The Superflex Dynasty QB Profit Plan: Don’t Be an Underpants Gnome

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Great dynasty fantasy football owners are excellent planners. Having a vision for success isn’t enough: you can’t just draft young players or guys with great SPARQ scores and hope that this will eventually lead you to the fantasy football promised land. Don’t be like the Underpants Gnomes and leave the details of how you’ll achieve your vision to figure out later.

Create a well-thought out plan of action: if you’re looking to collect underpants and make a profit from them, be specific in outlining how you plan to do just that. Maybe you’re going to try and flip your veteran WRs nearing age 30 to contending teams prior to your trade deadline to acquire future draft capital. Or maybe you’re nervous about your QB situation, and want to stock up on some bench depth in the offseason so you don’t have to pay up for a starter in-season.

After you define your team-building strategy, the next step is thinking critically about how to execute upon that strategy: who are your competitors? What tools do you have in your belt? How can you minimize risk, and when is the optimal time to strike? Planning ahead and thinking through the details and minutae is your edge. Start cultivating those trade relationships now, and figure out what players or picks you want to target. Be an active dynasty owner by thinking ahead – reactive dynasty owners have much fewer options and tactics available to them.

The Underpants Gnome Superflex Dynasty QB Profit Plan

 

The Superflex Dynasty Profit Plan

The Superflex Dynasty Profit Plan

Last season, as the San Francisco 49ers training camp battle heated up and it looked like Blaine Gabbert would emerge as the starting QB, I acquired Colin Kaepernick for dirt cheap in a Superflex Dynasty League. When Gabbert was benched midseason and Kaepernick took on the starting role – he quickly went on a tear as a fantasy QB1. It was time: I aggressively shopped Kaep, and was ultimately able to make a deal with a contending team making a playoff push for his 2017 1st rounder. He ended up missing on the playoffs, and that pick became the 1.05.

In many 2QB and Superflex leagues, you’ll find there are usually a few owners who scoff at the importance of the QB position, fading it in the startup draft and refusing to pay a premium in trade capital for a franchise QB. They’ll spend high rookie picks on the Jared Goffs of the world, and throw darts in later rounds, hoping to land the next Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson. They’ll blow a significant portion of their waiver budget on Landry Jones when Ben Roethlisberger goes down with (another) injury. Become fast friends, and frequent trade partners with these owners.

They’ll hate the owners who dangle young, productive QBs like Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota over their heads for king’s ransoms. They’ll focus on trying to organically grow their QBs through drafts and waivers, knowing that the alternative is to sell the farm for a franchise QB. Here’s where you come in.

Start by reserving 2-3 of your roster spots to stash developmental and backup QBs. Your goal is simple: find QBs who could earn a starting role (however short or long that may be) in the next 1-2 years, and if they hit, flip them to your QB-needy trade partners at a reasonable price. You’re not going to get a godfather offer that includes multiple 1st round picks or other hyper-valuable assets, but stocking up on end of the bench QB stashes can still pay dividends in the form of mid-round rookie picks or undervalued veterans – and maybe more importantly, goodwill from your trade partners.

Typically, this is most successfully executed in-season, as starters go down to injury and QB production is sorely missed, especially in leagues with greater starting roster requirements. However, the lead-up to free agency in early March, and the NFL Draft brings additional windows to make these types of moves before teams telegraph their intentions for the following season.

Step 1: Collect Underpants  Fringe QBs

Hit the trade market now to acquire these prospects, before the fluff pieces, rumors and hype trains get out of control in the next few weeks; then watch and wait. Your goal is to act as a middleman: scouring waivers for discarded QBs (more likely in shallow leagues) or looking to add some of these target players for cheap, chiefly as throw-ins or components of larger trades.

Step 2: ??? Identify your window to act.

Next, wait for one of three things to happen:

  • The QB to sign with a new team in free agency, or to be strongly rumored to be traded/sign to a new team
  • The QB to ‘secure’ a starting job due to a team’s lack of moves in the NFL draft, or by winning a camp battle
  • The QB to ascend to a starting role due to injury or benching.

Step 3: Profit.

Then it’s time to collect your finder’s fee by trading with your QB needy trade partner. If you can, try to make it part of a larger package deal involving multiple decisions, so it doesn’t seem like you are trying to take advantage of their need and inflating the price. 

Building Your Prospect List

Target low-cost QBs that meet any of the following criteria:

  • Former starters who have been benched or lost their starting job due to injury
  • QBs entering free agency
  • Backups behind QBs with more extensive injury histories
  • Under-the-radar talented backup QBs
  • Post-hype sleeper young QBs

Following this process may have led you to acquire and flip Colin Kaepernick, Brock Osweiler or Brian Hoyer last season, all of whom could have netted a nice value at key moments throughout the season.

As you build your target list for 2017, it’s important to note that the incoming rookie crop will be cost-prohibitive, and the ramp up  you’re better off targeting veteran names who either have uncertainty attached to their 2017 season, or have fallen out of favor with dynasty owners. The goal is to acquire these players now – preferably as throw-ins to larger trade deals, or waiver pick ups, and look to capitalize during the key hype windows by targeting those QB-needy owners. See if you can turn 3rd or 4th round picks into 2nd round picks, by selling these lower-cost options when the time is right.

Keep an eye on Rotoworld and NFL Twitter, watching for rumblings of retirement, rumors of QB trades and offseason agent posturing. Was Carson Palmer’s rumored retirement earlier this offseason a cause for concern for his owner? That might have been a good time to see if said owner was interested in acquiring Mike Glennon (who around that time, was linked with the Cardinals and Jets) for a 2nd round pick.

As with all dynasty trades, it all depends on price. If you are trying to do business with an AJ McCarron truther who thinks he’s the next Tom Brady, your margins may be slim or non-existent. Target players you can buy for a late 2nd round pick or cheaper. Guys like Tyrod Taylor and Jimmy Garoppolo are not included on this list, as they will run you at least a 1st round pick to obtain at this point. Let’s look at some key targets:

Tony Romo, DAL

Romo basically hasn’t played football in two years. While I have no doubt that if given a starting gig, he’d still be playing at a well above average level, his injuries have made it hard to trust him any long term capacity. Sell when he lands with a team in free agency.

Jay Cutler, CHI

Smokin’ Jay almost certainly won’t be back in Chicago, but isn’t necessarily done as an NFL starter. Rumors of his possible retirement have dropped him to bargain basement level prices, and he’s proven QB2 ability in the past. Sell when he lands with a team in free agency.

Josh McCown, CLE

A stopgap solution anywhere he goes. Has been a decent spot start at times the last few years, but he’s getting up there in age, has dealt with several injuries, and is on his third team in four years. Probably destined to retire or play one more season as a backup QB, but still a cheap flier option. Sell when he lands with a team in free agency.

Tom Savage, HOU

Savage was likely picked up in your league when Osweiler was benched this past season, and despite a lukewarm debut as Houston’s starter, has a decent shot to be the day 1 starter for Houston in 2017, who already has a lot of capital sunk into Brock Osweiler. Sell if/when camp buzz favors him as the Week 1 Starter for Houston.

Mike Glennon, TB

Glennon was decent as a starter in TB, and has been the subject of numerous free agency and trade rumors since Jameis Winston was drafted to replace him. Glennon has a decent possibility of starting for a new team as he enters unrestricted free agency in 17. Sell when he signs a contract with a new team during free agency. 

Colin Kaepernick, SF

Kaepernick put up some nice numbers this year in Chip Kelly’s offense in 2016, but is almost certainly gone from SF in 2017. He may end up as a starter (or more likely, a backup) elsewhere. Sell when he signs a contract with a new team during free agency. 

Brian Hoyer, CHI

Was a solid fantasy play as the starter in Chicago when Jay Cutler went down this past season, but memories of his 2015 Houston playoff implosion could cast doubts on his long-term starter potential. Sell when he signs a contract with a new team during free agency.

Matt Barkley, CHI

Barkley played his way into the starting job conversation for Chicago in 2016, despite one memorable late season meltdown. Sell when he signs a contract with a new team during free agency.

A.J. McCarron, CIN

McCarron is another oft-rumored trade candidate. While Dalton can be somewhat safely projected to start for CIN for the foreseeable future, a trade or a Dalton injury/horrendous stretch of games could thrust McCarron in the limelight for an extended starting job audition. Sell if he gets traded to a new team in the offseason, as is heavily rumored.

Paxton Lynch, DEN

He still looks like a project QB, but has a decent chance to start Week 1 for the Broncos. Might be worth sending out a feeler to an impatient owner. Sell when camp buzz projects him as the Week 1 starter.

Cody Kessler, CLE

Probably not Cleveland’s long-term starter, but Cleveland (or maybe Hue Jackson) believes in him to some extent, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Cleveland picks Myles Garrett at 1.01 and loads up on defensive players in the draft and forgoes QB or drafts one later. Sell when camp buzz projects him as the Week 1 starter.

Cardale Jones, BUF

Believe it or not, Buffalo’s GM has recently discussed Jones as a starting option for 2017. Like Lynch, he’s a project QB, but one who might be able to be had for cheap. Sell when camp buzz projects him as the Week 1 starter.

Not all of these scenarios will come to pass, so be prepared to be flexible. If they don’t gain starting roles this year, many of these QBs could be the primary backup and potentially ascend to the starter role due to injury or underperformance, so be prepared for a sell window mid-season should the cards fall into place.

The Price is Right

Rotoviz’s Jacob Rickrode wrote an in-depth piece last year on rookie draft pick hit rates, showing that third round and later rookie picks are basically a crap shoot. There are a lot worse ways to spend those picks than on bargain basement QB prospecting. If you’re a savvy and active trader, you can identify potential trade partners who will be willing to pay a modest price for a starting QB, even if they won’t be starters for more than a season or two.  You’re probably not going to net an early first rounder or a stud in return, but Dynasty Fantasy Football is a marathon, not a sprint.  Every little bit counts. The devil is in the details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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