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Intro To Dynasty Fantasy Football

josh allen fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

With the NFL Draft just around the corner and free agency in full swing, dynasty fantasy football managers everywhere are already analyzing their rosters and planning for next season. Yes, we are more than five months away from Week 1 of the 2023-2024 NFL campaign, but that is the beauty of playing dynasty: year-round fantasy football.

Dynasty leagues have been around for years, but they continue to increase in popularity as fantasy football as a whole reaches new heights. Unfortunately, it can take years of trial and error to determine the best strategies in dynasty formats as they differ greatly from standard redraft leagues. It can be a bit intimidating to get started knowing the multi-year commitment you are making.

Whether you have a dynasty startup draft scheduled, or you've never heard of dynasty before, I hope to provide an informative breakdown of what makes a dynasty league special and offer some ideas on how to approach one for the first time.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

What Is Dynasty Fantasy Football?

While there are many variations of dynasty leagues with different scoring settings and roster requirements, there is one fundamental characteristic that separates dynasty from redraft fantasy football. In dynasty, there is one initial startup draft in which managers build their teams for what should be many years to come, unlike in redraft where teams are "re-drafted" every season.

Keep in mind that trading is extremely prevalent and important in dynasty leagues, so there will be plenty of opportunities to mix up your roster if you so desire.

If you love drafting, don't worry. Dynasty leagues still hold a draft every offseason, but they are all comprised of only rookies in the years following the startup draft. This adds a whole new layer to fantasy football with rookie picks being available to trade throughout the season.

There are different ways to determine draft order, but most commonly, picks are assigned in the reverse order of the previous year's standings. For example, the last-place team would be awarded the first overall pick in the rookie draft.

Similar to the NFL Draft, dynasty rookie drafts are usually linear, as opposed to snake drafts that are popular in redraft leagues. This means that the last-place team would also hold the first pick of the second round, and every round thereafter. Rookie drafts are typically three to five rounds long and allow managers to replenish their rosters with incoming NFL talent.

 

Building A Dynasty

There are many approaches you can take when entering a startup draft, but ultimately, the strategy you choose to deploy should be based on your league's scoring and roster settings. In a superflex dynasty league in which you can start two quarterbacks every week, it becomes crucial to secure a top QB. Not only do quarterbacks offer the most consistent form of fantasy production, but they also represent dynasty assets that will retain value for a long period.

In a single-QB dynasty league, quarterbacks are still much more valuable than they are in standard redraft leagues, but wide receivers and young running backs will make up the majority of the early-round draft selections. As you can imagine, player age is one of the biggest determinants of value in dynasty and it's even more important at certain positions.

That being said, if you are interested in building a win-now team with no regard for the future, you can capitalize on the average draft position of players such as Derrick Henry and Davante Adams. Henry and Adams may be past their prime from a dynasty perspective but are still likely to post monstrous numbers next season.

Dynasty managers with tunnel vision for an immediate championship may even opt to trade future rookie draft capital for players that can help them on their title-chasing journey. Be careful, though, as trading away draft picks on an aging roster can leave you with very little to work with in just a few short years.

Another option is to load up on young players and acquire as many future rookie picks as possible to lay the foundation for a potential juggernaut down the line. It's common for dynasty managers with this strategy in mind to trade back multiple times during the startup draft, accumulating assets along the way.

Of course, a more balanced approach is also viable. There are many advantages to simply drafting players at value, mixing in some older veterans with some up-and-comers. This would give you the option to compete immediately without sacrificing your team's future. If your team doesn't produce as expected, you should be able to trade away your aging players that are scoring at a high level during the season and have a relatively clear path to a rebuild.

I mentioned that the addition of a superflex spot would push quarterbacks up the board in dynasty, but there are other roster and scoring settings to be aware of before your startup draft begins. First, consider the number of starters you will need to deploy on a weekly basis. Let's take a 12-team superflex dynasty league, for example, where each team will have eight starters.


This is a pretty standard format for redraft superflex leagues, but by dynasty standards, this is a rather shallow league. In this case, depth is not quite as important, so top-heavy teams such as the one pictured above are likely to find success.

When you add a third WR slot and a few flex spots, though, things start to get a bit more complicated. Depth becomes far more valuable, so maybe think twice before trading away multiple middle-round startup picks in exchange for one stud in a league with 11 or more starters.

In addition to unique roster settings, there are a plethora of scoring tweaks made in dynasty leagues that you may encounter. One of the most common is positional or tiered PPR, specifically for the tight end position. These formats are referred to as "tight end premium" leagues and award additional points for every reception made by your tight end. Such a league may tally a full point per reception for the running back and wide receiver positions but feature 1.5 or more points per reception for tight ends.

In a tight-end premium format, you can expect to see a few tight ends selected within the first four rounds, but be careful not to overestimate their value. Most leagues require you to only start one, and the vast majority of them are inconsistent for fantasy purposes. This isn't to say you shouldn't prioritize an elite tight end, especially if the league offers two points per reception to the position, but don't go out of your way to draft Kyle Pitts in the first round or a 33-year-old Travis Kelce ahead of a surefire QB1.

 

Positional Importance

As I previously alluded to, great quarterbacks tend to have a long shelf life in the NFL, as do wide receivers, so it's never a bad idea to draft younger players at these positions that could become cornerstone assets for your dynasty team. Even in superflex leagues, Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase have become so treasured that they are almost guaranteed to be selected in the first round of a dynasty startup. Given that they are both 23 years old with multiple top-12 fantasy finishes under their belts, it's hard to argue against this price.

There are a handful of running backs that can also be considered premier building blocks, such as incoming rookie Bijan Robinson. Still, it's no secret that running backs tend to age out of the NFL much faster than other positions. Workhorse backs with the ability to play on three downs represent an excellent source of fantasy production but are often injured due to the miles put on their legs and the frequency in which they take hits.

Even so, it's hard to pass on a running back with a complete skillset capable of putting up 30 fantasy points on any given Sunday. There aren't many of them, but they can prove to be well worth their hefty startup draft cost when in their prime. Just be wary of the danger you may put yourself in if you choose to build your team around multiple running backs.

Because many dynasty players are aware of the risk associated with running backs, you will occasionally see them fall down the board. For this reason, it can be wise to avoid drafting Jonathan Taylor and Breece Hall early and instead target players such as Nick Chubb and the aforementioned Derrick Henry later.

This should only be done on teams aiming to contend right away, but it's a great strategy when you consider the volatility of the position every year and the unpredictable nature of injuries. You'll just need to accept the fact that these older running backs may end up retiring while on your roster if none of your league mates are interested in trading for them in the twilight of their careers.

In leagues that don't offer tight-end premium scoring, the tight end position is valued similarly to how it is in redraft. There are a few difference-makers, but it's difficult to be confident in any of them outside of the top five or six. Having a positional advantage at tight end is great, but personally, I have a hard time drafting one within the first four rounds of a startup.

 

Conclusion

Dynasty can have a steep learning curve for newcomers who have only played in redraft leagues, but it's a venture well worth taking for anyone with a passion for fantasy football. It's incredibly fun and challenging and keeps players invested all year long. With so many feasible strategies to try and a seemingly endless amount of leagues in all shapes and sizes, you may be tempted to join another shortly after completing your first startup!

To reiterate a point I made earlier, it is absolutely imperative to understand your dynasty league. Being cognizant of all the small details that make your league unique can be the difference between knocking your first startup draft out of the park and setting yourself up for disaster. Don't forget, though, that you can fix almost any mistake you make in the draft if you're willing to put the work in by staying active and trading with your league mates.

Most importantly, have fun, and best of luck in all of your drafts this season!



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