Dynasty Leagues

Draft Help: Building a Dynasty – T. Kovack

by Tom Kovack

So you just got asked to join a Dynasty Football league and decided to give it a whirl. You’ve done fantasy football for years and feel like you know everything there is about drafting and trying to develop a championship fantasy team. But a dynasty team? This is a whole new world for you. You know nothing about it. But you want to try it out.
I know the feeling. I’ve been there…

And I love it.

After spending six years in fantasy football and having a lot of success, I got invited into a fantasy league in 2014. Four years years into it, I’ve won three titles and have a runner-up all because I didn’t start Kyle Rudolph in the final last year. Ugh. But I’ve learned to love it more than fantasy football. It’s competitive. It’s addicting. But it’s also a LOT different than fantasy football. It’s a completely different animal.

What makes it fun is it’s like owning your own team year in and year out. You’re the GM. You’re the head coach. You have an initial draft, usually between 20 to 30 rounds, and then can keep your team together for future years to come. There’s a lot of strategy involved as you have to figure out how to build bench depth and plan for the current year while also planning for the future. For example, D.K. Metcalf may not be a guy who would go in the top 10 rounds in a fantasy draft, but he may go in the first five rounds in a dynasty draft and the first few picks in a dynasty rookie draft. There are also a lot more trades involved in dynasty leagues, particularly for draft picks. You may give away a Todd Gurley for a first-round pick in this year’s dynasty draft. Like I said, it’s like owning your own team year in and year out.

A lot of strategy is involved in the draft, both the initial one and the rookie drafts the years after. Let’s look at five strategies to use for an initial draft, and for those of you already in a dynasty league and getting ready for your rookie draft, I’ll give you five pieces of advice for moving forward into your new season.

YOUR FIRST DRAFT

1. Know Your Point System

This is probably something you do in fantasy football as well. But before even ranking your own personal draft depth chart, know how the point system for your league and how it works. Is it PPR? How many points do quarterbacks get for touchdowns and points per yard? How many points per yard for receivers and running backs? How many quarterbacks can you start? Are there Flex options? How many? How many wide receivers and running backs can you start? These are things that will impact when you will need to draft certain players.

2. Take a quarterback fairly early

Quarterbacks don’t grow on trees in dynasty. They’re hard to come by. Just like a real team building their lineup, they want a strong quarterback. There’s no better feeling than not having to worry about drafting a quarterback the next few drafts because you picked Patrick Mahomes or Baker Mayfield early and are set for years to come.

Wide receivers and running backs are always there in rookie drafts and you can find gems late, particularly at running back. We’ll get into the strategy on them in a second, but I would look at drafting a quarterback in the second or third round of your initial dynasty draft and a good backup four of five rounds later.

3. Your Number One Pick “Should” Be a Wide Receiver in PPR

The exception here is if you have the top 1 or 2 picks and have the opportunity to nab a young Saquon Barkley or Christian McCaffrey as they have a lot of shelf life left. But after that, I would invest in a young stud wide receiver that you will have for the next 10 years.

There are very few running backs that stay elite for more than a few years. However, wide receivers can stay elite for 10 years. I drafted Julio Jones with my top pick in my Dynasty Draft in 2014 and Deandre Hopkins two rounds after that and they are still my best wide receivers on my roster. I also snagged Todd Gurley and Lesean McCoy as my top running backs, and Gurley is losing value while McCoy is all but finished as a fantasy weapon.

In Non-PPR leagues, things are a little different as wide receivers lose a little bit of value, but they still carry a lot of weight.

4. Handcuff Your Running Backs

This is actually my top suggestion for you of all the tips and will save you pounding your head against the wall when one of your top backs get hurt. If you draft Damien Williams, look for Darwin Thompson a couple rounds later (although this one may be hard). If you draft Aaron Jones, you’ll want to also draft Jamaal Williams later on. If you draft Saquon Barkley, pick up Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman. If you got Le’Veon Bell, draft Ty Montgomery.

Injuries to running backs are common. The chances of a premier back playing all 16 games injury-free are less than 50%. If you have the backup back, you don’t have to worry about scouring the waiver wire for a running back. You’ve already got the backup to your starter in place. This becomes a big tip in dynasty rookie years in following years as coaches are always recycling backs (i.e. the Chicago Bears).

5. Be Patient and Play for the Future

While I know you want to win now, you also have to play for years down the road. Drafting Drew Brees, Todd Gurley, Julian Edelman, Antonio Brown, and Jared Cook will give you a great chance at winning a dynasty title this year, but you are screwed in a couple years when those guys aren’t even on your draft board, let alone not in the league.
Look for guys who are young and will be around a while. Taking a running back in the first round if it’s a Barkley or McCaffrey, but it’s not really worth the early investment if it’s David Johnson or Devonta Freeman who won’t even be a top-50 back in a couple years.

It’s all about youth in dynasty. You can add some of the veteran guys late in your draft as bench depth, or vice versa.

FIVE TIPS FOR DYNASTY ROOKIE DRAFTS

1. Continue to handcuff your best players

The rookie draft is a great opportunity to add depth to your players. So if you have Eli Manning on your roster, draft Daniel Jones. If you have Tyreek Hill, add Mecole Hardman. If you have Todd Gurley, you need to have your first round eyes on Darrell Henderson.

This is your team. Have backups for your best players should they get hurt or something happen to them. The rookie draft is a great chance for you to do this.

2. Look for Trades

Look at where you are weakest in and then look at other teams’ rosters to see if they have that as a strength. If you’re deep at wide receiver but thin at running back, look to trade with a guy who is the opposite. I will tell you that my running backs a couple weeks ago were Todd Gurley, Lesean McCoy, Jerrick McKinnon, and Dion Lewis…yup, not great. But my receivers were DeAndre Hopkins, Adam Thielen, Tyreek Hill, Julian Edelman, Dede Westbrook, and Michael Gallup. I could afford to lose a wide receiver, so I found a trade partner who needed a wide receiver. I parted ways with Julian Edelman and got Kerryon Johnson in return. Now my team is much more balanced.

Also, look at moving around in drafts, trading some of your low-end players to move up and get someone you may need. This is the fun part about dynasty. You’re the GM and can get creative with your roster and your trades and use draft picks as part of your strategy.

3. Rookie Drafts are Good for Adding Running Backs

For your first dynasty draft, like I mentioned above, I’m a fan of stocking up on a couple stud quarterbacks and wide receivers. In the following dynasty drafts, I’m more for building running back depth. If you’ve had a good first dynasty draft, you have a good quarterback and set of receivers in place. The best news is if running back is your weakest position going into your new season. That’s great because rookie running backs are aplenty and you can take advantage of them in the rookie drafts. Plus, they have immediate impact.

This past year offered great opportunities to build your running back depth up with Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders, David Montgomery, Devin Singletary, Damien Harris, Alexander Mattison, and Tony Pollard all being out there and possibly starting as rookies. You’re now set at running back for a while if you pick these guys up.

Wide receivers take a couple years to develop, as do quarterbacks. Don’t expect them to be drafted in rookie drafts and make an immediate impact. Michael Gallup is a perfect example. He didn’t do much last year as a rookie, but early indications are he could be a weapon and regular fantasy starter his second year. Calvin Ridley is another player who is slowly turning into a number 1 or 2 wideout.

4. Constantly Keep Up on The News

Every day, you should be going on Google and typing in key words such as “Turning Heads at Training Camp” or “Moving Up the Depth Chart”. Find out who is impressing coaches in training camp. Those who did their homework with this last year would have noticed that Phillip Lindsay was a rising star in Denver among coaches even though experts weren’t ranking him very high on their boards.

Which leads me to my next minor point: Don’t rely solely on one expert’s rankings. It’s good to listen to what a variety of experts say and keep up on who is rising and falling, but also do your own homework; don’t always have others do it for you. Find out the news from training camp and preseason games, as well as regular season news. Then use the waiver wire to your advantage and figure out your own sleepers. Use the experts opinions as further proof you need that someone is catching the eye of coaches.

5. Keep Your Team Young

How many years in a row does a fantasy player stay elite? I can’t remember more than a handful of guys who were top-10 picks in 2014 that are still top-10 picks now. We’ve already mentioned how the shelf life of a running back is short. Wide receivers have a bit longer shelf life, but one injury can cut their shelf life short as well. It’s important to make sure you’ve got a plan for the future.

Have a draft strategy in place where you are young at every position. Don’t overload on one position in the draft and leave another hanging. Constantly add youth to all your positions each dynasty draft so you can keep retooling.

Hopefully you’ve learned a few things for your upcoming dynasty draft. Have fun with it. Keep up on the news and be creative. You’re the GM. It’s your team, not just for this year, but for years to come.

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