Following on from his excellent debut article. Lewis continues his Dynasty how to series with a look at how to evaluate your roster.
If you’re like me, you feel a little bit of sadness as week sixteen of the regular season finishes. With it your redraft league comes to a close. Playing fantasy football is one of the best things about being an NFL fan. Which makes the season drawing to a close even tougher. Even if you’re celebrating another championship (or just avoiding finishing last). Thankfully, if you’re a fantasy fanatic. There’s another format you can play which means you never have to stop thinking about your roster. With rookie drafts, off-season trades, and tinkering all year round. Dynasty leagues are quickly becoming a more popular way to play fantasy football. In this series, I’m going to provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to transition from redraft to dynasty this offseason.
Dynasty How To – Evaluate Your Roster
The moment the startup draft finishes. Sit down and take a proper look at your roster. This is something you hopefully thought of throughout the draft. However, once you can see your roster, you need to think hard about what you’ve ended up with. Being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of our own rosters is what makes us smarter dynasty managers. In every league I play in, I always see one manager who consistently convinces themselves of their ability to compete every single year. They go all-in on older veterans and sell their rookie draft picks. This results in making that inevitable rebuild harder and harder. But if we are able to value a roster correctly, we can establish our window and then look to pursue that title.
The first place you should be looking to start is by looking at your strength at the various positions in your lineup. Make sure that you’re looking a little bit beyond your lineup and looking at your depth pieces as well. In dynasty, we have to play a little bit different. We will own players who we might be excited about for future years. As opposed to just players who we want to play this year. But this is what we want to focus on for our evaluation – how many players do you have at each position that you would be comfortable starting right now?
I would suggest having one bench player you’re happy with rotating into your lineup. Then one more bench player you’d be comfortable to start if you had to. This would mean for a three-wide receiver league, you’d have four starters with one decent backup. This will help you decide what you might want to pursue in terms of trades. It also helps you figure out where any gaps in your roster might be initially.
Once you’ve done this, we want to take a proper look through your starting lineup. For this, I like to try and look at my lineup from a redraft perspective. This will allow me to see whether I think I’ll be able to compete immediately. If you use FantasyPros ECR rankings or any rankings from your favourite analysts, how many top 12 players do you have at each position? How about top 24? You’ll struggle to compete for a championship unless you’re confident you have at least one of each. As well as other players with a clear path to finishing in those positions. Would you be happy with your lineup in a redraft league? If the answer is yes, then you’re likely to be a competitive roster in the first year of your league.
Windows of Opportunity
Once you’ve looked through your roster to analyse your strength at each position. The next thing you want to start thinking about is your window. Dynasty is all about being honest with yourself about when you’re truly going to be able to compete. As I’ve mentioned before, I like to look at my roster through three-year windows. If you look at the next three years, how many players do you have who you think will be significant contributors to that timeline?
One of the key things here is also to make sure that the timeline of your team matches up. For example, Adam Thielen and Julio Jones are two of my favourite win now options at the wide receiver position. These two have a similar window, as they’ll likely be significant contributors for the next two seasons before we see a real drop off due to their ages. However, if you’ve drafted a wide receiver core of Ja’Marr Chase, Julio Jones, Jerry Jeudy and Adam Thielen. Then you have to accept that your timelines do not match up. It’s fair that varying your roster will allow you to compete long term through good management. However, in any given year, you want a core of players who will be able to offer value in your lineup if you want to win the championship.
Line up your timelines
For me, I like to try and ensure that my timeline matches up across my team. If I have younger wide receivers, this might mean that I’ll punt the running back position for a while. A star running back should be the final piece to add to a championship roster, as their timelines are much shorter than wide receivers. If you drafted some of the elite young receivers (think AJ Brown or Calvin Ridley), then I’d be happy to go into the season with a less than ideal core of running backs, knowing that my window to compete will really open in the next year or two.
Where do you rank?
Windows of opportunity are not just about your team. You need to understand what your window is likely to be compared with others in your league. Therefore identifying if you’re looking to win the title right away. Of course, you might think your team is in a win-now mode right away. However, take a look at the league – someone managed to leave the draft with a wide receiver core of Davante Adams, Michael Thomas and Keenan Allen. They’re going to be difficult to compete against right now, but in a few years, they might struggle as those players decline in production. Of course, you can’t be scared off by one superteam! But you need to be smart in your analysis of your league.
A good way to establish this is to look at the other teams in your league. Take a second to scroll through the starting lineups of all other managers. How many would you swap straight up for your starting lineup? If the answer is at least three, it’s probably worth considering that you’re not the favourite to win the championship this season. If there are six other teams who you’re more confident in than your own, then you have to begin to consider whether you should be trying to compete at all. Of course, anything can happen on any given Sunday, but you need to be honest with yourself in understanding where your team sits amongst your league-mates. Understanding your opposition will also help you in your ability to make trades going forwards. But primarily it will set you up to be in a position where you can predict who will be competitive immediately in your league.
Play the market
Whether you’ve decided that you think you can compete right away, or you think you might have to bide your time. You can now start playing the trade market to lean into your decision. Sometimes there can be issues trading so soon after the startup draft. However, I think you need to start as soon as you’ve got to grips with what your roster really is. The issue here comes from managers valuing their team based on the position in which they drafted them. So I find the key here is to use assets that can’t be directly tied to the draft. For example, offering future draft capital or a package of players and picks. Other managers will be doing the same with their teams. So you can always look to fill a need in your own team by identifying weaknesses in others.
Moves to make
Do you think your window is now? Maybe look to add that finishing touch with a running back like Ezekiel Elliott or Chris Carson who will contribute this year.
Think your window is in two years’ time? Look to see who you think will be coming into their stride at that point. I mentioned him earlier, but someone like Jerry Jeudy or perhaps Chase Claypool would be a great target in this position. You could also consider moving on from a stud running back at this point. They will likely have aged out of their window by the time that you’re looking to compete. Stud running backs are rare so their trade value is normally pretty high. So you’d be looking to secure a quarterback or wide receiver who would be able to help you for longer.
By knowing exactly what your roster is capable of achieving. You’re putting yourself in the best possible position to eventually grab that title – however far away that might be.