Dynasty Startup – Draft Strategy
Defense wins Championships. I am sure we all have heard this statement from coaches or parents growing up. If defense wins Championships, does offense breed Dynasties?
Dynasty Football is all about offense – okay fine, some leagues have defense or individual defense players (IDP) involved, but generally speaking, your Dynasty league will not have a defense. This initially can be a shock to Redraft players making the change to Dynasty: defenses and kickers should NOT be a part of your Dynasty league. Yes, this is my personal opinion and typically the consensus agrees. If you want defense involved, then play IDP. Let kickers stay in Redraft leagues.
The point being, it is time to build your Dynasty.
If you read my Redraft to Dynasty transition article, you would be aware of the types of start up draft strategies. There is no right or wrong strategy. The main two strategies I will highlight are: 1) Win Now and 2) First Round Punt.
Throughout this article I will reference a start up I did for the 2020 season and implemented the First Year Punt strategy. This article will be based around the common Dynasty league – Super Flex (SF), half point per reception (1/2 PPR), and tight end premium (TEP). The premium varies from a half point to two full points extra per reception. The SF, TEP league seems to be the up and coming startup type.
It is important to note if you have never played in a Super Flex (SF) league, you should take the time to understand the intricacies. There is one major factor, the Super Flex spot. This is a Flex position you can play a quarterback in. The significance of this position is you have the option to start two quarterbacks and if you have two QB1’s there is an advantage for your league mates. Here is how your lineup will look, the SF is the last position.
It is important to note what tight end premium means. The TEP will award tight ends with extra points per reception. The best example:
.5 extra points per reception
The amount will be determined by the commissioner, expect a half point or one full point extra per reception for the tight end. It should be noted TEP usually is only beneficial for the Travis Kelce’s, Darren Waller’s, and George Kittle’s of the world. Still nice for the little bonus though.
Check out this TEP guide written by Dan Ambrosino
Before we get into the strategies, I want to show you my draft – SF, ½ PPR, TEP, 26 rounds. This was a 10 team league, 12 team leagues are more typical, but regardless the strategy stays the same.
Draft Strategy – First Year Punt (FYP)
The strategy is exactly how it sounds. You are going into the draft knowing you potentially will not be competing the first year. The FYP strategy encompasses drafting young but proven players and high potential rookie players. The oldest player I drafted was… Jameis Winston at a whopping 26 years old. I drafted 38% rookies and 27% quarterbacks. I drafted seven quarterbacks because this is a SF league, the quarterback position generally is more valuable. Yes, I drafted quarterbacks who were not starting. However, if they found themselves in that position to start, they attain value and I can potentially trade that QB away for tremendous profit.
It is important to remember my start up draft example was done before the 2020 season started which will explain the value I had in J.K. Dobbins (4th), D’Andre Swift (5th), Josh Allen (6th), and Diontae Johnson (12th).
I was happy to give up the 2020 season and draft players I believed would increase in value the 2020 season and be drafted higher in 2021: Christian Kirk, Noah Fant, Dallas Goedert, Diontae Johnson, Mike Gesicki, and Jameis Winston. I think Winston is the best example because he is a relatively young (26) and was not starting, but he did sign a one-year deal to “back up” Brees and learn from him and Head Coach Sean Payton. If Winston is able to snag a starting job in 2021 then the 20th round investment generates a substantial return on investment if I were to trade him away.
I was happy to give up the 2020 season and draft players I believe would be primed for the 2021 season: Dobbins, Swift, Jalen Reagor, Bryan Edwards, and Irv Smith Jr. I looked at Dobbins and Swift who looked to be in a running back room to utilize multiple running backs for the 2020 season. Mark Ingram, at the time, was coming off an RB8 finish in 2019. It was expected Dobbins was drafted to replace Ingram just not for the 2020 season, at least immediately. This could be a reason Dobbins was available for me in the fourth round. I grabbed the high potential rookie instead of the Win Now player in Chris Carson. I believed that the rookie wide receivers (Reagor, Edwards) would need the 2020 season to develop.
I made these picks to get primed for the 2021 season with the potential to be somewhat competitive if I got lucky. I finished 5-8 and missed the playoffs by one game and some-odd-points scored for tiebreakers. Do not forget I made trades to revamp my roster and acquire 2021 rookie draft picks. We will get into trading soon. Let’s look into the Win Now strategy.
Draft Strategy – Win Now
What do you play Fantasy Football for? Championships. Why would you not want to win now? The first year punt gets criticized because, yeah, you should want to win now. The win now strategy is all about getting immediate production. Let’s look at Julio Jones – he is 32 years old but averaged 13.4 (1/2 PPR) points per game. Sure, he is on the older side but who cares, Julio is a top-tier fantasy option for the right now. You could have drafted: Chase Claypool, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, D.J. Chark, or Jerry Jeudy around the same average draft position (ADP) as Julio Jones (before the 2020 season started). The example from my previous article:
The first year punt strategy would have taken Tee Higgins (or whoever you preferred) since he is a high potential rookie but not necessarily the win now player. Yeah, it worked out and Higgins played well with Burrow. It happens. In the end, Julio Jones is the better Fantasy producer immediately while also expecting minimally two years left of top production and hopefully four years of solid production. Jones is what you want in a Win Now player.
We can go position-by-position to think of examples for the Win Now strategy:
But assuming you understand after one example, the win now strategy will only increase the probability of your chances to win a Championship, not guarantee it. Think of it like a redraft league, you are drafting to win that year.
Both strategies are bolstered by trading to help position your team with immediate and future success.
Trading in Dynasty
Arguably the best part of Fantasy Football. Who does not love trading? What I neglected to mention was the option to trade in start up drafts (!!). I did not make any trades in the example above, but that does not mean I did not engage in talks. The right deal just could not be agreed to. I have been apart of leagues where 30% of draft picks were traded for and I have been apart of leagues where maybe five total trades happened during the start up draft.
My preference is to not trade up, I ONLY want to trade down. Trading up requires you to give up (likely) more value than what the pick will be worth. Instead, just trade down and acquire more value and draft capital. Some startups will have insane amounts of trades and some will have minimal, just like the draft strategy, there is no right or wrong way when trading up or down. It is your Dynasty team after all. It should be noted you can acquire future rookie draft picks as well during the start up trades, if this is the route you go, you should implement the first year punt strategy.
Trading is focused on your in-season moves. These trades are essentially maintenance on your team. In my aforementioned transition article from Redraft to Dynasty, you should be trading to help you win a championship or trading to help you acquire young talent and draft picks for the upcoming rookie draft. Regardless of your draft strategy your team will be positioned as a contender or a pretender. Never be the pretender — NEVER be the middle of the pack team, I cannot stress this enough.
The first year punt strategy can find themselves as a Win Now team and the Win Now strategy can find themselves needing to rebuild because of injuries or the players just did not pan out.
My First Year Punt Trades
If you forgot my start up draft, here is a refresher:
My new team has 26% players I traded for and 37% total new players (trading and waivers). Notable traded pieces: Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Mixon, 2021 first. and 2022 second.
Selling Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Mixon, James Robison (selected from waivers), Irv Smith Jr., and a 2021 first and second with other notable pieces is hefty — but getting the return of: Joe burrow, Justin Herbert, Saquon Barkley, Kareem Hunt, D.J. Moore, Hunter Henry, and three 2021 first round and two 2021 second round draft picks was a return I am more than happy with.
I was able to revamp my roster and position my team for future success.
The start up is your only chance to nail your Dynasty team. Trading is the only way to maintain your team. The draft strategy you implement does not matter. It is important to not get stuck in no-man’s land and waste away your season. Who cares if you are not a Championship contender. Position your team for future success by trading those “Win Now” players for “First Year Punt” players and/or draft capital. If you are a Championship contender, sacrifice assets to help you win a Championship.
It is important to note this article references one specific league, the Super Flex league. I drafted seven quarterbacks, and of the seven, only four were guaranteed starting the 2020 season. Quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, and Jordan Love are quarterbacks who potentially could start but likely would at the earliest in 2021 (Winston). Compared to the quarterbacks (Mariota, Love) looking for a starting job years down the road, more so the quarterback drafted in the first round (Love) who will learn behind a future Hall of Famer (Rodgers). The 15th round investment in Jordan Love was a pick that potentially will have a higher return on value compared to drafting Marvin Jones, Hunter Renfrow, or Anthony Miller type picks, picks that have no where to go in value. I knew that Love would have to set at least two years on my bench.
I am just mentioning the reasoning behind why I made picks. Everyone will have their own process and draft to how they want their team constructed. You have the freedom to implement any strategy that you feel (Win Now or First Year Punt) while also tweaking your process. If you are playing in a TEP league and want to draft four top tight ends, do it! If you are playing in a PPR league and want to draft the pass catching running backs (Austin Ekeler) over the bull dozers (Derrick Henry), do it!
Draft how you want to draft — take some of the advice given and tweak to your philosophy. I want to leave you with general rules of thumb for Dynasty Startup Drafts:
- The quarterback is the cheapest during the draft
- Joe Burrow in the third round (SF), not Tom Brady in the fifth round
- Target young, proven wide receivers
- Dense wide receiver value in the double digit rounds
- If you want to contend, you will need three relevant running backs
- You do not want to rely on Tarik Cohen as your RB2
- Target athletic tight ends after their rookie season
- Check out a thread on what to look for:
Which tight ends do you want?
Athletic ones. pic.twitter.com/T5omrHRFS1
— Corey (@cdotFF) September 15, 2020
- MOST IMPORTANTLY – have an understanding on your Dynasty league’s scoring and on a specific team’s roster, depth chart, and scheme.
- Scoring and settings
- Each league varies
- 1/2 PPR, PPR, points per carry (PPC), first down bonuses, big play bonuses, etc.
- There are a variety of scoring settings that can influence value
- The settings and scorings should be analyzed before starting your draft
- Each league varies
- Rookies, Depth Charts, Offensive Schemes
- Rookies may be drafted to be the starter
- Rookies may be drafted to fill a role
- Rookies may be drafted for the future
- An offensive scheme may utilize multiple running backs (Cleveland Browns) compared to a scheme planned through a single running back (Tennessee Titans)
- Scoring and settings
Remember, these are general rules of thumb, the rules do not guarantee success but will only increase the probability for success. Dynasty is year round and you are building your team for the long haul. Do not feel discouraged if you believe you made a mistake after your draft concludes. Always look forward to the future while learning from your mistakes.
If you have any questions in regards to a Dynasty start up draft, do not hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter. The next article I will put out will be on “Rookie Scouting”.