What is talent rot?
One trick to making a good draft that reinforces the idea of talent concentration is what I will call talent rot. Talent rot is what happens when you have more talented players for a single position than you can play at a time and are therefore forced to sit at least one of them, which means you have a great player on your bench whose scoring production doesn’t count in your league. Basically, talent is rotting on your bench rather than providing a benefit to your team. If you want to have a successful team in any type of fantasy sports league, you should avoid talent rot as much as possible.
Talent rot can happen in pretty much any type of fantasy league. In football, if you draft two of the best quarterbacks in a league which only allows allows one quarterback to start, you will experience talent rot. In baseball, if you draft three awesome players at first base, but only have one 1B position and one utility position, you will experience talent rot. In hockey, if you draft three premier goalies and only two can play at a time, you will experience talent rot. In basketball, having too many points guards and centers may mean that you have to sit some of them on certain nights even though you have shooting guard or forward slots that remain unfilled.
How do teams end up with talent rot?
If you pick too many players in the early rounds of a draft who play the same position, you may end up having to sit some of them on the bench. You might think that you’re insuring yourself in case one gets injured, but the reality is that you have wasted a pick on a player who will give you zero points at least some of the time. You would have been better off using the money to draft regular starters who might not be the best players on the board, but who play different positions and will therefore contribute to your points totals.
And don’t fall for the idea that you will be able to easily trade away one of your top draft picks. Once other managers realize that talent is rotting on your bench and that you are effectively being forced to trade, they are more likely to define the terms of the trade and use it to their advantage. Don’t be surprised if you can’t get full value for a player you are trying to jettison from your team because you made a miscalculation.
Talent rot can also happen if you draft a so-called “well-balanced team” consisting of middle-tier players. While drafting a lot of average players at a position can help provide depth in case one of them goes down with injury, most of the time you would be better off had you drafted a single great player and picked up a few waiver wire players later on if an injury occurred.
Another situation in which talent rot can occur is when the best players on the waiver wire tend to play positions that are already filled on your team. If a waiver wire player is simply too tempting to pass on, a manager may claim him and then relegate him to the bench because there are no other starter spots available at his position. Meanwhile, another roster position on your team remains filled with a sub-par player.
What you should do if you are experiencing talent rot
The talent that you have on your team – whether acquired through a draft, a trade, or via a waiver wire pick-up – needs to be the focus of your points-generating roster spots (starters), rather than your non-points-generating roster spots (bench).
If you have top-tier talent rotting on your bench, one option is to try to trade a player in exchange for a player at a different position at which you are weak. However, as mentioned above, this puts you in a weak bargaining position because you are trying to make a deal out of desperation (and yes, once you see hordes of points going to waste by players sitting on your bench, you will become desperate). You will be likely be able to make a trade but will not necessarily be able to get back full value for the player you’re trading away.
If you have talent rotting on your bench in the form of a lot of middle-tier players whom you can’t find starting positions for, you may want to follow the talent concentration theory (discussed in another article) and do a multi-player trade. A 3-for-2 trade or a 2-for-1 trade can help eliminate your problem and greatly improve your team in a single stroke. Of course, this requires the cooperation of another manager, so don’t expect this kind of trade to be automatic.
One last word of advice
Avoiding talent rot doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have capable players sitting on your bench in case the need arises. After all, some players are always going to get injured, or will have a bye day/week, and you will need someone else on your team to step in and be a starter. But what you should avoid is having talented players on your roster whom you can’t find a starting spot for on a frequent basis. The longer this happens, the less likely your team is to be competitive. While there are potential ways to overcome the problem of talent rot, perhaps the best course of action is to try to avoid it in the first place.