In last week’s edition of Building a Dynasty, I shared some key differences between dynasty leagues and the typical redraft league. One of the main differences between the two league formats is strategy and the endgame that go along with attacking the initial draft. While a redraft league, as it’s name suggests, gives its’ owners the opportunity to start fresh each year with a completely new draft, dynasty owners are locked into their team and therefore, must use an alternate point of view when preparing for a draft.
While there are many details and intricacies that make up a dynasty startup draft strategy, there are really three basic strategies. Today, I want to outline each of those schools of thought and give you a sneak peek of what your dynasty startup team might look like with each plan.
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Strategy 1: Win Now
This is a popular strategy as you might expect. Many dynasty owners see no reason to postpone winning a championship when they can go for it in the league’s inaugural season. Also, this is the most popular strategy for players that are new to dynasty leagues, as it’s the one most similar to redraft, where everyone is trying to win now.
While rookies and other young players will obviously perform at a high level on occasion, owners using this game plan are often relying on past performance as an indicator of future success. While this could lead to a great deal of success in the short term, it could leave the owner counting his losses by Year three or four of the league.
An owner hoping for a championship in Year one has a couple of other notable characteristics that can help in the short-term, but damages the long-term outlook of the team. First, a ‘win now’ owner will often use future rookie draft picks as trade bait to acquire a veteran player or move up in the startup draft. Again, this owner is using a short window of player evaluation, so a draft pick that is a year or two away has little value to these players. Adding that key veteran could make the difference between a playoff team and a championship, but when all of the “win now” players are a year or two older, lacking those picks to retool which will really sting.
Another characteristic of a win now owner is that he will focus on filling a starting lineup rather than always opting for the best player available. Again, there are some pros and cons with this line of thinking, but an owner focusing on filling out their lineup card can bypass some valuable depth players and end up reaching for a quarterback or tight end.
Let’s take a look at the average draft position (ADP) data from DynastyLeagueFootball.com for the month of July. For each of the strategies I analyze today, this data will tell us who are some of the players those owners might opt for in each round and what their starting lineup may look like.
*Note: For the purpose of this article, I am using a standard starting lineup of 1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 3 wide receivers, 1 tight end and 1 flex (RB, WR or TE)
“Win Now” team:
Potential “Win Now” Starting Lineup:
QB: Drew Brees
RB: Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster
WR: Jordy Nelson, Andre Johnson, Roddy White
TE: Vernon Davis
Key Depth: Ray Rice, Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, Frank Gore, Tom Brady, Reggie Wayne
This team would be difficult to beat in 2014. As I said, this strategy closely resembles that of a redraft owner and any of us would love to trot out this team each week in our yearly leagues. The concern is what happens in 2015 when you’re relying on this same core group of players. Most of these players are already on the wrong side of 30 and may not have many years left as a reliable fantasy asset.
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Strategy 2: Going Young
Another strategy that some dynasty owners employ as part of their startup draft plan is going young, which is basically the complete opposite of the win now strategy described above.
When drafting with a focus on young, high upside players, dynasty owners are using a deep window to evaluate talent, possibly as long as five years. Owners using this strategy see the best in every young player, regardless of past track record or current situation on their team. It wouldn’t be a concern if a player like Christine Michael is stuck playing behind Marshawn Lynch for this owner because he is only concerned with the future, not the current season.
These owners feel that stockpiling young talent, both by drafting them via the startup draft and acquiring future rookie draft picks, will put them in a great position to contend year in and year out, once their players are ready to contribute. Also, these owners don’t concern themselves with filling a lineup or ensuring they’ve drafted one of the top players at any certain position. Instead, they focus on drafting the best player available, regardless of position. If that means the draft concludes and a team only has three running backs for example, that is no reason to fret.
This is a strategy attempted by the die-hard dynasty owner who possesses the patience and commitment to not only stick with the plan, but stay in the league. It is always easy to bail on a dynasty league if things don’t go your way early, but when following the going young plan, the rewards will be reaped after a difficult season or two.
This strategy is obviously not for everyone. I’ve heard many say they don’t feel comfortable going into a season, the first season of a new dynasty league, planning to lose. It could be considered a waste of time, and depending on your league, a waste of money.