Building a Dynasty Fantasy Football Team the S.M.A.R.T. Way

Business Plan


An Idea is Worth a Thousand Words

What is the meaning of life?  Is there a correct answer to this question?  I would be willing to bet the answer to this question would be different depending on the person you ask.  There is potential variation based on age, race, culture, and even social and economic status.  Many might even choose to answer this question with another question, and so the rabbit-hole has begun. If you play dynasty fantasy football, it’s a safe bet to say that you treat your fantasy teams with high priority.  You wouldn’t stick around to play out a dynasty team for years if it wasn’t important to you.  If you are playing dynasty and it doesn’t earn your blood, sweat, and teas, I trust you’re consistently not doing too well.

What is the proper way to build a dynasty team?  Is there a correct answer to this question?  I would also be willing to bet that (much like answering the meaning of life conundrum) the answer to this question will be different based on who you ask.  I talked a little bit about this in a recent post which delved into the different approaches a dynasty owner can take to get a head start on building a dynasty team.   I mentioned that my favorite approach to take is that of the “Young Guns.”  There is much overlap between the “Young Guns” and the “Now and Later” strategies.  Not only is this my favorite strategy, but I firmly believe that this is the most effective approach to championing dynasty football.

For a very long time, I operated under a particular strategy.  It’s a strategy that we hear about everywhere.  Experts tout this strategy when they’re asked how they approach dynasty football. We know it too well:

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3…. Year….. Window…..

This seems to be the most popular approach owners take with their teams.  It’s a good way to balance both prospects, rookies, and vets on your team while not being too myopic at the same time. The more I thought about this, the more it became apparent to me that there is still one flaw to expose – what happens after that 3 year window?  Now, I know that I’m taking that phrase a little out of context to an extent as each year you’re advancing that 3 year window forward another year in linear fashion.  In a sense it may seem like I’m splitting hairs, but I don’t want to look at my team only as far as 3 years from now if I’m performing a roster evaluation today.


Building a Business Plan

Imagine this.

You’re an aspiring business owner, and for the sake of this example, you’re going to become the proud owner of new ice cream shop.  The first thing you need to tackle is a business plan.

What is your vision for your new ice cream shop?

What are the elements of the business that will be most important to you?

How important is location?

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Will your greatest business asset be the quality of your ice cream?

Will the main selling point be that of a niche based product?

What will the customer experience be?

Should customers keep coming back because they love the quantity of your ice cream?

Is quantity more important at the slight sacrifice of product quality?

Maybe it’s a balance of both product and quality and quantity.

Should customers come back because they look forward to the immersion they feel when they walk in the door?

By putting thought into these questions you’re essentially building a brand.  In order to build that brand, you need to have clear and concise vision to achieve your goals.  In order to achieve your goals, you need to create a project plan the S.M.A.R.T. way, which is a well-known approach to project deliverables in the business world.







Off The Ground

Once you’ve identified your strategy, your brand, and your vision, you’re ready to get going.  Now let’s say you get to a point in time when you put your business in front of potential investors.  You must now put your business plan in front of others so that you can sell your ice cream shop’s vision to appoint where people are willing to put their own money behind it.  This business plan is going to encompass everything we’ve just talked about.   How do you think investors will react if they ask what your vision is for the business 5 years from now and you’re only prepared to talk about the next 3 years?  You can say something like “Well, the market is always changing, and I need to be able to adjust to that change when the times comes.  I don’t need to plan for it now.” You’re going to appear like you don’t you’re your business well enough.  If not that, investors may like the business, but they aren’t sold on you.

The bottom line is that the inevitability of change needs to already be built into your long term vision.  Regardless of the market, you need to be prepared for any and all outcomes. Another rebuttal you may find yourself using is one that encompasses dumping money into the shop now to prepare for the future.  While this may net you short term gain in terms of revenue, but is there a chance that it comes at the expense of your (P&L) profit and loss statement 5 years from now?  The key is to plant seeds in the early stages of your business that will pay off later.

This is how you should treat your dynasty team.  You want to build a portfolio that will net you profits not only for the short term, but for the long term. It’s time to think like a business owner with your dynasty team. Not just a General Manager, but the owner of your team.  Take the S.M.A.R.T. approach:


Get specific with the types of players you want to add to your team and avoid.

Measure the success of rookies in college and measure market inefficiencies around the league.

Set goals for your squad that are attainable.

Be realistic in your trade negotiations while working toward achieving this ultimate dynasty team.

Hold yourself accountable to achieve these goals with dates in mind.

Connecting the Dots

When approaching your start-up draft, it’s important to think about where you want your team go and know where you’re going before you get there.   You can go for the gusto year 1 and win a championship, but it’s likely going to come with a depreciating asset or two or three down the road.  Everyone wants to win a championship, but wouldn’t you rather put yourself in a position to win a championship every year going forward?  It’s very likely that you may have to “take a year off” in year 1 while you’re building your artillery.  If you’re building the S.M.A.R.T. way, the valuation of your team is going to grow exponentially from year 1 to year 2 to year 3.  But it isn’t going to stop there, this strategy will carry on years after year 3.  Create some ground rules for your draft ahead of time.

One of these ground rules will be aged based.  We’ve seen more than enough analysis that shows the downward slope of fantasy production for skill position players as they age.  There’s a simple long-term solution to combat this – don’t draft these players.  Every year you own them, their fantasy production is decreasing.  More importantly, their market value will decrease as well.  If an older player falls in the draft to a point when you know you can draft him and flip him for what you deem to be a long-term asset, then by all means do it.  Just know that this can be a risky practice and end up costing you at times.


Here’s a take away for you – go into a draft this year and refuse to draft players that are at or above 26 years old.  I know this may sounds ludicrous; if you’re in a round in which you know the next 7-10 players to be drafted will be vets, then trade back and pick up future picks or double up next round.  Keep building your future.

Again, it’s very likely this approach is going to feel like giving your buy-in to another owner in the first year.  It may work out for you year 1.  Even if it doesn’t, consider it an investment in your team’s future.  As your team becomes more established and you continue to work toward that ultimate lineup, what should you do with your players as they age further down the road?  Sell them!  This also may sound crazy to a lot of people.  Why on Earth would anyone trade someone at the peak of their production?  Well it is simple really, that player is likely not going to repeat that performance.  Jamaal Charles, for instance, is a player that can take in a monster haul and should certainly be considered as a trade option.

This strategy is likely to cost you same season points.  I recently listened to the High Stakes Fantasy Football Hour podcast hosted by Eric Balkman and Dave Gerczak.  On the recent show their guest was Josh Haymond. Ironically, he’s also known as “The Ice Cream Man” and is an avid dynasty owner that owns 6 dynasty teams in the (FFPC) Fantasy Football Players Championship.  These are high stakes dynasty leagues and the teams cost upwards of $2500.  One of the questions Erik asked was how Josh goes about building a dynasty team and what his thoughts are surrounding the 3 year window philosophy.  In essence, his thoughts were that no owner should be thinking in a 3 year window.  His strategy in terms of vets is to sell them before they’re too old and unsellable.  While this does often leave points to be desired as we discussed, it maximizes the trade potential and kick-starts the circle of youth to keep you ahead of the curve.

If you really think about it, no owner should ever have to rebuild outside of taking over orphaned teams.  From day 1, if you’re building your team the S.M.A.R.T. way it’s going to be a dynasty in the truest sense of the word.  Not a now team – not a 3 year window team – a dynasty. Your roster will continuously nourish and replenish itself through turnover and will plant the seeds of tomorrow.  When you open up your ice cream shop this off season – give this strategy a long look.  It’s linear in a sense that the dynamic of your team stays the same no matter how far into the future your league advances.

Build your team the smart way.


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