With his debut article. Lewis begins his Dynasty how to series with a look at the startup draft. Discussing some strategies you can implement to win your draft
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… Win Your Startup Draft
All leagues start with a draft. Not all drafts are created equally though. Your dynasty startup will be far more important than in redraft. These are players that you’re going to keep forever. In theory, anyway. Nail this and you’ve taken the first step towards building your superteam. There are certain tactics that you can take going into your startup. To ensure that you come out with a championship-contending team instantly. This is how you not only put together the best team possible. But, also gain an advantage over your league mates going forwards.
As a note – every value listed below was taken on 23rd May 2021 and is for an SF league.
Draft for value, trade for need
Midway through your draft, you’re going to find yourself with a dilemma. You went running back in round one. Followed by two great wide receivers. Now you’re in the fourth round and Keenan Allen is staring you in the face as your WR3 (a travesty when compared to his recent production). The running backs on the board are hardly inspiring. But you think you should probably take one, just because that would balance out your team. Running back is the need, so you force it.
Drafting for need is one of the most naive ways that you can approach a startup draft. The joy of dynasty is that trading is much more prevalent than in a redraft league because you can move future rookie picks. This means that the moment your startup draft is finished. People will start looking at the holes in their team and try to make moves for the future of their team. In my home league, one manager took a modified version of this approach. Not drafting a running back until the 7th round. But drafting elite wide receivers in Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Cooper Kupp. The moment the draft finished. Half of the league were messaging him to see if they could get in on one of his extra-wide receivers.
You do have to allow yourself to be flexible. Rostering fifteen tight ends just because they were the best players on your board in each round is not going to end well for you. Even if you’ll often hear stories of managers who decided to hoard one position to give themselves a perceived advantage. But if you’re on the clock and you’re looking at an elite prospect at one position that you’re stacked at. Compared to an average player at a position of need for you. You take the elite talent and you don’t look back.
Acquire as many top 100 picks as you can
Dynasty rosters tend to be pretty deep. A standard startup draft will likely be around 25 rounds. You know how you get to the last few rounds of your redraft league. You’re already looking at a bunch of players who you’re not particularly excited about? Imagine that times a thousand. The most exciting prospects at that point are going to be players who you wouldn’t even consider touching in a redraft league. Sure, one of the most fun parts of dynasty is taking a flier in a late-round who ends up contributing unexpectedly (I’m looking at you, Myles Gaskin). But statistically, it’s unlikely to happen.
When we look at our startup draft. We can see a huge drop-off in value after around round 6-8. In any startup, I take part in. I’m always willing to send my later picks in order to move up. You can always find managers who overvalue depth in a startup. If you can move up to get yourself as many top 100 players as possible. You’ll quickly find yourself with a stacked team. Even if your bench isn’t as full of as many lottery tickets as everyone else’s. The other option is to move back from the early rounds. Slipping back a few slots and acquiring picks in the 4th, 5th, or 6th rounds. The top 100 picks last to the 9th round, so you’ve ample opportunity to pick up some premium talent by not even moving back a tier.
Sell Future Picks?
I would even consider selling future rookie picks in order to move up. I like to consider rookie picks as fluid assets. There are always ways of buying more if that’s what you decide. So using that unknown to move up to get established stars is always a good move in my book. This touches upon another important point. Which is that startup values are the cheapest that you’ll ever be able to buy a player. In that it will only cost you one pick to do so. Take advantage of this by moving up to grab players who will become hugely more valuable the moment that your rosters are finalised.
At this point, I do need to issue a note of caution. Which will continue into my next point. Whilst it’s important to win. You need to make sure that you don’t give up all potential of rebuilding. This strategy is a high risk, high reward, as it puts your team straight into win now. Exercise with caution!
Target veterans who fall
You want to win a championship, right? Maybe even the first year of your league. Then you’re going to want to look at veterans who can help you right away. Rookies are incredibly exciting in dynasty, but you’ll have to pay a premium if you want to acquire them. Everyone wants a piece of the sexy new thing in the NFL, which means that older players will fall. In the later rounds, you can sweep up these players who will provide incredible value to your team across the course of the season, but find themselves dropping down boards purely because they’re not as exciting as the potential ceiling of the younger players. But when you can get a steal with a dependable veteran, you should look to take them to build your team to win a championship as soon as possible.
Compare redraft ADP
As you’ll see when you compare dynasty ADP to redraft ADP, there is a premium put on youth because you will be keeping these players indefinitely. Take one of the most prominent and drastic examples – Tom Brady is currently being drafted as the dynasty QB23, being taken behind players such as Carson Wentz and Zach Wilson who are unlikely to produce as much as Brady will in the next few seasons. In redraft, he’s being taken as the QB10, and I don’t think anyone would be surprised if he finished comfortably as a QB1 this year. Now, this is an exception due to his age and the assumption that Brady will retire at the end of the season (although who knows if the GOAT will ever call it a day), but this emphasises a pattern across dynasty startups.
There is a premium on youth within the dynasty community, which means that older players, or even just players who are seen as older, will fall to the later rounds. If you can target players whose dynasty ADP is dropping due to their age, or perceived age, you can be ready to compete for a title in your first year. Maybe try switching the ADP to redraft while you’re drafting – you’ll quickly be able to see who the values are.
Win now mode engaged
When going for this strategy, you should look at building a team with a cohesive window to win. Are you looking for instant dominance? Players like Derrick Henry, Keenan Allen, and the aforementioned Brady might be of interest. However, you need to know that you are missing out on the potential for players who will be more valuable down the line. Take a look at the team you’ve drafted and identify the window. If you’re not winning in that window, trade your high-value assets for others with a longer-term window.
It’s worth expressing that you will need to exercise caution with this approach. My point isn’t to say that you should disregard age when drafting, but instead that you shouldn’t overvalue youth in your startup. My point is not to pursue the AJ Greens of this world, whose age is affecting their value for justifiable reasons, but to identify such as Mike Evans, who is currently being drafted as the WR19 with an ADP in the early 6th round ADP, despite finishing as a top 12 WR in 5 of his 7 years in the NFL so far. By identifying value by comparing redraft and dynasty ADP, you’ll be able to spot the veterans who will contribute more to your roster than their draft position may imply.
Follow these tips and you’re one step closer to winning your first dynasty championship. Think there’s anything obvious I’ve missed or disagree with something I’ve listed? Hit him up on Twitter at @LewisWoodFF_UK. Also, make sure you’re following the entire dynasty team @5YardDynasty