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Guide to Fantasy Football Leagues: Dynasty

Maybe you’re not like all the rest. Maybe you are the opposite of afraid of commitment. You are afraid of not committing. You want an ever-lasting bond, sealed in the church of football with the players on your fantasy team. Dynasty fantasy football is your kind of league.

In the most basic of definitions, a dynasty fantasy league allows you to keep your players for their entire career, if you choose. As with all types of leagues, rules may vary. The number of players you can hold onto every year can change, by position or overall. There are even more complicated versions of this type that include contracts (salary cap and/or years), but we’ll just go with the basic form in today’s post.

Where Do Baby Dynasty Teams Come from?

You have a starting line known as the startup draft. The startup draft is how you get your initial roster. I don’t want to put undue pressure on the situation, but you’re going to select players who could be on your roster for the next decade. If you drafted Drew Brees, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning in a 2005 dynasty startup, they could still be on your roster.

There are two other ways to acquire new players. There’s free agency and the rookie draft. The rookie draft is based on the previous season’s results and it’s the only way for you to get the newest guys in the league. What adds an additional element to dynasty is the ability to trade draft picks in future years. If you’re bullish on the class of 2016, start getting picks today.

That leads to an important distinction between a dynasty and a redraft. You are not drafting a snapshot of the player today. You are drafting what a player is and what he will be, trying to project 2015 and beyond. It’s really, really hard in the NFL to determine how long positions are, but based on past experience, you can get close. I’ll summarize the skill positions:

QB: These guys play for freaking ever. I’m in a dynasty league so old (how old is it?) that I took Matt Schaub when he was a rookie with the Falcons. We’ve seen some ups and downs from a promising backup to an expensive free agent who led the NFL in passing one year (yes, that actually happened) to today’s “boring, middling veteran” status. Get an elite QB and you can be set for a decade. Get a crappy one and you can’t get him off your roster fast enough.

Note that most leagues have you start one QB, so the position is deeper than ever and you can get a good one later. Note that a guy who seems locked in for the next decade or more like Andrew Luck’s going to go early, say the second or third round.

RB: Other than QBs, running backs touch the football the most. The difference between QBs and RBs is that RBs get tackled almost every time they touch the rock. Those hits add up, especially when you’re talking about 300+ carries and catches for multiple years.

Age isn’t the most important factor for a running back (see superman Fred Jackson), but it’s important to note that when a running back reaches the age of 28, stats start to slip. LaDainian Tomlinson, one of the greatest fantasy and real football players, slipped to “only” 1110 rushing yards in his age-29 season.

Leagues are becoming more flexible, so it’s important to note whether you can start one, two or three running backs when putting together your roster.

WR: These guys are the gems of your roster. You want to draft them early and often. The reason is wideouts last longer than running backs on your roster, and when they become elite, they stay elite longer. This year’s top five dynasty wideouts isn’t too different from last year’s, whereas running backs change all the time.

Compare LT to Jerry Rice. Starting in his age-29 year, Rice had three more 100+-catch seasons, nine more 1,000-yard+ seasons, and five more seasons of double-digit touchdowns in him. Don’t expect Calvin Johnson to put up a 1,000-yard season at age 40 like Rice, but he could be highly productive until his mid-30s.

In some dynasty leagues, you can start up to four wide receivers, which makes them even more valuable.

TE: Until the new breed of tight end who’s a giant slot receiver, most tight ends blocked first, and caught second. That’s why their careers are more in line with running backs. They take hits on every play, not just when they catch the football.

Antonio Gates is an outlier that you could have picked up for nothing in his rookie year. He scored 7+ touchdowns for nine consecutive years, and has been a TE1 for his entire career save two seasons.

Leagues are adjusting to the times, so you can start one or two tight ends in most. That means they are somewhat less valuable, but if you can get a guy like Jimmy Graham ’til retirement do you part, he’s worth a first-round selection.

There are leagues that include kickers, individual defensive players, and team defenses but we’ll pass on them for now. I’ll cover IDPs in a future article.

Before you consent to a dynasty league, try a mock out. The fabulous Ryan McDowell of Dynasty League Football does a series of mock startup drafts every month so people can practice and he can get some valuable ADP (average draft position) information. Here’s the team I drafted in early July (link to league):

1.02: Dez Bryant — Yeah, stud wideouts go that early.
2.11: Sammy Watkins — This draft included rookies.
3.02: Mike Evans — I like ‘em young and tall.
4.11: Bishop Sankey — I guess I’ll take a RB.
5.02: Kendall Wright — He catches all the passes.
6.11: Davante Adams — Here’s a guy who may not help me in year one but should be a cornerstone player.
7.02: Lamar Miller — Could be great, could make me cry in the shower.
8.11: Allen Robinson — I love this rookie WR class.
9.02: Stevan Ridley — He could be out of New England next year.
10.11: Charles Clay — Waiting on TE pays off.
11.02: Khiry Robinson — Here’s another long-term pick.
12.11: Jay Cutler — 31 years old but should start for another five years on Team Trestman.
13.02: Knile Davis — Take a chance on young backups.
14.11: Marquess Wilson — I’m not worried about the injury.
15.02: Stedman Bailey — The suspension made me sad.
16.11: Garrett Graham — Should be good for a year or two.
17.02: Latavius Murray — Another boom/bust pick.
18.11: Geno Smith — Super cheap, super young, could super suck.
19.02: Joe Flacco — So boring, but never misses games and may play until he’s 38.
20.11: Ryan Griffin — Young TE with “upside”.

Note that my strategy in that mock was to draft really young so the team might not compete in year one. The volume of WRs seems crazy, but all of the cool fantasy kids are doing it. In a best-case situation, I’m trading a WR or two for a stud RB down the road.

Here are a couple of resources for dynasty dominance:

DLF has a Dynasty 101 guide.

Ryan McDowell started a series on RotoWorld about Dynasty and here’s the first article.

About Zach Law

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