Dynasty Draft Strategy
This time of year many dynasty league owners are preparing for their rookie drafts and adjusting draft strategies for new dynasty start-ups.
Personally, I feel it’s important to develop a Fantasy Football strategy based around your league’s rules as well as the time of the year your Dynasty League is holding it’s draft.
I recently concluded a long Auction dynasty startup draft. The league rules are a bit different than a standard or standard PPR league and are as follows:
- 32 teams (each conference has own player pool so plays like 16-teams)
- Start 1QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 FLEX (RB, WR, TE), 1PK, 1DEF
- Each owner runs an NFL franchise with a $300 hard salary cap
- Salary increases $3 per season
- RB .5 PPR, WR 1 PPR, TE 1.5 PPR
- Rookie draft picks also in play in Long-Auction (24hr timer)
- Mid-FA and Pre-Draft start time
Tip: When preparing for your draft, be especially conscious of the following rules and how it will affect your strategy as well as your opponent’s strategy.
The Long Draft Auction League
Unlike a typical auctions, a long draft auction allows you to have a longer period of time to dedicate on your bidding decisions. One thing to take note of, is the high level of bluffing involved before the market establishes itself. Often you will find value mid-draft if you are patient early. Also be conscious of when there are two players left at a certain tier that you’re targeting. This way you’ll avoid a bidding war.
Tip: For example, if Julio Jones and AJ Green are the only two WR’s left in that elite tier. Get your guy now. Do not wait until only one of them is left to avoid over spending.
Salary Cap Leagues
You should always be looking for value, especially when you think someone will significantly outperform beyond the salary you’re paying for them today. I’m not just talking about sleepers. Getting a player, whether it be a rookie or not before his value skyrockets is your ultimate goal.
For example Odell Beckham last year could have been acquired for a mid-to-late first round pick in most rookie drafts. Which is the equivalent to $15-$20 in this type of auction league. Yet this year, Odell Beckham went for an $85 in this startup auction draft. I realize this is an extreme example but the philosophy is the same. Get a guy like Odell Beckham before he his worth $86. This is how you win in a salary cap format. Think long term.
Complex Scoring Leagues: RB: 0.5 PPR , WR: 1 PPR, TE: 1.5
Don’t be overly concerned with the 1.5 PPR for Tight Ends in this format. It doesn’t add up to be as much value as you may think. Essentially as all it really does is impact the TE value across the board. Many drafters will overvalue TE because of this increased scoring. With that said, it’s still Rob Gronkowski’s world to destroy with everyone else at the TE position falling by the way side. If you can secure him on your dynasty roster you have a huge advantage for years to come. If you can’t find value, last year Antonio Gates could have been acquired for next to nothing. Gronk is still the outlier in all formats, but if you don’t get him don’t panic.
Pre-NFL Draft and Mid-NFL Free Agency Drafts
What made this Dynasty draft a bit more difficult was it stretched over such a long period of time. The draft went through NFL free agency period and also took place prior to the NFL draft. You have to be extremely conscious of what could happen to certain assets if players are traded or sign with an unfavorable team. With that said, at times you can find value in players that people are scared of for that exact reason. It can also be to your advantage to grab a few free agent lottery ticket players that you can hope end up in great situations.
Your job is to weigh these risks and rewards. The main thing is if you choose to go out on a limb for one of these higher end players, make sure you believe in the player’s skill-set. Not just the system or quarterback situation they are currently in.
My Draft Strategy
- Get Gronk – The difference in value between him and the rest of TE in the league is worth it, he’s also only 25 years old (26 in May).
- Stockpile first round draft picks- The RB class this year has been well documented to be extremely strong. So for me quantity for a lower cap hit in the mid to late first round is the play. You are going to get some great value at RB all the way down to pick 1.14 this year.
- Acquire 2-3 Elite Receivers. Easily the best long-term investment in a dynasty league you can make outside of Gronk. Also one of the easiest ways to accumulate 1st Round picks if you decide to go that route by trade.
- Acquire a few low cap hit veteran, free agent, or backup RB behind good offensive lines. These are your lottery tickets.
- Don’t overpay for QB, K, DEF
- I was able to secure 4 first round draft picks at great value. Mostly mid-late round like I planned. I’m very confident these picks will amount to some very good young RB depth at cheap contracts. I may have to take a WR with one of these picks because of my lack of depth but I’m undecided at this point.
- I was able to get Rob Gronkowski for $95 (31.6% of my cap of $300). Overall more than I wanted to spend but I was very happy to get this cornerstone player for anything under $100.
- Cobb at $46 dollars was an absolute steal for me. This might have had something to do with people being scared that he wouldn’t resign back with Green Bay. I took a risk here and it paid off. I got a great player at a very nice cap hit for his value.
- Demaryius Thomas for $73 was the cheapest WR in his tier. I opted to go with him over other players to save cap space for others. Odell Beckham and Dez Bryant both went for $86 so I was pretty happy getting DT for $73. Saving this money allowed me to go out and grab a guy like Josh Gordon for $12. So next year when he is back he will only be a $15 player for me. I like $15 players that have elite potential, even if I have to sit on him for a year while he’s suspended.
- At QB I went true committee only spending $6 on Palmer, Bradford, and Mallett combined. This was Bradford pre-trade to the Eagles so if somehow he ends up the starter there he will represent great value for me at $2. I prefer the committee approach in most leagues but especially salary cap leagues. I can’t justify spending $80+ on a guy like Luck or Rodgers.
- I went hard after Cowboys backup RBs as I expected Dallas to choose Dez over Murray early in free agency. It seemed like a worthwhile risk with the offensive line they have in place. Darren McFadden was a lottery ticket player that I obviously hit on. The draft also couldn’t have gone better for me.
- Normally I wouldn’t advocate getting more than one DEF. I grabbed both NYJ and DET early for $1. I grabbed the Jet’s defense for the sole reason that I loved what Todd Bowles did for the Arizona Cardinals. It turns out I got extremely lucky when they ended up with Revis and Cromartie in free agency. I was hoping DET would keep Suh, can’t win them all I guess.
I knew that if I wanted to achieve all of these goals it would be difficult. A long-auction draft requires extreme discipline to be successful. You must be conscious of your leagues scoring system as well as what part of the year you are drafting in. It is very important to stick to the dollar values you have set for each player and try to grab value when you can and lottery ticket players at low cap hits.
In an auction eventually you’re going to have to overpay for the players you want. You can’t take the chance you will end up with a lot of depth of average players and no difference makers. Salary Cap dynasty leagues are all about planning for the future. Do your best to grab players you think will significantly outperform later the salary you are paying for them today.
Feel free to leave a comment or ask me any questions!
Joey Holka is from Phoenix, Arizona and an avid Arizona Cardinals fan. He played Division I Hockey at St. Cloud State University where he graduated with a degree in Finance in just three years. Recently completed his first pro hockey season for the New York Rangers minor league affiliate, the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL.
NFL and fantasy football enthusiast that is a self-proclaimed sore loser and an overly competitive person by nature.