Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By JAY CLEMONS  |  Last updated 9/2/13
Here are five quick ways to improve your fantasy roster before Thursday's opener (Ravens-Broncos) and after an unsatisfactory snake or auction draft. 1. There should be no loyalty with late-round selections If you drafted Rams receiver Brian Quick in Round 16, on the hope he'll develop into a red-zone option of maybe five or six touchdowns, but prefer the upside of Patriots rookie Kenbrell Thompkins ... make the move as soon as possible. Yes, Thompkins didn't generate much prospect buzz at the University of Cincinnati, and yes, the New England offensive scheme is difficult to master for veterans let alone raw rookies. But Thompkins led all NFL receivers in catches (15) this preseason, with most of the damage occurring during Tom Brady's time under center. (The wideout also attracted 25 total targets.) Thompkins also has the good fortune of falling into a situation where New England has a dearth of inexperienced options at wide receiver (minus Danny Amendola) and tight end (minus Rob Gronkowski, who'll likely miss the first three games while recovering from arm and back surgeries). He has a golden opportunity to gain Brady and Bill Belichick's trust faster than other NFL rookies at receiver. Does that make Thompkins a WR1WR2 starter for opening weekend in 12-team leagues? Uh, no. But he's certainly worth a "flex" gamble in Points Per Reception leagues against the Bills. 2. Seek out friends or respectful rivals for win-win 'handcuff' situations Let's say Owner A drafts Philly's LeSean McCoy and Buffalo's Fred Jackson and Owner B selects the Bills' C.J. Spiller and the Eagles' Bryce Brown. Elementarily speaking, this is an obvious trade situation for both parties, exchanging Jackson (a top-15 tailback at this time last year) and Brown (crushed the Cowboys and Panthers in consecutive weeks last year) in a 1-for-1 swap. (Owner A might have to sweeten the offer, in the way of a 2-for-2 trade, to compensate for landing Brown ranked ahead of Jackson on most preseason draft boards.) But it might only be a no-brainer move with owners who are competitive rivals or close friends. In other words, when there's a foundation of trust andor respect between two parties, that's when thoughtful, win-win deals can quickly be processed. On the flip side of that rationale ... 3. Don't be afraid to cut obnoxious, unfamiliar owners out of the trade loop This one is quite simple: Upon receiving three lopsided offers from a stranger in a relatively short period of time (none in your favor), secretly bar himher from all future deals. Being disrespected by another GM is a big no-no in fantasy and a white-collar crime worthy of incommunicable banishment. Or something like that. 4. Identify the teams in your league that are one quarterback away from contending for a title (or making the playoffs) This one's for the fantasy owners who loathe their overall roster, but strangely, are committed to keeping two dynamic QBs for the entire season. Listen, you can't live in fear of a star quarterback getting injured during a single campaign especially in 12-team leagues with maximum rosters of 16 players. In the vast majority of cases, it pays to take a leap of faith. Let's use Robert Griffin III, circa 2012, as an example. Last year, after three weeks of the new season, I had already grown weary of the seemingly endless "start-or-sit" questions involving Griffin and the usual suspect of elite quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, etc.). It was exhaustingaggravating for one simple reason: No matter which QB an owner chooses for a particular week, they're leaving an equal or roundabout amount of points on the bench every Sunday. And last I checked, having an elite bench only serves a purpose during head-to-head scoring ties. Obviously, it's better to have a deep bench of marketable fantasy assets compared to a barren one. This is especially true with running backs and receivers, given their propensity for sustaining nagging or even serious injuries throughout the season. However, it's a little different for quarterbacks. If "pocket-centric" QBs like Rodgers, Brees and Manning are rock-solid bets to start all 16 games, with few historical exceptions, what's the upshot of starting Griffin only three or four times a year? Fast forward to the present ... for owners with mediocre starters or depth at running back andor receiver, it makes perfect sense to trade a high-performance QB2 during September. In 12-team leagues, there will always be serviceable options at the quarterback slot ... guys, who, will only be needed for one or two starts for the whole year. 5. Enthusiastically put Adrian Peterson up for public auction On the surface, this may seem like a last-resort ploy for improving a roster . However, if you're an owner who enjoys cutting through the "bull" of high-stakes trade negotiations in non-deadline settings, the quickest and surest way to dramatically overhauling a team involves the following tactic: Alert your fellow GMs to Peterson's availability in the form of a short but informative email or message-board post. Be vague about what you're looking for, other than saying "best offer wins." As the coup de grace, set a firm deadline for when all credible offers must be submitted. Emphasize how the blockbuster trade will be completed before Sunday's slate of 13 games. For those playing in highly competitive leagues, expect an immediate avalanche of respectable trade offers calling for at least two high-level starters at running back, wide receiver or quarterback. After that, it's up to you to keep driving up the price, by any means necessary. Now, for those of you who scream 'heresy' at the thought of trading Peterson before the season, and just nine months removed from a 2,000-yard rushing campaign, allow me to repeat the litany of quantifiable reasons why AD COULD fall short of last year's absurd production. Sign up today for your free fantasy football season at FOXSports.com, and test your draft preparation by entering our mock draft lobby. Keep up with all the news and notes from the fantasy football world at FOXSports.comfantasyfootball. Jay Clemons can be reached, day or night, via Twitter at @FOX_JayClemons.
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