Here are five quick ways to improve your fantasy roster before Week 1—and after an unsatisfactory snake or auction draft.
On Wednesday night, while partaking in the "10-Yard Fight" league draft (a CBS Sports-based mixture of keeper picks/"slow" picks/auction draft), I inadvertently got screwed by the online system and missed on a chance to secure Tennessee's Nate Washington as my No. 5 wide receiver—even though I had plenty of auction funds to win the bid.
The computer foul-up was far from an egregious error. But it was disheartening enough to motivate me into researching the other 11 team rosters, in search of immediate trade partners.
It was also vexing enough to then flirt with the notion of completely overhauling my squad before the second Sunday in September.
1. There's No Loyalty With Late-Round Selections After Preseason Week 3
I may not be a huge advocate of implementing wholesale changes between draft day and Week 1 of the NFL season, but that creed takes a backseat in the name of obvious talent upgrades.
Take wide receiver, for example. Let's say you drafted Terrell Owens (Seahawks), Randy Moss (49ers) or even Danny Amendola (Rams) with the best of intentions but soon realized just how much young talent (with higher ceilings) remained on the waiver wire.
Don't wait until after Donald Jones (Bills) collects 85 yards and one touchdown against the Jets on Sept. 9. Or don't wait for Danario Alexander or Brian Quick to emerge as the Rams' best playmaking receiver (over Amendola and Brandon Gibson).
I've already gone all-in on touting Donald Jones as a fantasy gem. By extension, I'm confident he'll be a stronger fantasy asset than Owens or Moss this season (standard-scoring or PPR league). Besides, last-round picks should always go to younger players with immense potential.
Bottom line: Investing in a 35-or-older receiver is a telltale sign that someone didn't adequately prepare for a draft.
2. Seek Friends or Respectful Rivals for Win-Win 'Handcuff' Situations
Let's say Owner A drafts Kansas City's Jamaal Charles and Minnesota's Toby Gerhart and Owner B selects Adrian Peterson and Peyton Hillis. Elementarily speaking, this is an obvious trade situation for both parties, exchanging Gerhart (721 total yards, 4 TD last year) and Hillis (Charles' main backup) in a 1-for-1 swap.
But it might only be a no-brainer move with owners who were competitive rivals in previous leagues. In other words, when there's a foundation of trust and/or respect between two parties, that's when thoughtful, win-win deals can quickly be processed.
On the flip side of that rationale...
3. Don't Be Afraid to Cut Obnoxious, Unfamiliar Owners out of the Trade Loop
This one is quite simple: Upon receiving three lopsided offers from a stranger in a relatively short period of time (none in your favor), secretly bar him/her from all future deals.
Being disrespected by another GM is a big no-no in fantasy...and a white-collar crime worthy of incommunicable banishment.
4. Identify the Teams That Need Dynamic Starters at Quarterback
The best-case scenario for this tip might involve Owner A having Matt Schaub as a QB2 and Owner B possessing an underwhelming combination made from the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Alex Smith, and rookies Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.
If Owner A was willing to ride the 30-year-old Schaub (the NFL passing-yardage king in 2009) as a primary quarterback, then he/she could afford to sell Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Eli Manning, Michael Vick, Matt Ryan or Peyton Manning to Owner B, with the intent of fortifying his/her assets at running back and receiver.
And if at all possible, avoid diluting that trade with another quarterback in return. By doing that, you'll have the freedom to choose a backup on waivers—upside guys like Christian Ponder (a hot-start candidate in September/October) and Matt Flynn (not buying the Russell Wilson hype) or established talents primed for bounce-back seasons (e.g. Matt Cassel).
5. Enthusiastically Put Your No. 1 Draft Pick up for Public Auction
On the surface, this may seem like a last-resort ploy for improving a roster...and technically, it is.
However, if you're an owner (like me) who enjoys cutting through the "bull" of high-stakes trade negotiations in non-deadline settings, the quickest way to dramatically overhaul a team involves the following tactic:
Alert your fellow GMs to the availability of a superstar—Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Calvin Johnson—in the form of a short but informative email or message-board post.
Be vague about what you're looking for, other than saying "best offer wins." As the coup de grace, set a firm deadline for when all credible offers must be submitted. Emphasize how the blockbuster trade will be completed before the Giants and Cowboys clash on Sept. 5.
For those playing in highly competitive leagues, expect an immediate avalanche of respectable trade offers.
After that, it's up to you to keep driving up the price...by any genuine or artificial means necessary.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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