Superflex-Files: Breaking Down The 2018 Offseason
*FEATURED IMAGE ARTWORK BY DAVE CHOW – 248-613-0566 – WWW.DAVECHOWILLUSTRATIONS.COM
Go ahead and tease me online, but I’m starting to enjoy the fantasy football offseason more than the actual season itself. In particular, the dynasty offseason is a multi-month intellectual high that’s jet-fueled by an incalculable amount of football information residing at our fingertips. The only thing that can possibly compare is the anticipation felt as an adolescent during Christmas. Imagine being eight years old again, a week before Christmas, and you’re handed a Toys “R” Us catalogue by Santa Claus himself as he says, “whatever you want, kid,” before blasting off with Batman in the DeLorean from Back To The Future.
Yes, that’s really how I feel about the fantasy offseason this year. And yes, that comparison was either a long-running fantasy of mine or recurring dream, but I won’t tell you which.
The offseason is where the scheming happens. It’s where we develop and scrap countless draft strategies, listen to podcasts, digest articles, and make fun of people who think Tom Brady or Drew Brees have spontaneously reached the ends of their careers—or that Derek Carr is an above-average quarterback. To me, the offseason is more about the journey to fantasy football glory, while the regular season is more about saying whether or not you made it. By no means do I aim to disparage the main attraction, but we sometimes get too bogged down with all the start/sit decisions, and whether to buy or sell at the trade deadline, to really enjoy the fruits of our labor. I liken it to cooking an entire Thanksgiving dinner, then being too worried about whether your family likes it to even enjoy it yourself.
Childhood daydreams and food comps aside, this fantasy offseason has been fascinating. We’ve had veteran quarterbacks change teams, we (barely) survived the pre-draft hype of Saquon Barkley, and watched as five possible franchise signal-callers were drafted to teams with wildly different quarterback needs. And that’s just the beginning.
The mission of the Superflex-Files is to join forces with all of you in search of winning fantasy strategies through a combination of expert interviews, mailbag questions, and reader feedback.
TRADE MARKET REPORT
To kick off our offseason breakdown, I invited Bradley Harrison (@spoony____) to the basement of TwoQBs headquarters to discuss recent trade trends and gain insight on players he thinks are worth targeting.
SuperFlex-Files: On Twitter you call yourself a “chronic dynasty trade comparer.” Are dynasty trades the best part of the fantasy offseason for you, or is it something else entirely?
Bradley Harrison: For me, dynasty trades are probably the best part of the offseason and the regular season. It’s a blast working deals with other owners in my leagues, learning their values, comparing them to mine, and seeing where we can give and take based on those stances. It also requires me to look from a realistic standpoint at my team and come to a conclusion on whether I’ll be making a push for the championship in a particular year, or look toward a true dynasty built for the future. Player values constantly change for not only myself but the community as well — so I feel the need to keep in touch at all times to make sure I’m not missing out on a great sell or buy. The goal for me is to always keep improving my dynasty process and to try and not get stuck into certain ways.
SF-F: Values definitely change, for players and draft picks, throughout the course of the year, and what looks like a good or bad trade in June or July may be perceived completely different once the season is in full swing. That said, can you give an example of a trading trend you’re seeing this offseason that you think could already be winning some owners their leagues?
BH: The biggest thing I see pretty frequently at this time of year are owners trading later rookie picks, or unproven assets, for proven producers. I’ve seen a ton of trades involving Doug Baldwin, David Johnson, LeSean McCoy, and Mark Ingram recently. With these guys, they’re generally older, coming off injury, or simply underrated. My favorite recently was seeing LeSean McCoy’s value being around a late-2019 first to an early-2019 second. If you can get Shady at that value he can easily help push you over the top for a championship run this year. Last year, Ingram was going in the seventh round and easily outperformed his ADP. We could see that sort of thing happen again with various veteran players.
SF-F: What about the inverse of that? Is there a group of two or three young prospects who you think owners should be targeting now, using their aging veterans? Or maybe a few prospects, in general, who you’ve seen traded at a low price?
BH: You could probably get D.J. Moore or Calvin Ridley for an aging vet if you’re looking to gain some youth. They’re generally going around the late first, depending on your league. For guys who have produced a little, or people are forgetting about, I’d suggest Nelson Agholor and Aaron Jones. And Mike Williams isn’t a bad upside play if you can get him cheap on the “injury” narrative. I’ve seen Williams go for about a second-round price, which is low for a second-year, former first-round prospect.
Questions from you, friends of TwoQBs, regarding the 2018 offseason. Thanks to everyone who reached out!
Q: What two young QBs do you see taking the next step this year, what two vet QBs, who underperformed last year, do you see moving back into the QB1-QB2 realm, and of the rookie QBs, who do you see standing out and falling on their face in year one? – @j422smith
A: Two younger QBs who I see taking the next step are Mitch Trubisky and Marcus Mariota. For Trubisky, the arrivals of Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Trey Burton should help advance the second-year signal-caller’s stats in key areas like TD%, AY/A, and passing attempts. Similarly for Mariota, if he can throw more TDs in 2018, he should find himself with a nice four-year data set to help us all really determine who he is. For context, his 2.8% TD rate last year was half of his 2016 rate. A 2018 return at-or-above his now 4.6 TD% career average would be both a step forward and a clear indicator of what his career might look like for the long term. Another year with Corey Davis and a new receiving threat in Dion Lewis will help.
Eli Manning, especially with the return of Odell Beckham Jr., has a pretty clear path to a solid QB2 finish in 2018. Manning’s 571 attempts were his fewest since his 2013 and 2014 seasons (551 and 536 respectively), yet even in those two seasons, Manning threw for more yards with a higher yards per attempt average. I’m confident he gets back into the 4,000-yard club this year and flirts with a QB16-like finish. Matt Ryan followed up his great 2016 season with a relative dud in 2017. Ryan wasn’t bad last season, he just wasn’t other-worldly in terms of efficiency like he was during the 2016 season. I think his 2018 season will lie somewhere between his previous two, meaning he’ll be a fringe QB1 and finish somewhere in the QB11-QB15 range.
As for the rookie class, I’m going to arbitrarily state that, for one reason or another, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Sam Darnold will each start at least 10 games for their respective teams. Of this group, my picks to stand out and fall flat for 2018 aren’t at all indicative of how I’d personally rank them in terms of long-term success. That said, when Mayfield gets his shot with the Browns I think his lack of NFL game tape and depth of team weaponry will ensure success for 2018. In Darnold’s case, the complete lack of offensive talent has me concerned for his viability in 2018. The New York Jets are entering the season with possibly the worst offense, talent-wise, in the league. With a QB bullpen that also features Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, one would hope that Darnold is clipboard-bound. However, it’s not very often that first-round QBs ride the bench by design in today’s NFL.
Q: What’s the perfect size for a 2QB league? I’m in a 14-team league and it’s murder keeping two healthy QBs. And it dominates the first two rounds of the draft. Suggestions? – @PDXtroyboy
A: I think this is a great question because 2QB is probably the only format that I’d ever be truly concerned about league size. The beauty of Superflex or 2QB is that they balance positional values without having to manipulate the most widely-accepted scoring settings already in use. In traditional redraft leagues, the draft is essentially a race to get as much running back and wide receiver talent as possible before finally picking your later-round QB and TE (if you don’t exclusively stream either position).
In Superflex, you can still fade quarterback quite a bit and be successful but, with 2QB leagues, it’s a bit more difficult. That’s because all passers score points. They do so to the point that they don’t matter in single-QB formats. Two-quarterback leagues change that narrative, but can be an over-correction if it forces owners to exclusively target QB in the early rounds, due to the position’s real-life scarcity compared to its new-found demand in a league like yours.
For those reasons, I’d think the ideal size would be 10 or 12 teams (especially if an extra flex position were added to the starting lineup). A 10-team league would allow owners a ton of draft flexibility in terms of how they draft quarterbacks relative to everything else, and a slightly larger starting roster could prevent owners from getting cute and hoarding too much QB talent. A 12-team league will still let owners flirt with the idea of drafting “Zero-QB” without entirely forcing their hand, unlike how it sounds it’s been going in your 14-team league.
TL;DR — 10 or 12 teams. Anytime our draft strategies start becoming too homogenized there’s an opportunity for improvement.
Q: What’s the hottest food take you have right now? (for example, Matt Harmon vs. peanut butter and Denny Carter vs. all foods). – @j422smith
A: It’s BBQ season, so I’m going to keep things outdoorsy. Ribs and brisket are way over-hyped. Like, Jimmy Garoppolo-level hype. Give me burgers, chicken, bratwurst, and hot dogs all summer and I’m a happy man.
Also, ketchup and mustard on hot dogs is a necessity. I saw some pretty harsh words shared on Twitter for those of us who enjoy ketchup on hot dogs, but those people don’t know how to live.
In addition to taking your questions, I posed a few of my own to get a feeling of how everyone’s been preparing for greatness this summer.
SF-F: Name a player you think has been the best bargain, so far, in your rookie drafts.
- @the5thdownFF: “Daesean Hamilton, Justin Watson, and Trey Quinn.”
- @MaxPowar1: “Keke Coutee can be had for a third and often a fourth or even a fifth. He is a mid-late second-round pick on my personal board.”
- @MaxPowar1: “Boston Scott isn’t even being drafted in many rookie-drafts. I think Mark Ingram leaves New Orleans next year and that the Saints are an ideal landing spot for Scott.”
SF-F: What trends are you noticing in your dynasty leagues this offseason? Who are the players you’re targeting or trying to sell heading into 2018?
- @ClintMcLean_17: “Marvin Jones is a buy.”
- @HonoluluPastBlu: “RBs have crazy ADPs in startups this year, compared to last.”
- @scoteagles8: “Grabbing Jordan Howard everywhere and selling Cam Newton. Every time I see him I have these flashbacks to Daunte Culpepper’s body just failing him in Miami and I can’t shake the thought that that will be Cam sooner rather than later.”
SF-F: What fantasy storylines are you most interested in heading into the 2018 season?
- @j422smith: “The Arizona offense really intrigues me. New coaches; trading up to get their QB of the future; the return of David Johnson after having that massive year and going down early with injury; Larry Fitzgerald and the new-look WRs brought in from free agency and the draft, as well as Ricky Seals-Jones possibly emerging as Arizona’s first viable TE in years. The Chicago Bears offense is in a similar situation I believe.”
- Why aren’t we talking more about Carson Wentz as a potential negative regression candidate in the TD% department? Is it because Nick Foles won them the Super Bowl and we feel bad for Wentz?
- I hope we get a lot more of the “Madden view” camera angle for 2018 primetime games.
- Looking forward to seeing more Superflex options in DFS this year.
- What if Baker Mayfield wasn’t drafted by the Browns? I know Tyrod is being marketed as the team’s starter, but anytime a first-round pick is spent on a quarterback it makes me suspicious. This is too bad, because for once I thought Tyrod was going to get some respect from his employer.