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Sun Jan 3rd 2021

Off-season To Do List

What To Do At Season's End

I last wrote on the Monday morning before the final game of the fantasy season on Monday night. I hope Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen carried your team to a Super Win like they did mine on Monday night. I had Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen in one re-draft league and smashed my opponent. The more exciting Super Bowl victory was in a dynasty league where I had Stefon Diggs but played against Josh Allen and still pulled off a come from behind victory.

Out of my eight dynasty leagues, I won the championship in two, and I took home the trophy in one of my two re-draft leagues. It was a fun and successful season for me, and I hope my advice made it the same for you.

Fantasy Freeks build their teams 365 days a year, so as we head into the off-season, I will write more about what you can do to strengthen your teams while the other managers in your leagues check out until the NFL draft.

I always do a few things right away when the season comes to an end, and I would encourage you to do the same this week.

What To Do At Season's End

Manage Your Scout Team

  • Most dynasty platforms allow managers to have a scout team or a watch list of players not on dynasty rosters in the league. If you're not familiar with this feature, you should be. Most platforms have a star or a checkbox by players' names that allow you to add them to your scout team. The is an essential feature for dynasty managers, allowing them to compile a list of the players they are interested in following and acquiring in the future. At the end of the season, I like to do two things. First, I remove players on my watch list that other teams have already acquired and are likely not to be dropped, and I remove players I am no longer interested in following. Then I go through every player at every position to add the players I am interested in following. Going meticulously through every player at every position also gives me a chance to see players that have been overlooked by managers after a lousy season or injuries.

Search For Players On IR

  • Players most often forgotten are the players on IR, especially in leagues without IR roster spots. As I meticulously go through every player at every position, I usually find one or two players who were dropped during the season and overlooked from that point forward. Managers never drop superstar players, but unproven players that have yet to breakout are often dropped after an injury and should be added to dynasty rosters. For instance, I picked up Blake Jarwin in two leagues this week. He was the starter ahead of Dalton Schultz before getting injured in week one, and Schultz looked fantastic with Dak Prescott before he was injured and was a streamable tight end with Andy Dalton. I think Jarwin will be the starter next year with a healthy Dak throwing him the ball. I could not believe he was available in two of my leagues, but he was a typical guy on IR who managers overlooked before I snagged him.

Make Offers Under-performing Rookies

  • One thing I do at this time of year is look back to the top 20-30 players on my 2020 rookie draft board and note the rookies that did not do well or barely saw playing time. I try to make an honest assessment of what went wrong for them and if they will play better in their second season. If I still believe in a player, I will make trade offers to their managers to at least test the water to see if they still have hope for the player like I do. Often they don't. I like to offer a 2021 rookie draft pick that is a few picks or a round back from where teams drafted them last year. Managers want to see that they have many draft picks for the upcoming rookie draft and will often take the bait for such a player. If a poor-performing rookie that I believe in, like Bryan Edwards, was drafted at the end of the second round in 2020, I'll offer an early third-round pick in a trade. I also will do the opposite. If I have a rookie on my team that I no longer have hope for, I will put him on the trading block to see if I can sell him for a 2021 rookie draft pick near the same spot teams drafted him in 2020.

Note 2021 Free Agents

  • Dynasty managers need to know which players are free agents in 2021 to evaluate their rosters more appropriately. Sometimes players sign with new teams that improve their fantasy outlook, and sometimes players sign with teams that hurt their fantasy outlook. From a dynasty perspective, it usually best when players re-sign with their current teams because if they let a player go in free agency, with few exceptions, that means they believe the player is past their prime, or at least they believe the younger players on their team can play close to the same level. Some every-week dynasty starters are free agents this year, including Allen Robinson, Will Fuller, Marvin Jones, Juju Smith Schuster, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Aaron Jones, Chris Carson, and Kenyan Drake. Free agency will shake up the dynasty values of these players and all the players on their teams. Dynasty managers need to be aware of their players' NFL contracts so that they can plan accordingly. Mangers willing to take risks can capitalize by making trades for these players assuming they get signed by a good team or for their younger back-ups, assuming they will have more opportunity when the player in front of them leaves. It's a risky game, but savvy dynasty managers need to know who the free agents are and try to read the tea leaves to capitalize on trades.

Prepare For The 2021 Rookie Class

  • It's 2021, so it's the season to start preparing for 2021 rookie drafts. Most rookie drafts in my leagues take place in May, so there is plenty of time to prepare, but dynasty leagues are so much fun when you prepare in advance rather than the week before the draft. To prepare, I begin following many top draft analysts by reading their work and listening to their podcasts. That gives me a basis for how the guys that get paid to grade prospects think of the rookie class. I use their expertise to supplement my own personal analysis of players. It's not my full-time job, so I cannot watch every play of film, but I enjoy forming my own opinions about the incoming rookie class by watching their highlights on YouTube and by looking at the top prospects' college production and statistics before the NFL Combine. Next week, I'll start that process so that I have my own rookie rankings established before the NFL Combine, and I look forward to sharing my rookie rankings on the website beginning the day after the NFL Super Bowl.

2020 Regrets

One of the valuable things to do as a dynasty manager can do is honestly assess their hits and misses during the season.  I like to go back and look at the trades and waiver moves I made to honestly assess where I won and lost.

Last week, I wrote about five moves I made that really helped my teams.  This week, I'll be honest about five moves I made or did not make that I now regret.

Not Acquiring Myles Gaskin

  • Two weeks ago, I shared that my biggest player miss was Jordan Howard. It should come as no surprise then that the biggest in-season mistake was being late to bid on Myles Gaskin. I had a hard time believing that a team that signed Howard in free agency and traded for Matt Breida would give the primary role to an undrafted free agent, but that's precisely what Miami did, and I did not pick up Gaskin in any of my leagues. I love to construct my rosters with a stud RB-1 and then have a steady high floor RB-2, and Gaskin was just that and more. If I had Gaskin on my team, I would have won more games at the beginning of the season. What's worse, he really could become the lead running back for the next few years on a run-heavy team. They went right back to Gaskin ahead of Salvon Ahmed, who also played well while Gaskin was injured, indicating that he is their lead back. Only the NFL draft could change that because I do not see Miami making moves in free agency for a running back because it did not work for them last year. I wish I had Gaskins on my team and plan to make trade offers for him, especially on the teams with Salvon Ahmed on my roster.

Trading Logan Thomas For Mecole Hardman

  • At the time I made this trade, I liked Hardman a lot more than Thomas. In fact, this league posts a grade-the-trade in GroupMe after every trade, and the league unanimously favored my side of the trade. However, Thomas established himself as a highly targeted super-reliable tight end by the end of the season, and I wish I had him back. Two weeks ago, I wrote about how I really want a tight end on a team who is their number one target, as is the case with Travis Kelce and Darren Waller.  It's super rare to find one, but Thomas has become the number one target in Washington. I am uncertain whether that will continue given the possibility of a new quarterback and the fine play and future upside of Terry McLaurin, but I doubt he will ever become less than the second highest targeted player on their team. He may be a former college quarterback, but he's won this year with far more than his pure athleticism. He's a legit NFL tight end that should be started every week in fantasy line-ups, and I missed out on him. I am still hopeful for Mecole Hardman and believe his role will increase after Sammy Watkins leaves in free agency this year, but even so, he's a very distant third target for Kansas City behind Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.

Dropping Nelson Agholor

  • Agholor was the last player I dropped on the cut-down day in one very deep league without kickers and defenses. In that league where I can start up to six wide receivers, Agholor would have been a fine contributor to the team most weeks of the year. I was sure that the addition of Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards meant that Agholor would get buried on the depth chart of his second NFL team. Instead, he finished the season as the 28th highest scoring wide receiver in the league. In the future, I want to think twice about dropping busts with high draft-capital that have a chance to prove themselves on a new team. Thankfully, I did retain him in one of my leagues.

Trading Too Many Picks Away On An Aging Team

  • In the league where I did retain Agholor, I lost in the semi-finals of the playoffs. I have a strong team and have made aggressive trades in the last two years to win the title but have failed to do so in consecutive years. I traded two first-round draft picks away for Alvin Kamara but was bounced in the semis before his six touchdown week. I traded away Deshaun Watson and an early third-round pick for Josh Allen, but my team was defeated in the semis before Allen's Monday night outburst. I now have Josh Allen and have great young running backs with Nick Chubb and Alvin Kamara, but my team is growing old at wide receiver with Keenan Allen, Adam Thielen, Robert Woods, Jarvis Landry, and Nelson Agholor. After watching this year's rookie wide receivers break out, I wish I had many of my first-round draft picks back. I need to switch to a bit of a hybrid rebuild mode and remember how difficult it is to win a championship. Next year, I commit not only to not trade away first-round draft picks but to try to acquire them.

Spending All My FAAB Too Early

  • I spent too much of my FAAB in three leagues this year, and in two leagues, I spent all of my FAAB by midseason and could not make any bids at all on the first round of waivers each week as a result. I usually believe in spending early, but next year I aim to hold onto FAAB longer to win bids near the end of the season. I get too excited about all of the possible dynasty values that can be found on the waiver wire and need to remind myself that they are, in my leagues, the 300th to 360th best player available for a reason. There were waiver wire dynasty risers this year like Myles Gaskin and Logan Thomas, but they are few and far between. Next year instead of trying to get a bunch of them to see what happens, I want to more patently put my chips in on only one or two players that can help me beyond the current season - true dynasty players.

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