Delving into Dynasty Football: A Beginner’s guide and Strategy for First Fantasy Draft

Randall Cobb is not a big deal in fantasy football, but he is in dynasty drafts.

Ever since I’ve been following football, I have always struggled to stick with fantasy football once the regular season began. My problem with fantasy football has always been the lack of depth.

I do love football, but drafting a one or two players at each offensive skill position, a kicker and a defense then following their progress through the year never interested me. It was too basic. You get the best running back, you are often lucky opposed to skilled.

In order to reignite my enticement for the game, I recently delved into the world of dynasty fantasy football. Dynasty football fascinates me. Actually, it’s not really just the dynasty aspect, but also playing with extended rosters and in IDP leagues. PPRs too.

Essentially the deeper I get to dig into actual football, the more likely my interest is to stick. Therefore this year I have entered my first dynasty league.There really isn’t any major difference between fantasy football and dynasty league football. Presuming you have a working knowledge of the NFL itself, all you need to do is work out player values. Values against the scoring system and draft values.

The basic difference between approaching a fantasy draft and a dynasty draft is balancing the short and long-terms. In fantasy drafts a player like Randall Cobb likely won’t be drafted until late. In dynasty drafts he will jump to at least the middle rounds. While the inverse is also accurate for the elder statesmen of the league, however they don’t appear to drop that far in reality.

A perfect draft pick in dynasty football is a player who can not only help you win now, but continue to support your point totals into the future.

For my first dynasty league, I purposely chose an IDP league with relatively large roster requirements. Despite my preferences, the league wasn’t a PPR league but that didn’t actually alter my strategy significantly. With a deeper draft on tap, my focus wasn’t on the first few rounds. Instead I wanted to stockpile talent by controlling the middle rounds and having a well rounded roster. My strategy allowed me to do this.

Picking Ninth overall in a 12 team serpentine draft, I had traded my first round pick before even being on the clock. I traded my first and fifth round draft picks for a back-to-back second and third. In other words, I dropped 15th spots to jump 32. In the second round, Jimmy Graham’s value was too great to pass upon. Graham came off the board and none of my preferred running-backs were taken before my next pick, at the end of the second round.

Once you escape the top tier running backs in dynasty football, there is a certain plateau of available talent. Even though wide receiver was the position I considered the deepest, I took both Jordy Nelson and Brandon Marshall with my next two selections because of value. Once again I was on the clock in the third looking to trade down. I traded my third round pick and my sixth round pick for a fourth and a fifth with the same team I had previously swapped picks. Those picks gave me CJ Spiller and Michael Bush.

Before taking those players I had traded down again letting go of my second round pick, Jimmy Graham, and my fourth round pick, Roy Helu. For those two players and two rookie picks in 2013, I received two fifth round picks and two sixth round picks. I wanted to keep Graham, but saw the value in letting him go because I could get good value and potential at tight end in the middle rounds, while also adding picks.

With essentially just my first four picks, I had gone from:
Ryan Mathews.
Jimmy Graham.
Roy Helu.
Hakeem Nicks.

and instead acquired:
Jordy Nelson.
Brandon Marshall.
CJ Spiller.
Michael Bush.
Darren Sproles.
Jason Pierre-Paul.
Trent Cole.
Jason Babin.

Can Jason Babin and Trent Cole repeat their fantasy performances from last year and carry them into the future? I hope so.

Furthermore, I had turned late round picks into mid round picks as parts of those deals and other small trades.

It may seem puzzling to take three defensive ends in the top 10 rounds of a 30 round draft, however in JPP, Babin and Cole I have three players who can be the best at their position instantly and into the future. According to my own evaluations, defensive end was one of the shallower spots in the draft. When you are starting 16 players, depth is just as, if not more, important as star power.

At this point my strategy changed. I wanted to stockpile as many selections as possible through the middle rounds and began to move up in the draft. Multiple trades landed me three picks in the seventh round. With those picks I took rookie Robert Griffin III, running-back Isaac Redman(to cover Spiller/Bush early in this year) and tight end Fred Davis. Considering Davis finally has a proper quarterback, and I have that quarterback also, he should be a top 10 tight end in fantasy this year. He won’t be Jimmy Graham, but he should do enough to justify my trade.

Through nine rounds, my roster looked like:
Robert Griffin III
CJ Spiller.
Michael Bush.
Darren Sproles.
Isaac Redman
Jordy Nelson.
Brandon Marshall.
Fred Davis.
Jason Pierre-Paul.
Trent Cole.
Jason Babin.

At this point I had the flexibility to take players solely based on value. Randall Cobb, Daryl Washington and Emmanuel Sanders came over the next three rounds. Each player should have opportunities this year, while improving into the future and almost certainly being respectable starters.

In the 14th round I added a defensive back, Eric Berry, who I believe could be a superstar while most others were taking linebackers and skill position players. Linebacker depth appeared strong to me this year so I was willing to wait. After Berry I took my first short-term only option. Peyton Manning fell all the way to the 15th round. With Manning I had a potential star to cover any cracks in Griffin’s rookie season. Overall, that made me feel very comfortable with my outlook at quarterback.

This was the point when I became more willing to take risks. After taking Lawrence Timmons in the 17th round, I took a flier on Troy Polamalu despite his injury issues and age. Next came Jon Beason, another injury question mark, before I had three selections in one round as a result of my earlier transactions. Instead of three picks in the final three rounds, I managed to land seven picks from rounds 20 through 22 because fantasy owners don’t tend to consider gaps at this stage of the draft as overly important.

To me, the gaps were massively important.

Without giving up much of real value, I was able to take a top of the range kicker, Mason Crosby, a big sleeper(and cover for Jon Beason) Kelvin Sheppard as well as a quality backup tight end in Greg Olsen.

After those moves my starting lineup was full and my bench was burgeoning with talent.

With eight picks from rounds 21 through 27, my roster was set and I could cherry pick from the available sleepers. I may not have Mathews, Graham, Nicks or Helu, but I have top talent at the shallower positions in the draft with a very well balanced roster.

You can follow my first dynasty draft here.

You can follow me on twitter @Cianaf


About cianfahey91

Cian Fahey is a journalist for Irishcentral and the Guardian, as well as being previously published in various other media outlets.
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