The Illusion of Action

As many of you know from my previous post, I participate in an auction dynasty league.  These leagues tend to get rolling much sooner than most leagues.  But with our rookie draft and veteran auction complete, our league now can only wait while training camp and preseason approach.  It is an interesting period during which some owners sit quiet while others furiously work trades to improve on a poor auction or to make use of the players they stashed during the auction as trade bait – to each their own.  However, one owner who took to publicly ranking the teams made a point of expressing that he was downgrading certain teams for not making more moves to improve their roster.  I find this logic to be short-sighted, and unfortunately, a bit trendy in the game of fantasy football.  Making constant adjustments to your roster might satisfy your perception that you need keep doing “something” with your team, but that doesn’t mean you are necessarily improving your team.  In fact, often times the perceived need to take action is just an illusion, one that leads to shock and disappointment by the end of the season.

First of all, let’s separate fact from fiction.  Am I suggesting you should not be on the constant lookout for what you can do to improve your team?  Not at all.  In fact, I believe you should always have the notion to make a move sitting in the back of your mind.  It keeps you prepared to analyze any bit of player news that comes out with an immediate idea of how that news could impact your team.  It also allows you to deftly field trade offers as they come your way.  If your head isn’t already in the game, you could find yourself more easily persuaded by superficial events and names, leading you to make one bad decision after another.  Always be on the lookout for what your team needs and what situations might turn to your advantage.

Secondly, what constitutes improvement?  Landing a big name player does not necessarily mean improvement, not if you had to give up a solid cadre of other players to get him.  Nor does adding a superstar wide receiver if your roster is already stocked full of great wide receivers while your running back talent remains depleted.  And what good is getting a Top 5 quarterback if your scoring system doesn’t adequately reward quarterback performance?  There are many considerations here when it comes to “improvement,” so owners must take care not to be fooled.  In my opinion, the most important question pertaining to roster moves is this: does this move reasonably improve my ability to achieve my fantasy team’s goals in this league?

That leads to my third point: make sure you understand what you’re after in your league.  Many people might say that’s a no-brainer – it’s a game, and your aim is to win the game.  True, perhaps.  But how do you intend to do that, and what is your notion of winning?  For instance, are you trying to win first place in the regular season so you can enter the league playoffs as the #1 seed and potentially make your playoff run easier?  Or are you aiming just to make the playoffs while constructing a team that will be undefeatable during those league playoff weeks, no matter what your seeding?  And if you happen to be in a dynasty league like mine, are you trying to win it all this season at any cost, or are you trying to build a team that will be championship competitive next season and the two seasons that follow?  If you don’t understand what you are really trying to achieve, you won’t be able to accurately assess whether any roster move you make stands to be an improvement.

Finally, while you think you may be improving your team, how much more are you improving your competition in the league with the moves you’re making?  If you drop Danny Woodhead to pickup the handcuff to LeVeon Bell, could Woodhead become the final piece of the championship puzzle for the team that picks him up off of waivers?  Does the trade you make to land Julio Jones improve the other team more than the trade improves yours?  We don’t often think about the secondary and tertiary effects of these moves; we’re so focused on our own success.  Remember, your competition is not making these trades in order to help your team win at the expense of their team’s ability to win.  It’s all relative, and you may be doing more damage to your team’s chances than you think by completing the deal.

Yes, we all want a roster that will win the league.  But do not be fooled into thinking that making frequent moves equates to improvement – that is often only an illusion.  There is certainly a time and a place to take action.  In fact, I did so during the league auction as offers unexpectedly came that landed me Jimmy Graham and Brandin Cooks in exchange for salary cap space my competitors had failed to keep in reserve.  These trades were clearly in my favor and to my team’s benefit.  Under those circumstances, by all means, do what I did: make your move!  Otherwise, I don’t care how many moves the rest of your league is making; unless there is some clear contribution to your team’s goals that will not in turn backfire on you, do not feel compelled to follow the crowd by taking some type of action.  Like anything else in life, have the wherewithal to pave your own way regardless of what everyone else thinks, and let the delusional chase after their own illusions.  Hold your ground, and stick to what you know is right for you.

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