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Getting Settled in as a New Owner in Your Fantasy Football League

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
Jun 15, 2019

Taking over an orphan team is often a fun and rewarding process, but it is not without its challenges. The first thing to ensure before taking over a team is that your team actually has some pieces to build with. This is especially important in money leagues. There is nothing worse than being stuck in the basement with an orphan who lost all of their top keepers due to the previous owner’s incompetence. You also want to ensure that you have a first-round pick to aid in your retool or rebuild efforts. Once you have identified that the team in question is actually worth taking over, there are some things you will want to do to get settled in as the new owner in your league.

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Before accepting the team
Before accepting an orphan team it is imperative that you get to know the league’s settings. You will also want to determine the competitive balance of the league by looking at the rosters of all of the other teams. Balance means you can compete after only one season. A lack of parity means you may be embarking on a multi-year project. To understand your settings it is helpful to look at the scoring modifiers, but also to look at the league’s fantasy leaderboard from the previous season. Identifying which players or player types are the most valuable in your particular league will go a long way toward helping you strategize. Before accepting a team make sure you are satisfied with the settings and that it actually has some intriguing pieces to build with. There is nothing wrong with refusing to take over an orphan team, especially in cash formats.

Determine rival managerial and trade styles
As discussed in our dynasty trade approach piece, determining your rival’s managerial and trade styles will go a long way toward setting you up for long-term success. All negotiations and relationships require some sort of psychological manipulation. In order to do this to the best of your ability, a knowledge of your rivals’ personality and value systems is essential.

Send out feelers, open dialogue
Once you take over a team, it is a good idea to engage the rest of the owners by way of a message in the league chat. Send out some feeler offers for players you have some interest in, and also message the owners to open dialogue. Be proactive in determining what players or picks may be on the table in discussions.

State intentions re: buyer or seller
Once you take over an orphan and have already introduced yourself to rival owners, it is a good idea to state your intentions in your league chat. You can state if you are planning to be a buyer or a seller. This can help ward off unwanted offers if you are buying as opposed to selling. Some teams will even change their name to reflect this status. One orphan I took over this year I changed the team name to ‘Fire Sale.’ We had another owner take over a team in two separate leagues, and he named his teams ‘Make Trades with Me.’ and ‘Rebuilding 2019.’ Names like these will signal your intent to anyone who may have missed your initial message to the league. It also serves as a reminder weeks down the line for owners who may have simply forgotten what mode you were in.

Play humble
The last thing any fantasy owner likes or respects is someone acting like they know it all. Not many like arrogance, so it is wise to be careful not to come off that way in trade discussions. There are some owners who feel that their knowledge is superior to that of the entire league’s and are not afraid to act as such. This often backfires as it can affect how someone deals with you in future trade discussions. It is often wiser to pretend that you have a knowledge deficit in order to get a better understanding of your rivals’ own depth of knowledge. Letting your opponents underestimate you is something you can look to exploit down the line.  

Make your roster your own
This is probably the most obvious strategy. Once you take over a team, the impetus is to make the roster your own. Unfortunately, this may not always be possible if the rival managers in your league have conflicting trade styles or are in similar selling or acquisition modes. On some occasions, you may find that despite a roster full of assets, you may not be able to make any trades due to all of the top talent being concentrated on three of the other 11 teams. As such, it is important to ensure the league in question has some semblance of a competitive balance. Severe roster disparities can result in your retool becoming a multi-year process. This is fine if you are playing in a free league or have the first year comped. However, it can be a sign to stay away if it is a cash league. This is why the draft is often where you will find you are able to make the biggest improvements to your team. Be aggressive where needed. 

Work the waiver wire
The waiver wire is your best friend if you are taking over an orphan team. There is no guarantee that you will be able to make any trades of note in your first season, and in some leagues at all. Rookie draft picks are not without risk. As such, working the waiver wire to find potential gems is a critical part of the retool/rebuild effort. in 2018, top dynasty assets Phillip Lindsay and Tyler Boyd were available on the wire. It is likely that when taking over an orphan you will have considerable end-of-bench flexibility. Make use of this advantage to the best of your ability. While other teams struggle in their debates of who to drop for hot pickups, you can snap up players that were given up on or add the hottest emerging talents on the wire. With FAAB waivers becoming the standard, it is imperative that you are aggressive on your bids. You should also insist that FAAB dollars are included when offloading any players. 

My Playbook
Once you have familiarized yourself with your league’s settings and roster composition, it is recommended that you import your league into our My Playbook tool. This tool allows you to get custom analysis based on your particular league. It offers ideal lineups and also clues you into the top potential free agents. This is an invaluable resource for those who find themselves more pressed for time. It is also a great way to confirm or debunk your feelings about a particular free agent. The full range of tools available via MyPlaybook is truly impressive. There is not only the aforementioned waiver assistant and league analyzer, but there is a sit/start tool, a trade finder, a trade analyzer, and get this, an auto-pilot feature. You owe it to yourself, and your team, to at least give MyPlaybook a try.

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his profile and follow him @FantasyContext.

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