Think About It: Now That I Have Zeke, What Am I Gonna Do?

By Julius Jasper, @MasterAlpha_DFW

CaptureOne of the greatest things about sports is anticipating the next great thing. We’ve seen it for years across every major sports league. From Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck to Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis to Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg to Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. The euphoric aura that is generated from acquiring a player that has the talent and abilities to thrust your favorite team out of the cellar and back into contention has made even the best of us tap into the “Don’t Be That Guy” pool of fandomness.

But what happens when that player is a bust? It’s certainly possibly, right? For every Peyton Manning there is a Ryan Leaf. Just as there is a Kobe Bryant, this is also a Vitaly Potapenko. As much as you want your guy to be Wayne Gretsky, he might end up being Alexandr Svitov. You are hoping to land Ken Griffey Jr. but he ends up being Matt Bush.

I know… BUZZKILL… I just killed your adrenaline rush. I know. But in order for us to properly assess things, we must first be honest and acknowledge all possibilities before we advance into the meat of the conversation. So how does all this factor into fantasy sports and what in tarnation does this have to do with Ezekiel Elliot? Here we go…

I. Knowing Thyself

knowThanks to the infrastructure that is provided by Dynasty Leagues, we are now able to replicate the true to life feelings of exhilaration and discontent of acquiring the next phenom or bust according to the same variables/intangibles that a real life sports franchise front office would. Most of the time, when you are bringing in the next big thing, either you had a terrible season or you are a great owner who traded ahead of time for the rights to select the player everyone else wants. If you are the latter, you know the drill… Plug the new guy into your lineup and keep winning games. But if you are the guy coming off the season you’d rather forget, you have a few things you should be considering…

  • Have You Won Anything Yet?
    • I don’t mean to be mean or to call anyone out, but there is a reason why you are in position to draft so high. Is it because you suffered through an injury-riddled hellish ride of a season or is this your projected draft slot every year? Are you someone who is feared, or are you an afterthought in your league?
  • Do You Have Knack for Spotting Talent?
    • One of my pet peeves when it comes to people in Dynasty Leagues is the assumption that an opportunity for seeing the field or the association with greatness somehow equates to guaranteed statistical production. Example… “Malcom Mitchell has Tom Brady throwing him the ball. He’s about to BLOW UP!” Example… “Alford Morris is finally gone; Matt Jones is about to BLOW UP!”. While these examples might prove to be true, it is more likely that this line of thinking is a chief contributor to the many reasons why bad fantasy owners never get better. Instead of hoping on a star, do some research and analyze trends. Read a local newspaper. Don’t rely on Rotoworld. Do your own research. You might change your mind once you have a better understanding of the current circumstances as well as similarly profiled ones of yesteryear. Mel Kiper is no better than you are. Do your own work.
  • Do You Have Player Prejudices?
    • Far too many times, people get caught up in things that don’t matter when deciding whether to draft a player or not. There is a difference between a prejudice and a red flag… If you pass on a player drafted by the Redskins because you are an Eagles fan, then that’s a prejudice. But if you pass on a player because he can’t formulate an eight-word response to a question without saying ‘Um’ fifteen times, then this is a red flag. Go check his Wonderlic score… He might be the next Vince Young.

If you suffer from any of these that I have described or maybe some that are comparable, you really owe it to yourself and your league mates to inspect your strengths and weaknesses as they relate to managing a team. Maybe you are better with acquiring players through trade? Maybe you handle reputable talent better than you do draft picks and young players. Whatever it might be, now is the time to know thyself and develop a strategy to reverse your fortunes. Whatever you decide, this method needs to fit you. It should feel easy. It’s time to unlock your inner GURU!

II. Proper Expectations

2So let’s say you were “fortunate” enough to land the Ezekiel Elliot. Congratulations! You have what appears to be a faithful workhorse for years to come. But what are you truly getting here? If you are Jerry Jones, you are filling a need that got away from you in Demarco Murray. It seems as if the Cowboys management and coaching staff believe they are a special running back away from a Super Bowl berth. In the NFL, this can work. One player can turn it all around for you.

Let us put together a quick scoring system and measure this line of thinking against some of the best offensive skilled position rookie performances of all-time.

Scoring System
Rushing & Receiving yardage: 1 point every 10 yards
Rushing & Receiving Touchdowns: 6 points
Receptions: 1 point

  • Eric Dickerson, 1983
    • 1,808 rushing yards on 390 carries with 18 rushing touchdowns
    • 404 receiving yards on 51 receptions along with 2 receiving touchdowns
    • In our system, he would have scored 391 points on an average of 24.4 points per contest
  • Edgerrin James, 1999 –
    • 1,553 rushing yards as a result of his 369 carries with 13 rushing touchdowns
    • 586 receiving yards via 62 receptions with 4 receiving touchdowns
    • In our system, we would get 317 points on an average of 19.8 points per game
  • Randy Moss, 1998
    • 1,313 receiving yards on 69 receptions with 17 touchdowns
    • In our system, this equates to 302 points with an average of 18.8 points per contest
  • Barry Sanders, 1989 –
    • 1,470 rushing yards by way of 280 carries with 14 touchdowns on the ground
    • 282 receiving yards through 24 receptions and no touchdowns receiving
    • In our system, this comes out to 283 points at a clip of 17.6 points a week.

I just listed four of the most legendary rookie fantasy performances in history. These performances can turn a non-playoff NFL team into a contender overnight. But these outliers are not very common at all and because they are not common, it is this rarity that creates the conflict that pushes us towards wanting to have one of these guys on our fantasy roster.

If you are in a respectable and well put together Dynasty League, you should have what I call ‘agitators’. They are mini stressors that serve as an automated self-sustaining system that keeps the league balanced while enforcing the same level of parity you’ll find in the NFL. These come in the form of player contracts and salary caps. If you play in a Dynasty League without contracts or a salary cap, there truly is no incentive to holding a Rookie Draft each year. It’s just a formality for your league and it makes for a top heavy experience. The whole point in the Rookie Draft is to allow the lesser teams to acquire potential impact players at a low salary on a long-term contract. Every professional sports league realizes this. So should every Dynasty Commish.

So if you have these ‘agitators’ guiding the league along as they should and you still cannot build a winning organization, you have to ask yourself this question… “What does 20 points from Ezekiel Elliott do for me?” This is what you are getting. If you are losing games by 20-30 points, then you are close. Zeke might be exactly what you need. But if you are getting blasted every week by 50 points, this might be the best time you’ll ever have at changing your fortunes for the better.

III. Summary

3You might be thinking to yourself right now that you have to make a move. I want to encourage you to take your time and find the right deal for your organization. Don’t rush into a deal and please don’t allow some smooth talking two-bit sharkster to swindle you. I have a personal policy of only doing negotiations with people who tell the truth. I know it sounds simple, but if a potential trade partner is lying to you about how many yards Brandon Marshall had two years ago, then he’s probably not looking to work a fair deal with you at all. Let him wallow in his misery and find someone else to trade with.

In fantasy… One player isn’t enough to win it all… You need points from everywhere… Not just one position. If you can find a way to maximize the hype behind Ezekiel Elliot and flip his 20 points into 40-50 points by acquiring something like Derrick Henry and maybe AJ Green, then you have to consider this move. Look for deals that bring you back another young piece on a cheap long-term contract along with an established veteran on a cheapish contract. Always get someone to toss in an IDP at the end of the deal. Nobody is going to tell you no once this deal is 90% completed. If some people who are sending you offers don’t want to meet you asking price, please don’t fall for the bait and switch tactic that weak negotiators use when they want to make you feel bad. Stick to you guns! Never get saddled with players you don’t want.

Here is where you start:

  1. Put Ezekiel Elliot on the Trading Block. Then collect offers for three days.
  2. DO NOT respond with a yes or a no until you have all of your offers in front of you. Some owners will up their original offers as the suspense kills them.
  3. Weed out the garbage offers and then decline them. Don’t even counter. We don’t have time to play childish games here. We are trying to turn this thing around.
  4. Go back and ask for a little bit more on the 3-4 deals that were actually good. Don’t get too greedy. Stay flexible but don’t get the script flipped on you. Remember, owners who are easier to deal with always have return customers.
  5. Get your IDP added. Preferably a safety or middle linebacker. If you play in a league with a premium on sacks, try for a defensive end that is close to breaking out.

I am not advocating that anyone trade away Ezekiel Elliot… I am merely asking you to be honest with yourself. Does he make you better? Or can he be the golden goose that brings you a mega haul, hence making you better.

One more thing… Always remember to thank your trade partner.

Have Fun!