Uh-oh. Imagine this scenario: we’re a quarter of the way through the football season and your fantasy team is in serious trouble. Maybe you’re sitting winless at 0-4, or at best 1-3. Perhaps you have the lowest point total of any team in your league. Whatever the case may be, you want to fling your TV remote across the living room and shout, “My fantasy team stinks!”
Are you tired of checking your team’s projected points each week and seeing them rank at or near the bottom of your league?
Do you get frustrated watching the fantasy ticker at the bottom of your TV screen each Sunday only to see someone else’s player scoring points?
Be honest: is your fantasy team’s ineptitude causing issues in other areas of your life?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So, you have to change, and you have to do it right now.
Trade your best player
The first thing you have to do to fix your fantasy football team is trade your best player.
You heard me right. If your fantasy team stinks, your best player is your biggest bargaining chip and your only path to success.
“But how is trading my best player going to improve my team?”
I’ll answer that question with a question of my own: How has that player made your team successful?
You have to barter your way to success, and the only way to do that is to acquire more pieces. To do so, you have to trade your best player and your worst player for two guys who are projected to score more.
“How do I do that? And who would make such a trade?”
Target a team who just lost a player to injury
If you lose one or two of your best players to injury, there’s a good chance your fantasy team stinks.
The first victim you want to prey on … er, um, offer to help … is a team that just lost one of its best players. These are vulnerable owners because if they’re emotionally invested, they’re most likely to panic or spring to action after losing a guy to injury.
So, if you offer to trade your best player to them, they’re going to be more likely to offer a lesser starter plus a decent backup. Or, two solid backups.
Either way, the two players that owner trades to you will have more projected points the rest of the season than the one star (plus a bottom-of-the-roster player) that you are trading to them.
“Why would anyone do that?”
Because fantasy owners are generally concerned with star power. Stars “generally” win fantasy leagues. You’re trading your best player because you don’t have enough star power on your team and you need to do it another way.
Find a balanced team who is looking to upgrade
If you can’t find a team with an injured star who is willing to make a deal, look for a well-balanced squad instead.
Go find that frustrated owner who is constantly griping that he “played the wrong guy” any given week. That shouldn’t be hard to do — we all do it several times per year.
Lineup decisions are an ongoing source of stress for fantasy owners, and you can offer to help an owner by giving him a better player than the two or three he keeps rotating in and out of his lineup.
(for help on lineup decisions: Who Should I Start?)
If you offer your best player — assuming he is better than the players the other team keeps in perpetual rotation — chances are that owner will gladly accept.
Remember: you must acquire two or more pieces in return that are projected to score more than the stud player you give back. Otherwise, it’s not worth your time.
Look to the wealthy teams for solid backups
The third-best option you can choose is going to the best teams in your league. With hat in hand, offer your best player and attempt to pluck a couple pieces from their deep reservoir of reserves.
This option is a little more difficult because the best teams in the league often refuse to trade. Their mentality is, “Why should I help anyone else out? I’m sitting pretty.”
But if they’re sitting on a few quality pieces that never enter their lineup because their starters are much better, they certainly might be willing to make use of those pieces and upgrade their roster.
However, if your best player is not better than their key reserves … oh well. Move on to the next team.
On the flip side, harvest the worst team(s) in your league
If you trade your best player — or “players” — you have the opportunity to replenish by targeting other teams that are incredibly thin.
Take some of that new talent that you acquired and see if the worst team in your league — assuming it’s not you — is willing to trade one of his best players for a couple pieces.
“But wait, how does this not cancel out what we just did — acquiring multiple pieces for one star?”
Well, obviously, you need to give up less points for a star than you acquired for your stud.
Let me explain:
If you traded your best player, who was projected to score 200 points the rest of the season for two guys that are projected to score 225 the rest of the way, you gained a net of 25 points.
If you go to one of the bad teams in the league to try to acquire a better player, you have to make sure you don’t lose a net of 25 points. So, you should try to offer two guys who are projected to score either equal — or even less, if lucky — than the one player you’ll get in return.
Mine the waiver wire for potential studs
Making trades isn’t the only way to improve your team’s fortunes. You should also hit the waiver wire and free agency to add potentially valuable pieces if your fantasy team stinks.
There is a right way and a wrong way to use the waiver wire.
Some owners will place waiver claims on quarterbacks, kickers and defenses, which is awfully stupid, in my opinion.
Assuming your league uses a “rolling waivers” priority system, you will go to the back of the line with each waiver wire pickup. This could be dangerous, especially if a star gets hurt and his backup suddenly becomes a hot commodity. You would essentially have no shot at getting him if you were at the back of the line.
Never pick up a quarterback, kicker or defense on waivers. Wait until the waiver wire period is over and the free agency period begins. The only exception to this rule is if somebody dropped a Top 5 quarterback — which nobody is stupid enough to do. (Right? I hope?)
Also, don’t waste your time (or waiver priority) on claiming fringe running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. If they’re only going to moderately improve your roster, it’s not worth the risk.
“So … wait. Whom do I claim off waivers?”
Use your waiver priority on backups who are playing behind either A) a star who just got hurt, or B) a young player ready to emerge from the shadows of an aging, declining veteran.
Lather, rinse, repeat
Continue this process of making trades and mining the waiver wire throughout the season. Don’t let yourself ever feel content with what you have.
Focus on trading your next best player after you’re done unloading the first one. And then again. And again.
What you’re doing during this process is lopping off dead weight from the bottom of your roster at the expense of losing the players from the highest scoring bracket.
“How does that help?”
For starters, you’re trying to get a balanced roster that will score consistently, even if none of them score among the highest-producing players on any given week. You’re trying to make your roster more attractive to other teams with the hope of later trading a couple pieces for a star who can improve you.
The whole concept of this is bartering until you get something better.
Become the fantasy football equivalent of the “one red paperclip”
Have you ever heard the story of the one red paperclip?
Essentially, a man took one red paperclip and through a series of 14 trades, he ended up with a house.
Dare to be that bold.
In every acquisition, there is a winner and loser. A perfectly even trade, for which picking a winner is difficult to do, is very rare. The trade winner is often not determined until the season plays out. But your goal is to be the winner based on projected points — however inaccurate they might be.
Conclusion: “My fantasy team stinks” is not a death sentence
Don’t throw in the towel on a poor start to a season. You may think your fantasy team stinks. Your outlook might appear bleak. But you can always fight and claw your way back into the mix.
Remember, start by trading the best player on your team and acquiring more projected points from two or more lesser players. Repeat that process until you’ve traded your red paperclip into a house.
If it doesn’t work, oh well. What do you have to lose? More games? You’re going to do that anyway. Why not make it interesting?