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Mon Mar 11th 2019

Free Agency Strategies

Smart moves to make as free agency opens this week

This week is free agency week!  It’s one of the most exciting and most devastating parts of being a dynasty owner.  It’s great when the free agents on your rosters land on teams that will give them more opportunity and a better offensive system.  It’s equally brutal when free agents land on teams where they will now be competing with players on your roster.

This is a super fun time of year if you’re in active-leagues, because players’ values change quite a bit, which makes it a perfect time of year to make trades.  I hope you’re all in active-leagues where trades are made this time of year.  If you are, here are some of my thoughts on how to make the most of this free agency season.  If you’re in a less active league, these tips will really give you a leg up on your league, if you can get the less active owners to reply to your trade offers.

Buy and/or Sell Running Back Handcuffs

This is my favorite move to make during the free agency period.  I try to sell my free agents to teams that fear their player is now going to have a split backfield or I try to buy the player that I fear is going to cause a split backfield with the running back on my roster.  If I’m weak at running back, I’ll be more aggressive in buying.  If I’m strong at running back, I’d be more aggressive in selling.  That said, I’ll buy or sell so long as I win the trade.  Running backs, compared to any other position, make the greatest impact in free agency.  They regularly come to a new team and make an impact right away.  Pay attention to the length of the contract they sign though.  Running backs contracts tend to be much more “prove it” kind of contracts for 1-2 years.  If you believe in the player, go for it, but be a bit more cautious if it’s a “prove it” contact because he could be a free agent again in a year or two.

A perfect example this year is what just happened with Carlos Hyde.  He was cut by Jacksonville and just signed with Kansas City, a much better offense and a much better opportunity.  His value spiked this weekend.  Thankfully, I have him in three of my leagues, so I am willing to sell him, but I am also eager to buy him.  It all depends on the price.

Sell Wide Receivers Who Switch Teams

I generally don’t buy wide receivers that switch teams.  Wide receivers are far less able to make an immediate impact on their news teams.  Timing and connection with the quarterback are too important for wide receivers as is learning the intricacies of a new offense.  It’s far different for running backs.  I almost always try to sell wide receivers that land on new teams.  However, it’s far more difficult to find buyers.  Start by looking at teams that are weak at wide receiver and at teams that may have a stack by having the quarterback for the new team.  Wait until wide receivers sign with a team before trading them.  Their value will almost always go up after signing.

This year’s highest valued FAs are Golden Tate, Tyrell Williams, and John Brown.  I’d try to sell them all after they are signed to new teams.

Notice What Free Agency Says About The Draft

Player’s values this time of year, especially running backs, are very suspect until the NFL draft takes place.  Teams speak by what they do in the draft.  They show where they believe they have need based on the positions they draft.  Free agency also says a lot about how teams are going to draft.  If a team bolsters a position in free agency, they are less likely to draft to build depth at that position.  Conversely, if teams cut players or let players go via free agency, odds are that they will target players in that position in the draft or it is a clear statement that they trust the younger players they already have in that position.   Thus, players’ values increase or decrease based on what teams do during free agency.

There are a few great examples of this already this offseason. The 49ers let Pierre Garcon go in free agency, which shows their confidence in young players like Donte Pettis’s and Richie James whose values rose as a result.  The Chiefs’ signing Carlos Hyde likely means that they will not draft a running back in the NFL draft.  Hyde’s value rose a bit and Williams’s value dropped a bit.

Follow Free Agent Visits & Make Preemptive Trade Offers

Unfortunately, this tip applies most to very active leagues.  If you follow NFL insiders on Twitter or NFL news online, you’ll learn which free agents are making visits to which teams.  If you can stay on top of the news, you’ll learn where players are likely to land.  You can take a preemptive strike by making offers for free agents before they sign contracts with new teams.  The timing is important, which means if you’re in a league that is slow to respond to trade offers this tip may not benefit you.  I hope you’re in a super-active-league that allows you to preemptively jump on some guys.  It’s so fun when you do!

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