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Discussing Dynasty Strategy (1 Viewer)

Hey Nostradamus!

Footballguy
FBG's Faceoff: Discussing Dynasty Strategy article today was a nice bone to us fantasy owners. Dynasty strategy -- particularly for non-newbie dynasty owners -- often gets short shrift by FBG and in the Shark Pool in favor of newbie guides, trade discussion, rankings for rookie/startup drafts, or player value discussion.

Particularly, I want to call out Waldman's section on putting together "anchors" at the QB, TE, and WR1 positions. I love this strategy. As he notes, due to their longevity, owning studs at these positions can allow your team to be competitive for a long time. Meanwhile, you can then use your picks, roster spots, and waiver claims by continually turning over and sifting through RBs -- who have a much shorter shelf life.

As an example, in my primary league, I've owned Rodgers/Fitzgerald/Gates since 2008. I drafted Rodgers as a rookie, traded for Fitzgerald in 2005, and traded for Gates before the 2008 season. Other than Jonathan Stewart and Gostkowski (lol kickers), I've turned over every single other player on my roster over the last four seasons. I've made the playoffs every year, and significantly improved my depth. By locking in those three, I was able to use all my resources (roster spots/draft picks/waiver claims) to continually stock up on value, youth, or upside fliers at the RB and other WR spots. The goal: Over time, fill out the rest of your roster by finding sleepers who hit, build depth, and then start packaging that depth to add more studs to your "anchors" to put your team over the top.

Here are a few more things I've learned through my (sometimes painful) experience in dynasty:

Constantly Churn The Bottom Of Your Roster

This primarily applies to with standard or smaller numbers of teams (14 or less) and roster sizes. Obviously, this is more difficult in leagues with 16+ teams or with super deep rosters.

As mentioned above, one benefit of an "anchor" strategy is that you can churn your roster. In standard size leagues, there are breakout players every year on the waiver wire. The list is huge. Sometimes they turn into superstars, sometimes they flame out a year or two later, but there is value just sitting out there to be found every year. Bloom has addressed this a few times on the podcast as well. For several years, I've constantly tried to keep a couple roster spots "open" to allow room to dig through the muck and try to find something for free. Once my roster starts looking "full," I immediately start looking to consolidate some of those depth players into a single better player, throwing in picks if necessary, etc. Not only can you turn "found money" into a legit starter, prospect, or top rookie pick, but you free up those spots to grab more free value!

The value of that empty roster spot makes it much easier to pull off "consolidating" trades. Another example: During the offseason last year, I was sick of Brandon Marshall and his "antics." :loco: :crazy: :loco: I traded him away for rookie picks, and probably didn't get fair value. But in doing so, it enabled me to pick up Antonio Brown off the wire. I just did the same thing with Miles Austin and his bum hamstrings, because I know there are a few intriguing free agents just sitting out there. And in many leagues with reasonable roster sizes, this is usually true.

Target Disappointing But High-Talent 2nd/3rd Year Players

Just as we've continually seen breakout players come out of the free agent pool, we've continually seen disappointing second and third year players bust out big. Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Frank Gore, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, etc. all took a year or two before they truly busted out. More savvy owners won't trade away their prospects after a year or two, but others might. Even savvy owners will sometimes trade these guys away -- either because they have a more immediate need, or because the player battled injury, or he looked unimpressive early on, or he's stuck behind someone on the depth chart. This is classic "buy low, sell high" strategy, but I highlight 2nd and 3rd year players because once they break out, you might not be able to buy them at any price.

In my experience, this strategy is best employed late in the season (or near the trade deadline), or during the off-season but BEFORE minicamps, OTAs, and training camp start generating buzz.

You will inevitably get stuck holding the bag on a Robert Meachem or a Knowshon Moreno. That's okay -- as long as you're buying these types of prospects after the rookie shine has worn off but before they've busted out, you will more than make up for the misses when you hit.

Guys that fit this bill right now, IMO: Mark Ingram, Shane Vereen, Blaine Gabbert (yes, Blaine Gabbert), Kendall Hunter, Colin Kaepernick, Jermaine Gresham, Lance Kendricks, Bilal Powell, and Randall Cobb. Obviously the price you would pay for these guys varies quite a bit. And now that we're almost done with preseason, the hype train may have driven the price of Cobb or Hunter a bit high for your taste, though others on the list probably haven't moved much. The point is, these are all guys that fit the bill and are worth adding to your roster if you can get them from an owner who's either desperate for help elsewhere, or who is simply down on their prospects.

This also ties into the anchor strategy. If you've got a Rodgers or Brees, you can afford to pick up Gabbert or Kaepernick on the cheap and see what happens. If you've got Gronk or Graham, you can afford to see whether Kendricks has shelled out for some velcro on his gloves. So long as you pay a reasonable price for them, it's not a huge loss if these guys don't pan out.

Don't Be Afraid To Trade

In real life, sharks (some of them, anyway) die if they are not constantly moving. Same thing with dynasty trading.

My two cents: Even the best owner will pull the trigger on some trades that look downright ugly a few years (or a few weeks!) later. However, unless you're simply an awful trader -- and conversely, strong at drafting and identifying wire pickups -- you will likely win big on your fair share of trades as well.

Another example: In 2010, I effectively gave Brees, Britt, and Santonio Holmes away for a bag of magic beans (Henne, Marshall, Crabtree, 2010 2.02). But a couple weeks into the season, I traded Greene, Crabtree, and a 3rd for Nicks and McFadden -- right before Nicks and McFadden exploded. At the time, I had all sorts of justifications for the first trade -- Britt and Holmes were getting into trouble, I loved Marshall and Crabtree's talent, thought Henne had upside, and had a rookie in mind at 2.02. And in the second trade, Nicks and McFadden simply hadn't exploded yet -- it seemed like a fair trade at the time.

Owners can be more hesitant to trading in dynasty compared to redraft leagues, because those trades can haunt your team for a long time. You will inevitably make trades that make you look like a moron (in retrospect). And you will inevitably make trades that make you look like a genius (in retrospect).

In all of my leagues, there are usually 1-2 owners who barely trade at all. It's also not uncommon to see an owner who gets gunshy after a few trades blow up in his face. These are not bad owners -- many of them seriously know their stuff when it comes to player evaluation. But they're simply afraid of making a mistake. No one likes to look like a moron, but that fear of failure can cripple them when it comes time to make trades.

From my perspective, trading isn't about always winning the trade. It's about continually adjusting and improving the structure of your team -- to pick up an aging vet RB (ala Gore/Jackson this year) if you're in a win-now window, or to consolidate depth/picks into a stud, or to shore up your depth if your starter is inexperienced or has an injury history, or to balance things out when you're deep at one position and thin at another. When you stop trading, you will find yourself at the mercy of rookie picks and the waiver wire -- and that can make it a very dicey proposition to quickly fix a hole on your team.

Identify Your Strengths

The truth is, the strategies above are what works best for me. There are a lot of objective benefits to them, but as I alluded to, they might really hurt you if you're truly an awful trader, or if you're awful at identifying promising free agents.

Personally, my weakness is drafting rookies. As mentioned above, in my main league, I've made the playoffs the last four years since anchoring the QB/TE/WR1 positions. In fact, I've been the highest scoring team all four years, and the gap has widened each year -- a narrow, surprise lead in 2008 to a totally dominant lead in 2011. What I didn't mention was that for the first 5-6 years in that league, my team was awful. Just dreadful. I inherited a mediocre orphan team. I proceeded to use first round rookie picks on superstars such as Akili Smith, Sylvester Morris, Freddie Mitchell, and Onterrio Smith. My drafting has improved -- instead of total busts, I end up with mediocre talents. (Warning: Richardson, Tannehill, and David Wilson are doomed.)

Once I realized that I was a piss-poor rookie drafter, I shifted my focus accordingly. I value rookie picks less than other owners. I spend more time scouting free agents or digging deep to identify trade partners. Those are the things I found I was good at, and as time went on, I fleshed out a more comprehensive approach to dynasty as I gained experience and picked up tips that fit that approach.

If you're an awful trader when it comes to player-for-player trades, but have an outstanding eye for rookies, then it makes sense to build a strategy around acquiring rookie picks. If you're awful at picking gems from the free agent pool, perhaps churning your roster isn't for you.

--

Anyone else have general dynasty strategy tips? Strategy for specific league-types or scoring systems -- IDP, Superflex, 2QB, 16+ team leagues, TD-only or performance scoring, leagues with a taxi/reserve/practice squad etc.? This is already pretty long, but I can definitely think of some strategy tips for performance scoring and taxi squad leagues that I might write up tomorrow.

 
I like to target guys right after a big injury. I know it sounds counterproductive, but if they get hurt early in the season, I can stash them for next year and hope they return to form. I did this with Britt last year for a really good deal in hopes of him putting up big numbers this year. Unfortunately, he likes to drink alot. I would look at guys like Vincent Brown and MJD right now while their owners are mad and down on them. Sometimes you can catch them impulse selling them.

 
Understand how VORP or VBD applies to dynasty leagues. EVERY measure of value should be compared to the pool of replacement players. That includess longevity, turnover, injury risk, etcetera. Understand why 4 years of RB1 production is worth more than 6 years of QB1 or TE1 production, in most formats.

Anyone that drafts a certain position, because of how that position, universally, compares to other positions, is doing his or herself a disservice. For example: "Aaron Hernandez will have a longer career than Doug Martin, so I'm giving him a value bump" or "QBs last the longers, so I am taking one first." It ignores VORP/VBD.

 
"Particularly, I want to call out Waldman's section on putting together "anchors" at the QB, TE, and WR1 positions. I love this strategy. As he notes, due to their longevity, owning studs at these positions can allow your team to be competitive for a long time. Meanwhile, you can then use your picks, roster spots, and waiver claims by continually turning over and sifting through RBs -- who have a much shorter shelf life. "

I strongly disagree with this strategy. Why should it matter that the TE you get in round 3 lasts longer than the RB I get in round 3? It shouldn't.

Now, if value dictates drafting QB, TE, WR1 in the first 3 rounds, great. But passing up on a young RB1 - in most formats, the rarest and most valuable asset - because he ONLY has 3-4 years left is wrong. That 3-4 years span compares VERY favorably to the rest of the RB pool. LeSean McCoy will outlast the RB pool by more than Aaron Rodgers will outlast the QB pool. That is what matters.

 
I am suggesting a strategy focus for asset allocation -- not for upward value adjustment. I am not arguing that you should overpay for a QB/TE/WR1 simply because they have longer careers.

If you find that owners in your league are consistently overvaluing QBs/TEs compared to VBD/VORP -- which I think is often true in startups, but not in subsequent trades -- then you obviously should adjust by grabbing up the better values at RB.

The anchor strategy comes most into play when the VBD/VORP are so close as to be virtually identical.

 
I am suggesting a strategy focus for asset allocation -- not for upward value adjustment. I am not arguing that you should overpay for a QB/TE/WR1 simply because they have longer careers. If you find that owners in your league are consistently overvaluing QBs/TEs compared to VBD/VORP -- which I think is often true in startups, but not in subsequent trades -- then you obviously should adjust by grabbing up the better values at RB. The anchor strategy comes most into play when the VBD/VORP are so close as to be virtually identical.
The idea that the strategy offers any value is faulty, in my opinion. The principles of VBD and VORP make it so. If you project Rob Gronkowski and Arian Foster to have matching career VBD, and that they will help you win equally, it doesn't matter who you pick. Trade down in a startup, or trade for the other, getting anything back in return.It will never matter that TEs last longer than RB, in a vacuum. Unless you are rebuilding or in win now, the question should simply be, who will help me win more over the span of a career.The people that I see employ this strategy - and it is very common and sexy at the moment - most often create an inbalanced roster, when they don't need to. They hope to one day have the ultimate roster, and donate league fees/dues in the meantime. All the while, hoping to strike gold with picks in the 5-9 range. I love what Walden does, 90%+ percent of the time. But I can't put any stock into his dynasty rankings. He has QBs ranked 1-5 in his all around rankings, included 2x 32+ year olds. A simple VBD study shows that the likelyhood of Brees and Brady providing more career VBD than a 24 year old stud runningback is very slim. He has Vernon Davis over Matt Forte. He had Philip Rivers in the top 5 last season. Matt Ryan and Wes Welker over Trent Richardson (34 overall). Brandon Lloyd over Ryan Matthews. He is dead set on not investing in a RB, and in most formats, I think that is faulty logic. How can you take Drew Brees over LeSean McCoy because QBs last longer than RBs, when McCoy will last longer than Brees? He is not applying VBD to the dynasty format. Compare how long Brees will last to other QBs, and how long McCoy will last to other RBs. You will see that Brees should get a major dip, and McCoy a major bump.
 
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I have used the idea of anchors at QB, WR1, and TE and it has worked for me.
I don't mean to suggest it can't work. But it didn't work because QBs, WR1, and TEs last longer than RBs. Taking a QB over a RB because they last longer, in dynasty formats, is the equivalent taking a QB over a RB because they score more points in redraft formats. Cam Newton is my #1 dynasty player, Calvin top 5, Gronk and Graham top 10. So I am not saying it is a bad move to draft a QB, WR1, or TE over a RB. Just that drafting one over a RB because they generally last longer goes against the principles of VBD.Note: All of this is in a vacuum. A rebuilding team would gain from a longer VBD window, and a competing team, the more short term, high volume production.
 
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One that I've used and have seen other used in our league is to grab guys a year before they become UFA's on their actual NFL teams, or guys playing under 1-year "prove-it" contracts. Off the top of my head, our league has seen this done with Michael Turner (when he was with San Diego), Sproles (also SD) and I did it this year with Hillis who is under a 1-year "prove it" contract with KC. Can pay off big if their situations change for the better the following year(s).

 
I like trading back. In a startup, we did in 2011, I had the 1.1. I was sold on Calvin unless I got a nice deal to move back.

I also employed a stay under 25 rule(except Palmer, as he was last pick, mired in his "trade me or retirement" rant.

Since I traded back, I felt no pressure to win right away, and it allowed me to focus on young talent, and other spots where I could continually trade back-snagging upside players and future picks.

I was able to trade some of those future picks(2012 draft) to snag Richardson and Luck this year.

My core is Richardson, Luck, Julio, Maclin, Dez, and Percy-maybe Spiller and Gordon as well, as I am super high on him.

I also subscribe to the stud WR over stud RB argument, but could not pass up Trent at this years 1.1. Depends on the prospect. I am thin at RB and TE still

Anyhow, the team below may not compete this year, but in 2-3 years I will have a pretty solid team for the long haul, with only 2 years of mediocrity, or contributing to the kitty.

It's a 16 team league as well, so the talent is spread pretty thin....

Luck, A

Palmer, C

Sanchez, M

Ganaway, T

Goodson, M

Jones, T

Powell, B

Powell, W

Richardson, T

Smith, K

Spiller, C

Vereen, S

Bryant, D

Gordon, J

Harvin, P

Jones, Julio

Maclin, J

Sanders, E

Celek, B

Dickson, E

Henery, A

Texans, H

 
Too many dynasty owners try to build a team 2-3 years out instead of trying to win now. Take advantage of them. Things change too quickly in the NFL to plan too far in advance. If you're starting a guy you would not be happy starting in a redraft league you're doing it wrong.

 
A few things for me:

1. Understand how roster context affects player value. The whole notion of "dynasty rankings" is problematic because player value is highly dependent on your roster. For example, Andre Johnson is a great option if you are a real contender. However, if you are a rebuilding team then guys like Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd, and Jon Baldwin might have more value. Productive old players can actually hurt rebuilding teams because they depreciate in value while winning you meaningless games that don't help you get to the playoffs. The big thing for me is to make sure your roster is congruent. If you are playing to win now, sell most of your prospects and picks for immediate production. If you are rebuilding, sell most of your immediate production for prospects and picks. Trying to hover between those two poles is a good way to ensure mediocrity.

2. In the rookie draft, take the best player available and don't draft for need. I see teams pass on first round WRs every year because they need RB help. The obvious example right now would be taking a guy like Ronnie Hillman or Isaiah Pead over Kendall Wright or Michael Floyd. Those RBs are a lot less likely to succeed than those WRs. So while you might get lucky and hit the occasional MJD/McCoy/Rice type of home run, you're also going to end up with a lot of Kenny Irons/Eric Shelton/Tatum Bell. Don't expect your rookie picks to fill immediate needs. Instead, draft the most valuable player on the board. Remember that rosters are fluid and that you can always trade players down the road. So if you really need a RB, take Kendall Wright over Hillman and trade him for a better RB than Hillman after he becomes a star.

3. Draft picks are a good way to offset risk in trades. One year when I needed RB help badly, I traded Anquan Boldin in the prime of his career for Travis Henry and a 2nd round pick. Henry washed out of Denver almost immediately. It was a bad trade and it would've been a complete disaster, but...that 2nd round pick became Sidney Rice, who eventually achieved a value similar to Boldin's (even though he has since fallen from that high point). People often talk about how draft picks are overrated because most prospects never become productive players. In general, there's a lot of truth to that, but it's also worth pointing out that sometimes they do become superstars. I've gotten guys like Mike Wallace, Mike Williams, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, and Jordy Nelson for peanuts in the rookie draft in past years. Not every pick will work out that well, but some of them will. So if you're ever doing a deal that seems slightly risky, try to get a draft pick thrown in there. Even a 2nd or 3rd round rookie pick can ultimately swing a deal in your favor.

 
I am suggesting a strategy focus for asset allocation -- not for upward value adjustment. I am not arguing that you should overpay for a QB/TE/WR1 simply because they have longer careers. If you find that owners in your league are consistently overvaluing QBs/TEs compared to VBD/VORP -- which I think is often true in startups, but not in subsequent trades -- then you obviously should adjust by grabbing up the better values at RB. The anchor strategy comes most into play when the VBD/VORP are so close as to be virtually identical.
The idea that the strategy offers any value is faulty, in my opinion. The principles of VBD and VORP make it so. If you project Rob Gronkowski and Arian Foster to have matching career VBD, and that they will help you win equally, it doesn't matter who you pick. Trade down in a startup, or trade for the other, getting anything back in return.It will never matter that TEs last longer than RB, in a vacuum. Unless you are rebuilding or in win now, the question should simply be, who will help me win more over the span of a career.The people that I see employ this strategy - and it is very common and sexy at the moment - most often create an inbalanced roster, when they don't need to. They hope to one day have the ultimate roster, and donate league fees/dues in the meantime. All the while, hoping to strike gold with picks in the 5-9 range. I love what Walden does, 90%+ percent of the time. But I can't put any stock into his dynasty rankings. He has QBs ranked 1-5 in his all around rankings, included 2x 32+ year olds. A simple VBD study shows that the likelyhood of Brees and Brady providing more career VBD than a 24 year old stud runningback is very slim. He has Vernon Davis over Matt Forte. He had Philip Rivers in the top 5 last season. Matt Ryan and Wes Welker over Trent Richardson (34 overall). Brandon Lloyd over Ryan Matthews. He is dead set on not investing in a RB, and in most formats, I think that is faulty logic. How can you take Drew Brees over LeSean McCoy because QBs last longer than RBs, when McCoy will last longer than Brees? He is not applying VBD to the dynasty format. Compare how long Brees will last to other QBs, and how long McCoy will last to other RBs. You will see that Brees should get a major dip, and McCoy a major bump.
I totally agree with this. People go way overboard in thinking about positional longevity. I also think the notion that RBs regularly come out of nowhere to turn into studs is wrong. Arguably, it is much more prevalent at positions other than RB these days. I drafted Lesean McCoy in the 1st round of all my startups last year while others went for guys like Hakeem Nicks and Andre Johnson. Those guys are still trying to find RBs while it was much easier for me to find QBs, TEs and WRs (I ended up with guys like Cam Newton, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Torrey Smith and Antonio Brown).I think one way to look at it is to look at how many QBs, WRs and TEs that weren't top 3 round picks this time last year that are considered cornerstone guys today. Graham, Gronk, Cruz, Jordy, Stafford, Newton, Brady, Brees, etc. How many RBs not taken in the 1st 3 rounds? Maybe Marshawn Lynch? That's really about it. Not counting the rookies, the top RB1s this year are the same ones that were drafted high last year.The only ways to get a RB1 are to take him early in your startup, have a terrible team and get a top 4 rookie pick or hit the once every 3 year lotto for a guy like Foster. On the other hand, if you were weak at WR, last year's rookie draft brought guys like AJ Green, Julio Jones, Torrey Smith and Titus Young. Even picking late in the 1st this past year you could add a Kendall Wright, and Blackmon fell to the mid-1st often. Antonio Brown, Victor Cruz, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Pierre Garcon, Steve Smith, and many others were either late rounders or waiver wire guys this time last year.....If you had your RBs, it was pretty easy to fill in your WR corp if that is what you focused on.
 
In the rookie draft, take the best player available and don't draft for need.
QFT.I needed help elsewhere, but took RG3 at 1.5 this year. Hands down the BPA. I subsequently traded Bradford so RG3 is now my QB2 instead of having over kill at QB. Drafting BPA allows you to do this, you end up at a position of depth so you use that depth to fix the problems elsewhere - don't draft inferior players and just hope for the best.
 
I am suggesting a strategy focus for asset allocation -- not for upward value adjustment. I am not arguing that you should overpay for a QB/TE/WR1 simply because they have longer careers. If you find that owners in your league are consistently overvaluing QBs/TEs compared to VBD/VORP -- which I think is often true in startups, but not in subsequent trades -- then you obviously should adjust by grabbing up the better values at RB. The anchor strategy comes most into play when the VBD/VORP are so close as to be virtually identical.
The idea that the strategy offers any value is faulty, in my opinion. The principles of VBD and VORP make it so. If you project Rob Gronkowski and Arian Foster to have matching career VBD, and that they will help you win equally, it doesn't matter who you pick. Trade down in a startup, or trade for the other, getting anything back in return.It will never matter that TEs last longer than RB, in a vacuum. Unless you are rebuilding or in win now, the question should simply be, who will help me win more over the span of a career.The people that I see employ this strategy - and it is very common and sexy at the moment - most often create an inbalanced roster, when they don't need to. They hope to one day have the ultimate roster, and donate league fees/dues in the meantime. All the while, hoping to strike gold with picks in the 5-9 range. I love what Walden does, 90%+ percent of the time. But I can't put any stock into his dynasty rankings. He has QBs ranked 1-5 in his all around rankings, included 2x 32+ year olds. A simple VBD study shows that the likelyhood of Brees and Brady providing more career VBD than a 24 year old stud runningback is very slim. He has Vernon Davis over Matt Forte. He had Philip Rivers in the top 5 last season. Matt Ryan and Wes Welker over Trent Richardson (34 overall). Brandon Lloyd over Ryan Matthews. He is dead set on not investing in a RB, and in most formats, I think that is faulty logic. How can you take Drew Brees over LeSean McCoy because QBs last longer than RBs, when McCoy will last longer than Brees? He is not applying VBD to the dynasty format. Compare how long Brees will last to other QBs, and how long McCoy will last to other RBs. You will see that Brees should get a major dip, and McCoy a major bump.
I totally agree with this. People go way overboard in thinking about positional longevity. I also think the notion that RBs regularly come out of nowhere to turn into studs is wrong. Arguably, it is much more prevalent at positions other than RB these days. I drafted Lesean McCoy in the 1st round of all my startups last year while others went for guys like Hakeem Nicks and Andre Johnson. Those guys are still trying to find RBs while it was much easier for me to find QBs, TEs and WRs (I ended up with guys like Cam Newton, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Torrey Smith and Antonio Brown).I think one way to look at it is to look at how many QBs, WRs and TEs that weren't top 3 round picks this time last year that are considered cornerstone guys today. Graham, Gronk, Cruz, Jordy, Stafford, Newton, Brady, Brees, etc. How many RBs not taken in the 1st 3 rounds? Maybe Marshawn Lynch? That's really about it. Not counting the rookies, the top RB1s this year are the same ones that were drafted high last year.The only ways to get a RB1 are to take him early in your startup, have a terrible team and get a top 4 rookie pick or hit the once every 3 year lotto for a guy like Foster. On the other hand, if you were weak at WR, last year's rookie draft brought guys like AJ Green, Julio Jones, Torrey Smith and Titus Young. Even picking late in the 1st this past year you could add a Kendall Wright, and Blackmon fell to the mid-1st often. Antonio Brown, Victor Cruz, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Pierre Garcon, Steve Smith, and many others were either late rounders or waiver wire guys this time last year.....If you had your RBs, it was pretty easy to fill in your WR corp if that is what you focused on.
I've had a lot of success mining for WR's over the years, but I still think it'd be a mistake to overlook positional longevity. You can't trade away a starting RB if you don't have adequate in-house alternatives, but if you have depth (quality depth, not Shonn Greene and Stevan Ridley-like depth) I think pursuing trading starting RB's off is the right move.
 
Some good debate. I'll try to pick out some specific points.

I love what Walden does, 90%+ percent of the time. But I can't put any stock into his dynasty rankings. He has QBs ranked 1-5 in his all around rankings, included 2x 32+ year olds. A simple VBD study shows that the likelyhood of Brees and Brady providing more career VBD than a 24 year old stud runningback is very slim.

He has Vernon Davis over Matt Forte. He had Philip Rivers in the top 5 last season. Matt Ryan and Wes Welker over Trent Richardson (34 overall). Brandon Lloyd over Ryan Matthews.

He is dead set on not investing in a RB, and in most formats, I think that is faulty logic. How can you take Drew Brees over LeSean McCoy because QBs last longer than RBs, when McCoy will last longer than Brees? He is not applying VBD to the dynasty format. Compare how long Brees will last to other QBs, and how long McCoy will last to other RBs. You will see that Brees should get a major dip, and McCoy a major bump.
As previously admitted, planning a startup draft around the "anchor" strategy is probably not a good idea. I wrote up my bits from the perspective of owning an existing team, not a startup -- while I do follow startup ADPs, it's been a few years since I joined a new league. Startup strategy is not something I've spent much time considering these days. I completely agree with you though -- his dynasty rankings are very out of whack for anything approximating a standard league. From my limited observation of startup ADP, I would also say that I think this kind of failure to apply VBD to dynasty rankings is common in startups, but often falls away once the draft is over and in-season trades start flying. That is when I support the "anchor" strategy -- if your fellow owners continually overvalue players based on longevity, then it is possible to obtain QB/TE/WR1 anchors through rookie drafts instead.

'bengalbuck said:
I totally agree with this. People go way overboard in thinking about positional longevity. I also think the notion that RBs regularly come out of nowhere to turn into studs is wrong. Arguably, it is much more prevalent at positions other than RB these days. I drafted Lesean McCoy in the 1st round of all my startups last year while others went for guys like Hakeem Nicks and Andre Johnson. Those guys are still trying to find RBs while it was much easier for me to find QBs, TEs and WRs (I ended up with guys like Cam Newton, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Torrey Smith and Antonio Brown).

I think one way to look at it is to look at how many QBs, WRs and TEs that weren't top 3 round picks this time last year that are considered cornerstone guys today. Graham, Gronk, Cruz, Jordy, Stafford, Newton, Brady, Brees, etc.

How many RBs not taken in the 1st 3 rounds? Maybe Marshawn Lynch? That's really about it. Not counting the rookies, the top RB1s this year are the same ones that were drafted high last year.
I would disagree with the bolded. Speaking only for myself: - Brees and Brady have been anchor QBs for years now. I'm sure their ADP has crept up -- almost certainly beyond their value in current startups -- but they've been "top 3" dynasty QBs year in and year out. Rodgers probably reached anchor status in my mind before last year, so we'll see if he lives up to it. I would want to see at least one more dominant year from Stafford/Newton before granting them the anchor QB label.

- Graham and Gronk are new to the scene, but the top TEs were remarkably stable for years before the current changing of the guard (Gates, Witten, Clark). Again, Graham and Gronk are certainly going much higher than their actual VBD/VORP would dictate.

- I don't consider Cruz or Jordy to be anchor WRs. I don't even think they have that potential to become anchor WRs, though you might argue otherwise. I would say Andre Johnson (his window's nearly closed), Calvin Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald are anchor WRs. AJ Green, Julio Jones, and Hakeem Nicks all have the talent and situation to become anchor WRs, but I would not grant them that label just yet.

When I think about an anchor player, I'm thinking about guys who are top 3-4 at their position and that I feel confident projecting to remain there for extended lengths of time (barring injury).

Note: All of this is in a vacuum. A rebuilding team would gain from a longer VBD window, and a competing team, the more short term, high volume production.
The people that I see employ this strategy - and it is very common and sexy at the moment - most often create an inbalanced roster, when they don't need to. They hope to one day have the ultimate roster, and donate league fees/dues in the meantime. All the while, hoping to strike gold with picks in the 5-9 range.
These would seem to be in conflict a bit -- a rebuilding team that focused on longer VBD windows would naturally progress to that "always the bridesmaid never the bride" type of team you describe. This can be true, especially if you fail to strike gold or succeed at the other parts (trading for 2nd/3rd year talent before they explode, exploiting roster churn to leverage up). As you noted, this can be successful -- and I acknowledge that an RB-centric build/rebuild strategy can also be successful. You can definitely win championships with average QB/WR talent and replacement-level TE talent. Which build strategy is easier can depend quite a bit on your fellow owners, but both are viable.

However, I have to highlight the bolded sentence. It's popular in the SP to say. (Because it's true: Too many dynasty owners mire themselves in mediocrity by always looking 2+ or 3+ years out and sacrificing a lot of value in the process.) But personally, that bolded sentence is the entire reason I play dynasty. It's to build a dominant, ultimate team. You should not let it overwhelm your senses such that you trade yourself out of a championship in the current year. But it's one reason why I gravitate toward the anchor strategy.

--

Another topic related to but separate from positional longevity is positional uncertainty or variance. Coop has put forth career VBD, which is definitely an important concept to understand. At first glance, however, it seems much more difficult to account for differing levels of uncertainty when estimating career VBD. I'd like to dig around a bit to see if I can find any in-depth information to flesh this thought out, however -- it might go nowhere, or I might be misunderstanding something in Coop's career VBD concept.

 
I have used the idea of anchors at QB, WR1, and TE and it has worked for me.
I don't mean to suggest it can't work. But it didn't work because QBs, WR1, and TEs last longer than RBs. Taking a QB over a RB because they last longer, in dynasty formats, is the equivalent taking a QB over a RB because they score more points in redraft formats. Cam Newton is my #1 dynasty player, Calvin top 5, Gronk and Graham top 10. So I am not saying it is a bad move to draft a QB, WR1, or TE over a RB. Just that drafting one over a RB because they generally last longer goes against the principles of VBD.Note: All of this is in a vacuum. A rebuilding team would gain from a longer VBD window, and a competing team, the more short term, high volume production.
Well, they DO last longer. Now, you still DO need serviceable RBs, but I think there is a long term advantage in having those anchors. I have been a top 2 team the past three seasons thanks to Brees, Roddy White and Gates.
 
Coming back to EBF's post.

2. In the rookie draft, take the best player available and don't draft for need. I see teams pass on first round WRs every year because they need RB help. The obvious example right now would be taking a guy like Ronnie Hillman or Isaiah Pead over Kendall Wright or Michael Floyd. Those RBs are a lot less likely to succeed than those WRs. So while you might get lucky and hit the occasional MJD/McCoy/Rice type of home run, you're also going to end up with a lot of Kenny Irons/Eric Shelton/Tatum Bell. Don't expect your rookie picks to fill immediate needs. Instead, draft the most valuable player on the board. Remember that rosters are fluid and that you can always trade players down the road. So if you really need a RB, take Kendall Wright over Hillman and trade him for a better RB than Hillman after he becomes a star.
I absolutely agree, and I'll add a few related points:1) Take the time to create your own tiers based purely on player value, particularly if you're in any sort of non-standard league. If you're often picking in the back half of the first round, it's not always clear who the BPA is and that's when you can use tiers to your advantage. In 2010 and 2012, I moved up from 1.12 and 1.11 respectively because I saw clear dropoffs after 1.09. In 2011, I moved back from 1.11, because my tiers showed the drop more in the 1.06/1.07 range and I preferred picking up another late pick to drop back to 2.02, where I still got the guy I would have taken as BPA at 1.11.

2) The Wright/Floyd over Hillman/Pead example is a great one and a common scenario. It's not only worth calling out because you should be taking BPA, but also because those last 1st/early 2nd RBs are often the guys easiest to poach after a year or two once their owner has gotten down on them. When listing players as 2nd/3rd year people to target if you can get them cheaply, I thought about tossing out players from this class that could fall into that category. Hillman, Pead, Miller, and a number of WRs could be guys like this in a year or two that you can get in trade a bit more cheaply than you can now.

3. Draft picks are a good way to offset risk in trades. One year when I needed RB help badly, I traded Anquan Boldin in the prime of his career for Travis Henry and a 2nd round pick. Henry washed out of Denver almost immediately. It was a bad trade and it would've been a complete disaster, but...that 2nd round pick became Sidney Rice, who eventually achieved a value similar to Boldin's (even though he has since fallen from that high point). People often talk about how draft picks are overrated because most prospects never become productive players. In general, there's a lot of truth to that, but it's also worth pointing out that sometimes they do become superstars. I've gotten guys like Mike Wallace, Mike Williams, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, and Jordy Nelson for peanuts in the rookie draft in past years. Not every pick will work out that well, but some of them will. So if you're ever doing a deal that seems slightly risky, try to get a draft pick thrown in there. Even a 2nd or 3rd round rookie pick can ultimately swing a deal in your favor.
Absolutely agree -- I find myself on both sides of those kinds of trades. I take the view of draft picks as currency. If I'm taking the risky side of a trade, I always look to get some pick value thrown in as an offset. Either it will allow you to throw some more darts in the draft, or it will allow you to then use those picks to get a future trade over the top when you're on the safe side of a trade.
 
Got some time this morning so I'll write up some thoughts on taxi squads.

Taxi Squads

One of my leagues has a taxi (reserve/practice/developmental) squad. Specifically, the only way a player can be placed on your taxi squad is through the rookie/FA draft. We do not draft college developmental players. Your picks remain on taxi until you choose to activate them; trading a player automatically activates them to their new owner's regular roster. In this particular league, regular roster limits are 17, taxi squad limits are 10. Here are some roster implications I've picked up -- I'll try to note when different roster sizes, activation rules, or college dev picks might mean that the point doesn't apply, though I'd like to hear from others on their experience.

1) Be Slightly Conservative About Activating Players

This is roster-size dependent -- if your rosters are significantly deeper (say, 27+10 taxi), then it may not apply quite as well.

I will typically only activate someone if they would be in my starting lineup. You always want to field your best starting lineup, but not necessarily your best regular roster. If taxi player would be on my bench, I would rather grab a FA flier for those last bench spots (see roster churn). That FA might break out and be worth keeping on my roster. If so, he might even make someone else on my roster expendable. Or he might produce enough value to be used as a trade throw-in when I'm trying to acquire a true stud.

Not only does it allow those FA pickups, but it prevents you from handicapping your regular roster waiting for that activated player to finally break out. While "sunk cost" should never influence your decisions, the fact is that we're human and they usually do. A prime example here from my personal experience is Jonathan Stewart. I activated him in Week 5 of his rookie year. I've started him an average of two times per year over the last four years -- and always in a "borderline" decision. Every time I consider what to do with Jonathan Stewart, I'm staring "sunk cost" -- four years of carrying him on my regular roster -- right in the face. He's got so much talent that I can't bear to trade him at his market price. He's got enough value that I can't cut him. But he rarely has enough value to be a starter for my team. So he continues to eat up a regular roster spot, and I continue manage my team around him.

Another factor: This denies your leaguemates one more option when they're looking for upside fliers or desperate bye-week fillers. They may need to start a worse player in their bye-week, the thinner FA pool may cause them to seek out a trade, or they may elect to activate someone from their own taxi squad earlier than they'd like.

Additionally, it allows you to better evaluate your taxi players. I would much rather conclude that someone has mediocre upside while they're still on my taxi squad. At worst, and usually the case, I leave them there until I'm forced to cut them to make room for new rookies, thereby denying them to leaguemates in the meantime. At best, I'm able to unload them in trade while someone still values them, improving my regular roster or moving up in the draft.

2) Conversely, Take Risks When Drafting

Generally speaking, my inclination is to take upside over opportunity or polish. However, I think that becomes especially true when dealing with taxi squads, once the league has been running for a few years. Outside of the top rookie tier each year, I'm looking for players with the most talent or upside possible. Especially when you're talking about 2nd and 3rd rounders, I don't want to fill up my reserve roster with mediocre talents. You're regularly going to be pruning that roster each year for the newest rookies, and I'd rather use those late picks on boom-bust prospects. If they pan out, you activate them. If they bust, you cut them. Either way, they're easy decisions down the road.

Once your league has been running for a few years, you'll have plenty of replacement-level type players accumulating dust on your taxi. They're nice when you desperately need a bye-week guy and the waiver wire is bare, but as mentioned above, you're mainly holding onto them as a denial tactic and possible trade fodder. Once your roster has developed to this point, become more and more willing to take shots on upside outside the top tier.

As EBF said, don't draft for need. But especially don't do this if you have a taxi squad. If your RBs are mediocre or aging, you might be able to find your RB of the future by loading up on them in the later rounds for a couple years. But even if you do, you've wasted picks -- and a taxi spots -- by reaching for superstars like Joe McKnight, Bernard Scott, or Javon Ringer. Obviously this applies to other positions, and depends on your scoring system. The point is draft BPA, and incline more towards upside than polish or immediate opportunity.

3) Plan For Next Year's Draft

When making decisions in-season, always keep your taxi squad in mind. If your taxi is barren, look to acquire throw-in picks in any trades. As EBF mentioned above, those lottery tickets can pan out. If you've got the space, use it. If you've been lucky enough to build a solid regular roster and your taxi is filling up, look to consolidate your picks. Get rid of a second rounder to bump your first rounder up a tier, or be more willing to trade your picks to improve your regular roster. I love having multiple 2nd and 3rd rounders as much as the next guy, but all those picks aren't worth as much if you're going to be forced to cut someone to make room for your first rounder the following year.

 
The most important thing to remember in dynasty imo:

Always package talent for a single player and not the other way around. Nine times out of ten the team that bunches players for the stud gets the better end of the trade.

Part of the reason why I think this is the case is that you free up roster spots to add unrostered players. So, say Team A trades 3 players for 1, the unseen part of the trade is the 2 players Team A will now be able to take a chance on.

Always, always package for the stud.

One strategy I have been following for over a decade is what I call my 4 Stud Strategy. The idea is that you need to do whatever you can to get 4 studs on your team regardless of position. Once you've done this it is relatively easy to plug in waiver guys, grizzled vets, etc. into the other slots, and remain one of the favorites to win your league each year.

 
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Particularly, I want to call out Waldman's section on putting together "anchors" at the QB, TE, and WR1 positions. I love this strategy. As he notes, due to their longevity, owning studs at these positions can allow your team to be competitive for a long time. Meanwhile, you can then use your picks, roster spots, and waiver claims by continually turning over and sifting through RBs -- who have a much shorter shelf life. As an example, in my primary league, I've owned Rodgers/Fitzgerald/Gates since 2008. I drafted Rodgers as a rookie, traded for Fitzgerald in 2005, and traded for Gates before the 2008 season. Other than Jonathan Stewart and Gostkowski (lol kickers), I've turned over every single other player on my roster over the last four seasons. I've made the playoffs every year, and significantly improved my depth. By locking in those three, I was able to use all my resources (roster spots/draft picks/waiver claims) to continually stock up on value, youth, or upside fliers at the RB and other WR spots. The goal: Over time, fill out the rest of your roster by finding sleepers who hit, build depth, and then start packaging that depth to add more studs to your "anchors" to put your team over the top.
I realize you later clarified that you like this approach to roster management, not necessarily to a startup draft. I think it is useful in both contexts.My primary dynasty league drafted in the 2010 offseason. It is a 10 team super flex non-PPR league, so 2 QBs can start, and there is no premium for PPR to elevate the value of WRs or TEs. I drafted QB-QB-WR-WR-TE in the first 5 rounds. For some reason, Stewart had fallen, so I took him in the 6th. I drafted a WR in the 7th, and then took McFadden, Michael Bush, Hillis, and Hardesty in later rounds, hoping for one of each pair to emerge as startable. McFadden and Hillis both exploded; I didn't have long term faith in Hillis, so I traded him in season, but I still had a long term RB1 in McFadden (particularly while handcuffed to Bush).I certainly got lucky with McFadden, but it's also true that I followed a strategy that worked. Furthermore, my team was so strong at QB, WR, and TE that I was able to trade Roddy White straight up for Mathews in the 2011 offseason, obtaining another long term RB1 before he broke out. Taking the approach I did in the draft enabled me to trade from strength later to bolster my RBs.My team in this league scored the most total points in each of the first two seasons. Meanwhile, it is "anchored" at QB (Rodgers, Rivers, Freeman, Locker), WR (Calvin, Fitz, Nicks, Britt), and TE (Finley, Gates).
 
Constantly Churn The Bottom Of Your Roster

This primarily applies to with standard or smaller numbers of teams (14 or less) and roster sizes. Obviously, this is more difficult in leagues with 16+ teams or with super deep rosters.

As mentioned above, one benefit of an "anchor" strategy is that you can churn your roster. In standard size leagues, there are breakout players every year on the waiver wire. The list is huge. Sometimes they turn into superstars, sometimes they flame out a year or two later, but there is value just sitting out there to be found every year. Bloom has addressed this a few times on the podcast as well. For several years, I've constantly tried to keep a couple roster spots "open" to allow room to dig through the muck and try to find something for free. Once my roster starts looking "full," I immediately start looking to consolidate some of those depth players into a single better player, throwing in picks if necessary, etc. Not only can you turn "found money" into a legit starter, prospect, or top rookie pick, but you free up those spots to grab more free value!

The value of that empty roster spot makes it much easier to pull off "consolidating" trades...

Don't Be Afraid To Trade

In real life, sharks (some of them, anyway) die if they are not constantly moving. Same thing with dynasty trading.

My two cents: Even the best owner will pull the trigger on some trades that look downright ugly a few years (or a few weeks!) later. However, unless you're simply an awful trader -- and conversely, strong at drafting and identifying wire pickups -- you will likely win big on your fair share of trades as well.

...

From my perspective, trading isn't about always winning the trade. It's about continually adjusting and improving the structure of your team -- to pick up an aging vet RB (ala Gore/Jackson this year) if you're in a win-now window, or to consolidate depth/picks into a stud, or to shore up your depth if your starter is inexperienced or has an injury history, or to balance things out when you're deep at one position and thin at another. When you stop trading, you will find yourself at the mercy of rookie picks and the waiver wire -- and that can make it a very dicey proposition to quickly fix a hole on your team.
Totally agree with these, and I think they are the most important strategies for dynasty success.In the league I mentioned in my previous post, we have 20 man rosters. It has been 2 years since our startup draft, and I only have 5 players remaining that I drafted: Rodgers, Freeman, McFadden, Stewart, Nicks. I have been the most active trader in the league and have added a number of core players via trade, including Rivers, Mathews, Calvin, Fitz, Britt, Finley, and Gates. In most cases, while I think I "won" the trade, the other owner actually got reasonable value.

I was able to do this for several reasons:

[*]1. I had a strong draft, so I was able to trade from strength.

[*]2. I am an active "roster churner" and have picked up several players who I later included in package trades.

[*]3. I am willing to trade away valuable assets. For example, I traded Roddy White for Mathews straight up in the 2010-11 offseason, before Mathews had broken out. I also traded away all of my rookie draft picks in both rookie drafts so far. This willingness to trade away value means I can make a lot of strong offers.

I'm trying actively right now to trade a few non core players for just about anything to open up a couple of roster spots for a couple players currently on the waiver wire.

 
A simple VBD study shows that the likelyhood of Brees and Brady providing more career VBD than a 24 year old stud runningback is very slim.
I think where one falls on this example is dependent on philosophy. I tend to think of my dynasty roster in loose terms of a 3 year window.I'm not saying I do not recognize the value of younger players being able to play longer... suppose I think Rodgers and Brady will perform roughly the same over the next 3 years, I'd obviously prefer to own Rodgers. But it's likely that Rivers has more career VBD remaining than Brady, being 5 years younger, yet I'd much rather have Brady. Brady should help my chances of winning during the next 3 years much more than Rivers would, and I place added value on that near term time period.To more specifically address your example, it obviously depends on who the stud 24 year old RB is and how you project him going forward, as well as how you project Brees and Brady. But look at what happened to Chris Johnson since his monster 24 year old season; look at what happened to Adrian Peterson since his 24 year old season; look at MJD's situation this year with the holdout. It's easier to accurately project future career VBD for elite veteran QBs than for 24 year old stud RBs.Bottom line for me, I view the next 3 years of VBD and notional career VBD as two separate considerations, and IMO the former is significantly more important.
 
Too many dynasty owners try to build a team 2-3 years out instead of trying to win now. Take advantage of them. Things change too quickly in the NFL to plan too far in advance. If you're starting a guy you would not be happy starting in a redraft league you're doing it wrong.
:goodposting:This is partly what I was getting at in my previous post. IMO it is possible to build a roster that is strong both short term and long term. Not overemphasizing age is very important.
 
The only ways to get a RB1 are to take him early in your startup, have a terrible team and get a top 4 rookie pick or hit the once every 3 year lotto for a guy like Foster.
You missed one. You can trade for a RB1, particularly if you have a strong roster. For example, I traded Roddy White for Mathews before last season.
 
The people that I see employ this strategy - and it is very common and sexy at the moment - most often create an inbalanced roster, when they don't need to. They hope to one day have the ultimate roster, and donate league fees/dues in the meantime. All the while, hoping to strike gold with picks in the 5-9 range.
I have to highlight the bolded sentence. It's popular in the SP to say. (Because it's true: Too many dynasty owners mire themselves in mediocrity by always looking 2+ or 3+ years out and sacrificing a lot of value in the process.) But personally, that bolded sentence is the entire reason I play dynasty. It's to build a dominant, ultimate team. You should not let it overwhelm your senses such that you trade yourself out of a championship in the current year. But it's one reason why I gravitate toward the anchor strategy.
:goodposting:
 
Always package talent for a single player and not the other way around. Nine times out of ten the team that bunches players for the stud gets the better end of the trade. Part of the reason why I think this is the case is that you free up roster spots to add unrostered players. So, say Team A trades 3 players for 1, the unseen part of the trade is the 2 players Team A will now be able to take a chance on.
:goodposting:There is real value associated with opening up roster spots, and I think this is often underappreciated. It is one reason it's worth "overpaying" a bit in a package deal for a great player.
 
A few things for me:

1. Understand how roster context affects player value. The whole notion of "dynasty rankings" is problematic because player value is highly dependent on your roster. For example, Andre Johnson is a great option if you are a real contender. However, if you are a rebuilding team then guys like Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd, and Jon Baldwin might have more value. Productive old players can actually hurt rebuilding teams because they depreciate in value while winning you meaningless games that don't help you get to the playoffs. The big thing for me is to make sure your roster is congruent. If you are playing to win now, sell most of your prospects and picks for immediate production. If you are rebuilding, sell most of your immediate production for prospects and picks. Trying to hover between those two poles is a good way to ensure mediocrity.

2. In the rookie draft, take the best player available and don't draft for need. I see teams pass on first round WRs every year because they need RB help. The obvious example right now would be taking a guy like Ronnie Hillman or Isaiah Pead over Kendall Wright or Michael Floyd. Those RBs are a lot less likely to succeed than those WRs. So while you might get lucky and hit the occasional MJD/McCoy/Rice type of home run, you're also going to end up with a lot of Kenny Irons/Eric Shelton/Tatum Bell. Don't expect your rookie picks to fill immediate needs. Instead, draft the most valuable player on the board. Remember that rosters are fluid and that you can always trade players down the road. So if you really need a RB, take Kendall Wright over Hillman and trade him for a better RB than Hillman after he becomes a star.

3. Draft picks are a good way to offset risk in trades. One year when I needed RB help badly, I traded Anquan Boldin in the prime of his career for Travis Henry and a 2nd round pick. Henry washed out of Denver almost immediately. It was a bad trade and it would've been a complete disaster, but...that 2nd round pick became Sidney Rice, who eventually achieved a value similar to Boldin's (even though he has since fallen from that high point). People often talk about how draft picks are overrated because most prospects never become productive players. In general, there's a lot of truth to that, but it's also worth pointing out that sometimes they do become superstars. I've gotten guys like Mike Wallace, Mike Williams, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, and Jordy Nelson for peanuts in the rookie draft in past years. Not every pick will work out that well, but some of them will. So if you're ever doing a deal that seems slightly risky, try to get a draft pick thrown in there. Even a 2nd or 3rd round rookie pick can ultimately swing a deal in your favor.
As for #2, I think that applies to additional startup drafts as well. Too often I see teams trying to fill their starting lineup as priority #1. In one league I took 3 QB's before I even took a 3rd WR, because I felt the value on the board was better at QB. A couple years later I dealt one of those backups (Stafford) for a #1 WR. Not a single one of the WR's I was considering at that draft slot are even fantasy relevant at this point. Obviously results will vary but the point being take talent first and work the rest out later.
 
As for #2, I think that applies to additional startup drafts as well. Too often I see teams trying to fill their starting lineup as priority #1. In one league I took 3 QB's before I even took a 3rd WR, because I felt the value on the board was better at QB. A couple years later I dealt one of those backups (Stafford) for a #1 WR. Not a single one of the WR's I was considering at that draft slot are even fantasy relevant at this point. Obviously results will vary but the point being take talent first and work the rest out later.
Here's a good example from last year:I had the 1.05 rookie pick in a league where players like Baldwin, Green, Ingram, and Julio had already been rostered previously in the developmental draft. When my pick came up, Cam Newton was the top player on my board, but I didn't need a QB because I already had Roethlisberger, Sanchez, and Luck. I ended up passing on Newton and taking Randall Cobb because he filled a bigger need. Woops. If I had just gone with my rankings, I would've been able to flip Newton for the RB or WR of my choice. Instead I'm stuck with a guy who won't score any points this year and can only fetch a late 1st rounder in trades.It is sometimes easier said than done, but in the long run I think the best strategy is clearly to take the best player available.
 
Part of the reason why I think this is the case is that you free up roster spots to add unrostered players. So, say Team A trades 3 players for 1, the unseen part of the trade is the 2 players Team A will now be able to take a chance on.
One of the things that I've been thinking a lot about lately is the value of a roster spot. I cut Victor Cruz in two leagues before last season because of the roster crunch. At the time, the word out of camp was that he was just the slot guy and not in line for a big season. Obviously it didn't work out that way. He blew up with a monster year while some of the guys I kept over him did absolutely nothing. That is a pretty frustrating thing to experience. As the years pass and my teams become more and more stockpiled with "my guys," I'm finding it increasingly difficult to make room for all of them. It's not such a problem in my deeper leagues, where I can usually find a few easy cuts, but in some of my smaller roster leagues it is forcing me into some difficult decisions. It also threatens to restrict my mobility when I find an appealing waiver wire player. It's important to be able to swoop in for those Cruz/Foster types when the opportunity presents itself, but if your roster is so bloated with long term projects that you don't have room to take a chance then you're actually losing a lot of value. Instead of cutting my projects and risking another Cruz situation, my strategy this year has been to try to trade some of my more valuable prospects or fringe players for a pick of equivalent value. The idea is that you convert the player's value into pure currency, and free up a roster spot in the process. If you think about it this way, for the price of the original player, you get the value of the player and the value of the roster spot. The hard part is finding a trade partner willing to give you fair value. I find that it's pretty hard to get a legitimately fair trade done. Usually I can only get a deal if I'm willing to take what clearly looks like the worst of it, which can be frustrating.
 

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