Dynasty Fantasy Football - Over the years, with the growth of social media and the reliance upon the internet for anything and everything, fantasy football has become a national past time. Seriously. Ask any man between the ages of 18 and 49 roughly and there is a good chance they play fantasy sports. Football is and always will be king.
The goal here is to provide you with a simple framework in which to build your championship team for years to come. The new craze is Dynasty Fantasy Football and it is whole different animal. You are drafting not only for immediate success, but focusing on building a team that is equipped to dominate your league over the next 5 to 10 years. How do you do this you ask?
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I will begin by discussing basic strategy techniques that can put you well out in front of your competition by acquiring not just the best players available, but players that have the potential to develop into dominant forces in the league. I hope to provide some nuggets that help you develop a winning formula as well as give insight on how to maintain a reign within your league for years to come.
Not all dynasty leagues are fundamentally the same. Simply stated, there are very basic leagues and then you will find some which can be quite complicated. Make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into because again the idea here is to join a league in which you become a staple in for numerous years. This is not your typical re-draft yahoo community league we are talking about.
Some leagues, as does the one I participate in, function 365 days a year and involve offseason trading, multiple drafts and a set of league rules. Depending upon your league, there are some factors to which I may not specifically speak to, but please feel free to ask questions along the way.
Choosing a league that fits your taste is important because the main goal is to have fun, while winning some money along the way. There are many variations to dynasty football leagues, but let me at least provide you the cliff notes to the main concepts hopefully preparing you for your fantasy football draft.
Dynasty Fantasy Football
Win Now vs. Win Later Mentality
I never understood why this had to be a choice. Why not win now and build for later!? It is possible. The initial draft at the beginning of your league is crucial because this will form the nucleus of your team and play a big role in your success in future seasons. The idea here is to target players that are entering the prime of their career, not too long in the tooth and not too raw. The age can vary depending upon the position in which you are drafting, but a good guideline would be between the ages of 24 and 28.
Do not simply overload your team with promising rookies and second year players getting their first opportunity at stardom, but rather aim to draft players between the ages of 24 and 28 that have at least one year of solid production equal to the round in which you are drafting him. Target older veterans and rookies when their value dictates them to be selected.
Other Draft Day Strategies
- Reach only when necessary -- throughout the draft you will find yourself targeting certain players and wondering when is the right time to draft them. Chances are if a player is in your "queue" he is in someone else's sights as well. Dynasty football is just as much about the future as it is about winning now, so you have to be ready to make certain strategic decisions based upon VALUE and NEED. If you determine the value of a given player can provide a significant competitive advantage at a certain position then sometimes "reaching" is the right call.
- First five round are crucial -- this may go without saying, but the majority of your starting roster will be selected in these initial draft picks. Do not focus solely on who you take first or second, but make sure that each and every player is as reliable as possible. Both in terms of health and production. Have a game plan and keep track of what players may be available when your name is called.
- Find value in the middle rounds -- this is not just the time in which you select players to fill out your roster. Use these rounds to stockpile talent, players with high potential and players that can be assets to your roster (WR2, RB3, TE1, etc.). The idea here is to have a well balanced roster with some players that could potentially outplay their draft position and become those draft day steals that help you make the playoffs. Once you are in the playoffs, anything is possible. As stated before, the key here is drafting players entering their prime while mixing in some veterans that have proven to be productive on a yearly basis. Drafting a bunch of "potential" can backfire, badly. Sure you can take a few risks, but to simply stockpile young talent, which is relatively unproven, in these middle rounds is a good way to find yourself on the outside looking in when the playoffs roll around and even damage the ability for team to find success in future seasons.
- Diamonds in the rough -- so, you have made your first 17 to 18 selections and you are feeling pretty good about your roster, now is the time when your research pays off. While some owners find their concentration slipping, you have targeted some potential sleepers and/or rookies which could provide plenty of value given their draft position.
- Close strong -- in the last couple of rounds most people will begin selecting their kickers and defenses. In some instances your league may have Independent Defensive Players (IDP's) and in that case your draft strategy is an entirely different story. Assuming your starting roster is filled out, use these last couple of picks to take some chances on younger players (undrafted rookies, second-year players who may have missed out on a roster spot the prior season, but find themselves in a better situation) or some crafty veterans that may only have one year left in the tank but still will see significant reps.
Everyone has had a draft that they walk away from scratching their head, asking themselves how did that just happen? There are many factors that can lead to having a bad draft, coming unprepared is one. Do your homework, start watching college football games and actually begin to retain players names that could potentially become superstars at the next level. Remember to think long term and while winning now is ideal, it is not always a reality. If you find yourself 1-7 after the first half of the season and are becoming frustrated, take a deep breath and invoke some patience while remembering there could be an opportunity to rebuild here.
If you do find your team becomes loaded with younger players, some of which may not have an impact on the upcoming and/or remainder of the current season, you may want to package some of them in a trade with an owner who has an abundance of established stars on his roster. This may sound simple enough, but if done incorrectly can leave your team in dire straits for years to come.
Nobody ever said this would be easy. The hardest thing about a dynasty league is knowing when to pull the trigger. When to draft the talented rookie, when to package an aging veteran to land a player that can fill a gaping hole in your roster and most importantly when do you play for this year and when do you play for the future? You have to be willing to adapt.
Time to Trade
If you make the decision to rebuild, you have to commit to it. You immediately need to determine which players to let go (either by trade or outright release) and then begin to identify the players which will form your nucleus. These are your stars and guys you can count on nearly every week providing a solid return. Guys like Fred Jackson, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith or Jason Witten might be nice to have this season, but could be better off used in trades in order to help acquire younger players that are primed for a breakout type season. Just like in real life, it is better to trade away an aging player, that still retains value, prior to them falling completely off the productivity scale, rather than hanging on and leaving you with no choice but to drop them when the gas tank hits E.
The main point here is that you need to try to project whether or not a given player can be integral piece of a championship team in a few seasons or if it is time to pull the plug. If the answer is yes, you keep that player. If the answer is no, then move him. Remember nobody likes to lose, but you are trying to build a team that can sustain future success on a consistent basis.
Waive Bye Bye
You will find an overabundance of magazines, websites and newspaper articles that all provide valuable information throughout the fantasy season. Why would you not utilize them? As an owner, you have to know when a player is not going to live up to that "sleeper" status or become that "breakout" player you had envisioned when you acquired him.
A player that fits the bill is merely eating up valuable roster space and you need to do something about it ASAP. Ideally, you find someone who is willing to trade for him, but most likely you have to make the tough decision to drop him. Your roster must contain a player the fits one of two molds, either he is currently a marquee player and a valuable asset or he is a player with solid potential to breakout in the near future.
Running backs are great examples of breakout type players as you will often find a talented player is waiting in the wings stuck behind an established veteran. A great example would be C.J. Spiller two seasons ago when he was behind Fred Jackson. He is now widely considered a Top 10 RB.
Fantasy Knuckleheads will prove to be a fantastic source to obtain little bits of information that could help you determine a players value, both now and in the long term.
The objective is to fill out your roster with the perfect combination of bona fide superstars that become the cornerstones, blended with solid backups that can provide solid productivity on bye weeks and/or in the case of an injury, and rounded out with some young up-and-coming rookies for the future, as this will provide the best opportunity for you have your cake and eat it too.
Dynasty Fantasy Football is not like any other league you have played in, in the past. Winning is not always something achieved immediately and requires a good amount of patience in most scenarios. Do not get discouraged and jeopardize the integrity of the league by failing to pay attention and/or actively participating. Continue to do your research, keep plugging along by making trades and hitting the waiver wire and you will eventually find success.
Sometimes you have to remind yourself that this is somewhat of a journey and that just because one or two players do not pan out the way you thought they would (over-hyped, injury, etc.), it is not the end of the world. Keep in mind players can sometimes be stuck in bad situations (coaching philosophy, contract negotiations, etc.) and come the following year could find themselves on a new team with an entirely new outlook.
In most instances, draft picks take time to mature and adjust to the pro game. Be patient.
As you may have realized by now, this particular brand of fantasy football is a year round activity, more so than any other league. This is really only for serious owners because you will quickly find the competition is far more fierce, penalties are handed out for not paying attention and the level of strategy involved far outweighs that of a re-draft league. One mistake can set you back several years; however, no other league provides more satisfaction when you rise from the bottom to the top than a dynasty league.
Patience, smart trading, solid drafting and investing in Fantasy Knuckleheads are all proven ways in which you can turn a cellar dweller into a powerhouse in just one season. Good luck and keep your eye out for many different installments pertaining to Dynasty Fantasy Football.