Inside the Toolbox - Contract Year Players

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Inside the Toolbox - Contract Year Players

We analyze the pros and cons behind the strategy of targeting Contract Year Players

Money isn't everything, but it can of course be a premium motivator in life. Fantasy football expert Stephen Englert takes us INSIDE THE TOOLBOX, a series which covers the history and validity of FFToolbox's world famous tools, to analyze the pros and cons behind the strategy of targeting CONTRACT YEAR PLAYERS.

Editor's intro: At, we offer many tools which endow our users with interesting and unique points of analysis. In this multiple part series, we want to take a closer look at why these tools are useful and what kind of information each tool offered over the years. Through this exercise, we will re-examine the past to find hidden truths today. To check out the CONTRACT YEAR PLAYERS tool over at FFToolbox, click here.

What would you do for a multi-million dollar raise?

Show up early and stay late? Spend extra time with co-workers? Take greater care with every aspect of your work? Probably.

Would your work output improve? Probably.

That's the logic behind the contract-year theory. The idea goes that since they are staring a major pay-raise in the face, NFL players will work harder and correspondingly their statistical performance will improve. Like in the scenario above, we generally assume that greater effort yields greater results.

Does that play out in actual practice? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. And frankly, it's extremely difficult to predict when that added motivation will translate into statistical success. We'll examine that a bit more below. But first, a few words of caution on contract-year theory.

Do not use these lists the way you'd use rankings, as a way to identify the best players. That won't work. Instead, use contract-year theory as ONE tool in your Fantasy Football Toolbox. The fact is, that it appears to matter sometimes, in the right situations. But by no means does contract-year theory predict the top scorers or biggest improvements. Remember that as you browse the lists of contract-year players.

So how should a smart fantasy owner use contract-year theory? Let's look at some examples to help figure that out.


In 2007, the Patriots signed Randy Moss to a one-year deal. Fans were skeptical. Moss had a well-deserved reputation as a diva and in the 2006 season, he'd caught just 42 balls for a paltry 553 yards and three touchdowns. Moss had just turned 30 and seemed to be in the twilight of his career. But from his first game with the Patriots that season, Moss was a revelation. He ended the season with 98 catches for 1,493 yards and an NFL-record 23 touchdowns. What changed from the previous season? In a nutshell, he joined Tom Brady, and a Patriots organization that was focused on winning and winning big. The Pats challenged Moss to prove himself and he did in a big way.

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Stephen Englert
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Indianapolis, IN
FFToolbox Fantasy Football Writer since 2014
Stephen Englert has been a fantasy football enthusiast and writer for over 10 years. He is a diehard fan of the Indianapolis Colts first, and his fantasy teams second (barely). He currently lives in Naples, FL.