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I have six fantasy leagues. When I get asked my co-workers and friends like clockwork on Monday how I did each weekend in fantasy, my answer is almost always 5-1, or 4-2. Sure, I've had a week or two where I've gotten to say "undefeated" casually while I pour the coffee into my cup without looking, super casually, without burning my hand. For the most part, though, I've been let down in one league specifically. If you're good, this is the one league where you may have gone away from your usual strategy and tried something different. If you're unlucky, this is more than one league. Hell, maybe the Bell-Fournette strategy didn't go great for you. That's ok. What's important now, in the leagues where you have less than four wins over the course of nine weeks is that you cut bait.

The bad news is that you're probably a week or two too late. Mind you, in a re-draft league, there wasn't much you could do anyway, and now it's time to barter with your partner about going back to normal Sunday activities and maybe just focusing on your favorite team instead, serving only to play spoiler to your worst enemy in the league.

For dynasty or keeper leagues, you can start doing work for next year. That's the great thing about dynasty - you can say "there's always next year" and actually do something about it. Unfortunately, the trade window is rapidly closing, and you're probably not the first person to make the offer for Le'Veon Bell. There are players that are being overlooked that could be the building blocks to future success, however. Here's how to figure out who to pick up for next year.

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Step One: Understand and Evaluate Value

In any league where keepers are involved, there is a value associated with each and every player. Whether draft pick or salary, it's important to know how much anyone will cost you before you make a trade, and the general rule of thumb should be you shouldn't trade for anyone who will cost you more to keep than it would to re-acquire. Sure, it's fine to trade for Odell Beckham, but if he's worth your first-round pick next year, it's likely not worth tying up your assets in an expensive but high-performing player. In fact, let's refer to the very crude chart below.

Cost-Effective

High Performing

Expensive

High Performing

Cost-Effective

Low Performing

Expensive

Low Performing

It's not exactly rocket science, but it's a really easy way to help you evaluate the players you have and the players you are targeting. You're looking to focus in the top left section when it comes to trading players, the "Cost-Effective/High Performing" segment. You're looking to avoid the bottom right-hand side like the plague, even if it's not your natural target (e.g. you're not trading for LeSean McCoy here). You're looking to limit the other two segments, or at least approach them more strategically; you can have an expensive/high-performing player, but you can have one or two before it hampers the rest of your strategy.

For example, Todd Gurley is great, but he's worth exponentially more for $50 in a $500 auction dynasty league than at $100. Whereas a player like Calvin Ridley, a young guy who wasn't drafted highly, might be incredible value for someone rebuilding. You won't let D.J. Moore be your WR1 because he costs a dollar, but a bench of Moore-Ridley-Boyd-Chubb for cheap is better than filling your bench with anyone in the older, less-reliably performing, or more-expensive segments. Whereas the other guys in your league may only be targeting the big names, you can win your rebuild by recognizing cost. It doesn't matter for your trade partner who is trying to win the league, but for you it's invaluable.

 

Step Two: At Least Ask About The Low-Hanging Fruit

Yes, even if you aren't the first person to target Le'Veon Bell in trade talks, you should still give it a shot. The Bell owner in your league has likely been through the wringer in terms of how to evaluate the stud RB this year, and depending on how much they cost, it may make sense. The obvious names pop up here; the injured or underperforming studs that went in the first three rounds that should rebound. Here are some others.

Jerick McKinnon went towards the end of the second round in 2018, and never saw the field. If he's got that price tag or even within three rounds of it going into 2019, move on. McKinnon is going to be rehabbing up until training camp, and will have to compete with a more competent backfield in San Francisco (who could also end up drafting another offensive weapon.) However, if he's outside of the top-eight rounds or equivalent value, it's worth asking

Devonta Freeman will eventually be back, but his owner may not have time to wait. The ideal trade partner here is at about .500 in terms of winning percentage, and see if they can wait. If they can't, Freeman will be worth acquiring as he's only 27 next year and likely won't have to deal with a soon-to-be-free-agent Tevin Coleman, making him that much more value even if not qualifying as a "sexy pick"

Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook should be lumped together here; not fully healthy backs after season-ending injuries in 2017, injured on and off, may be returning to 100% in 2018. Their value couldn't be lower, and you're in a league where these guys are cheap, they may cost you the superstar you can't keep anyway just to get ahold of them. I'd favor Cook over Fournette here, but it also may be worth seeing what both owners would accept for the players.

Allen Robinson may have lost it. If his current owner thinks so, and if he's cheap, Robinson is at least worthy of FLEX consideration in 2019 and could have a much higher upside.

 

Step Three: Remember The Injured 

Hey, can you name me four guys on IR? I couldn't either, because most fantasy sites don't sort by that metric (even though they do for baseball?) so it's not exactly known. So, let's visit the infirmary and talk about our options

Reports are coming in that Hunter Henry may not be returning in 2019, but instead coming in at the tail end of 2018. This feels like it fell under the radar, as Henry's ownership rating hasn't gone up since the news broke on Saturday, so this is a great way to bolster your lineup with a top-8 player at his position without having to give up anything

Derrius Guice is the most fascinating player on IR currently, at least in terms of fantasy. The much-coveted rookie, going in about round six in general ADP's prior to his very early injury, was seen as the bell cow in Washington. The backfield hasn't gotten any clearer outside the capital, and if anything the team renting Adrian Peterson seems like a short-term band-aid. That means the runway is clear for a guy who, much like Saquon Barkley, hasn't seen a snap in the pros yet is expected to see the majority of work. Guice has more time to recover and return to training camp than McKinnon, both pre-season ACL injury victims. In terms of the value/price breakdown, Guice may be the ultimate player to grab based solely on the ceiling, workload, and short-term and long-term value alone.

Jay Ajayi/Will Fuller are more recent additions to the IR report, but they should be acquired under the exact same conditions; very cheaply, and with the initial focus of putting them on the bench. Neither were consistent options when they went down with injury, and went down late enough that their Week One status may be up in the air for 2019. Make sure your trade partner remember that as you send them over your trade that may not be quite worth the value they were expecting.

 

Step Four: Add A Sprinkle of Underperforming Rookies

I wouldn't recommend trying to add Saquon Barkley to your "let's see what happens next year pile," but Ronald Jones, Courtland Sutton, Christian Kirkand Anthony Miller should be acquired for a last-round pick/$1 (depending on your league set-up) and held onto. This list is full of underperformers, though since playing time opened up for Sutton in Denver with Demaryius Thomas' departure this may have gotten more logistically difficult, that could be acquired for that price and will almost certainly see more work next year. Anyone outside of this list (James Washington and Michael Gallup, for instance) may be cheaper to just get at the end of your draft instead of possibly incurring any sort of keeper penalty of a round or a few bucks.

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