Week 11 is almost in the books, with the only game of reality football I truly care about left to play tonight — Go Eagles! (Sorry Shawn.) If you aren’t already joining in the Fantasy Football Report live at 9 p.m. ET on YouTube during Sunday Night Football, and you perhaps agree that three hours is a long time to listen to Cris Collinsworth, do yourself a favor and choose the soothing sounds of Blair Andrews and Hasan Rahim musing on the day’s action instead. This week we got an extra long episode with legendary RotoViz alum Pat Kerrane, and I loved getting to hear the guys linger a while on a few players like Jaylen Warren and Tank Dell who are on teams I’m going to review.
With a majority of dynasty leagues now less than a week from the trade deadline, the pressure is on to make moves that position rosters for success. I’m sure this week like every week, Shawn’s Zero RB universe article will help us update our thinking on how to play the position going forward. But this mid-November trade scramble can be tricky. Despite efforts to push “pretender” rosters squarely into the contender or rebuilder category, some of mine are still stuck in a muddy middle that won’t fully be sorted out until the end of week 14. And every individual league is its own market, so even if you have an impeccable sense of value and craft great trade offers, there’s an element of luck involved in whether particular moves are available to you. If you didn’t already catch it, I’d suggest going back and listening to last week’s second episode of OT — we get an oversized dose of evergreen dynasty theory and strategy as Shawn and Colm talk through moves they are considering with their teams.
The buzzword I borrowed for this article’s title serves as a reminder that moves at the deadline, and really at any point on the dynasty calendar, should as often as possible create multiple pathways to success. Shawn makes these comments around the 12:00 mark:
Having those picks creates optionality and I know one of the elements with these future picks is that a lot of fantasy managers are going to look at them and say the actual value of the pick is fairly minimal, and that part is true and yet the more picks you have the more likelihood you have to hit on one of the really big results from this group that overall isn’t worth that much.
Of course there is a practical rule in this quote that we can distill and apply: Having picks is good. Get more picks. But the “optionality” is the key. The other day I was talking to a friend who was considering trading away Christian McCaffrey from a team that is set to miss the playoffs. Now, I’m sure RotoViz has had something to do with the idea of selling running backs — even elite ones — once they reach a certain age becoming more or less the conventional dynasty wisdom, and I don’t fault my friend at all for his impulse to entertain offers from contenders trying to cement their playoff push. (I already confessed to trading McCaffrey for not nearly enough when he was way too young to even consider letting go). But I reminded him that this is not just a running back of a certain age, but a hall of fame level talent in an efficient offense who should help people win leagues for at minimum several more seasons. (Shawn and Ben both have him as the 2024 redraft 1.01 in their midseason update of the projecting next year’s first two rounds exercise that was served up on Stealing Bananas. You can also check where he sits in Shawn’s recently updated dynasty rankings).
So my first gushing point was not meant to close off the general option of “getting younger,” but to suggest that you think very carefully before giving away the option of using that player to win next year, and to make your trade partner really pay up if you decide to make the move. You may be fine with them beating the rest of the league with McCaffrey this year since you’re already out of it, but it isn’t going to be much fun facing him next year in the regular season or the playoffs. “So what should I be looking for then, like D’Andre Swift and a first and second?” he asked me. I thought this was a pretty good ballpark example of the minimum a motivated trade partner/2024 opponent should be made to pay, but then the conversation turned to league format. This is a 1 QB FFPC dynasty league, so the winner of the back draw earns the 1.01 and the right to select the highly coveted Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. If your trade partner wins the league and the 12 slot in the rookie draft, and you fail to win the back draw with Swift, you are likely in a position where your pick at say the 1.04 plus the 1.12 and 2.12 you acquired via trade are not enough to get you up to 1.01.
Now, maybe the Swift play could work. Shawn points out that the Eagles have a rough stretch upcoming but a better fantasy playoff schedule, which is interesting when you think about possibly combining low scoring that helps secure a bye in the back draw with a surge upward at the end helping to secure the 1.01. It seems risky to me though, and likely this is a case where doing less now keeps more options open; dynasty hope springs eternal and next April there will be more teams willing to view themselves as 2024 contenders and make an offer for McCaffrey. The overall point is to think through the specific options that open or close with each potential move rather than to operate mechanically based on generally useful rules of thumb.
I admit though, rookie fever strikes me earlier every year, and as the college season draws to a close, it’s hard to avoid thinking more and more about those 2024 picks. This week we got an update on the incoming class from Travis May and Stefan Lako on the Campus to Canton Podcast.
The guys work through the top offensive players from a consensus top 100 Travis pulled together by scraping data from over sixty 2024 NFL mock drafts. Here’s the list as he tweeted it out on Nov. 9:
This is already slightly outdated and will change plenty more over the next five months, and obviously there won’t be a 1-to-1 correlation between NFL and dynasty rookie draft capital, but simply listing the fantasy-relevant position players in the order they appear here gives us what we can roughly imagine as a way-too-early three-round 2024 RotoViz Triflex rookie mock draft. I’ll start with the list and move on to what the guys had to say about the state of the RB class with some minor updates from this Saturday’s action. Then I’ll explore a bit more of what optionality ahead of the deadline might mean for some rosters in varying situations. Let’s look at the emerging 2024 rookie class: