- Shawn Peters
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A man in Wisconsin was charged with grand larceny two weeks ago after authorities discovered he had circumvented his home's gas meter for 20 years, allegedly stealing more than $36,000 worth of natural gas to heat his in-ground swimming pool.
In December 2001, actress Winona Ryder, she of the 23 different major motion pictures at that point, was arrested for shoplifting more than $5,000 in merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.
In 1994, Disney used the major plot points of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" to craft a story about a guilt-ridden young lion cub whose uncle murders his royal father.
What's that? ESPN.com is owned by whom? Riiiight. As I was saying, Disney was inspired by a classic piece of literature and found a way to translate its timeless and noncopyrighted themes to a new generation of young minds with a brilliant film.
It bears repeating: Everyone steals. So this week, to help you pilfer a few players from your competitors, I'm going to steal from myself.
Casing the Joint
During the baseball season, I wrote a column for fans of the fantasy horsehide about using a league's transaction report to identify the most likely trade partners. But since some of you are strict pigskin players, this idea might be new to you.
If fantasy sports were an episode of "CSI," then your league's transaction report would be a big old pile of "epithelials," offering you scads of DNA evidence. The difference is that while Gil Grissom uses that info to solve crimes, you can use it to commit them.
First rule: If a fantasy owner has made three or fewer moves of any sort this season, he or she isn't a trade partner. That owner is a cadaver lying on the slab. Don't waste your time trying to get a deal done because there is no roto pulse there. Sadly, in my average 10-team public league, that eliminates two or three teams per league.
Secondly, the opposite is true. In general, the owner who makes the most moves of any kind is also the most likely to make a trade, or at least counter your lowball offer with something reasonable. Transactions are addictive to some, and trades are the primo product, straight from the supplier. Most importantly, your already-robust chances of hooking transaction junkies go up when you use their own moves to identify a pattern of likes and dislikes.
For example, if you find an owner who has picked up Darrell Jackson, Warrick Dunn and/or Steve McNair despite their lack of production, there's a good chance you're looking at someone who has an affinity for players who were elite not so long ago. Maybe this guy also thinks Yasmine Bleeth is still hot or online poker is an exciting new phenomenon. This is the team you're looking to deal with if you own Shaun Alexander, and you've run out of patience with him. I'll admit, I kept wanting to believe Alexander could be the kind of player he was in the first two weeks of the season. That might not make him a top back, but at least he'd be useful. But when Seattle blows out the winless Rams and Alexander still can't produce at a flex level, I go searching for a lifeboat. Finding an owner who lives in the past might be the only way you can get a passable second back in return.
Similar to the previous example, there is another owner who looks to the past, but at the same time is concerned with the present. We're talking about that guy in the league who has already picked up Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard, who are both playing like it's the year 2000. This type of owner might've even been the first to jump back on the Derrick Mason bandwagon. In essence, these are owners who comb their leagues for evidence that a former star is regaining form. That's why you offer up Brett Favre now, while he's still a top-10 quarterback in terms of points scored. He has committed five turnovers in his past two games, reminding us all of "bad Brett" from 2005 and 2006. He has some nice playoff matchups, but if you can get something you need now, before a tough matchup against Denver causes his overall numbers to slip farther, you do it. Please don't read this as "Brett Favre will stink." I'm simply saying that his value should dip lower, and there's a certain type of owner out there who might not see it that way.
The last profile that's worth noting is the owner who is all over the Cinderella stories. Yes, this would be Derek Anderson's owner, and the guy who has Earnest Graham and Kevin Walter. But a look at this person's transactions will reveal he's also picked up and dropped the likes of Josh McCown, Isaac Bruce Ronald Curry, Justin Fargas and several other "one-week wonders." Once you identify this diamond-in-the-rough enthusiast, offer him Kenton Keith. Last week, I wrote that Keith was going to eat into Joseph Addai's production. Lo and behold, it happened on ESPN's "Monday Night Football." Addai still is Tony Dungy's first option, so their split won't always be as even as it was Monday. But right now, Keith's value has never been higher, as he seems both sexy and "flexy." All it will take is a week when Addai gets 20 touches and Keith gets five for that to change.
Follow the evidence, look through your microscope and spray that stuff that makes blood show up under a black light. With a little detective work, you can pull a CSI-GTR.
Pulling the Job
I do not hate Selvin Young. In fact, in one GTR league where I have Travis Henry, I just accepted a deal in which I received Jerricho Cotchery and Young for Donald Driver. But in terms of deals that I'm offering, it just seems as though dangling Young, a player who still hasn't started a game for the Broncos, gets me what I want.
Last week, in a 12-team league that uses IDPs, I dealt Young and the previously maligned Ronald Curry to Travis Henry's owner for Hines Ward. I consider Ward to be the ginger ale of wide receivers -- always underrated and unfailingly refreshing. This particular roster was deep with running backs at the time, with Ronnie Brown, LaMont Jordan, Ahman Green, Cedric Benson, Sammy Morris and Young. But my receiving corps of Greg Jennings, Lee Evans and Devin Hester (return yards and touchdowns count) was more like a receiving corpse. I had to make a deal, and Young represented nothing more than spare depth back when Ronnie Brown had two fully functioning anterior cruciate ligaments.
Still, I'm happy with my Ward purchase. He was targeted 12 times by Big Ben in Week 7, his first game back from injury. He'll be a splendid second receiver most weeks and a top option when he gets to play the Browns or this week's opponent, the Bengals.
Now I'll have to find a way to purloin a No. 1 running back. A fantasy thief's work is never done.
Until next week, don't just win your league. Steal it.
Shawn Peters is a fantasy baseball and football analyst for ESPN.com, as well as a regular contributor to the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. He can be reached at GrandTheftRoto@TalentedMrRoto.com.
Shawn Peters tells owners that past free-agent moves can help future trades.