I was recently asked for some basic advice for someone entering dynasty fantasy football. What sorts of players to look for, how draft picks are valued, etc. A primer on the basics, so to speak. I thought it was a good chance to put up an introductory article on getting back to the basics of dynasty philosophy.
Long story short, in dynasty winning now is great, but the goal of the format is to win long-term year after year. In redraft you can get Peyton Manning and be relatively assured he will play all of 2015 – maybe tailing off toward the end of the year like he did in 2014. But will he be back next year? That’s a subject for debate lately. If you were to carry him forward to 2016 (like in a dynasty or keeper league) and he retires, you’ll be forced to have a backup option quarterback; or use a 2016 draft pick on a QB to replace him.
Think of the Future
When entering a dynasty league, keep this in mind: “2020 Vision.” This is where you draft players who will be valuable this year and five years from now. Julio Jones, for example, will probably be playing at a high level for several more years; so he’s more valuable than Brandon Marshall who also plays at a high level but is nearing the typical “decline phase” for top wide receivers. Also keep in mind that a player like Keenan Allen might be a great asset in 2015 but he might not be catching passes from Philip Rivers next year
As players shift from team to team and coaches install new offenses that move the focus from one part of the team to another, things will keep changing. It’s best to focus more on talent, rather than situation, though obviously situation has an impact on the results.
Wide receivers and quarterbacks also tend to play longer than running backs or tight ends due to injury risk. A young star wide receiver is usually the most highly sought after commodity in dynasty due to a longer lifespan. Quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, who are young and at the top of their position, are also highly sought after, but there’s generally less variance in week-to-week points at the quarterback position, so you can wait longer to draft one.
Running backs are an important key to winning too, but they come and go pretty regularly and today’s third string running back might be tomorrow’s starter. A good tight end is great to have wrapped up so that you don’t have that empty spot year after year, but there are so few “elite” ones (read: Gronk) that you’ll be playing against one other than him 10 weeks out of the season.
Think About Your Picks
After the startup draft — when the picks you make are critical out to the ninth or tenth round (because those players are established) — you only draft rookies in following years. But it’s not as easy to know if the rookies will break out like Mike Evans or bust like Trent Richardson. The higher the pick you have in the rookie drafts, the more assured you are that the player will not bust out on you. That’s the hope anyway.
So the first draft pick in a rookie draft (1.01) is more valuable than the fourth pick (1.04) because one tends to lose the “safety” of the top players as you head away from the top. The following chart shows the approximate values for those draft picks:
As you can see, you wouldn’t want to accept 1.08 plus 1.09 for your 1.01 because when you stack those two, the values aren’t equal.
Likewise, an established player is more valuable than a rookie player because they’re more likely than not to be able to crack the starting lineup of an NFL team. Julio Jones would be worth 1.01 plus other first round picks if one was to trade him.
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You’ll Never Be the Same
While some aspects of dynasty, such as scoring and positional requirements, are similar to redraft, in dynasty you have to consider that you will be sending out your players each week for years and years. Be sure to research the rookies carefully and be sure you like the ones you draft. If you get a player you’re not a fan of just because he falls to you in the draft, you won’t enjoy playing him year after year.
One more thing about dynasty leagues. They do not have an off-season. I was making trades in my leagues in every month of the year as reports came out about this player getting in trouble with the law or that player being possibly relegated to the second string team when a player got drafted to replace them. The NFL draft itself becomes a pivotal and dramatic event as player X gets drafted to a team that will immediately start him on day one (like Amari Cooper to Oakland) and player Y gets drafted to a team that already had someone in that position (like Todd Gurley).
Once you start playing dynasty, redraft will be like weak beer, generic barbecue sauce or driving 55 on the interstate. It just doesn’t cut it anymore.