The Art of the Rebuild: Part 2 Acquiring Assets

By Alex McCarthy
Alex McCarthy Welcome back to The Art of the Rebuild, in Part 1 of which we discussed what sort of players you should be looking to sell off to kickstart your rebuild. Now let’s take a look at the assets you’ll be targeting with all of your newfound capital, starting with that most liquid of currencies- draft picks.

2018 draft picks: If your team this season was ravaged by injury and/or bad luck but you still have a fair number of valuable assets, I recommend trading for picks in the 2018 rookie draft. Specifically I would target owners who you feel have unwarranted confidence in their team (and so consequently imagine that their pick will be later than it might actually be), as well as owners of top-heavy teams whose pick currently projects to be late but is one injury away from potentially being much earlier. Every year the new rookie class is met with an outrageous amount of hype leading up to the draft and a few leaguemates will always fall in love with specific players, which gives significant leverage to anyone holding multiple first round picks whose value is inflated by rookie fever. Exploit that.

2019 draft picks: If you have mismanaged your team into oblivion or inherited an orphan that is largely devoid of value and recognize that you are at least two years from contending, it may be worthwhile to preemptively punt the 2018 season as well and begin stocking up on 2019 draft picks. I would only recommend this if you play in a league that you are absolutely certain will still be around at that point, but if you are confident it will then you can get picks from two years out for a fraction of the price of picks from next year. They will also appreciate even more dramatically and at the time of the draft could easily be worth three to five times what you paid for them. It requires extreme patience and commitment and a certain type of league, but for a true “from-the-ground-up” rebuild this is probably the safest and most guaranteed method of increasing the overall value of your team.

Starters on IR: Continuing with the theme of trading for assets that will appreciate by this time next year, our next category is starting quality players who are stuck on Injured Reserve for the rest of the year or close to it. A player is always going to be worth more when they’re actually playing than when they’re not, so it’s a great idea to grab players who are on IR and get paid to eat all those injured weeks while you Sprint for Saquon. When they return healthy you have a better player than you could have otherwise afforded, or if you prefer you can flip them for value after a big game. A few examples of quality players currently on IR that I would recommend targeting include:

Odell Beckham: Obviously he won’t be cheap, but if you can ever acquire a generational talent at a discount you do it; he also safely stores a lot of value in only one roster spot, which allows you to use more spots for high-upside lottery tickets

Allen Robinson: Spending 2017 on IR after a disappointing 2016 season has Robinson’s value as low as it will probably ever be, and the high likelihood of his leaving Jacksonville could result in a quarterback upgrade and a return to form

Julian Edelman: A combination of age and recent injury means you can probably get Edelman for pennies on the dollar right now (especially from a contending team), but he should have at least one more year of WR2+ production with Brady and could have trade value next season similar to what we’re seeing from Larry Fitzgerald now

Cameron Meredith: My personal choice for most underrated player entering the 2017 season, Meredith checks all the boxes and (according to Pro Football Focus) runs the best double-move routes in the entire league; his season-ending injury has him off radars almost completely, however, which means you may be able to get a potential WR2 at WR4 prices

Quincy Enunwa: Like Meredith, Enunwa was poised to be the centerpiece of his team’s passing game but went down before his season could begin; also like Meredith, he has WR2 potential and can currently be had for more like WR4 prices in many leagues

David Johnson: Since it appears likely that DJ will return this season he will only be on the trading block from teams in very specific situations, but if he can be acquired for any discount he should be easy to flip for profit after his next big game (or kept if you prefer)

Dalvin Cook: Showed flashes of brilliance that have me convinced he is going to be the long-term centerpiece in Minnesota and a future RB1, but the small sample size and his current injury mean you might be able to get him for sub-RB1 prices

Chris Carson: Has an even smaller sample size than Cook and lacks the draft pedigree and hype, but this means he should be available for much cheaper and could make a great 2018 RB2 or a piece to flip once he comes back and has a good game

Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers is (like DJ) unlikely to be on the trading block from any contender since he could be back by week 14, but he could be available at a discount from a team in the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) situation

Tyler Eifert: Like many others, I have real worries that Eifert will never play another snap; however, if you can get him for a third round pick or thereabouts he represents a great high-upside investment based on name value alone

Underwhelming Rookies: previously-hyped rookies who didn’t immediately take off and now cost less than the picks that were used to select them (emphasize that this won’t always be the case, but it’s worth checking for impatient owners)

  • Zay Jones: The all time college football receptions leader has not looked like it so far, but in my opinion that can easily be chalked up to the drastic transition from Jones’ previous level of competition to the NFL; this makes him a fantastic buy-low for a rebuilder, as a reactionary and impatient owner may be willing to sell for pennies and you can afford to wait for Zay to develop

  • John Ross: There is a lot of inherent risk in acquiring Ross, but the Bengals’ abysmal offense and the repeated injuries have a lot of owners selling for very cheap; if you can get him at a significant discount the draft pedigree and pure speed make him worth it for the upside alone

  • Chris Godwin: Stuck in an offense full of more experienced pass catchers, Godwin and his immense talent have been buried on the depth chart this year; once again, this means that reactionary owners may be looking to sell and owners who can afford to wait, like those in a rebuild, have a great opportunity to swoop in and get him on the cheap

  • D’Onta Foreman: The rookie from Texas has looked strong in limited action but does not appear to be supplanting Lamar Miller any time soon, which means that some owners will be looking to sell for someone who is producing immediately; eventually Miller will leave Houston, so grab Foreman if he’s available for cheap and sit tight while you rebuild

  • David Njoku: Despite being unfortunate enough as to land on the Browns, Njoku was my favorite TE prospect this year and has already looked promising if raw; if an owner in your league is disappointed in what they’ve seen so far or simply can’t stand the idea of owning anyone in Cleveland, make sure to pounce on the opportunity and grab a future perennial top-6 TE

And that’s it! While there are certainly many more players who would make great additions to a rebuilding squad, targeting these specific archetypes should allow you to both decrease potential points (giving you a better draft pick) while increasing the value of your team, which is the ultimate goal of any rebuild. Thanks for reading, and hopefully by following these strategies once you will ensure that you never have to do so again.