC options that only certain handcuffs are worth owning.
Take, for instance, the new Eagles running back situation. Based on comments from coach Andy Reid it sounds like there’s going be a committee in Philly with Brian Westbrook’s return. Smart Westbrook owners who have other depth at the position to go along with rookie LeSean McCoy have some significant trade commodities to work with.
Trading Westbrook and his injury risk is the obvious option, but a better risk-reward choice is trading McCoy. McCoy’s value is much higher because he is perceived as younger, less brittle and, at least to some, better than Westbrook.
Unless you’re in a keeper or dynasty league, you trade McCoy. Trading the rookie will net you more value, and you still get to keep Westbrook, one of the most explosive fantasy players on the planet. As injury-prone as Westbrook seems, he’s played in 15 of his team’s 16 games in four of the last six seasons. In the other two seasons he missed three games and four games.
It’s also safe to assume Westbrook will stay healthier working out of a committee.
There are plenty of other players with some perceived value you might think about trading – Clinton Portis, Steve Slaton and Michael Turner come to mind.
If your abundance rests at wide receiver, the rules change slightly.
It’s a little trickier because owners are reluctant to give up a good running back even for the best of receivers unless they’re completely desperate.
If desperate owners are scarce in your league, it might be best to keep the upside receivers, like DeSean Jackson, Mike Sims-Walker and Braylon Edwards and deal the studs. Package your established or overachieving receivers – like Santonio Holmes, Steve Smith (CAR) or Chad Ochocinco – along with a borderline starting-type running back to an owner for a more concrete starter.
Quarterbacks and tight ends
If you have a plethora of quarterbacks or tight ends, the situation devolves even more. Unless your league requires owners to keep multiple TEs and QBs, there are probably a handful of decent options on the waiver wire. And unless your depth is really, really strong, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a taker in a straight up deal, but this could actually work in your favor.
I come from the school of having at least one backup QB, if not two. I’ve had Donovan McNabb on my roster for too many years to know that even your McNabb fill-in gets hurt every now and again.
If you trade a stud QB riding your bench in a package deal for help elsewhere, try to get a QB back. Maybe you can get an underachieving veteran (Matt Hasselbeck) or a backup who’s getting his first chance in a starting role (Josh Johnson). Another option is to leave yourself roster space to pick up that free agent QB that is inexplicably available on the wire. You’ll thank me for having multiple QBs in a couple weeks when they tell us that Drew Brees’ sub-par games have been the result of a nagging injury. Not predicting, just saying, it could happen to anyone.
Do the opposite with tight ends. If you have both Dallas Clark and Brent Celek on your team, trade one in a package to upgrade at another position and don’t worry about getting one back. I play injury roulette with tight ends, pick one and keep playing.
I shouldn’t have to tell you that trading Clark and keeping Celek is the more risk-rewardy of the two and will net you the biggest fish in a deal.
Remember it’s RISK-reward
All of these moves should have a risk-reward clause stapled to it. You stand a chance of giving up Steve Smith (CAR) before he goes on a 6-game, 50-catch, 1,200-yard, 10 TD tear, but you also stand a chance of dealing him for good talent before he loses any more of his perceived value.
You will burn and be burned on deals, this is one of the unwritten rules of the trade. But the team with the the best lineup from top to bottom – not the one with the most bloat at one position – is the one that wins.
Me? I’m 2-2, as freaking usual, in just about every league I’m in. The only leagues where I have good depth are the two where I’m 3-1 and don’t seem to need any help at this point. Figures, right?
What’s your record? What changes are you trying to make as we speak? Let us know in the comments.