RSJ Dynasty League: When to Reload Rather Than Rebuild in Dynasty Fantasy Football - Roto Street Journal
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RSJ Dynasty League: When to Reload Rather Than Rebuild in Dynasty Fantasy Football

Last July, Roto Street Journal contributors formed our own dynasty league. It was my first dive into dynasty and the roster I ended up with after our startup draft probably showed it. As the 2021 season got closer, it was apparent that I’d need some things to bounce my way to have a shot at the ‘ship.

Following Week 1, Raheem Mostert‘s season ended after just two carries, JD McKissic was still siphoning work away from Antonio Gibson, and Brandon Aiyuk was “learning to be a pro.

Hooray! It looks like it’s time for my first experience in the rebuild process!

As it would turn out, that rebuild would turn into more of a retooling.

Not long after the season ended, I had traded away a handful of veterans. And because I was focusing on acquiring picks in 2023, even if a couple of times it cost picks in 2022 to do it, my 2023 draft capital included four first-round picks and three second-rounders.

For a (short) time, I was content to play out the 2022 season seeing what I had in this team:

QB: Lamar Jackson

RB: Antonio Gibson

RB: Michael Carter

WR: Jaylen Waddle

WR: Devonta Smith

TE: Mark Andrews

FLEX: Brandon Aiyuk

FLEX: Donovan Peoples-Jones

FLEX: Cole Kmet

SuperFlex: Trevor Lawrence

BENCH: Mitch Trubisky, Kyle Trask, Tyler Huntley, JD McKissic, Jaret Patterson, Raheem Mostert, Lynn Bowden, Darius Slayton, Josh Gordon, Harrison Bryant, Tyree Jackson

I certainly had a shot at winning the 1.01 sweepstakes in ’23.

BUT, WHAT IF?…

What if my team was too good in 2022? Like, 6-8 good, or 7-7 good? Then I wouldn’t have won anything and would have to rely on picks that I traded for to be high in 2023, and the teams I got those picks from were better than mine on paper.

And so it started small… what if I didn’t give up too much ’23 draft capital and had some fun in giving my team more than a beggar’s chance to make noise in 2022?

First, I traded:

A 2023 2nd round pick and a 2024 2nd

for

Rashaad Penny, Sterling Shepard, 2023 3rd

Two players with sneaky-high ceilings, if they can stay on the field. Then, after Russell Wilson got traded to the Broncos, I traded:

A 2023 2nd

for

Albert Okwuegbunam

With Noah Fant now in Seattle, Albert O’s fantasy stock spiked.

After Amari Cooper was traded to the Browns (prior to the Deshaun Watson trade), I sought out how much he was being valued. I got this trade offer:

Matthew Stafford, Amari Cooper, David Njoku, 2.07 in 2022

for

Trevor Lawrence, Donovan Peoples-Jones, 3.04 in 2022

With the only downside being that my QB would be a shade over a decade older, the value seemed worth it. Even more so for Cooper and Njoku, after the Browns landed Watson. And with Stafford being older, it was a move that nudged me more towards trying to win now.

But really, if I’m gonna take 2022 seriously, I needed another running back. Maybe not a stud, but at least a solid, every-week starter that will give me respectable depth at the position. And after trying for this guy, then that guy, then another guy, I ended up trading:

A 2023 1st

for

Josh Jacobs

Now, I’m in the conversation as a 2022 contender, and I still have three 2023 first-round picks.

THEN, OPPORTUNITY KNOCKED

Travis Kelce showed up on the trade block. After about a week of back and forth with his manager, another team put Dalvin Cook on the block.

If there was a time to act, it was now. The team manager with Cook was prime to start a rebuilding process of his own. So, I decided to include a couple of young players yet to reach their full potential in exchange for a couple more win-now vets. The deal was:

2.07, 3.12, 4.04, 2023 1st, 2023 2nd, Devonta Smith, and Brandon Aiyuk

for

Dalvin Cook , Mike Evans, and Cordarelle Patterson

A couple of hours later, I traded:

Michael Carter, Albert O, and a 2023 1st

for

Travis Kelce

Now, my roster looks like this:

QB: Lamar Jackson

RB: Dalvin Cook

RB: Josh Jacobs

WR: Mike Evans

WR: Jaylen Waddle

TE: Travis Kelce

FLEX: Antonio Gibson

FLEX: Mark Andrews

FLEX: Amari Cooper

Superflex: Matthew Stafford

BENCH: Mitch Trubisky, Tyler Huntley, Mason Rudolph, Cordarelle Patterson, Rashaad Penny, Raheem Mostert, JD McKissic, Jaret Patterson, Lynn Bowden, Sterling Shepard, Josh Gordon, David Njoku, Cole Kmet, Harrison Bryant, Tyree Jackson

For what it’s worth, according to FantasyPros, I’m now second in the power rankings, and I am currently the favorite to win the ‘ship.

I went from having four first-rounders and three second-rounders in 2023 to now having just one first-rounder.

Giving up those picks could very well cost me in the long run, which begs the question: was this the time to contend? The moment to push all my chips in?

Ignoring the roster situation, did I give up more value than I got to get Kelce or Cook, Evans, and Patterson?

Will the team making the win-now trade always be the side giving up more value in the long run? And if so, is the wise move always to make the better value play, regardless of whether or not it puts you over the top?

If you think that at some point, the time is ripe to make that push and sacrifice some value to claim your stake in the present, I ask:

WHEN IS IT TIME TO CONTEND?

Here’s what other RSJ contributors said about the situation:

“I have been playing dynasty steadily since 2016. I still remember absolutely botching my first draft pick. I picked from the 1.08 in a 10-team standard dynasty league and I took Dez Bryant. If you recall, his career was pretty much over a couple of years after that.

After a disastrous two-win season to start my dynasty career, I traded every (granted very few) strong fantasy producer I had on my team for a slight downgrade at the same position and another young, talented player or a solid set of picks. Eventually, I established a sense of control over the buyer’s market and leveraged that for young talent.

Not long after that, I was averaging 10 wins a season and boasting a championship that I still have on my entertainment center at home.

The thing to avoid in dynasty is being in no man’s land. If you don’t have strong future draft capital or maybe just unfortunate injuries to young producers, it is time to blow that roster up and re-tool your team to rise the next two years. The keys to contention are seeing how clear of a path to a title you can see with what you have available, and being fluid.

If you can see what needs to be done to compete for a title and are able to learn from past mistakes, contention is an inevitability, and knowing when to go all-in will be just as clear.”

Matt Duckworth, aka “Duck”

“At this point in the offseason, I wouldn’t worry much about whether your team is a contender or rebuilder. You still have about five months until you need to set a Week 1 lineup. Instead of making trades with the sole purpose of winning now or tearing your team down, try to focus almost exclusively on value. This is much easier said than done. I am guilty of looking at my roster in April and trying to envision what my starting lineup will look like in September as much as anyone. But so much can change between now and then. There is value in having the flexibility to delay the decision until closer to when you actually have to set a lineup.

As long as you’re getting good value, targeting veterans during this time of the year seems to be a solid general strategy, especially if your team has the potential to contend this year. However, the key is still value. There is always a small chance that you trade for a guy who tears an ACL in training camp and craters in value, but most of the time, you should be able to get similar, or even slightly more value closer to the season for your veteran stars. Other managers will be more worried about their starting lineups when September rolls around and will be more motivated to trade for elite, point-scoring assets like Derrick Henry and Davante Adams.

If you’re looking to buy players like them to help a contending team, now is a good time to buy. But again, you still have to get good value. Even if you think Henry will rush for 2,000 yards this year, resist the urge to overpay, and instead reach out to owners of comparable assets like Christian McCaffrey, for example, to see if you can get a better deal. Getting good value is more important than getting the exact player you want, and you need to be willing to walk away from deals.

On the flip side, if you’re looking to sell guys like Henry, Adams, or McCaffrey, you’re probably better off waiting until the season is about to start to get maximum value. Don’t be afraid to deal them now if you’re getting great value, but also don’t take a subpar offer because you don’t have any better alternatives. You have plenty of time to find the right deal. Don’t be afraid to hold those players on a rebuilding roster if you can’t find the value you want today. Even if you’re rebuilding, it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to owners of vets on the trade block. You never how someone values a player until you ask, and there’s always a chance you could get a great price today, and flip that player for more value in September while incurring minimal risk.

The general idea is that making “win-now” moves in April doesn’t necessarily commit your team to winning in September-December. As long as you are getting good value, you can pivot in either direction without losing anything. This assumes that you can get trades done throughout the year in your league, but that’s my approach to contending in most dynasty leagues.”

Jackson Barrett

Author

  • Driven by profit, has the lobes for business. Prioritizes anchors as part of a diversified portfolio. Seeks to be the first hue-mon to become the Grand Nagus. On Twitter @ChaseM_G

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