This is a breakdown of how I rebuilt an orphan team over the course of one season. Phase 1 can be found here. Today, I’m going to go through my dynasty orphan rebuild Phase 2 trades and explain the thought process behind each one.
Dynasty Orphan Rebuild: Phase 2 – Putting the Plan into Motion
Step 5 – After the rookie draft, where do we go from here?
As a reminder, here’s what my roster looks like at this point:
Trade #12 – 6/12/2019
Sent: Andy Isabella, 2020 2nd
Received: Ben Roethlisberger
Thanks to my move of Tom Brady earlier in the rebuild and lack of drafting a QB in the rookie draft, I still felt like my biggest weakness was my QB group. I asked around for a while after the draft to see who was available, and one of my least favorite QBs was on the block by another rebuilding team. Big Ben isn’t what he used to be, but he’s a starter, and I could use a third one if I was going to compete, but was that a good idea?
Inevitably, I made this trade for two reasons: I wasn’t giving up a QB in the trade, and I could package Ben with another player for a better QB later on. He wasn’t the future, but I saw this trade as a necessary step to getting to my end goal and pulled the trigger.
Trade #13 – 8/7/2019
Sent: Ben Roethlisberger, Royce Freeman, Marlon Mack, Cooper Kupp, 2020 1st
Received: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Alfred Morris
Not two months later and I pulled off another blockbuster trade, this time for a slew of Dallas Cowboys, including stressed asset Ezekiel Elliott. At the time he was rumored to be holding out, so his owner was looking to get out before he did and his value tanked. I saw an opportunity to get that younger QB I wanted and couldn’t help but smile at the thought of pairing CMC with Zeke.
I think I paid a fair price and helped my team in consolidating some assets to become a much stronger starting team at the same time. I looked at the league and started to realize that if I just made a few more moves, I might actually be a contender this season after all thanks to all of the trades I’d made. Of course, Zeke would have to play for that to happen, which was still unknown at the time.
Trade #14 – 8/9/2019
Sent: Tre’Quan Smith
Received: Tyrell Williams
Trade #15 – 8/11/2019
Sent: Jeremy Cox, Marqise Lee, 2020 3rd, 2020 4th
Received: Tony Pollard, Jordan Reed
These two trades were on the smaller side, but I saw Tyrell Williams as a “win-now” piece over the often injured and unpredictable Tre’Quan Smith and felt like with Zeke’s potential holdout I should acquire handcuff Tony Pollard just to be safe. On top of that, I added risky veteran Jordan Reed to my TE room that included a who’s who of risky options.
My roster was shaping up nicely at this point, and I truly felt like my team was starting to come together. I had made some savvy add/drops since the draft, including Darius Slayton who went undrafted, and I added from waivers on June 19 for $2 in FAAB. The season was less than a month away so it was time to start thinking about my starting lineup, which was looking much better than when I started:
QB: Prescott, Stafford
RB: CMC, Zeke
WR: Cooper, Ridley, Brown
FL: Slayton, Williams
There was one glaring thing that I realized I needed to rectify though, so I worked out another trade.
Trade #16 – 8/11/2019
Sent: Nyheim Hines, Amari Cooper
Received: Julio Jones, 2020 2nd
The issue I saw: I had way too many Cowboys. Also, since I was starting to pivot more to win-now mode, I felt like I should try to bolster my WR room a little and find some consistency. Ironically enough, I was able to trade Amari Cooper in a deal for Julio Jones whom I had previously traded away when I started the rebuild. Funny how things work sometimes, isn’t it? This trade gave me both starting Atlanta Falcons receivers though, and I knew just how to solve that problem.
Trade #17 – 8/12/2019
Sent: Calvin Ridley, Vance McDonald
Received: Matt Breida, Rashard Higgins, 2020 1st
Trade #18 – 8/17/2019
Sent: Kelvin Harmon, Qadree Ollison
Received: 2020 3rd
Trade #19 – 8/31/2019
Sent: 2020 3rd
Received: David Moore, CJ Anderson
These three trades were basically designed to give me some depth if I turned out to be a true contender without sacrificing too much of my future in the process. Getting another RB in Breida made sense to me, and adding that future first gave me a safety net in case he didn’t pan out.
Overall, I was still looking pretty solid as I entered the season. Here was my roster.
Step 6 – The season begins with a bang, and a new plan emerges
Trade #20 – 9/4/2019
Sent: Ezekiel Elliott, Carlos Hyde, Tony Pollard, Rashard Higgins
Received: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Devonta Freeman, Antonio Brown, 2020 3rd
As soon as news broke on September 4th that Zeke had agreed to a six-year deal with the Cowboys, I knew that was my time to strike. I’d had a few offers from people as the rumors started swirling, but I knew I would get the most value if I waited until he actually signed a deal.
In return for Zeke, his handcuff in Pollard, and two bench pieces, I essentially got two starting running backs in Carson and Freeman, a handcuff in Penny, a potential league winner in Brown (once he signed somewhere), and a future pick. I couldn’t have been more excited. Yes, Zeke is awesome, but with CMC being my current RB1 this trade gave me the depth I felt like I needed to make a push for the title in my first year.
Roster after the trade:
QB: Prescott, Stafford
RB: CMC, Carson
WR: Julio, J Brown, Williams
FL: Freeman, Slayton
Step 7 – The pivot pays off and how in-season trades helped
Once the season was underway I was feeling pretty good about my chances, but my team was far from a sure thing. I decided that if I could get a few wins under my belt that I would likely have to push my chips into the middle and give it a real go and potentially accelerate my dynasty orphan rebuild plan. I’d done the work and felt like I was only missing a few things to take me over the top. Maybe I would get lucky.
Trade #21 – 9/17/2019
Sent: Diontae Johnson, 2020 2nd, 2020 3rd
Received: Delanie Walker, Josh Rosen
I won the first two weeks and felt like I could use another upside QB for my bench and some help at the TE position. I made what was probably the worst trade of the entire rebuild here and added Rosen and Walker to my team at the cost of two future picks AND Diontae Johnson. I think I made this trade in a panic, worried that Engram and his band of misfit TEs wouldn’t be enough to take me to the promised land. Looking back, I definitely regret it.
Trade #22 – 10/8/2019
Sent: Matt Breida
Received: Alshon Jeffery
This trade was made out of pure necessity. With Antonio Brown having come and gone, my WR corps was in need of a boost. Bye weeks were upon me and I was looking at starting Adam Humphries as my WR3 with John Brown and Tyrell Williams both out of my lineup. Breida had been a solid flex play, and I felt like this pivot would help me win Week 6. Spoiler: It did not.
However, through seven weeks I was 5-2 and in first place of the league. After the scare provided by not having enough WR depth, I decided to make one more trade to try to help push me to the title down the stretch.
Trade #23 – 10/23/2019
Sent: Devin Singletary, Chris Thompson, John Brown, Tyrell Williams, 2020 1st
Received: Tarik Cohen, Keenan Allen, Kenny Stills
At the time, Singletary was still more of a future asset, with Frank Gore vulturing both carries and touchdowns on a regular basis. I also had two 2020 firsts and that extra one was burning a hole in my pocket. I packaged up some scraps to make one last trade and acquired Keenan Allen, who was having a great season at the time. I ended up winning that week and finished the regular season with a 9-4 record to secure a first-round bye.
As I looked to the playoffs, there was only one team that really scared me and we ended up facing off in the finals. As it turns out, this team was the team that I traded Zeke to. He also had Joe Mixon, Odell Beckham, Tyler Boyd, D.K. Metcalf along with two stud QBs in Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. I was toast.
Thanks to an injury to Stafford, I had been starting Dalton a few times when he wasn’t benched himself, and he came through big time in Week 16 when I needed him most. He carried my team in the finals and put up a giant 41.84 points alone which helped push me to victory in my very first year! I was stunned! I’d completed my dynasty orphan rebuild in a single season, and I felt like all of the work I had done was the reason why.
Here’s my Championship roster, which might not look dominant, but I finished the season 11-4 overall. It just goes to show you that you don’t always need the prettiest team on paper, sometimes you also need a little luck on your side as well.
My Team’s Future Picks:
2021 1st, 2021 3rd, 2021 4th
Step 8 – Final thoughts
In the end, I made 23 trades, the vast majority of which greatly improved my team and my chances of winning. I made some risky moves, but being a rebuilding team allows for more wiggle room on that. If Zeke had indeed held out I would have been hurting. If Engram or any of my other risky TE options had played the entire year it’s possible I could’ve moved any of them for more value or future picks as well.
I definitely recommend adopting an orphan team and seeing what you can do. It was a lot of fun and winning the title was just the icing on the cake for me. When your back is against a wall the only way out is to trade and trade again. And to me, that’s the most fun part of dynasty fantasy football anyway, isn’t it?
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