Understanding Each Position During a Rebuild

By: Jay Pounds (@JayPoundsNFL)

After a long, crazy, and wild NFL season it has finally come to an end. What’s ironic about all of the change and unprecedented territory the NFL found itself in this season is that despite all of this there happens to be one constant, and that is Tom Brady winning a Super Bowl. I know I have touched on Tom Brady recently but it honestly deserves another look, regardless if you love or hate him. The man, the myth, and the legend himself just won another ring only this time he happened to be 43 years old, oh and on top of that he was able to do it in his teams own stadium, becoming the first to not only play the big game at home but win it as well. Brady and his remarkable career sits at 10 trips to the Super Bowl winning 7 of them which is more than any franchise in NFL history can say. Terrific Tom has done and accomplished more than anyone could ever dream of accomplishing, yet next season is his toughest battle yet, against Father Time or as it may soon be known Father Tom. Over the many years sports have been played one force has ruined more athletes than even injuries could and that force is known as the previously mentioned Father Time. The fact Brady has been able to keep not only his body but his mind fresh enough to compete and beat the young guys is one of the most impressive feats I have ever seen. I have read quite a few biographies on successful athlete’s and I have usually found that an athletes mind tends to hold them up long before their body and heart is ready to pack it in. In a sport based so much on rhythm and timing as football is, one’s mind must be sharp and on time processing the information, if not as we have seen so many times in the past a throw just a second behind the receiver turns into a pick six. Like I said before, you either love or hate Brady but regardless of your feelings for him it’s time to enjoy the greatness we have had the privilege of watching. Brady will go down as the greatest athlete of this era (barring a few more title runs by LeBron) better than Tiger, Manning, LeBron, Jeter, or any of the other greats we have seen the past 20 years (maybe ever) and that’s just something we need to all take in and enjoy while he’s still playing!

Enough of the Brady love story (even though I honestly can’t stand the guy) it’s time to get into the article. This week I’m going to be covering all of the different positions here in Dynasty Owner. I will also be going in depth on how I handle these positions and how I think you all should handle them as well. We will start with what I feel is the most controversial position of all running back, and will finish at the quarterback position. As always if you have any questions, comments, or concerns please reach out to me on Twitter.

Running Back

In Dynasty Owner the toughest position to deal with is the running back spot and is caused by multiple reasons I will list below. The main reason the running back position is so difficult to handle is the longevity of the position. How many times have we seen a NFL running back have 3-5 amazing years and just fade away into nothing, the most notable names I could think of are Arian Foster, Larry Johnson, and Michael Turner. NFL running backs take an absolute beating each and every play from running the ball to pass blocking, contact always seems to find them. The next on the list is the running back by committee approach many NFL teams use these days. A team using multiple running backs doesn’t automatically mean that the team has zero useful fantasy running backs but it does limit the overall ceiling you will get with that player simply because he is limited in the amount of touches he will get over the course of the game, though this could counteract the longevity issue (still undetermined). A running back also tends to fall off after getting a 2nd contract, while there are obviously outliers to this situation it is a trend that has become worrisome. The 2nd contract situation is a huge issue in this format because if you have a back that falls off on a big contract you are now spending money on a player that does not do much of anything to help you win and one of the biggest keys here on Dynasty Owner is having a low cost in terms of point per dollar spent. I have always seen and read that a running back is at his highest value the second he gets drafted, and the deeper I dive into the position the more it becomes true. Target young 1st or 2nd year running backs whose teams drafted them high (Taylor, Helaire, Akers) as they are the most likely to receive a huge share of their teams offense. If you look back at recent history you will only find 2 running backs drafted in the first round that didn’t see 250 touches, being Sony Michele, and C.E.H. with both being limited by injury at some point during their rookie campaign. The overall take here is to fortify the rest of your roster and then trade for, or draft your running backs for the next few years. Yes there are more ways than this to acquire a talented running back just look at Mike Davis and James Robinson, but those types of players are very uncommon and almost never have any sustainability, which is something most owners desperately need at running back. If you remember back to past articles you will recall me pounding the fact that you should acquire running backs last in a rebuild because of these reasons above instead of hoping to acquire the next lottery ticket to win your league.

Tight End

In Dynasty fantasy one word comes to mind when thinking about tight ends and that word is patience. The tight end position has been known to take 3-5 years before they are fully developed and ready to consistently produce, which is one of the main reasons I stress drafting the position earlier than any other. If you target your tight end of the future a year before, or the year of your rebuild you should have a stud by the time you’re ready to compete, if the player pans out of course. In recent NFL history we have seen basically zero tight ends get drafted and have a monster year, for some reason it just takes that position forever to develop. A great rookie season at this position is something near 500 yards receiving and a touchdown or two, which isn’t good enough most years to be on a championship roster. Let’s take a look at Cole Kmet, (4 year $1,894,444) he had 25 catches 243 yards and 2 touchdowns on the entire season something you would be extremely disappointed in if your rookie receiver put up these numbers, yet it was a fantastic rookie season for Kmet. Kmet looks poised to be the next big up and coming star at the tight end position and is exactly the type of tight end any rebuilding owner should target. I want to touch on the other option you can use to handle this position, and that is to target someone like Robert Tonyan (1 year $750,000) to trade for. In the middle of this season you could have got Tonyan somewhat cheap which would have been an excellent way to establish yourself at tight end. Tonyan was in his 3rd NFL season this past year and really started to make a name for himself finishing with 52 catches 586 yards and a whopping 11 Td’s. Tonyan fits exactly what I’m talking about here being in his 3rd season and really starting to take off putting him on pace to be a top tier Tight end around his 5th NFL season as long as this pace continues. The key takeaway here is unless you are willing to trade draft capital for a quality Tight end you must be patient!

Wide Receiver

The wide receiver position happens to be one of the most interesting as well as my favorite position to deal with. There are plenty of reasons I enjoy dealing with this position with none being more relevant than the fact there are so many solid receivers to choose from each season. Receiver is nothing like the other positions because most plays there are 3-4 of them on the field making the chances of them producing higher. Wide receivers tend to have a slow rookie season and really start taking off in their sophomore campaign, but we have seen that change quite a bit in recent memory. The name that comes to mind is the best rookie receiver this past season Justin Jefferson. If you are able to land a solid rookie receiver like Jefferson you may set yourself up at the position for many years due to the longevity of the position unlike the running back position where they are constantly churning out year in and year out. If you have had someone like Hopkins, Adams, or Julio on your team for years you have been able to enjoy the luxury of playing them and only worrying on their bye weeks or when they have injuries. When you break it down this way and really dig into it I’d say it’s safe to target this position just before you handle the running back position (after Tight end and Quarterback). Let’s look at the ways you can go about acquiring this position cheap. The best way to acquire a young stud receiver is to draft them with your own capital and if you hit you will have a spot filled on your roster for many years to come. The other cheap way is to find them in free agency, while you may not find rookies that will be on your roster forever you can find quality talent in free agency. Looking back at this past season you were able to get players like Cooks, Marvin Jones, Anderson, and Agholor at some point in most leagues. All of these options have potential to be solid options again next season and you were able to get them for a few Dynasty Dollars. As you can see this is a position worth spending major assets to acquire if needed but you can also take the cheap route and still succeed.

Quarterback

Ahh the Quarterback, also known as the field general, or the most important position in sports which also happens to be what I feel is the most important position in Dynasty Owner. At quarterback you really only have 2 options, the first being spend big on a veteran who has a massive deal and figure the cap out from there, or play the draft and always try to have at least one Quarterback on a rookie deal saving you a ton of cap space. Let’s talk about the second option first because it’s the much more risky option. In the NFL there is nothing close to a sure thing when it comes to rookies at Quarterback as we all have seen each and every year. If you are going to go the rookie deal route at Quarterback you must be sure to do your homework and even then there is a huge risk involved in the strategy. The upside of this strategy is massive simply because you are spending roughly $25,000,000 less in cap space for very similar production, but as I said you must hit on your draft picks. The easier but much more expensive route is to target a veteran Quarterback’s and I don’t mean expensive as in trading for them. Most NFL Quarterbacks have a salary near $30,000,000 on average so if you plan to go this route you must figure out how to make the cap work. The most manageable way I’ve seen to handle the position is to own one playing on a big contract and another still on his rookie deal as it is near impossible to pay 2 vets and field a competitive roster at the same time. Last but not least let’s get into how to handle this position when rebuilding. In a perfect world I would target my Quarterback directly after handling my tight end position giving me plenty of time to see if said player is the answer before targeting my Receivers and Running backs. The only 2 reasonable ways I see to acquire a good fantasy Quarterback is to either draft one, or find one in free agency. The key word in the last sentence being reasonable because while yes you can trade for a Quarterback imagine what it would cost to acquire Justin Herbert right now. As we discussed with the Receivers there were also plenty of quality fantasy Quarterbacks available from Carr, Tannehill, Goff, Wentz, and Cousins were all available on free agency in most leagues. All of that said Quarterback is where I recommend you put the most effort into finding a long term solution over any other position. Quarterbacks almost always score the most fantasy points on their teams. If you are able to find a consistent top 5 Quarterback for several years you should be able to be competitive with just a few trades.

Kicker/Conclusion

I don’t want to spend a bunch of time making you read about Kickers so I will just touch on them briefly. Kickers are pretty easy to acquire and the only real advice I will give on them is to just look for Kickers on cheap deals, unless it’s someone like Justin Tucker of course. The less money you tie up in the Kicker position the more cap space you have to spend everywhere else. Kickers also don’t usually produce much more than a few points each week so unless they are absolutely elite spending big doesn’t make much sense. The only other recommendation I have for the position is to keep 3 rostered at all times ensuring you never take a 0 on a bye week.

The time is almost here to decide who you will keep and cut, March 18th to be exact. Make sure you have thought all of your tough decisions over, and remember the salary cap will increase to $123 million next season giving owners a little more spending freedom. As always if you run into tough decisions you need help with them or want to discuss feel free to contact any of our writing team and we will do our best to help. Thank you for reading and until the next time good luck on your 2021 Chase for the Ring!