2015 was my first season playing at Reality Sports Online. I’ve played fantasy football for nearly 20 years – redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues, but never have played in a format that reflects the life of an NFL GM so accurately through the complex, nuanced decisions that are required to be made throughout the live free agency auction and in-season management. Towards the end of year one, I began evaluating my off-season plans and the first thought that came to mind was…I “HATE THIS ROSTER!”
My roster was littered with overpaid players. I believed in Randall Cobb as a top WR, especially without Jordy Nelson on the field – wrong. Martavis Bryant’s contract ran through 2017 and was an excellent value when he was on the field. Suspended with his future in doubt – I wanted out of that contract with his return far from guaranteed. There were other players signed to multi-year deals that I didn’t want anymore even at affordable salaries, including Sam Bradford, David Cobb, and Andrew Hawkins.
My goal was to rid my roster of every player except for LeVeon Bell (signed through 2019), Kevin White (through 2018), and Maxx Williams (through 2019). I attached several good players on 1-year deals (Jarvis Landry and Travis Kelce) to the contracts I viewed as poor and immediately targeted cap room and draft picks in trades.
Through four trades, I netted the following picks:
I left the 2016 rookie draft with Sterling Shepard and 3 RB projects (CJ Prosise, Paul Perkins, and DeAndre Washington).
Before the auction, I put together a list of players that I wanted to sign and was willing to overpay a bit to land since I had well over $100 million in 2016 cap room. The list: Drew Brees, Marvin Jones, Spencer Ware, and Doug Baldwin. After signing each of these players and adding a few breakout free agents – most notably Terrelle Pryor and Cam Meredith, my team has rebounded better than I could have ever expected when I started this process last December. Currently undefeated, I made several trades, featured in #RSOEpicTrade, to help supplement my roster and go for the title this year. After all, championships are what we are playing for, right?
I’m not writing this article to brag about how good this team – that’s not the point. In 12 leagues, I have several teams that have been disappointments and aren’t playoff contenders due to poor management, inaccurate player projections, and, of course, injuries.
You may not have to go through years of struggling to right the ship. Assess your roster – both for this year and future years, determine if you can compete, and plan accordingly. By Week 8 or 9, I’ll decide if I realistically think I can compete in each of my RSO leagues. I rarely ever stand pat as I’ll aggressively buy or sell depending on my expectations for the rest of the season. If I’d need a miracle and know there are several rosters that are clearly better than mine, I’ll sell all 1-year deals to contenders and look towards the next year or two.
Reminder: When discussing trades, I often hear that owners are afraid making a move and having it backfire in the long term. My strategy is a bit different as I’m unafraid to make an aggressive move if I believe I’m getting more value at the time of the trade. If you accept that you will lose in some trades but believe you will win out more than 50% of the time, be as aggressive as possible. Right or wrong, I do not just consider deals made to be potential wins or losses. I also think this way about trade talks that were close, but never materialized for whatever reason. Take chances, trust your strategy, and most of all – have some fun!
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