I generally keep my titles pretty lame because search engines hate puns, but this popped in my head and I went with it. Anways… the point of this article is again a playoff primer about trading.
In the majority of leagues, we have less than one week to complete trades before the deadline. In every league that I am a part of there has been an unusual scramble to pick up some new talent and I just wanted to throw out a little strategy for making your team as solid as possible.
It is important to keep in mind my How to Pick a Smart Trade article as you read through these tips. This strategy, like a surprisingly large amount of my strategies, comes down to simple mathematics.
Step 1: Picking Your Final Lineup
Once byes are finished, it is smooth sailing when it comes to picking your lineup. Deciding on one solid lineup for the rest of the year is the first and most basic step to this strategy.
You are going to need to check out the players averages so far this year, and keep in mind their playoff strength of schedule, which is conveniently laid out for you here.
Deciding on your strongest set of players is pivotal in making the best team you can possibly end the season with. Once you have made your rest-of-season roster, we move on to the next part of the game…
Step 2: Clearing the Bench
Setting your starting lineup in advance will make one question pop into your mind… What on earth is the point of having a bench now? You might have some decent players on there still, but you’ve already decided that you won’t really be needing them. Now they are just being wasted, right? Of course not silly, there are a bunch more steps.
If you have set your starting lineup for the season, but still have a top performer hanging out on your bench, why not use him to improve your weakest position. Even if you are trading for someone with less fantasy points, you are still improving your team.
Let’s say that your team looks like this:
QB: Matt Ryan
RB: Maurice Jones-Drew
RB: Brandon Jacobs
WR: Mike Wallace
WR: Brandon Marshall
TE: Benjamin Watson
Bench: Jay Cutler, Kendall Hunter, Mike Tolbert, Greg Little, Anquan Boldin
Not a bad lineup, but you have a problem here. The player dragging this team down a bit is your tight end. He is inconsistent, and has a pretty low points per game average. To make a run in the playoffs, you need improvement at the TE position.
Rather than grabbing another low tight end off free agency and keeping your tight end PPG low, make a trade to improve you team. This trade does not have to be complicated, there is no need to bring in multiple players here. The strategy is simple. Trade Anquan Boldin for a tight end upgrade.
Watson is averaging 4.4 fantasy points per game. Anquan Boldin is averaging 8.1.
Because Boldin is on your bench, giving him up loses you no fantasy points per game, since he was not making your final starting lineup anyway. Even if you trade Boldin for a tight end with a lower points per game average than him, you are still ending up with more points per game in the long run by replacing Watson.
So, you propose a trade. Anquan Boldin for Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez is averaging 6.9 points per game (1.2 PPG less than Boldin), so it seems like a pretty simple “Yes” from your trade partner. And what is happening to your team? Your tight end spot just got upgraded by over three points per game.
By cutting ties with the players on your bench who you know will not make your starting lineup for the rest of the year, you can increase the production of your weakest fantasy position.
Step 3: Filling the Bench
So, you have made the changes and traded your best bench players to get your starting lineup as high as you can possibly make it. What are you going to do with the scrubs that remain on your bench?
Again, we have already verified that you will not be using them for the season, so what is the point of having them, they are just eating up space. Instead of just saying “Oh well” and never looking at your bench again, you should save yourself a lot of stress and headaches with your next move.
Clean out your remaining bench players and fill the spots with the top handcuffs.
Keeping one solid backup WR and a backup QB are good ideas, but with the rest of the spots, you should go out and invest in the backups for your starting running backs and tight ends. Since you already have the lineup set, (and you’ve traded your best bench replacements to make the lineup better), you are likely going to experience some heartburn on Sundays praying that your starters do not go down with injury.
Every hit will make you cringe. It’s borderline torture.
You can avoid this torment by putting Deji Karim on your bench as a Maurice Jones-Drew owner. You still won’t want your star to go down, but you can rest assured that you already have his backup waiting in the wings if he does go down, meaning that you get to avoid the Waiver Wire frenzy that would have ensued.
Step 4: Win Your Playoffs
By making some smart moves leading up to the trade deadline you can greatly improve your starting lineup and your chances to advance to the next round. Instead of worrying about losing PPG in your trade (Boldin’s 8.1 vs. Hernandez’s 6.9), you need to look at the position PPG (Hernandez’s 6.9 vs. Watson’s 4.4).
And avoid some of the frustration and worry about the injuries of the season by taking premeditated steps in acquiring your starters’ backup. Just in case.
With a bit of luck, some forward-thinking tactics and basic arithmetic, you will be well on your way to bragging rights for a full year.