Beginner’s Guide To Dynasty Fantasy Football – An Introduction
I’ve become more and more proud to admit over the last couple of years that fantasy football, and in particular dynasty leagues, are my favorite hobby. I sink far too much time in to studying, preparing, and running leagues because I have fun with it – and I want other people to have fun with it too.
I want this to be a series to introduce people to dynasty leagues. I’m hopefully here to straighten everything out and help make that transition easier for you by sharing some of the things I’ve learned since starting my first dynasty league.
Today, I want to just ease in to things. Mostly for you guys out there who have maybe heard of dynasty leagues, but aren’t quite sure what they are? Or if you’re determined to start playing, but want to make sure you’ve grasped everything and won’t miss anything that more-experienced players might pick up on?
Here are some core things to think about that are easy to gloss over:
This maybe sounds obvious, but it’s not always thought about the same way. People often think about a player’s value as what their average draft position is, or their immediate trade value. It’s a bit more complex with these long term leagues though, because you need to take in to account long term value as well as short term value for every player. The other complicating factor is that dynasty leagues typically have an actual currency with which to put a price on players in draft picks, rather than just “I’ll give you this guy for this guy”. This can often be a tough thing for newer players to grasp (don’t worry, we all went through the same thing) because there isn’t really a benchmark to work off of that covers every league. Don’t worry, you’ll pick it up quickly, but don’t be quick to rush in to trade deals involving draft picks. Watch how your leaguemates value each pick and if you can, check the previous season’s rookie draft to see the caliber of talent available in each round. I’ll talk more about picks, players, trading, etc… in a future part of the series but I don’t want to go too in depth just yet.
How your league operates is another important, sort of unheralded part of dynasty leagues. Not just scoring, although that’s another aspect that effects player value like we mentioned above. How your league handles the offseason is a big factor when it comes to team building. In my leagues, I like to have a set number of cuts at the end of every season, mostly because I got bored of having a rookie draft that was relevant for two only rounds. Situations like that make rookie picks slightly more valuable since you not only have the incoming NFL rookie class, but also the existing free agents from the end of the season, as well as a set number (in my case typically sixty) of ‘new’ free agents who at least one person in the league deemed worth rostering. The very first league that I played in (and still do) was sixteen teams with thirty players rostered and no mandatory drops until the start of the next season. This sort of setup means that third round picks have next to no value, but that in season trades have significantly more value. So you can see how different things can be from league to league just in that very small scale. Things like roster size and starting lineups matter as well because again it effects player value. Running backs will be worth significantly less when you only have to start one instead of two, or a promising rookie tight end not currently getting game time would be harder to keep on your team in a league with seven bench spots rather than fifteen for instance.
Team building is a bit less cut and dry than the above aspects since it depends very much on personal preference. There’s obviously no ‘right’ strategy when it comes to team building but as well as the usual Zero RB/Zero WR/Late Round QB/etc. that you might be used to from redraft leagues, you’ll also have to consider whether taking a ‘Win Now’, ‘Youth Heavy’ or balanced approach to constructing your ideal roster.
The three pieces of advice I tend to offer when asked:
1) Pick players you like.
2) Don’t rely on the rookie draft to fill gaps.
3) Don’t believe in hype.
Dynasty leagues need commitment, and from personal experience it’s so much harder to commit to a team where you have players you just don’t like that much. You want guys you can root for, and if you don’t believe in them then it’s easy to stop believing in your team. With the drafting for need point, this is something I rarely see turn out well. The prime example was watching Bishop Sankey get picked at 4th overall because the team had no other starting running backs. That sort of plays in to hype as well to be fair, but even guys who seem genuinely good in college have bust potential. There are no sure things.
The offseason always leads to a ton of players being hyped up too, whether it’s rookies or free agents or guys who were not that good the season before. Like the tip says… don’t trust it. Agents and personal coaches lie to get their guys paid. Media scouts don’t have time to evaluate every single player in sufficient depth (even if they want you to believe they do).
My advice? Do your own homework. You don’t have to know exactly what to look for, but if you watch tape of a guy and think ‘Eww that could’ve gone better…’ then it’s probably a red flag. If someone looks great on every play, then there’s a good chance they’re actually great. At the very least, take advice from multiple sources. No one analyst can be right all the time, so find a few that reflect how you think and cross reference their opinions. It’s a very basic way to scout but when you’re starting out – maybe only with one league – it’s a lot more efficient than doing no research and parroting what the mainstream media thinks about a player, or digging too deep and knowing every detail about every player then only getting to pick five from the full class.
I’ll leave it at that for now, there’s obviously so much more to say, but we’ll address those more in depth next time. If there’s anything in particular you’d like covered, or if you just feel like a chat, you can catch me on Twitter @TheStewDog