Dynasty Startup Draft Advice
With each new year, there are new seasons of dynasty football startups just waiting out there for veterans and rookies alike. Based on changes to the NFL rosters and coaching staffs, there are always things you need to go over and reevaluate so you can decide what to value so you can assemble a solid strategy to build a championship team during your 2020 startup draft. Focus on the basics and evolve your strategy to make sure you construct your team to be competitive for a lengthy window of time to win championships.
Know Your League Settings
One of the most basic things to look at is how are the league settings allowing you to build a roster. Most leagues are set up nowadays as PPR leagues, but leagues with super flex where you are allowed to start a second quarterback in a flex spot are becoming more popular. It is a simple change but one that means drastically changing your draft strategy as to how quickly you draft your quarterbacks. Since the QB position is touching the ball every play they have the greatest opportunity to get your team fantasy points. It works out that when you look at total points scored by players regardless of position, QBs come out on top more than half the time. For example, 6 of the top 10 players in 2019 were QBs. Expanding on that number of the top 20 players based on total points scored, 11 of them were QBs making it crucial that you get two great ones because if everyone is planning on starting two quarterbacks, most teams will probably draft at least three. That means all of the NFL starters will be gone. As that sinks in you can easily see why knowing how the league you are in lets you construct your roster will dictate how you should draft to be successful.
Best Player Value versus Filling Out the Roster
In a startup draft, nothing should be off the table as far as what you will consider doing to make your team the best. There are decisions to be made though as to when to draft a player to fill a spot on your roster and when to wait. For instance, you need a second wide receiver, but the player you would be drafting is the WR7. You could look to draft the TE1 and give yourself a better value at the current draft slot. Wide Receivers are usually easier to find later in the draft and the value drops off from WR7 to WR12 usually isn’t as great as the drop off in value from TE1 to TE6 so it is a better investment to grab a top tight end than draft the seventh-best receiver. It will help your total points scored every week by having an elite tight end and you’ll be better off for having done it.
Another thing that helps you figure out when it is time to make the switch from continuing a run on a position to snagging a more valuable player is to do your homework ahead of time and make tiers in your rankings. If someone picked the last player in the tier for a position you were going to pick, think long and hard about flipping the script and starting a new tier at a different position. Making tiers weeks before the draft lets you make quick decisions on the fly during the draft. It stops you from feeling obligated to go with the flow and fill out your roster before all of the wide receivers are gone. You’ve already decided that there are a set number of players to choose in that tier. If they all get drafted, the better value is probably elsewhere for a round or two. Let the other GMs continue to draft the position that is already depleted while you benefit from going a different direction and coming back to a wide receiver when the value is better for your draft position.
When They Zig, You Zag
Transitioning off of Best Player Available and not being afraid to trust the tiers you have put together, keep in mind that there are no do-overs. A startup draft is a one-time event so you need to get it right. Go for the players you have decided will build your team into the championship-winning collection of players based on your strategy. If there is a run on a position, don’t let the fear of missing out on one of those players knock you off of your gameplan. Instead, lockdown an elite talent at a different position and you will make your team stronger. There is no worse feeling than watching the season unfold and looking back at the draft to see a player you didn’t end up drafting outproduce the guy you did draft. Be the GM who starts the trends, be the GM that dictates what happens in the draft by being aggressive and staying flexible. Seeing a run on a position before it happens is a benefit to your future roster. Jumping on the guy you want a full round before most rankings say he should go looks reckless on draft day, but when he’s on your roster helping you win week after week the move will look smart, not risky. Better to win or lose with the decisions you want to make than following the trend set by the other GMs and regretting not pulling the trigger on a different player. Don’t worry so much about what other GMs do, stay focused on your roster and the moves you need to make to win a championship. Don’t take what they give you, take what you want.
Trading Up or Trading Down
As long as we are talking about sticking with your plan and doing what you want to do, let’s go through the idea of not outsmarting yourself. The idea of trading up to snag that elite talent is always a temptation. Picking a player who will be in the top 7 at his position looks nice and helps every week in the box score, but it leaves holes in your roster going forward. To get an elite player you will probably have to give up higher picks either this year or next year or both. One of the last things you want to do is give up picks this year to reduce the players who can help you now, but you don’t want to start giving up future picks and deplete your pool of future players you need to stay competitive into the future. My hard and fast rule I stick to for startup drafts is to trade down to acquire more draft picks. The more picks you have, the better the chance you have mathematically to hit on one of your players. Any time you can increase the odds of successfully drafting a player it needs to be done. The time to trade up is in the rookie draft or in year 3-4 when you are hopefully just that one player away from solidifying your roster to make a strong run at a championship. By this time you should have been able to acquire some depth to your roster. Hopefully enough talent to get rid of 1-2 players so that you can now acquire that elite player. In other words, trading up should be saved for the time when the cards are stacked in your favor. You shouldn’t risk moving up to grab a single piece of your team too early in the roster construction process. If the player gets injured then your team is in the basement of your division and you don’t have the assets necessary to try and acquire more talent to replace him. Wait until you can afford to take the gamble and it has a more likely chance of paying off.
How Many Championships Do You Want to Win?
It all comes down to sticking to your strategy and listening to your gut. Do the things that you need to do to take advantage of your window to win as many championships as you can in that window. Winning multiple league titles earns you a spot in the history of your league where other GMs remember who won two out of three championships during the infancy of their dynasty leagues. Solidifying your team is more than taking the best player available in the second half of the draft. Here are some other ideas to keep in mind as they will give you a distinct advantage while other GMs are just taking a player at the top of their list sorted by ADP:
- As you picked youth early to solidify your core for the future, look to solid veterans who produce fantasy points consistently. GMs who picked Mark Ingram even though he changed teams last year after having a down year in 2018 in New Orleans were rewarded as he finished as a top 10 running back.
- Grab a quarterback or two in the later rounds just in case, even if they are a backup. Look for a back up in a system that is successful instead of a QB that might be a talented backup. When the opportunity arises, the system continuing to be successful is more likely than a talented backup coming in to try and run an NFL team for the first time in the middle of the season. Teddy Bridgewater filling in for Drew Brees was a success because they didn’t ask him to do much different in Sean Payton’s system. They might’ve run different plays than if Brees was at the helm, but it was still Payton calling the shots and running the offense.
- Acquiring future rookie picks is an investment in your future and rookie picks seldom lose their value. Watch the hype and see how value goes up closer to the draft. Try and take advantage of an owner that missed out on a player or whose plan fell apart and are now panicking. Making a trade could be an option and you can try and juice an owner by holding out at first, but then relenting as you say, “throw in a rookie pick for next year and it’s a deal.”