The doldrums of the offseason continue to churn. The anxiety of not knowing whether a season will be played can be felt all across fantasy football twitter. People are arguing and speculating who could be the next breakout in a season riddled with doubt. Articles are being posted on why “player X” will be the next Jerry Rice or why “player Y” will be the next bust. Twitter hype posts are all the rage as we try to hold out hope for a full season of this game that we all love and hope to return to normalcy. I decided that I wanted to break the monotony of the offseason with a look into the philosophy of team building. Every owner is different and the way they build their teams is unique. Some like their core to be built around wide receivers, others emphasize depth, some owners go all-in with draft picks over aging players. The beautiful thing is that no single strategy is perfect or necessarily better than the rest. There is no singular way to build a team and win, there are plenty of ways to win. The key is figuring out what your philosophy is and growing from that as we add new information. I have compiled a series of quotes from people in my home league and asked them what their philosophy is towards building a fantasy football team.
The Lucky Gut
Lefty Gomez is often credited with saying “I’d rather be lucky than good,” and one of my buddies in my home league epitomizes this quote. He stands by this philosophy and is unwavering in his commitment. No matter what consensus says or what the experts are saying, he follows his gut and does whatever he wants. So far, every trade he has completed has gone from, in my opinion, not a very smart move to almost clairvoyant. The one example I can think of is trading Marlon Mack away at the end of the season for Jarrett Stidham and a first-round rookie pick. At the time Brady was still flirting with staying in New England and Mack was the clear starter in Indy. Shortly after the draft, it was clear that he had made the right move. I wanted to get into his head a little bit, so I told him I was writing an article over team building and asked him what his philosophy was. He responded, "What for are you writing for?". I realized I had asked him a question super early that morning, so I gave him some time to wake up and reevaluate his answer. He eventually woke up enough to give me this quote, “I like to grab younger running backs with tons of volume (i.e. Josh Jacobs) and then go into receivers. I like to get receivers with longevity and volume. Then building my depth around those guys, handcuffing when possible. Waiting until as late as possible to get quarterbacks. When it comes to trading, I like to make sure I’m winning the trade no matter what and make it seem like I’m letting them win the trade.” So far, his gut hasn’t led to a championship in our league, but it has contributed to a marked improvement in the standings.
The High Volume Producer
In all dynasty leagues, there are people who go all-in on rookies. No matter what, they want the rookies and fall in love with the new. I asked my next buddy what his philosophy for team building was. He answered with “In both redraft and dynasty I’m just looking for the opportunity for production. I want the guys that get the work. Not really big on taking chances on fliers in redraft, but dynasty I’ll take a shot at it. Redraft I’m streaming QB and TE so I’m only grabbing one of them. Dynasty, I want all the rookies. Don’t care about the risk as much.” This manager is the current reigning champion in our league. His team is solid, and he seems to be getting the most out of all of his players. He has a specific type of running back that he targets; he rode Derrick Henry and Saquon Barkley to the championship. He was not lying when he said he wants volume. Trading away solid veterans after a championship for rookie picks is always risky, and that is what he did trading away Michael Thomas for a package of picks to try and hit the lottery. I am curious to see how this strategy plays out in the next couple of years. I look forward to seeing whether he is the smartest manager in the league or if he ended up pulling a Jerry Krause and broke up a contending team.
The Well Balanced
This next manager is rational and logical. He has his favorite players but does not do anything irrational to get them. His team is always balanced and is usually a favorite to win year in and year out. When asked what his philosophy was, he gave a well thought out answer, “I like to build off of running backs and the grabbing the value at WR. After that, I like to look at low tier RB2’s that have the opportunity to produce and have volume. Then I like to move to WR and try to grab as many upside guys as I can. When it comes to trading, win at all costs.” This type of manager is tough, he does not do anything rash or something impulsive, but he does have a weakness. He invests deeply in players who have helped him in the past. He may not overpay, but he does have a bias towards those who have helped him win.
The High Floor
This manager is more risk-averse than the others. He looks for the players that will be consistent week in and week out. He avoids the players that could go off for 30 points one week and could give him 10 points another. "I go for the high floor guys. I want consistency the most, so I typically focus on WR (thinking PPR) that get targets or high RZ touches." Personally, I do not agree with this line of thinking. Like I stated before, there are many different ways to make it to the championship in your leagues. This strategy led him to the runner up spot but unfortunately, his floor was not high enough to beat the champions ceiling.
Personally, I am a gambler. I subscribe to the belief that you need the guys that will win you weeks. I generally don't make moves to acquire depth, I want the superstars more so than the depth. When it comes to trading, I usually ignore the trades that try to overwhelm me with assets to equal one superstar. If you need to add four or five pieces to equal my guy, I'm going to keep my star and enjoy his performance on my squad. The trade may be fair or equal, but I want those points on my squad. I do have a fault, I fall in love with players and make exorbitant trades for my guys. If you are in a league with me, then you know my love for Jonathan Taylor is recorded. I will try to overwhelm you in order to get him. So if you are reading this and you are in a league with me and currently holding JT, then let me overpay you for him.
Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living." If we stop to examine our team-building philosophy we can identify our weaknesses and our strengths. Not only that, but we can then examine our opponents and figure out where their beliefs lie and what they value. We can then work on our weaknesses, and exploit the weaknesses of our friends and rivals. This article is a departure from the usual rocket science that we are known for. I felt like stepping away from the usual articles this time of year and wanted something fresh and humorous. I wanted to include my friends and their thoughts in this article because that’s what ultimately makes fantasy football an enjoyable hobby. The connections we make with the people we grow to know. I want them to know that they are respected as managers and as rivals. I know there are plenty of other philosophies to team building that I did not go into, so if you have another philosophy that you subscribe to, feel free to message me on twitter (@bobotello15) and let me know your thoughts!