So you’ve played fantasy football for a while and are considering leaping into the year-round game. Welcome, we’re glad you’re here. Dynasty leagues are a format all to themselves that put you as close to being a real GM as any of us shmucks ever will be. It takes high quality research, top-tier analysis, A+ projections, and as always, with fantasy sports: a little bit of luck. Here at Sports Obsessive, we will help you with the first three, and we’ll be crossing our fingers right alongside you for the fourth. In conjunction with our own dynasty startup draft, we asked the league members to share their best advice for playing in a dynasty league. Here are our 10 tips for how to start a dynasty startup:
Know Your Format (Nick):
Dynasty leagues are fertile ground for non-standard scoring and roster systems. A dynasty startup draft for a 2-QB/Super Flex league may look way different than a traditional 1-QB league. Maybe your league is a 3-WR or a TE-premium league, which would make those positions more valuable. In a 1-QB redraft league, I seldom draft a QB or TE in the single-digit rounds, while both positions offer legitimate top-10 options in a Super Flex or TE Premium format. Additionally, if the league includes IDPs (individual defensive players), you have to consider at what point you’re comfortable taking your first one (or if someone starts a run on them if you’re going to hold off). Read your league setup before drafting to ensure you know your drafting format.
Respect Your Elders (Allijah):
The future is something that first-time dynasty players all weigh a little bit too highly. In dynasty, you keep your team forever, so you want the guys on your team that have a lot of their career left ahead of them right? Well, sort of. The thing is, it’s tough to predict the future, and if you only draft young talent you’re bound to get a couple of things wrong. It’s best to balance out the younger players on your roster with proven veterans so that you can win now and be strong in upcoming years. So don’t be afraid to draft that 35 year old QB to be your starter. He might play for another 10 years (looking at you Tom Brady).
Zig When Others Zag (Keith):
At this point, dynasty leagues have become like auction leagues were 10 years ago, the go-to format. Everyone is reading the same articles and taking the same advice. Quarterbacks are king in dynasty, just like the NFL. If you land Patrick Mahomes, you are set at QB for 15 years. However, if you begin chasing positions as the run on position groups start, you will be left out of talent. So if there is a run on QB’s right before you pick, don’t settle for the 8th best QB. Take the best WR or TE. Talent still rules and you want to dominate where others struggle. It’s dynasty, not redraft. There are opportunities to get back what you lost. Don’t follow the herd. Take talent over what everyone else is doing, and you will be in a position to dominate where your league mates suffer.
Contracts Matter (Tom):
Understanding where a player is in his career is key when deciding who to take in your dynasty startup. If a player is on the last year of his contract or vice versa, just signed one, there are positives and negatives to both. Some players who are in the last year of their contract could leave a spectacular situation for an unknown or less appealing one. Aaron Jones, for example, is in one of the best situations in football being with Green Bay alongside Aaron Rodgers. He is likely leaving one of the best situations a running back could hope for and venture into the unknown. The talent is there but the risk of being lured to a team with a worse quarterback for big money is real. In comparison, players who have just signed a new contract represent stability and a better idea of what to expect. Depending on the situation, you might be fading a player by a round or two or bump him up on your draft board. Do your research and reap the rewards.
Forget Your Roster (Caemeron):
Here’s some advice that I have to admit I struggle a bit to follow myself, but this is dynasty—don’t worry about whether you are filling all of the positions in your lineup. Take the best player on the board. Now, of course, figuring out who that is at any given point in the draft isn’t the easiest thing in the world. If you are new to dynasty what I am about to say might not be very helpful, but think about the player’s trade value. Save your fliers for the late rounds and go ahead and draft that third QB in your Superflex league even though you only have one RB. Who has a higher trade value: Tua Tagovailoa or Kareem Hunt? Baker Mayfield or David Montgomery? Yes, you want to win this year, but you’re also building for the future. If you’re close, make a trade later. Forget about your potential starting lineup when you draft.
Find Your Grail (Clay):
Unfortunately, if you are looking to this paragraph for expert advice, you may need to turn away in sorrow. This is my first time being involved in a fantasy dynasty league, but I do have some thoughts about what it all means. The key to fantasy and much of life, in general, is finding the goals that work for you and that they can be attained. This can mean different things to different people. For some, it is actually winning the championship. While for others, it is finishing in the money. For others still, it is all about having fun and making weird trades or picking hometown heroes. For me though, it is about learning new things. I always need to experience something new and to understand how and why people think the way that they do. And so, in this first year and first dynasty experience, that is exactly what I am doing. Learning, watching, stealing ideas, and getting into my competitors’ minds. If my team is actually good, that’s just the icing on the cake.
Follow the Trends (Andrew):
When you’re new to dynasty, you’re taking in a whole lot of information quickly. It’s a completely different game in a lot of ways than redraft. Between the new setup, new terminology, and new ways to strategize, it can be a little overwhelming at first. When it comes to things like the dynasty startup draft or trading, you learn a lot simply by paying attention to what everyone else is doing. In your first dynasty league, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to spend too much on a free agent or make a trade that 3 years from now, you’re kicking yourself over. It’s inevitable. But you can reduce your number of rookie mistakes by observing and noting what the more experienced players are doing and following that lead.
Wide Receivers Live Forever (Allijah):
Remember that running back who was top 15 at their position for 10 years in a row? Yeah, me neither. Football is a high-impact sport, and the guys that take the biggest beating are the running backs. This means that your surest bet for long-term dynasty success is to have reliable, top tier wide receivers on your roster. If you’ve had Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, or Larry Fitzgerald on your squad, you’ve had no less than 5+ years of elite production over the last decade. You can’t get that from the running back position. So, although in redraft a top-tier running back is often the key to victory, they burn bright and die young but wide receivers live forever.
Look Around and Pounce (Tom):
When you start getting to the later rounds, deciding when to take your second QB, look at everyone else’s board. If you see that most managers have filled the QB, RB, WR starting spots but still need a TE, for example, you can likely hold off a round or two and pick up the other position players you like first. If you see that most teams have two or three of each position, you can expect a run on QB to start, therefore forcing your hand to get the QB you want this round. This is not a perfect strategy by any means, as experienced managers tend to intuit when they need to pounce. Knowing what others need takes practice but will pay dividends in the end, I promise.
Play Fearless (Scott A):
Don’t be afraid to swing. You will miss sometimes but learn a ton and get better and better. I usually go for the highest upside available, and I’ll play as aggressively as needed to get high ceiling players I believe in. It was mentioned earlier to zig when others zag, and this is a similar attitude. I’d rather make moves and die going for it all than play conservative and hope. Don’t be reckless, but don’t be afraid of what others may think, especially league mates.
And there you have it. We hope these tips can encourage you to join a dynasty startup draft of your own. Hopefully, if you already have joined, this will help you dominate for years to come. Sports Obsessive is your place for dynasty content including draft recaps, positional rankings, and more to come throughout the NFL off-season. Be sure to tune into 25 Yards Later, Sports Obsessive’s fantasy football podcast (hosted by yours truly and Nick Luciano), in early March to hear Andrew and Tom join the show to talk dynasty strategy and more!