With the final whistle of Super Bowl 54, we say goodbye to the 2019 fantasy football season. While games ended (other than DFS) weeks ago, this signifies the real changing of the calendar to the new 2020 season. As we know, with dynasty fantasy football, there is no offseason “officially,” but there are stages we go through. Knowing the correct steps to take during those times as well as the right mindset is key to getting you off to the right start for the new year. I’ve gone through and put together some of my personal tips for both startups or continuing leagues with these eight offseason dynasty strategy do’s, don’ts, and tips for 2020.
1 – Establish what went wrong or right in 2019
“Those of us who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it.”
You and I have both heard this said countless times, and probably for a reason. We have to take a step back and take as much of an unbiased look at our teams and more so our process we implemented last season. I know, for example, going from mock draft season to Week 10, my thoughts on some players changed drastically. I am looking at you, Dante Pettis. That was definitely a place where I adjusted my process and know that sometimes coach speak does genuinely mean something.
Whether it is a player evaluation or even coaching tendencies and making determinations on performances being correlation vs. causation, we all have room to learn and grow as fantasy owners. The same reflection needs to be used when looking back at trades. Was the player you acquired who you actually got and what was the cost of ownership? Another issue that could have derailed dynasty dreams is injuries to key players. However, unless someone has an extensive track record, you can’t beat yourself up over it. Injuries can happen to anyone at any time and are one of the risks we take playing the game.
2 – Evaluate your current team
Of most of the points I talk about here, this can be one of the hardest to do in an exact objective way. Some guys that are on our team we have a soft spot for and think they are right on the cusp of finally breaking out. But realistically, are they? Sometimes we are wrong on a guy, and we need to know when to cut bait and ship them out.
This transitions right into determining what our team’s weak spots are. Is it a lack of depth? Players with increasing age that are now on the downside of their careers. That kind of player could be valuable to a contender as a final push, but for someone rebuilding that could be worth more being flipped for a younger asset or rookie pick. But this all comes after you decide where you are with your team.
Are you rebuilding or contending? The single worst spot to be is in the middle and not making moves. They are stuck in a perpetual track right down the middle of the road, never having enough to compete for a championship but not bad enough to get a high rookie pick. Be sure not to overlook contracts. Players hitting free agency could have their values changed overnight, and you need to know who would be the “next man up” when they vacate their current teams.
3 – Create player rankings
Even if you choose to use someone else’s rankings, take those and tweak them to fit your view on players. I have my own 1QB and Superflex rankings that I keep updated on here, but maybe you have something that you see differently. Take that and make it work for you. However you choose to do it, you need to get players in some kind of order.
By doing this, you can determine values when approaching trades and being able to find sneaky values that are buried on other rosters to be able to take away for a cheap cost. All of that can only start once you put in the work in the beginning and before your league mates begin doing the same thing. Use this early period to get an edge, and before values start to go up as changes around the NFL begin to happen.
4 – Start scouting rookies
Most of us that watch the NFL are also college football fans. However, some people don’t watch both and are somewhat behind on knowing the incoming 2020 class. Fear not as there is plenty of time to get acquainted with the new talent we are about to see. Spoiler alert: it’s really good. Like very good. Start going onto Youtube or a site to watch game film and start viewing tape on players.
Yes, I love data and preach looking into it because “data doesn’t lie,” but tape needs to always be in the rotation in evaluation. We can’t just become box score analysts. Not all 6-yard runs are created equal, and a player’s ability to make someone miss doesn’t translate the same. D’Andre Swift and Jonathon Taylor get it done each game in very different ways, and it takes the game film to see that vs. their individual stats.
As I said before, start to make your rankings on the rookies. Know where you would be comfortable drafting someone and where you think it is overreaching. This also allows you to find where the value of the rookie drafts is. Maybe the drop from the back end of the first and middle of the second isn’t vast, yet the cost of acquiring those picks is much cheaper. Getting a similar tier player at a discount is a great way to build in value.
5 – Don’t rush and take the first trade offer you receive
Soon, trade offers are about to be thrown around like no other, if they haven’t been already, in dynasty leagues. Don’t rush and take the first offer you see. There is a very good chance you can get a better offer later or from someone else. That goes for big-name players as well. If you are open for shopping a top-tier talent such as Christian McCaffrey, announce it in chat. If you don’t, you are cutting off 90% of available players and picks but keeping it between one person.
Now I am not saying to step on toes and break some rules and look like you are trying to drive a person’s price up. Don’t be that guy. But just putting a player as “On The Block” can bring forward potential trades and partners that you would otherwise be cut off from. In a league I am in, I just watched McCaffrey go for two throw-in players and two 2020 firsts. They never put off any signs of having him available and sold off one of the best dynasty assets for 70% of his value. Take your time and find the right trade over the easy offer. Sometimes the best deal you make is the one you didn’t do.
6 – Understanding your roster construction
This is a simple one but one of the most crucial. There is a finite amount of roster spots that we have in dynasty, and every one is precious. Most likely, you are maxed out, but you will need to make cuts to be able to add 2020 rookies to your team. Who are the players that are on the chopping block? Can you bundle a few together for a third-round pick or add them to a larger piece and gain a roster spot along with new assets?
Understand that you are not alone on this, and everyone else will need to do the same. Where we went through and evaluated talent, making rankings will pay dividends here as we watch who are cut from teams. Maybe a league mate drops a player who you think has potential and can be picked up for free off waivers.
7 – Find 2019’s disappointments which can be had for a bargain
As we watch guys get cut off rosters, don’t forget about the names which disappointed in 2019. Maybe it was a rookie who was buried on a depth chart and never hit the field. It could be someone who was injured most of the season or just flat out had a hard time transitioning to the NFL. A player like Parris Campbell is an example of someone who was hurt all year and can be bought for a discount from his mid-to-late first-round value it took to draft him in 2019. It all depends on if his current owner’s opinion has changed.
Darrel Henderson of the Los Angeles Rams is another name to reflect on. At one point, he was going in the upper end of first rounds in rookie drafts. Now he could be had for a fraction of the price and worth consideration if you think he is worth owning. There are loads of players who can fit these descriptions, and maybe you can find a diamond in the rough at a Walmart bargain.
8 – Pay attention
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is. But far too often people mentally check out until it’s close to NFL Combine time, and especially, the NFL Draft. Don’t be that person. Pay attention to rumors and news as they happen. Trades and free agency news. Coaching changes and the tendencies they carry over. All of these matter and will have an impact. The amount of resources available to know what is happening around the NFL has never been easier to access than it is right now. Use this to your advantage and stay up to date before people in your league get the notifications on their phone.
Use some of these tips and my thoughts to help get your 2020 season off to the best start possible. Winning the offseason makes winning the regular season and playoffs that much easier.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @PFN365 and @PFNDynasty to stay up to date with all things around the NFL and the 2020 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also visiting our Fantasy Football section for more coverage.
Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.