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Dynasty Startup Strategy: Guiding Principles

Dynasty Startup Strategy
by Alan Seslowsky – Twitter: @Alanseslowsky

Dynasty fantasy football is an ever-evolving game that has many paths to a championship. Below are some of the guiding principles RosterWatch uses when building a dynasty roster.



Week 16 of the NFL season represents the last week of the fantasy football season in most leagues. For dynasty players, it is the beginning of the new year. When week 16 concludes, every player in your league gets a fresh start, a clean slate, and most importantly; optimism. One of the reasons redraft players are flocking to dynasty leagues is that even when you are losing in dynasty, it is still fun. Trading for rookie picks, and taking gambles on upside players as you shed some of your aging talents are a few of the ways dynasty players fill the offseason. 

Guiding Principles To Dynasty Roster Building:

1-The Dynasty Window

Dynasty players can fall into a trap of thinking too long term.  Dynasty fantasy football is best thought of in a 2-3 year window rather than a 4-5 year time frame.  We mostly avoid projecting players beyond the upcoming season and the one after that. With how volatile the NFL is from week to week and season to season, it is a bad bet to project more than a handful of seasons out. There are players we feel better about long term, like Patrick Mahomes, but he and a precious few others represent the exception rather than the rule. 

2- Understanding Player Liquidity

The difference between redraft and dynasty roster-building is the ability to  keep your roster “liquid.” Make sure you understand the players you draft have different actual value vs market value. For example, heading into 2021, DeAndre Hopkins is likely to have elite actual value. The dynasty market may label him as an “aging player” who some might not want to trade equal value for. Of course, metaphorically speaking, why do you care about the price of your house on the open market if you are going to live in it? Meaning if you are going to start Hopkins every week and ride out his fantasy lifespan, it doesn’t matter what the market will trade for Hopkins; you are going to just benefit from his production while continuing to acquire rookies to eventually replace him in your lineup. On the flip side of the coin, there is an obvious opportunity cost in taking on this sort of asset. There is a fine line that must be navigated when managing the overall portfolio of a dynasty roster. 

3- Positional Production Value

All production is not treated the same. Positional differences matter in both redraft, and certainly in dynasty. One of our guiding principles is that elite young WRs in a PPR format, where you need to start three and a flex, are going to be a more coveted commodity. While this is true, not every year is 2014 or 2020, which yielded rookie WRs.  Rookie and second-year wideouts are not always breaking out. While we’ll always value these young WRs as our true difference-makers, oftentimes we’ll let our competitors take on the earliest-career risk as these athletes gain NFL seasoning and understanding of concepts. Running backs historically do not need such a ramp-up period, therefore, it makes sense to churn through young RBs while keeping a focus on acquiring the most coveted young WRs from a season or two prior at post-hype value. A growing format that gives 1.5 PPR to the Tight Ends boosts that position up the board. The elite TE producers are worthy of top 24 consideration more than they would in a traditional format. For example, if a TE is projected to have 60 receptions, 750 yards, and 5 TD; that equates to an additional 30 fantasy points. 30 points are the equivalent of five additional TDs! Now your TE projection can be thought of as 60/750/10 when valuing it through the lens of a traditional format. 

4- Contract Insulation 

If we are to predict how players will be valued longer than the upcoming season, we need to understand what their contract situation is. Furthermore, we also need to know the contract status of their quarterback. The fantasy points go as the offense goes and the offense goes as the QB goes. Many times we see splashy headlines that a player signed a four-year deal worth some massive amount of money. It is important to research the guarantees of that contract, often which are no more than two seasons. NFL teams have options to get out of the contract after a couple of seasons with no penalty. When we understand how long a player is insulated by his contract status, and how long associated pieces on the offense are as well, it is a helpful data point to our dynasty rankings. 

5- NFL Calendar Value Changes

Dynasty value can change significantly depending on the time of year. For example, running backs who hold top 50 overall value in March can take a massive hit in May after the real NFL draft, if their team selects a runner with significant draft capital. It is important to understand the NFL calendar and how that can change dynasty value. 

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