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2023 Dynasty Draft Review - FFPC Dynasty Startup Drafts and Strategies

Joe Burrow - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News - icon rotoballer

Now that we are in the thick of the NFL offseason it also means dynasty startup season is upon us! As dynasty startups take place all across the fantasy landscape you are probably thinking about getting into one. If so, our friends at FFPC have the best dynasty leagues around - they offer standard, superflex and best ball dynasty formats. Drafts are available in Slow or Live formats, and range from $77 to $5,000 entry. All new sign-ups get $25 off!

It's important to know different builds depending on how your league mates draft, as well as what your league's format and scoring methods are so that you can adjust your strategy accordingly. For this article, we will be assuming it is for a 12-team, Superflex, Tight End Premium, PPR League.

The last thing you want to do is head into your league's startup draft unprepared. Having a bad startup in a dynasty league can set you back for years. It's important to know existing player values as well as to have your own personalized set of tiered rankings to maximize value in the startup with each pick. Keep Trade Cut is a website that has real up-to-date dynasty rankings based on current trades and drafts and can be a good barometer for you to know exactly how players are being currently valued in dynasty leagues. At RotoBaller, we have plenty of dynasty-related articles that can be found here, and there are various other websites you can go to as well.

Be sure to also check our other Week 14 fantasy football waiver wire pickups articles:

Most dynasty startup drafts tend to be slow drafts, so trading up as well as down can be used to your advantage if you know how to do it properly. I recently completed a 20-Round Dynasty Startup on FFPC and in this article, I will explain the thought process behind each pick, as well as how to effectively draft for value while keeping an eye on the rest of your league mates. Now let's dive in, shall we?

Featured Promo: Join an FFPC Dynasty league startup for standard, best ball or superflex formats. All new sign-ups get $25 off any FFPC contest! These leagues have year-round team management, trading, and are available in slow-draft or live-draft formats!

Sign Up Now!

 

Importance of a Tier-Based Drafting System

It's important to not only have your own ranking system of players in the startup draft but to have them broken down into tiers based on value and expected performance for the upcoming season. This is important because it helps you value players properly. What this means is breaking your overall rankings of players into tiers for overall rankings and positional rankings. You can do this based on age, projected performance for the upcoming season, projected performance over the next three seasons, or any combination. The key is to identify players who are a cut above their position and find the cornerstone players that you want to build your dynasty team around.

Tier-based drafting is the concept of grouping players who have similar fantasy values or similar projections for the upcoming season. In a dynasty draft, you always want to be aware of any value that is out there on the board, even if it is at a position that you may not need. The biggest mistake that dynasty managers make is being too worried about what their starting lineup will look like in September. Much like in an NFL Draft, the best GMs draft for value knowing they can always trade for need later. The same principles apply in a dynasty league.

Having a tier-based rankings system will keep you from panicking if there is a run on a certain position in the startup, as well as knowing when it might be time to trade up. With a tier-based ranking to fall back on, you can have relative peace of mind knowing that you will continue to play the board regardless of the current run on a position and be proactive versus reactive.

Here is an example of a tiered rankings system for a Superflex, TE Premium, Full PPR startup draft. Right now 8 players appear worth trading up for or taking with the first 8 picks in the draft.

  1. QB1 - Patrick Mahomes (Tier 1)
  2. QB2 - Josh Allen (Tier 1)
  3. QB3 - Jalen Hurts (Tier 1)
  4. QB4 - Joe Burrow (Tier 1)
  5. QB5 - Trevor Lawrence (Tier 2)
  6. QB6 - Justin Herbert (Tier 2)
  7. WR1 - Justin Jefferson (Tier 2)
  8. WR2 - Ja'Marr Chase (Tier 2)
  9. QB7 - Lamar Jackson (Tier 3)
  10. QB8 - Justin Fields (Tier 3)
  11. QB9 - Deshaun Watson (Tier 3)
  12. QB10 - Kyler Murray (Tier 3)
  13. QB11 - Dak Prescott (Tier 3)
  14. WR3 - CeeDee Lamb (Tier 3)
  15. RB1 - Bijan Robinson (Tier 3)
  16. TE1 - Kyle Pitts (Tier 3)

While some of the QBs are in Tier 2, they are included in the big board due to the scarcity of the QB position. Lamar Jackson could potentially hold out for the 2023 season and Kyler Murray is coming off a torn ACL. Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase are clearly above the other wide receivers given their age and production right now.

If you are picking at the 1.09, 1.10, 1.11, 1.12, and all of those 8 players listed above are gone, it would be better to trade back into the second round and pick up some more value. The reason for this is that the player you might draft at 2.05 might be very similar to the player you might take at 1.10. When you trade back you can always move up in later rounds or acquire future 2024 rookie draft picks. This will depend on how you have players ranked according to your tiers.

 

Let the Drafting Begin

It's important to know your league's settings before the draft begins. In this league, the starting lineups will consist of:

1 - QB
2 - RB
2 - WR
1 - TE
1 - Superflex
1 - Flex
1 - Kicker
1 - Defense
10 - Bench
3 - Injured Reserve

The draft order was constructed at random and the Football Gods have drawn me a tough draft slot. Picking from the 1.09 spot will be a challenge. We will likely miss out on one of the top-tiered quarterbacks and this draft does not feature a 3rd Round Reversal. Some Superflex startups use a 3rd Round Reversal, which entails the draft order flipping once the third round starts. If you pick 1.12 you would get 2.01, 3.01, 4.12, 5.01, etc. The team who picks at 1.01 would have the 2.12, 3.12, 4.01, etc. Since there is such early value in the quarterbacks some feel that this is the fairest way of doing a startup draft to help create more balance.

As the draft begins, quarterbacks begin flying off the board: Mahomes, Allen, Hurts, Burrow, Herbert, and Lawrence. All in a row. The next two picks are Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase. As you can see from the rankings above, there is a clear tier break after both wide receivers go off the board. If your board has players in the next tier ranked from 9 to 15 then trying to trade back is the best move. One popular way to do this is to move back in the current round but move up in later rounds. There is a pretty big drop-off in talent once you get to Rounds 7-8 or so. In a startup draft, you'll want to get as many top picks in the first 100 players or so as possible. You can also trade back to acquire future rookie picks as well.

It's best not to go into a startup draft with a set build or strategy in mind (Zero RB, Robust RB, Bully TE, etc.) What your league mates will do in the startup will have a pretty significant impact on who is available for you and how you should build your roster accordingly. With the first 4-5 picks in the startup, it is best to invest in younger, proven, talented players who likely won't see much of a decline in their dynasty value over the next few seasons.

Knowing that the early run on quarterbacks may have caused a panic, an offer is sent to the player at 2.01. We trade the 1.09 and our 2024 rookie second for 2.01 and a 2024 rookie first. They accept. Anytime you can pick up an extra 2024 first out of the gate that feels like a win! Having that extra pick in your back pocket gives you some extra flexibility going forward. 2024 firsts will likely only gain value over the next 12 months versus losing value. The next four picks are Justin Fields, C.J. Stroud (a bit of a surprise), Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson. We take Deshaun Watson at the 2.01 while also considering Dak Prescott. Being that we had Fields, Murray, Lamar, Watson, and Dak all in the same tier, it's a slam dunk that we still get a QB cornerstone to build around while picking up an extra 2024 first.

 

When to Draft a Running Back?

In this startup, FFPC has included all of the rookie running backs in it even though it is taking place before the NFL Draft! It's an interesting wrinkle and not one that is recommended for newer players, but you can get some incredible values on veteran players due to other league mates being hesitant to draft them not knowing how the NFL Draft is going to go. In fantasy, opportunity has always mattered more for running backs than talent (in most cases anyway). Outside of Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs (who appear more landing spot-proof), we don't want to gamble on any rookie running backs before the NFL Draft with early startup capital.

As mentioned above, running backs tend to depreciate the fastest of any position in a dynasty, so the optimal strategy is to make sure you are ready to compete right away if you spend early draft capital in a startup on a running back. One of the biggest mistakes that people make in dynasty leagues is wasting a running back's high-end production years while the rest of their roster isn't yet ready to compete. The best way to view running backs in dynasty is like buying a brand-new car. You will enjoy driving that new car, but you lose anywhere from 7-10 percent of its value the moment you drive it off the lot.

Ironically enough, we ended up with a Zero RB build in this one. What that involved was trading back, shoring up an elite QB and TE early while getting some younger WRs to build around. Our plan in the later rounds will be to load up on RBs with upside in the hopes of hitting on them.

Here is an early look at the Draft Board through the first 8 Rounds. Our Team is The Kingslayers (Game of Thrones reference). While it is a snake draft, each round on FFPC is listed from left to right, so the first pick on the left is the 1.01, the next row beneath that is the 2.01, etc.

FFPC Startup

 

Trades Involved and Player Selections

Here are the players that were chosen with each pick:

2.01 - Deshaun Watson (QB)
3.09 - Tee Higgins (WR)
4.04 - Mark Andrews (TE)
5.06 - D.J. Moore (WR)
7.08 - Jahan Dotson (WR)
7.09 - Derek Carr (QB)
9.07 - James Cook (RB)
9.09 - Alvin Kamara (RB)
10.04 - Miles Sanders (RB)
10.08 - Sam Howell (QB)
13.06 - Luke Musgrave (TE) *Rookie*
13.08 - Marvin Mims (WR) *Rookie*
13.09 - Antonio Gibson (RB)
16.04 - Zach Evans (RB) *Rookie*
16.06 - Alec Pierce (WR)
16.10 - Devin Singletary (RB)
17.09 - Leonard Fournette (RB)
18.04 - Noah Fant (TE)
19.09 - NY Jets (Defense)
20.04 - Riley Patterson (Kicker)

In this startup, the rest of the league was very aggressive in trading up and some of the offers became too good to pass up. As a result, we ended up with FIVE first-round picks for 2024! On FFPC, each team has rookie picks ranging from Round 1 to Round 7 for the following year and these picks are tradeable during the startup.

Here is an example of the trades that took place: (what we received is on the left side)

  • 2024 first + 2.01 for 1.09 + 2024 second
  • 2024 first + 5.08 + 6.05 for 2.04 + 8.04 + 2024 third
  • 2024 first + 5.06, 7.08, 9.07 for 5.09 + 6.04 + 6.05
  • 2024 first + 14.09 for 5.08 + 2024 fifth, sixth, seventh

While we did miss out on some of the top players during the startup, we did pick up plenty of value in Rounds 5-6 which we used to get more additional 2024 draft capital. The 2024 draft class is going to feature: QB Caleb Williams (USC), QB Drake Maye (UNC), WR Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State), and TE Brock Bowers (Georgia) to name a few and it is already considered to be more top-heavy and star-studded than the 2023 rookie class.

Here is a look at the draft board from Rounds 9 through 16:

 

Final Roster

QB - Deshaun Watson, Derek Carr, Sam Howell (FFPC caps each team at 3 QBs in the startup)
RB - James Cook, Alvin Kamara, Miles Sanders, Antonio Gibson, Devin Singletary, Zach Evans, Leonard Fournette
WR - Tee Higgins, D.J. Moore, Jahan Dotson, Alec Pierce, Marvin Mims
TE - Mark Andrews, Noah Fant, Luke Musgrave
K - Riley Patterson
DEF - New York Jets
2024 Rookie Draft Capital: 1st Round Picks x5

This team did not invest any early startup capital in the running back position and has some solid pieces in place at QB1, WR, and TE. The plan is to see how the season goes and use the additional 2024 draft capital for flexibility. Plenty of running backs were drafted as dice rolls depending on how the 2023 NFL Draft and offseason go. Alvin Kamara has a possible suspension looming, but if it is only 4 games in a PPR league he could still have plenty of value. If the team is not competing at the deadline we can still trade away some of the veteran running backs before they lose their value.

 

Conclusion

This team has a large degree of flexibility going forward. The plan is to compete in 2023 and make the playoffs, but the future picks are there as a failsafe in case it doesn't go as planned. If the running back room doesn't pan out, but the rest of the roster does then the 2024 draft capital is there to trade for a running back if needed before the league's trade deadline. While stud running backs are usually needed to win championships they are also the fastest-depreciating assets in dynasty, so when you are holding the high-valued ones you want to make sure you are in your competitive window.

Since this is a tight-end premium league (TE receptions are worth an additional 0.5), having Mark Andrews on the team is a large advantage. While we still aren't sure how the Lamar Jackson saga is going to work its way out, the Ravens added Todd Monken as their new offensive coordinator and the expectation is that they will be passing a lot more.

This team has plenty of depth at RB and 2 stud Top 15 WRs for the upcoming season. Deshaun Watson is expected to regain his old form after a full offseason under his belt and Sam Howell is the kind of dice roll that you want to make on a QB3. He has some sneaky good rushing upside and having him with Jahan Dotson could be an underrated stack for the upcoming season. All in all, I am very excited to have 5 first-round picks for 2024 and it feels like we drafted as competitive of a lineup for 2023 as we could with how much trading back was involved.

The only thing that could have gone differently was getting some younger, less proven, and even rookie running backs on the bench (since they tend to have a higher upside in a Zero RB build than vet RBs), but many of the top rookie running backs kept going off the board when we were trading back. Without knowing their landing spots in the NFL Draft it made it difficult to want to invest early startup capital in them.

If you have any additional comments or questions about startup strategies, please get at me on Twitter! Whatever happens with this team, it is going to be fun to see how it looks in 12 months as we approach the 2024 NFL Draft!

 

Dynasty Startup Leagues

FFPC is the industry leader in dynasty leagues, and offers standard, superflex and best ball dynasty leagues. FFPC dynasty leagues are full of active, competitive and committed owners, and not a single FFPC Dynasty league has yet to fold! These leagues have year-round team management and trading. Drafts are available in Slow or Live formats, and range from $77 to $5000. If you’re a dynasty player and you want a challenge, go no further.

 

 



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