So I have a decent amount of experience in baseball keeper/dynasty leagues, but much less so in football. That said, I'm more of a football fan, and think I have a relatively decent eye for football talent.
I'm currently in the 3rd year of a 12-team keeper-league where we keep only 3. And my team is getting ready to tank. With Steven Jackson and Clinton Portis as two of your keepers, you know you're in trouble. Now, my team isn't bad (3-0, funny enough), as I had a very nice draft, but I'm not going to win it all this year, which leads me to believe that now is the perfect time to rebuild, dealing a few parts of a very decent team for three players who I can anchor a team around in the next few years.
My problem -- I have no clue how to do so. Could any with keeper experience discuss how they go about finding/targeting prospects to become elite fantasy players? Or strategies to target lower-level keepers now who have upside of first-round talent? For instance, grabbing MJD two years ago would have been brilliant. Or recognizing that Chris Johnson was going to be in a position to reap benefits so early in his career. I guess I just don't follow the college game enough to recognize rookies who have the stud-level-ability to become top players. Any thoughts on strategies for identifying these types of keepers?
(Please don't suggest individuals, that's not what I'm going for here. I would prefer to do the work myself, just would love to hear how others go about it! humbsup: )
Best... fantasy advice... EVER. :D
[quote]Always play the players who will get you the most points[/quote]
I've been thinking about this a lot myself, and a lot depends on the specifics of your league. I'm in a league where our keeper point cap is 5 times the average of the top 180 players and 12 defenses over the past 2 years (where the most recent year is weighted 2/3, and the year before that is weighted 1/3). This format means that keeping outstanding rookies or players in up and coming situations is very valuable, since you're essentially getting them at 1/3 of the cost. But this is just my league, so it varies.
I think the most important thing is to be able to spot the superstars the second they come into the league. That's very, very tough, obviously, and much easier said than done. This guy in my league was lucky enough to pick up AP and Calvin Johnson in our inaugural draft as rookies, plus he also got Larry Fitzgerald in that same draft. Then he picked up Ryan Grant and DeAngelo Williams before they broke out. That's the most important thing---you have to be able to figure out which guys are in the right position and opportunity to succeed and become superstars, before they actually become superstars. Obviously, it's a very hard process, but I'm of the firm belief that you need to stay young. In a keeper league I always draft for young talent first, before taking solid, more established players. Since we only have a core group of players that we can keep (maybe 5-6), it's important for me to consolidate talent into 2 stud RBs and 2 stud WRs, then have a couple prospects that could bloom and become stars.
Another thing you probably need to do is trade away guys before they start showing their age. Portis is one of those guys---now it's too late to move him, whereas if you had given him up last year or earlier, you may have been able to get someone younger, but in an unclear situation. Also, it's important to stay away from character concern players. I have Lynch and Marshall, so it's biting me big time. I agree with you though, if you don't think you'll have a shot to win this year, go ahead and start rebuilding. I'd probably wait to dump Portis off after he has a good couple games, and then maybe pair him with one of your decent WRs and try to upgrade at RBs.
Scouting is really tough, because not even the pro scouts bat that high of an average. There are plenty of busts. But I think what needs to be said is to make sure to use the waiver wire and monitor performance in preseason. Don't be afraid to jump on a guy who makes a splash early on in the season off the waiver wire. Lots of the time those guys are just flashes in the pan, but sometimes you get an MJD, Barber, or Colston and there's no better feeling in FF.
I've also found that looking at the team forums is very useful. A lot of times we look at a stat line and think we know the whole situation, but there's a lot that's missing. Looking through those forums gives you an idea of how high a team is on their player. You'll get homers hyping up their guys and drooling all over the place, but you also have the hypercritical fans, and that balances things out. If you're interested in a rookie or young emerging player, go to the forums and see what they're saying, if they're a star in the making, people are going to be gushing big time. However, don't get too tied into this, because if it doesn't start to translate on the field, feel free to cut ties. Always look at the depth chart and see who's old, who's injury prone, and look at the guys behind them to see what's up.
And as always, be lucky. That helps a lot, but the more groundwork you do, the luckier you'll be. I know a lot of this is pretty general, but hopefully that helps a little bit.
First of all, I don't think you can say that you're not going to win the whole thing this year. My goal every year is to make it to the playoffs, ideally get a first round bye (if your league even has them), because ANYTHING can happen once you get into the postseason. You're 3-0 already, so you're off to a great start to make the playoffs.
As far as finding young talent, I like to think that I'm pretty good at it myself, but to be totally honest, a lot of it is luck. The basic formula is talent+opportunity=potential ff superstar, but there are a lot of moving parts. Heck, if people who's sole job is to judge talent for the NFL get it wrong so frequently, how can we expect to get it right? I drafted MJD in the early 2nd round of my 14 teamer his rookie season, and CJ3 with the #7 overall pick last year, which both turned out to be great. But, I obviously didn't get it totally right either or I would've taken MJD with my first rounder, and CJ3 with the #3 overall (I took Mendenhall there).
My league keeps way more players though, so it pays to do your research. With only 3 keepers, almost all of them are going to be vets, so I wouldn't waste a whole lot of time "guessing" on the rookies to be honest. Most times, the cream rises to the top, so I prefer to take more talented players in not so good situations than less talented in better situations, but you usually have to wait longer for them to get their chance. Again, not something you can really afford to do with only 3 keepers.
If you do happen to fall out of the race, target a team that is still fighting and maybe try dealing Portis plus another player for a younger RB. Look for guys who are maybe #2 on their depth chart now, but who are either free agents after the season, or the #1 RB is a free agent, aging vet, etc. McCoy is on a lot of teams radar's right now, but he might not be a keeper for a lot of teams in your league since you only keep 3. If his owner has 3 better keeper options, you can grab a guy like him.