We are five weeks into the NFL season. Yes, it’s getting late here, especially with the fantasy teams. And now the farewell weeks are here. I realize this causes anxiety to many fantasy directors, but I encourage you to turn that idea around. It’s a perfect moment to take stock of your team’s position, and a perfect time to take advantage of the current format of the fantasy season.
In my book, farewell weeks is a fictional feature, not a bug. Allow me a few minutes to sell you this idea.
It is generally difficult to execute trades early in the year. Most managers leave draft content today, if not overconfident. The injuries haven’t started yet. Bad tunes have not yet taken root. Everyone has a parade in mind when they are 0-0.
But your ranking now has some character, and your list has some kind of identity, good or bad. We’ve come more than a third of the way during regular fantasy season. It’s time to identify your strengths and weaknesses and work on giving yourself the best chance of getting what you need.
Here are the main themes of the moment:
Step 1: Assess your chances of winning and team position
Look at the ranking page, and be honest. Maybe you’re 4-1 somehow but you’re in luck; Or maybe it’s a 1-4 with some soul-crushing near miss. The points scored column reflects your team’s strength more than your record. Be fair with your assessment.
Now think about the positional shape of your list. Where are you strong, where are you weak, where did you get hurt? What are the deep positions that you can trade from easily? What shallow areas should be treated?
Step 2: Take a look at the farewell schedule
Bye weeks, as you probably know, are not uniform in size. Sometimes there are two teams seated, sometimes four, sometimes six. Here’s how to play in 2022:
Week Six: Lions, Raiders, Titans, Texas
Week 7: Bills, Vikings, Eagles, Rams
Eighth week: bosses, chargers (skinny bye)
Week 10: Ravens, Bengals, Patriots, Jets
Week 12: Everyone plays
Week 13: Cardinals, Panthers (Goodbye Skinny)
Week 14: Hawks, bears, Packersponies, saints, leaders (goodbye)
It’s more of a low-key breakout than anything else, but I like to score guys in a skinny farewell, all else being equal. My candidate rosters are likely to be 100% immune in the weeks they don’t play. Conversely, if you accumulate a lot of goodbye guys, they are more likely to rest while the rest of your list is a mess of unavailability.
Skinny, heavier goodbyes aren’t a reason to take proactive steps, but they’re at least as worth thinking about as they do some forward planning.
Step 3: Find out which potential business partners are right for you
Not all tournaments allow trades, and some fantasy managers are anxious to make trades. The paradox of choice is a real thing. Sometimes it’s emotionally safe to stick with what you have.
But if you’re one of the giant players in your league, now is the time to see if you can time the market and get some promotions from the most desperate managers. And if you’re the guy who got stuck with a losing streak and injuries or goodbye problems, you might have to think about turning things around, depending on where your team’s rating is.
If life is going well: Look at the difference at the bottom of the ranking, and pay special attention to the difference in the crises of the week. Maybe there is a manager with a poor record and he can’t help Amon-Ra Saint Brown this week. This is the perfect moment to start a conversation. Your opponent can be motivated to trade, while you can deal from a position of strength.
If you’re against it: You need to narrow your focus, treating nearly every week like a playoff or a DFS competition. This is where I might try to filter out players who are currently injured or in farewell. I need help now, and I will worry about November much later.
Business partners not only fit in with different records; The simplest way for two teams to strike a deal easily is when they need different placements. If your reception room is loaded but your back field is poor, try to find the team with the opposite problem. Challenge deals (back to back, receiver to receiver) are likely to make potential partners more nervous. When both of you go from excess, it’s easier on feelings.
Turning: Play your hand
There’s a saying in the Tournament Scrabble: In the end, you stop trying to play bingo (50-point extra words) and instead try to win the game. The lesson is rarely the action + EV in baseball, but it can be late in the game when you know the next round is winning. Most NFL clubs recognize a 4th and 1st goal as the kickoff moment, but if you’re late in the fourth and a field goal puts you nine points or more, kicking may be preferred.
At the draw table, I wanted you to play in the big stroke, often swinging in the upside (with the occasional floor pick throwing). Now it’s time to maneuver with the specific shape of the game situation in mind.
A team with a winning record and enviable depth can try to upgrade two or three good players to one star. You have that luxury. Teams grappling with losses and injuries may have to consider buying their best player for several novice players.
Teams with a strong track record also have the luxury of considering slow-developing stories, a player who may not hold value now but can acquire them later in the year. You are likely to lose this luxury if you are low on the rankings. Teams with a strong track record will also start considering lock season in the background, lining up their bell cows with clear backups, if possible. This may be less attractive to you if you are close to winning every week.
Don’t be afraid of farewell weeks, players. It makes the game more dynamic and interesting. Players deserve a week off, anyway. And for the first time in a new fantasy season, your leaguemates may be excited to trade.
Now is a great time to make your move.