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What to do With a Horrible Orphan Team over the Cap

What to do With a Horrible Orphan Team over the Cap

By: Jay Pounds (@JayPoundsNFL)

I feel like a kid on Christmas after hearing the NFL will finally expand its schedule, moving to a 17 game season.  I must admit I am overly excited because this means one more week of football to enjoy. I have seen plenty of disgruntled players in the situation of an extra game, but nonetheless the players voted on it and it passed by the slimmest of margins, so it stays. Besides, the players will get more money in the long run. I am not quite sure how this is going to affect the Dynasty Owner season, but I am sure Tim and the guys have plenty of surprises in the works for the additional game. I love the idea of a 2-week championship. 

The NFL is not the only company making changes in 2021. Dynasty Owner has made some changes as well with my favorite two being the 5% raise on bench scoring and lowering how many years out owners can trade draft capital, down from 6 years to 3. While our moves didn’t quite make the same headlines the NFL changes did, they are still very important to know and understand for owners. Bench scoring is one of my favorite aspects of this platform and would honestly be thrilled if it were to shoot up to the 50% range as that would really benefit deeper quality rosters. I feel deeper rosters reward the better owners and tend to take luck out of the game, especially when you factor in the salaries that Dynasty Owner offers. I also really like the idea of only being able to trade picks three years out because it will limit the number of orphan teams with owners not being able to cripple their franchise for five plus years in a bad trade. I really believe these two changes will make Dynasty Owner better and much more fun to play instantly. 

Speaking of fun has anyone found a more exciting fantasy offseason than Dynasty Owner? I have almost had more fun the past few weeks wheeling and dealing, as well as trying to get under the cap, than I did during the 2020 regular season. I am now a part of three different leagues and two of the three have been extremely active with most of the other owners wanting to trade constantly and the swapping of owners with the new orphan team store. I have noticed every time a new owner comes into a league it’s like a breath of fresh air and trades tend to start flying. If possible, take advantage of times like this. Over the past few weeks, I have kept an eye on the orphan store and the teams listed tend to get bought up in a hurry regardless of the situation the team is in. Which brings us to today’s topic, which is what to do if you buy an orphan team over the cap and it’s nowhere near ready to win. 

Two weeks ago, I bought the orphan team that was in the worst position I could find. The team I was looking for had to have three qualifications:

  • First, it had to be well over the cap.
  • There had to be no more than one or two quality pieces on the roster.
  • Last, but not least, it had to have the number 1 overall rookie pick.

Why these qualifications one may wonder?  

For starters I really wanted a rough challenge to get the full Dynasty Owner challenge of rebuilding a roster from scratch. The other reason I really wanted to take a team like this over is because I feel it will help me, help all of you. The more challenges I present myself with the better prepared I feel I am to do articles like this one that will help all of you. I also like giving all of you scenarios I have already been through and handled versus made up trades based on my value alone. I also want to mention that the team did have Watson on it, but I did not consider him a valuable building block because of the trouble he is potentially in and his massive contract. I will list the roster I was given below and detail the steps I made to get back under the cap and in position for the future.

Starting Salary Cap = $148.5 million

QBDeshaun Watson (HOU – $39 million), Ryan Fitzpatrick (WAS – $10 million), Sam Darnold (CAR – $7.56 million), Dwayne Haskins (PIT – $850,000)
RBAntonio Gibson (WAS – $1.23 million), Alexander Mattison (MIN – $867,793), La’Mical Perine (NYJ – $1.01 million), DeeJay Dallas (SEA – $850,000), J.J. Taylor (NE – $695,000), Malcolm Perry (MIA – $842,622), D’Ernest Johnson (CLE – $585,000), Peyton Barber (WAS – $1.5 million), Carlos Hyde (JAX – $2.25 million)
WRJulio Jones (ATL – $22 million), Jarvis Landry (CLE – $15.1 million), Odell Beckham, Jr. (CLE – $18 million), Keelan Cole (NYJ – $5.5 million), Robby Anderson (CAR – $10 million), Donovan Peoples-Jones (CLE – $870,402), Keke Coutee (HOU – $797,257), Quez Watkins (PHI – $866,166), Tyler Johnson (TB – $902,355 million), David Duvernay (BAL – $1.144 million)
TEDalton Schultz (DAL – $728,090), Jordan Akins (HOU – $831,271), Devin Asiasi (NE – $1.146 million)
KNick Folk (NE – $1.625 million), Randy Bullock (DET – $1.75 million)

Finding a Plan

The first thing you want to do with any orphan team you take over is figure out whether you will be competing or having a fire sale. The second and most important thing you should do is come up with a plan and try to stick to that plan you have laid out. What I mean by this is don’t look at your team and say I need two running backs and go out and make a massive trade for a wide receiver. When I took this horrible orphan team over, I came up with three things I wanted to do quickly:

  1. Trade Gibson away.
  2. Get under the cap; and 
  3. Find a good replacement for Watson if possible.

Before moving further, I want to detail why I wanted to do each of these things. The Gibson thing may seem odd to some but for me it was a pretty easy decision because of how bad my team was, Gibson will likely be into his second deal when I am ready to win, and he is a very hot name right now. I wanted to get a young receiver and an extra first round pick in return for Gibson and after shopping him a bit I managed D.J. Moore and a 2022 first for Gibson and a late second. I am not overly thrilled with that trade, but I will gladly take the longevity of a receiver with the outlook of this team. The next thing I needed to set in motion was getting under the salary cap and the way this team looked it was no easy task without completely gutting my roster. If you look specifically at the receiver position you will see the previous owner really valued huge veteran contracts at the position. I started by shopping Julio, Landry, OBJ, and Anderson, which led to absolutely nothing. After about a week of annoying my league mates with trades for massive contracts, I finally decided to drop all of them, except for Anderson. Anderson is an interesting player who took off in Carolina in 2020 and at a salary of $10 million, I figured he should become tradeable this season if he starts off good. If not to the free agent pool he goes. Once I was finally able to accomplish the first 2 goals I had and now that other owners were basically finished with their cuts, I knew it was time to look for Watson’s replacement. The very first thing I did when looking for a suitable Watson replacement was check out the Free Agent Auction, as any owner would and there sat Patrick Mahomes. Needless to say, I was elated. I placed a bid for Mahomes and his huge contract and received his services for $1 million Dynasty Dollars. Plan #1 has now been executed.

How to Attack Your First Season

I feel with any orphan team your first season is the most important, especially in this format where every little strategy can give you a leg up on the competition. The first thing I wanted to do heading into this season is trying to acquire more draft picks, whether that be for the 2021 draft, or future drafts. I know some may look at that roster and think “who does this guy think he’s going to trade” but if you look deeper there are some tradable assets to be had. When you have a team this bad you will have to get creative when acquiring future assets, for instance the next thing I plan to do is try and convince the Dalvin Cook owner that he should have Mattison as a handcuff, which should net a draft pick if it works. Another way to acquire more assets is trying to trade players like DeeJay Dallas to the Chris Carson owner, convincing him that Rashaad Penny is nothing but injury prone. I like to call this plan “stocking up on lottery tickets”, which is what I call late rookie draft picks. I also still have some talent at receiver left. I may be able to trade in Anderson, and Coutee who may be able to fetch some type of draft capital in the future. After you have exhausted all possibilities of trades on your roster you can then look at free agency, where you can pick up coveted free agents and flip them for third round picks. The last way you can acquire extra future assets is to find owners in a bad cap spot and charge them a draft pick to take on a bad contract. 

The next thing I want to focus on in 2021 is finding a QB to pair with Mahomes for the long haul. I took on Mahomes over Watson because of the length of his deal and the fact the salary cap should go up every season, making him affordable in a few years when I need him to be. I do have an easy solution to finding my second quarterback and that is the number 1 overall pick in the upcoming rookie draft Trevor Lawrence. Leaving 2021 with Lawrence and Mahomes locked in at quarterback is definitely appealing to me going forward with this team. The last thing I want to make sure I do in 2021 is to trade anyone with value, or that may win me a game or two throughout the year, giving me the best possible pick going into 2022.

Preparing for the Future

When you take over a team like this you have to be thinking of three years from now with every single move you make, and you also need to plan for future contracts. My hope with this team is that by the end of Lawrence’s rookie deal, I will have a team that is ready to compete, giving me a great combo of quarterbacks in Mahomes and Lawrence, provided Lawrence hits of course. The strategy I am hoping pays off is the belief that Mahomes should become a bargain as the salary cap continues to rise in the coming years. If Mahomes stays healthy I may have my QB1 locked in for the next 10 years. In 2022, I have two first round picks, owning my own pick and another owner’s pick. My hope here is I will again have the number 1 pick, which I am hoping to flip to a QB needy team for young players and/or picks. If I am able to pull this part of my future plan off, it can significantly expedite my rebuild giving me more ammunition to fill my position player slots up with quality young pieces. Provided Lawrence is a success, 2021 will be the year of the quarterback for this roster and I am a firm believer that you will only go as far as the QB position will take you in this format. I am also hoping to target someone like Pat Freiermuth at TE later in my rookie draft in the hope that he will develop along with my team. After Lawrence hits and the 2021 season is over is when you really want to start digging in and finding some solid young building blocks for your wide receiver and running back spots. 

Now, let’s talk about how to handle the 2022 rookie draft at this stage of a rebuild. The very first thing I would do with a top three selection is look for trade partners. In this scenario there are a few routes you can go, my favorite being trade the pick even up for the best incoming sophomore receiver instead of taking a gamble on a rookie. You can also ask for a pick on top too. If you go this route, it does two things, it gives you a great building block for many years to come, and it leaves you with minimal risk. My main concern in this scenario is that I get the top pick and cannot trade it, which at that point I would have to consider drafting another quarterback a year after drafting Lawrence. As a rebuilding owner at any point, you find a value that you know you can move later for more you have to take. I truly feel rookie QB contracts hold the most value in Dynasty Owner and when drafting use that to your advantage. After 2022, the moves you will start making will depend solely on how well you have drafted in previous years, meaning if you miss you may need to pull a Matt Millen and draft a receiver in the first round three years in a row.


I want to briefly touch on the topic of drafting quarterbacks two seasons in a row with Mahomes already on the roster. The main reason to do this is the value of the rookie contract especially at QB. The other reason it is tough for me to think of passing on a QB is just think about what Herbert or Burrow before his injury would fetch in a trade. There will obviously be some risk involved with a rookie but if you hit and hold out for a half season or so you could find yourself in a beautiful position.

When I was asked to write about rebuilding teams I was thrilled for a few reasons, but the one that sticks out the most is that a strategy can perfectly work this time and fall flat the next, it’s truly the beauty of fantasy. I also enjoy the extra strategy that comes with rebuilding on this format with real salaries to consider.

I hope all of your rebuilds are going well and good luck on your 2021 Chase for the Ring.

Follow us on Twitter: @Dynasty_Owner

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