Everyone has one. Your favorite league. You know the one, the one you do just a little more research for than the others. The one that gets you completely stoked when you get the player you wanted in the draft. The one where you preen like a peacock to your friends for the entire year after you win the championship and take their money. You have one, right?
Of course you do, and so do I. Mine has a simple name, Dynasty Football League. It lacks creativity for sure, until you realize it was created 15 years ago when there were few dynasty leagues around and the name represented something different. Something deeper. I suppose we could have changed the name along the way but really, who gives a damn. I started this league with my friends back in 2002 when league software didn’t exist that could handle the needs of a dynasty league. I built our league system in Excel. I scraped weekly stats off of a website and built formulas to automate scoring. Sent weekly emails for the results. Kept historic win/loss and scoring records and managed buy-ins and payouts with checks in the mail. It was work but it was worth it, my favorite league.
Flash forward 15 years and it’s the summer of 2016, our rookie draft is right around the corner and it’s time to get my draft strategy in order. Honestly though, for me it’s just implementing the final piece of the strategy that began over a year ago when we finished the 2014 season, so indulge me a bit while I take you through the plan process. You see, much like Urban Meyer, I recognize there is a plan to win. To have a plan first you have to embrace the process, which involves three distinct elements when playing dynasty fantasy football; long-range planning, evaluating short-term strategic alternatives (trades, waivers, draft picks) and day-to-day tactics from training camp through the playoffs.
After every season I re-evaluate my long-range plans. When evaluating my team in the winter of 2015 two things struck me. First, I had a good team, a team that could win in the next two to three years. Second, the 2015 rookie draft had six low risk, high potential players in my opinion (Gurley, Cooper, Gordon, Parker, Yeldon and Abdullah, in that order) while the early read on the 2016 rookie draft was that it was shallow. I never rely heavily on “early reads” of drafts over a year away, but depending on the strength of your team you may trade on that information from time to time. I also recognized while my defense was excellent it was starting to age. So, the plan I devised was to sacrifice the top end of my 2016 draft to get in position to take a potentially elite player in 2015 and stock up on mid-to-low round 2016 picks to fortify my defense. Defenders typically produce faster than offensive players so if all goes well my 2016 and 2017 teams will be strong and deep on both sides of the ball. So now I had to execute the plan, which isn’t easy. Over a year’s time it’s easy to get off track or change the plan on a whim.
For the 2015 rookie draft I stood at pick 11 out of 12 since I lost in the championship game in 2014. I traded both my 2015 and 2016 first-rounder for the 2015 1.06 pick and a 2016 third. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that, I treat first round picks like Gollum treats my precious. With the pick I took Devante Parker, the best available at that spot. In the second round I picked Matt Jones, utilizing a similar strategy as the 2014 draft when I took Mike Evans/Devonta Freeman in the first and second rounds; high upside WR in the first, NFL ready but sleeper RB in the second. Going into the 2015 season I’m pretty excited. Since I had Marshawn Lynch I picked up Thomas Rawls off waivers as a handcuff and my team looked like this:
- QB: Cam Newton, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, Garoppolo
- RB: Lynch, Forsett, Devonta Freeman, JStew, Matt Jones, Thomas Rawls
- WR: Mike Evans, Jordy, Decker, Tavon Austin, Devante Parker, Jeff Janis, Mike Wallace, Jaelen Strong
- TE: Jimmy Graham, Will Tye, Clive Walford
- DT: Aaron Donald, Sen’Derrick Marks
- DE: Robert Quinn, JPP, Mario Williams, Kony Ealy
- LB: Pozlusny, Worrilow, Alonso, Jelani Jenkins, Keenan Robinson, Stephone Anthony
- CB: Josh Norman, Chris Harris, Kyle Fuller, Stephon Gilmore
- S: Reshad Jones, Eric Weddle, Cyprien, Will Hill
There are a few others including a kicker, it’s a 50 player roster including IDP though the rest of the players not mentioned were sleepers and deep sleepers. Not a bad team at all, I felt good about my chances. I finished first in points during the 2015 season, but limped into the playoffs with nine players on IR (Nelson, Forsett, Rawls, Graham, Marks, Quinn, Jordan Hicks, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Weddle), not to mention Marshawn Lynch’s injury. Nobody can predict that happening, it was by far the most players injured on my team in the 14 years I’d played in the league. It just wasn’t meant to be last year.
So now we’re into the winter of 2016, the fantasy season is over and I’m evaluating my squad for next year. Lynch is gone but I’m fortunate to have picked up Rawls. Cam Newton solidified his top 5 fantasy status for years to come. Freeman broke out and Parker/Jones played well enough to earn starting gigs and have potential leading into the season. Jordy Nelson coming back is huge. The offensive side looks pretty deep and it better be because I don’t have a first or second rounder, both having been traded to bulk up before last year. I do have three third-round picks and my fourth and two fifth rounders, giving me five total picks, the highest being pick 29. This year’s part of the plan is to focus on defense, picking up offensive potential where I see value here and there.
As winter has progressed to spring and into summer, I fortified my defensive draft strategy by churning the bottom end of my roster to gain mid and low round picks while maintaining the depth I’ve been so meticulously curating. Having picked up Bishop Sankey as an end of the season flyer on waivers, I traded him for pick 5.02. I gave up Leonard Hankerson for pick 5.03. Feeling that Paul Worrilow was about to be drafted over, I traded him for Brian Orakpo and pick 5.09. I gave up Jaelon Strong, Vernon Davis and Will Tye to receive Zach Ertz to fortify my TE situation since Graham is a risky play at this point. Finally, I moved Orakpo and Will Compton for a 4.05. Now I have three 3rd rounders, two 4th rounders and four 5th rounders. Nine picks total, none before the 29th pick. In the third through fifth rounds you can pick up some high potential defensive players and my plan is to go deep on linebackers while possibly fortifying my DE, DT or safety position. While also keeping an eye on decent offensive stash prospects.
So, that’s the plan and I’m sticking to it. I have high hopes for the next two seasons and if all goes well I’ll be preening like a peacock to my friends after winning the championship and taking their money. Everyone has one, this one is mine!