Incomplete Information: Andrew Luck and Ezekiel Elliott
With the constant circulation of news and speculation on Andrew Luck and Ezekiel Elliott and just how many games each will miss to start the season (albeit for very different reasons), it is an appropriate time to discuss how much (or little) impact this has on your dynasty team, and how you should react to speculation and incomplete information in the future.
It is probably a waste of time trying to predict the exact outcome of something such as Andrew Luck’s mysterious health or Ezekiel Elliott’s final suspension number and dates. The best dynasty owners do not have to predict as they have already prepared their roster for when such an unexpected situation arises. The best thing you can do in these situations occurs before the situation itself. Preparation of positional roster depth combined with handcuffing of stars is something that is without a doubt worth doing in your dynasty leagues. Some owners fail to do this and you can take advantage. Think how much value you may be able to get out of an Elliott owner now if you have Darren McFadden, who is near worthless in dynasty except as a handcuff. You also might be able to get an excellent value out rental’s Brian Hoyer or Mike Glennon in a deal with the unprepared Luck owner in 2QB leagues. If they had addressed their roster issues prior to an “emergency” they would have avoided having to pay a premium now.
“That advice is fine if I had it a month ago!” OK fair point. For those of you who are stuck in a situation now and may be unsure what to do, or perhaps you are getting offers for Luck and/or Zeke in this time of uncertainty, you want to know “What do I do now?” The most important thing is that you realize the dynasty value of a young player who expects to possibly miss some early season games is still pretty close to their original dynasty value. They may drop a few positional spots due to the uncertainty or the severity of the injury, but if there is even a chance of them appearing in the second half of the season (and most importantly your fantasy playoffs), you cannot discount them too much. If an owner in your league is discounting them, I would be targeting these players. If I am an owner of these players, I am not selling them for much less than I would have two months ago. The “unknown” may seem frightening but you will be upset if you react quickly and lose value especially when the long term outlook is still pretty great.
So now that we have already established that it is not worth wasting time predicting the exact outcome, we are going to analyze potential outcomes and show how they still may not matter in terms of buy/sell.
Luck may appear at more risk than Zeke considering there is just so much we don’t know about the extent of his injuries. What we do know right now is that he has made the 53-man roster but they have also sent Philip Dorsett to acquire quarterback Jacoby Brissett. He has yet to even practice and while he may be a top tier talent he still missed some valuable time this offseason and continues to miss it. Vegas is usually the place to go when you want the sharpest information. I spoke with Randy McInnis of Sports Betting Dime who weighed in:
“The Colts opened at 9 wins when the 2017 win totals first came out. They were also roughly 20:1 to win the Super Bowl. Many sportsbooks have taken the win total down, though you will find 7.5 in some places. Their Super Bowl odds, where available, are closer to 50:1. The major concern this year is that Luck, a franchise player, will not be put at risk for future injury, especially if the season turns into a tank. This would explain why some books have taken the win total off the board.”
This concern is legitimate for Colts fans and redraft owners. As a dynasty owner, I see this as an opportunity to grab value. In single quarterback leagues, he can probably be had at an even larger value than Superflex and 2QB (due to positional depth). I am not saying you must go and buy Andrew Luck but depending on the owner’s season outlook and yours, it is probably worth exploring what kind of price they are looking for. The Colts, just like a dynasty owner, want to win this year but also realize the precious value in their franchise quarterback. As a fantasy football dynasty owner, you too should realize that even if Luck were to miss the entire season, he likely has 8-10 years of fantasy relevant seasons left. As more information about Luck comes out your opposition will be able to price him more accurately. Consider taking advantage of the unknown right now and at least explore the asking price in your dynasty leagues.
The Ezekiel Elliott situation is much more complicated. He will play in week one and will await a decision this Friday (September 8th) from Judge Amos Mazzant who will decide whether to grant Zeke a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction. The TRO would essentially allow Zeke to play a few more weeks until a hearing is held to determine if Zeke would get an injunction. An injunction (which could be ruled on Friday) would be a longer restraint against the NFL until Judge Mazzant could reach a decision on the lawsuit which would possibly keep Zeke around all season (and if he lost in the end after those months he would serve in 2018). For an excellent write up on the entire case and possible outcomes you can check out Jacob Feldman’s piece for Sports Illustrated here.
What does this all mean for Fantasy Football? Zeke will likely be harder to give up for some owners especially if the TRO is announced Friday and they have him for a few more games. The time to take advantage would be any “bad” news. The first wave of potential “bad” news is Friday if Mazzant rules in favor of the NFL. A ruling in favor of the NFL is probably the most likely outcome. If this happens, I would try to acquire Zeke especially if he comes off a mediocre/poor game against a very strong Giants rushing defense. His value won’t get any lower than that point in that scenario. There is another scenario that could push his perceived value even lower where Mazzant gives a TRO which Zeke could play in weeks 2 and 3 until he decides on the injunction. If Mazzant did that and then still rules in favor of the NFL (which he could), Zeke would then have to serve his suspension from that point. This would be the absolute ideal time to buy as not only will Zeke be missing the middle of the fantasy season but he will also likely not have great stats after having to play three extremely tough defenses in NYG, @DEN, then @ARI. As a non-Zeke owner this is a dream scenario to acquire him. As a Zeke owner this is a time for patience even if it feels your season is slipping away.
The lesson here is that young dynasty assets do not come along often and even when they reach a point of really impacting your season you need to realize the long-term impact of letting them go when their perceived value is so low. Dynasty leagues are like the stock market in that the blue chip long term holds may have some dips but you can count on them in the long run. Understanding perceived value compared to actual value allows you to take advantage of the cognitive dissonance and recency bias of your opponents. Use times of incomplete information and speculation to see through the smoke and understand the true value of young, elite, and proven players.