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Too Many Eggs, Not Enough Baskets

"Timmy, did you see that game Domanick Davis had this week, I bet you won your fantasy game easy huh?

"Well no Joe, you see I benched him in favor of…."

Ahh, the fantasy football "war story." How you had a player with a great week but just didn't start him when he blew up. Now for some it could be a total surprise coming from a deep, dark sleeper. But for far too many that have this lament; it is probably because they are too deep at that position.

Huh? Too much depth? Well, on the surface this runs contrary to nearly everything we know and have learned about fantasy football. We research and draft to find value at every pick, from solid players early in the draft, to sleepers we have done our homework on later in the draft. And isn't that what you are trying to do? Get good players with every draft selection and waver pick? Sure that is great for your roster, but what about your lineup, you can't start all of these great players every week, and if you make the wrong decisions on which ones to play, it may cost you a game, the playoffs, or even worse a championship.

In fact when you have too many good players at one position you have to deal with the following 2 problems. 1) the players sitting down on your depth chart on your roster that are productive indirectly cost you points elsewhere, and 2) your roster may hold all the good players that are available for trade at that position and as a result decrease the value you could get for them.

First, consider the impact having too many good players at one position could have on your roster. You are in a league that can start 1 QB 2 RB 3 WR and 1 TE. In the draft you picked up Shaun Alexander in the first round, Domanick Davis in the second round, and in later rounds you managed to grab Willis McGahee and Michael Pittman as a couple of guys who won't produce early in the season, but may pay off later in the year. By week 9 you are left with the following situation at RB (The data was selected to show their stats to that point of the season as well as the previous weeks to illustrate what type of a trend the player may be on):

Shaun Alexander
Att
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
Week 6
16
77
1
2
30
0
Week 7
12
65
0
0
0
0
Week 8
32
195
1
3
13
1
Week 9
26
160
2
0
0
0
Totals Through Week 9
173
879
9
12
100
3
Domanick Davis
Att
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
Week 6
10
25
0
0
0
0
Week 7
bye week
Week 8
22
56
0
5
39
0
Week 9
19
71
2
2
19
0
Totals Through Week 9
121
360
5
28
269
0
Willis McGahee
Att
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
Week 6
26
111
0
3
31
0
Week 7
16
58
0
1
1
0
Week 8
30
102
2
1
9
0
Week 9
37
132
1
2
11
0
Totals Through Week 9
128
473
3
9
66
0
Michael Pittman
Att
Yards
TDs
Rec
Yards
TDs
Week 6
13
37
0
4
16
1
Week 7
23
109
1
2
55
0
Week 8
bye week
Week 9
15
128
3
2
30
0
Totals Through Week 9
81
397
4
13
130
1

A look at the data shows what you expected out of Alexander, he appears to be your workhorse, but what about the other guys at this point in the season. Davis seems to be off to a slow start, but may be coming on (on top of that you invested a second round pick in him, tough to give up on him now), McGahee appears to be productive upon getting the starting nod, and Pittman after his suspension is getting into gear (and of further note, all of them have had their bye week). Now granted, depending on your scoring you may favor one player over another, but all 3 seem to have some similar value behind Alexander. At this time, after week 9, you have no idea what type of season any of these players could have, they have all shown enough production to merit some attention in your lineup, as well as on the trading block.

This situation leaves you in a horrible position to have to make the right decision every week between 3 players at 1 position every week; the 2 RBs you don't play could very well out produce the one you do play every week. Maybe some decisions are obvious like not starting any of these players against super strong defenses, but many decisions are not that simple. For instance Pittman and Davis both catch some out of the backfield; they may be up against a tough match up but also be able to produce through their receptions. Every touchdown and big yardage game you are carrying on your bench are points you could be scoring, but are not. And while there may be some advantage to having a really good backup or possible RBBC, having 4 of this quality, can make decisions tough. And the toughest part (maybe more psychologically than anything) is, you can see the cost every week when your bench players outperform your starters.

For this reason, it is wise to try and trade one of the RBs (at least) and help your team somewhere else. First, you would still have a solid backup RB, and now you only have to decide between 2 players instead of 3 for 1 position (assuming you start and keep Alexander). Maybe you could use a backup QB or WR or Def with a soft schedule down the stretch that you could possibly play. In this case, your roster's strength may be your starting lineups greatest weakness. And while you want to get full value for such a rare commodity; you end up wasting that quality on your bench while another area of your roster may be suffering.

The second problem that arises when you have too many good players at one position is you may have all the available excess in the league at that position. Now the upside might be a bidding war for your players and really get good value, but the downside (and for my money the far more common occurrence) is no body wants to pay a steep price and other owners walk away from potential deals instead of getting fleeced by you. In the above example if you hold on to the 4 players, every moment you hold on to them could be costing your roster. Meanwhile the other owners are looking for players coming off of injury, players starting due do injuries to a starter, or they could get another player, maybe of lesser caliber, but maybe a lot cheaper, then you are left paying the price for the high price tag you put on a Pittman, Davis or McGahee.

But this is not to say you rid yourself of any of these players solely for the purpose of easing your mind. Stop and think where and how your roster could use improvement. Maybe there is a receiver of slightly lesser value than McGahee, but you like his strength of schedule for the last few fantasy regular season games and the playoff run, there even could be a QB you would like to have because it seems that is he learning the offense and his numbers are improving.

To even take a riskier proposition, it may even make sense to trade one of these players for a player who is coming off of injury (or suspension) that has huge potential if he is able get back and produce again. That player you are trading for may not produce much when you make the trade, but the running back you are trading him for doesn't represent any real value to your team either. Last season, maybe even a Domanick Davis was worth trading to the owner of an injured Randy Moss after week 9. You have the depth to incur the impact of losing Dom Davis and the possible upside in getting a WR like Moss for the fantasy playoffs may be worth the risk. Surely the downside is much lower than it appears on face, and the upside may make your team more formidable for a championship run. Of course research those situations and make sure you can handle the risk involved in trade like this, but the concept deserves some thought. In a vacuum, these players may not be of equal value, but you have other considerations like your starting lineup. And those types of moves may weaken a roster, but improve the strength of the starting lineup you could put together any given week.

As you can see from the examples I use above, you do not want to trade all of your RB depth, but the RB depth that you probably wouldn't use. You may want to trade one of them with a WR, and get a better WR with a slightly less strong RB in return. The key to trading your vast depth is to use it to give yourself options, not difficult decisions, which you will almost always second guess. Your tolerance level for risk and the value that you could get in return are always key factors in making any trade decision, but whether it be drafting, waver pick-ups or trading, your goal is to maximize the value with the move you make. At times, and especially when you have too much of a good thing, you need to reconsider the concept of value and how the move will contribute to enhancing your overall team, and really the value to your team of what you are letting go in the trade.

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