Dynasty League diary entry #1 – A New Hope
On Sunday, I decided it was time to set up a dynasty league. By Tuesday evening, the veteran draft was almost finished, with less than three rounds to go.
Going from your standard redraft league to commissioning a dynasty league is a steep learning curve. An optimist would call it a bold move. Others would call it a stupid one. I’m still not quite sure which is right.
We settled on a 12 man league with 6 IDPs replacing a team D/ST. In a redraft league, you either land with a top 5 unit and stick with it for the season (2018 Bears, 2019 Patriots), or rotate from one week to the next depending on league position. Choosing your favourite defensive players over a whole unit takes more time, skill and tactical nous.
A superflex position also meant that quarterbacks would be in higher demand, and the league’s top guys taken earlier in the draft process.
Below are a few things I’ve learned in the last few days. Before we continue though, a message for the hardened veterans of dynasty – be gentle. Both I and most of the guys are brand new to dynasty league rules. Mistakes were made. Lessons were learnt.
1) Be organised
Setting up a dynasty league in May is late. With a group of friends suffering through weeks of lockdown with little else to look forward to, the temptation was to get started right away. That’s what we did, anyway. Looking back, I should have given everyone more time to prepare their big boards. In the end, the excitement to get started won out.
One thing that did work prior to starting was giving people the opportunity to ask questions. This meant that, while the more experienced players continued their scouting, newer guys could get to grips with dynasty rules. Making it anonymous took away the fear than anyone might have about asking more obvious questions, and sending a list of answers to the whole league means that everyone was on the same page when the draft began.
2) In superflex, QBs matter…
True rookies in a redraft league will often be laughed at for taking their favourite QB in the first round. With time, you realise that the sensible choice with your first two or three picks is to stack up on top RB and WR talent. Not with superflex. The option to have two starting quarterbacks makes the position immediately more valuable.
In this league, the first quarterback off the board was (unsurprisingly) Patrick Mahomes at pick 1.07. Three RBs and three WRs were taken before him. I was one of the guys who passed up on Mahomes, taking Dalvin Cook at 1.06. Looking back, I should have gone QB. It is a decision I might go on to regret.
The traditional style of drafting continued until one of the more experienced players drafted Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray with back to back picks (1.12 and 2.01). This undoubtedly will ensure long term returns for that team, but it also kick-started a run on QBs in the second round.
3) …but they don’t matter that much
Herd mentality meant that QBs began to fly off the board. One quarterback that definitely went too early was 41 year old Drew Brees, taken at 2.12. With Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz and Josh Allen still on the board, taking a guy who will doubtless retire within two years was definitely a panic move. Which brings me to point 4:
4) Don’t panic
There is a temptation to follow suit when a position starts coming off the board. The first IDP to be picked was Nick Bosa at 7.07. The floodgates had opened. 17 out of the next 36 picks were on defence.
You can look at this two ways. If there’s a guy you love, go and get him. You’ll regret not doing if he is consistently putting up points for another team. Trade up if you need to. If there’s a sudden demand for IDPs and you absolutely must have Khalil Mack, make the trade and put him on your roster.
Another tactic is to sit tight and wait for other players to fall down the board. Derrius Guice and John Brown fell to 10.09 and 10.11, two solid starters that will pick up points on a consistent basis. If Guice can stay healthy, he will be responsible for most of the Redskins’ carries next year. Adrian Peterson and the rookie Antonio Gordon will contribute, but a healthy Guice should lead the Washington backfield. Although the arrival of Stefon Diggs might relegate Brown to a WR2 role in Buffalo, he may benefit from the change. Opposition defences focussing on stopping Diggs may leave Brown in single coverage. If Josh Allen can find him downfield, he should rack up serious points in a PPR league.
5) Don’t be afraid of the trade
One of the IDPs who fell early was Danielle Hunter. Getting a guy who had 14.5 sacks last year in the 9th round isn’t too much of a reach, but the team in question didn’t have a QB2. It almost goes without saying that you need to be happy with your offensive lineup before stacking up on defenders.
In my favourite trade of the veteran draft, Hunter was shopped for a 10th round pick, where Jimmy Garoppolo was still available. The guy moving back picked up a decent QB2 behind Houston’s DeShaun Watson, and the guy giving up his 10th round pick got to pair Hunter with fellow DL Nick Bosa.
Sometimes, both players can “win” the trade. In this case, they did.
6) Back the rookie
Even though you’re choosing upwards of 20 veterans in your initial team, you’ll doubtless feel dissatisfied with one position or another. For me, it was running back.
Rather than take a guy you’re not in love with later on, wait for the rookie draft and take a guy you think can make an impact right away. If you need to trade up to get him, do it. If he’s your guy, go get your guy.
Players like Joe Burrow, CeeDee Lamb and Jonathan Taylor can contribute to a team from Day One. Be patient and see if they fall to you in the rookie draft. You’ll be thankful you stayed patient.
7) Grab a taxi
Keen followers of the draft process will back certain players to make it in the NFL, but not just yet. This is where the taxi squad can have serious long term benefits.
Remember that you want your dynasty team to win every year, not just this year. A sure-fire way to ensure future success is to stock up on young talent without the risk of losing them to an opponent mid-season.
8) Get help for your dynasty league
I’ve saved the most important lesson I’ve learned until last. It’s great to have a group of friends starting their first dynasty team. The uncertainty of the off-season dissipates when you’ve got your own draft underway.
However, it was crucial to have some more experienced guys to lean on for advice. You need to make sure that your rules, scoring system and draft set up are all ready to go before the draft is underway. Experienced fantasy guys want to win, but they also want to play in a reputable league.
Tom Scott @downthemannyrd