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What should you do with your final bench spots?

Throughout all my time writing and producing content from a dynasty perspective the number one question I get asked revolves around what should you do with your final bench spots?

I’ve always long believed the best way to balance your bench is to aim to have one competent backup for each position and then fill the remaining bench spots with Running Backs in 1QB leagues and Running Backs or Quarterbacks in 2QB or Superflex leagues. My thought process has always been that these two positions are the most opportunity-dependent and therefore the most likely to offer starting potential or a boom in value should an injury happen. However, I’ve never actually looked into this belief to see if I was correct.

How do you assess a valuable bench player?

So I thought I’d take a deeper look. With the aim of deciding what type of players you should target to fill out your roster. I started by looking at DLF ADP. To keep things consistent, I am using June SF ADP from DLF using 2019, 2020, and 2021. I am assessing players with an ADP greater than 200 (yes it’s an arbitrary number). I felt this range was around the point at which we’re talking back-end roster flyers rather than players you’re likely to need as a starter or bye/injury replacement. And 200 is a nice easy number

I decided to look at two things when assessing the players. The first being how much did they raise in ADP by the following year. I figured this was the easiest way to assess what players rose in value and by using the same month each year I was able to take a fairer assessment as all three sets included incoming rookies post NFL draft. The second I wanted to look at was how many weeks were the players usable in fantasy. I have defined this as a top 24 QB, top 24 RB, top 36 WR, and top 12 TE. I felt these best reflected the majority of SF dynasty starters.


So without just copying and pasting a load of data I want to highlight the general overall results.


Position Count % of sample Players that rose in value % of position that rose
Number of QB 10 13% 2 20%
Number of RB 20 26% 5 25%
Number of WR 26 34% 6 23%
Number of TE 20 26% 6 30%
Total Players 76 100% 19 25%


As you can see there was quite a good range of positions within the 76 players with an ADP greater than 200 and the chances of rising in value were fairly consistent across the positions.


Position Count % of sample Players that rose in value % of position that rose
Number of QB 6 8% 2 33%
Number of RB 24 32% 4 17%
Number of WR 25 34% 4 16%
Number of TE 19 26% 4 21%
Total Players 74 100% 14 19%

The spread across the positions wasn’t as balanced as people began to realise the value of Quarterbacks and the vast majority being pushed up in ADP from 2019 to 2020. In terms of value rise, you can see that one-third of Quarterbacks rose in value whilst the percentage of running backs and wide receivers were significantly less.

What about useable weeks

Looking at the other side of things. How helpful were these bench players as a fantasy asset? To do this I added up all of the fantasy-relevant weeks for all the positions and then worked out the average number of fantasy-relevant weeks.


QB Ave Useable weeks 3.2
RB Ave Useable weeks 0.95
WR Ave Useable weeks 2.5
TE Ave Useable weeks 1.75


From this, you can see that bench Quarterbacks were far more valuable than any other position. This was buoyed heavily by Ryan Tannehill and Jacoby Brissett who produced 10 and 11 startable weeks despite having an ADP of 222 and 215 respectively.


QB Ave Useable weeks 2.5
RB Ave Useable weeks 2.25
WR Ave Useable weeks 1.56
TE Ave Useable weeks 1.16


In 2020 there was a more balanced return but the Quarterback position was still out on top led by seven usable performances from Andy Dalton despite an ADP of 231.

So what does all this mean?

So what does this actually mean and What should you do with your final bench spots? Well, the true answer is that there is no silver bullet perfect answer. You have to consider that this is a small sample size looking at only two years of data. Also using the DLF ADP excludes some excellent breakout players including Raheem Mostert and Darrius Slayton in 2019 as well as Myles Gaskin, Robert Tonyan, and Logan Thomas in 2020. This is because these players were going later than the 22 rounds DLF uses for their ADP data.

However, having said all that there are some rough conclusions you can draw.

Looking at the data there isn’t a huge amount of difference in the average usable weeks across all of the positions. However, there is a big difference between a usable week at the Quarterback and Running back position when compared to Wide Receiver and Tight End. In the majority of cases you can predict usable weeks from Running back and Quarterbacks because the positions are so volume-based it is more predictive. Whereas, with the Wide Receiver position those usable weeks are far less predictable and they are more likely to happen on your bench than in your starting lineup.

In a Superflex league, I am filling my bench with as many backup Quarterback types in an uncertain scenario as possible. Two of the players who have gained the most value were Ryan Tannehill in 2019 and Taysom Hill in 2020. Both were the supposed backup in an uncertain setting and both saw huge gains in their dynasty value. Even if you remove how usable they are as players. You’re able to sell them for a profit based on their prices at the start of those seasons.


So after all of this, I’ve sort of confirmed my initial thought process. The position I’m wanting to stock the majority of at the back end of my roster is definitely the Quarterback position. Injuries are inevitable and in uncertain situations, we can see backups become hugely valuable. You are more likely to be able to sell a quarterback in season for a profit to a Quarterback needy team in the event of an injury or benching. I am then looking for the Running back position.

The position I’m least likely to store at the end of my bench would be the Wide Receiver position. It is very difficult to predict when they will produce their usable weeks. Furthermore, the only players in the sample who saw a significant rise in value were Terry McLaurin and DJ Chark in 2019. McLaurin was a rookie and Chark was coming off a terrible rookie season.

So who are some 2021 targets?

So looking at the current ADP. There are six Quarterbacks going outside the top 200 in ADP. Kyle Trask, Andy Dalton, Taylor Heinicke, Jacoby Brissett, Marcus Mariota, and Sam Ehlinger. Looking at that list you could at a stretch make an argument for each one being fantasy relevant (yes some are a big stretch). My two favourites are easily Taylor Heinicke and Marcus Mariota. Whilst the consensus opinion is that both are just backups the starter in each spot isn’t entrenched. We have also seen both Heinicke and Mariota produce impressive fantasy outputs in 2020 when they were given the opportunity. For an end of the bench roster spot, you can go do a lot worse than either high upside QB.

Make sure you’re following the Dynasty team @5YardDynasty and Richard @DynastyIsland

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