This Isn’t Your Year

Updated: November 15th 2018

So things have not quite gone as planned this season.  Injuries, under-performance, and other factors conspired against your RSO team putting it out of realistic contention this season.  Do not despair.  The nature of RSO leagues dictates the transition time from a bad team to competitive team can occur in a startling small amount of time.  A good rookie draft combined with solid free agent pickups potentially makes your team competitive as soon as next season.  Let us take a look at a few key steps now that your team is out of the playoff race.

Do Not Mentally Check Out

The first instinct for teams out of the race might include not paying attention anymore.  Resist the urge.  Regularly check in on the league for messages. Respond to trade offers in a timely manner.  Most importantly:

Set your best lineups.  While it might not seem important when you are playing for nothing, setting your best lineup is necessary for the league by maintaining as much competitive balance as possible.  I have no doubt many of you out there in fantasy football leagues have witnessed a non-playoff team with players on bye in their lineups, either due to inactivity or tanking (intentionally setting a sub-optimal lineup), giving competitors almost a free win that week.  No one wants that person in a league and that type of owner might not be invited back next season.  Stay involved.

There are a number of league rules which can keep owners active and prevent tanking.  The league could give a supplemental draft pick to the winner of a “toilet bowl” (playoffs for non-playoff teams) for example or assign some kind of punishment to the last place team.  This potentially keeps owners active who might otherwise not maintain much of a presence.  Assigning draft order based on potential points instead of win-loss record eliminates the incentive for tanking, while also giving a better measure of the quality of teams for draft consideration.

Prep for Next Season and Beyond

Performing the basic in-season tasks such as setting lineups is expected.  The real work involves setting up your team for improvement in future years once you are out of the playoff hunt by accumulating assets for next season and beyond. Rookie draft picks tend to be good assets to acquire because they typically go up in value around draft time and they are fluid assets more easily traded when compared to individual players.  They are not the only assets you should be focused on however.  Good multi-year contracts for under-performing players are quality trade targets and cheaper relative to draft picks in many cases.  A few other considerations in acquiring future assets if your team is out of contention this year:

Examine the upcoming free agent and rookie classes for your league.  The composition of both goes a long way in determining your trade strategy moving forward.  A strong free agent group forces consideration of trading solid to good contracts for a chance at potentially better ones in the upcoming free agent auction.  It also makes dumping bad contracts even more important for obtaining sought after cap space.  One might even trade draft picks for more cap room in this situation to expend on high-end free agents.  On the other hand, a league many years in might have a very shallow free agent pool in which case cheap rookie draft picks become more important.

Utilize your extension and franchise tag spots.  We think of trading players in the last contract year for longer term assets as the basis for improving your team going forward but it is not the only option.  Be sure to examine your remaining one-year contracts if your league utilizes RSO’s extension and/or franchise tag options.   Do not be afraid to trade for expiring contracts in order to use your extension or franchise tag on if you do not like the one-year options currently available on your team.

Stay updated on injured Players.  Players out for the season offer no beneficial advantage this year to competitive teams but may help you in future years.  A small sample of players out for most or all of this fantasy season:  Jay Ajayi, Jerick McKinnon, Derrius Guice, Devonta Freeman, Tyler Eifert, Dez Bryant, Cooper Kupp, Will Fuller, and Jimmy Garoppolo.  Injured players with multi-year contracts make for great trade targets as competitors concentrate more on the current season.  Remember a player may not be traded in most RSO leagues during the season once that player is removed from the active RSO roster and placed on Injured Reserve.  Pay close attention and be prepared to jump on injured players late in the season before the RSO G.M. utilizes the I.R. spot or trades to another alert team.

Check your waivers.  This is perhaps an underutilized mechanism in many RSO leagues and one that some owners forget about.  You may be surprised at the contracts which become available on waivers, particularly in shallower leagues.  Playoff contenders in a week with many teams on bye (the upcoming week 11 for example) might need free agents to fill in starting spots.  The owner may choose the release of a disappointing young player still on a rookie deal for bye-week replacements.  Your team will have a high waiver priority which you can use to pounce on cheap rookie deals and under-performing contracts with upside in the future.

Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

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