This discussion is more about dynasty and keeper leagues than redraft leagues, since rebuilding never comes into play in redraft.
After 5 weeks, some of you dynasty/keeper owners must be thinking, “My team sucks! Should I start rebuilding now? Or do I still have a shot?”
First, we have to look at how long each league’s season is and when is the trade deadline? The NFL season is 18 weeks long, but most leagues will never see that many. Most teams will only see 17 weeks (since the last NFL week is usually a throwaway week for most of the NFL), with their playoffs lasting anywhere from 1-3 weeks. So your ‘season’ will likely end in weeks 13-15, depending on your playoff structure. We have played 5 weeks so far, but many leagues will be hitting their trade deadlines at odd times (I have one league where the trade deadline comes on a Friday AFTER a Thursday night game in week 11, while another league has the trade deadline on December 3rd, a Saturday during week 13, and I have a 3rd league with a week 14 trade deadline). This all comes down to how long you have to make a decision to go for the playoffs or scrap your team. Should you be making trades to add talent, or should you be trading for draft picks and young players?
Regardless of your trade deadline, you have 5 weeks of play under your belt, so you have at least a clue of how good or bad your team may be. IF you need to rebuild, the clock is ticking. Trading for draft picks now is risky, but you can get earlier rounds for your talent now. Those owners who think they have a shot, but are seriously wrong, will more likely trade you good picks for your talent now. By week 11, they may have given up on the season after they have lost the next 6 games, but you could be sitting on their 1st rounder.
On the other hand, you could be giving up too soon. I remember one league where I literally was deep in the hole at 0-5, but I also had scored the second most points of any team, because every week I was always up against the team that scored the most that week. Is your team actually scoring a lot of points, but just having a run of bad luck with the schedule? This is the worst situation in which to be, because even doing as well as you are, you will hit a point later in the season where you are too deep in a win-loss hole to salvage the season, when you could have been planning for next year. But you could also win out and make the playoffs, and possibly a championship. Week 5 is too early for this scenario to throw in the towel, but it is something you have to have in the back of your mind over the next several weeks. If you win the next 3 games, you know you need to keep going. If you lose 2-3, then it’s time to plan for next year.
But you may also have a legitimately bad team. Even at 2-3, your team may have just gotten lucky twice, facing somebody better when they were having a bad week. Obviously, your record is one barometer for your team’s potential, but I have seen teams start 5-0 and then proceed to crash and burn between injuries, bye weeks, and soft benches. A better record gives you more time on the calendar to make your decision, but a bad team will always fall to the bottom.
Ultimately, the key is to be able to look at your team and decide whether it has a legitimate shot at the playoffs. 5 weeks is usually enough time to have an inkling. Just don’t jump out too early.
My own situation is about as muddied as possible: I have 3 dynasty/keeper teams, and two are 2-3 and the third is 3-2 (thanks South Beach!). I’m not worried about the 3-2 team, but the other 2 are money leagues.
I knew going into this season my Sleeper team was a disaster, and it would be a long-term rebuild project. I drafted a ton of talent this year, but most of it has still yet to materialize, hence why I am 2-3. But it wouldn’t kill me to add some draft picks going into next year. This is one of the tougher situations, since it requires me to wait and try to vulture some late 1st round/early 2nd round picks from potential (and desperate) playoff teams.
My other 2-3 team is a Yahoo dynasty SFLX league with 16 teams, 2 divisions, and very deep rosters. It also has two 5-0 teams with stacked rosters. I have all my draft picks going into next year, but adding more is a great idea. This is one where I see an opportunity to add draft picks. But this is also one where the draft is snaked. 1st round picks will be according to this season’s record, but second round picks will be reversed. Trading away 2nd round talent in this league gets you near-1st round players in next year’s draft, if the team is in the playoffs. So I have two opportunities: Trade players away for 1st round picks from mid-range teams, or go for trading lesser but still talented 2nd round-level players with playoff teams.
Hopefully, this mental exercise helps. Feel free to offer your own tips.