My first dynasty league experience was in 2018 when I joined a startup league with some friends of friends. I went 1-12 and immediately pivoted from trying to win to a productive struggle, as Ryan McDowell calls it. After that first season, I knew the only way that I would get better at the game was by doing more of this, but my home league wasn’t very active in trades and being a trade addict, this posed a problem for me. So, in April of 2019, I decided to adopt an orphan team with the idea that I would rebuild it and turn it into a champion. Here’s my dynasty orphan rebuild: phase 1.
Dynasty Orphan Rebuild: Phase 1 – Defining the Problem
Step 1 – Finding an orphan team to adopt
I had been a quiet part of fantasy Twitter for a while, but in April of 2019, I decided to go all in. I created a new handle specifically for fantasy football discussions and to do more deep reading, devoting a lot of my time to learning as much as I could from the smartest people I could find.
It was around this time that I started seeing orphan teams being offered at a discount through SafeLeagues, a commissioner service hosted by Scott Fish. I kept seeing him post about teams needing a new owner and heard that the leagues themselves were filled with other active traders like myself. I figured, why not? I like a challenge, and this should help accelerate my learning. I’m in!
I looked through the teams available and saw one that just spoke to me. This 12-team PPR SuperFlex team had some good bones and plenty to work with, including my boy Andy Dalton, up and coming WR Cooper Kupp, stud TE Zach Ertz, and aging RB Le’Veon Bell, who was newly signed to the New York Jets. I felt like it was the kind of team I could do a lot with, and boy was I right!
Orphan Team’s Picks:
2019 1.03, 2.03, 3.03, 4.03
2020 1st, 2020 2nd, 2020 3rd, 2020 4th
Step 2 – Addressing the holes, creating a plan, and making my first trade
This team had some obvious holes, but my QBs were my biggest need. Tom Brady was getting up there, Dalton was likely gone after the season, and Tyrod Taylor was a backup. In SuperFlex, having two QBs is essential to winning, so I knew this is where I would have to focus my energy the most during the offseason.
My RBs weren’t great either, though. Behind Bell, all I really had was a bunch of free agents and handcuffs. Barely anyone worth starting week to week. Sure, there was some upside, but not enough to win games with. My TEs weren’t great, but at least I had Ertz holding down the fort there. He definitely had some trade value.
My WR room is where I felt I had the most strength. Julio Jones and Cooper Kupp were both great assets, but with Doug Baldwin expected to retire, I didn’t have a surefire WR3 on the roster. Again, I had a lot of “what ifs,” but no one I felt that strongly about. It almost felt like the previous owner just went around collecting trash from the other teams and put them on his roster. Yuck.
One thing I want to address is that I didn’t even think about what my starting lineup would be in these early stages of the rebuild. All I was concerned with was adding value and upside players to my team wherever I could through trades and waiver acquisitions. The season was still months out, so I had plenty of time to worry about my lineup down the road.
Also, since this is a deep dive into the thought process on how I rebuilt the team, I’ll try to elaborate on what made me make each trade and really get into detail on some of the larger ones. Most of the time, I can look back on the trade and still be happy with what I did, but there are definitely a few that make me cringe now.
Anyway, two days after adopting this team, I made my first trade, and it was a big one.
Trade #1 – 4/26/2019
Sent: Zach Ertz, Josh Bellamy, 2019 2.03
Received: Matt Stafford, Jeff Driskel, CJ Uzomah, 2019 1.04
With my biggest need at QB, I felt like I should do whatever I could to turn one of my bigger pieces into a QB. In SF leagues, trading for a QB is rarely cheap, and almost always involves sending a QB back as a part of the deal. In this case, due to Ertz’s high trade value, I was able to get back a starting QB along with a pretty early rookie pick along with some other pieces.
This trade still stands out as one of the best I’ve ever made, and it easily set the tone for the rest of my off-season moves: go big or go home.