It doesn’t matter if you have played dynasty fantasy football for 25 years or you’re just getting your first dynasty start-up draft together for this summer. There is always something to learn. There is always some move to make. There is always value to be had, especially in the dynasty off-season. If you’re reading this article it’s because, like me, you are looking for ways to help you win your dynasty league for years to come. If you’re new to dynasty I recommend you read our very own Jennifer Smith’s guide for newbies here. I can’t guarantee your success, but what I can do is share with you three important things to remember as a dynasty team owner that can help you win the dynasty off-season.
For those who have been playing dynasty for a while, you know that the teams that win the dynasty off-season also very often win the post-season. If you take nothing else away from this article, just remember these three things: Knowledge Is Power; Movement Is Life; No Zero-Value Moves. We all have heard the cliché, “Knowledge Is Power,” and if you saw World War Z then “Movement Is Life” probably rings a bell. But “No Zero-Value Moves”? What does that mean, and what does any of it have to do with winning the dynasty off-season? Allow me to explain.
Knowledge Is Power
The Internet is a wonderful thing. It’s an endless fire hose from which we all can cram our craniums full of worthless fantasy football knowledge. However, if we don’t know how to properly apply said knowledge to our own unique league’s format then we’ve just wasted a lot of time drinking from a fire hose. Every single dynasty league is different. You need to be the owner who knows exactly how many taxi squad (where you store your rookies & young guys as they develop) spots there are this season, what starting lineup changes are happening this year, when free agency opens, how much budget you have to work with (if you have bidding and salary cap constraints), what your team needs are, what every other team’s needs are, and what you’re going to do about all of these things.
Let’s take my home league for example. Every year since we have started we have been expanding our rosters, starting lineups, and even our scoring system. We started with just 30 active roster spots, 5 Taxi, 5 Injured Reserve with starting lineups as follows: QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 Off Flex, 1 TE, 1 DL, 1 LB, 1 DB, 1 IDP Flex. Entering into our third season we’ll have 35 active roster spots, 10 Taxi, 10 Injured Reserve (that can include suspended players now) with starting lineups as follows: QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 2 Off Flex, 1 TE, 2 DL, 2 LB, 2 DB, 1 IDP Flex. Plus now our scoring system emphasizes big plays on the defensive side as well. That’s just after three seasons of expansion. A couple owners in our league didn’t pay much attention to the changes in the first few years, and they’re now sitting firmly at the bottom of the league without their 2016 first round picks.
Not only do you need to know your league, but you need to take a good hard look at your team and realize where you stand (I’m looking at you dynasty toilet bowl winners). That will completely define how you approach the dynasty off-season. You need to know if you’re a contender or pretender, and what you’re still missing to make your team into a dominating dynasty. Do you trade some aging guys away to rebuild? Do you load up on studs and lose a few picks to make a push for the championship? Do you trade away some guys to open up some spots for some young stashes in the upcoming rookie draft? All of those questions lead me to the next point.
Movement Is Life
I mentioned that a couple unfortunate owners in my home league are not only definitively terrible, but they’re without their first round picks this year. Well, one particular owner (let’s call him Smart Owner) in our league understood that movement is life in dynasty, and contributed to the dismantling of a couple teams in our league. He made a blockbuster trade with one of them (Lazy Owner, who is without a 1st this year) before week 1 of the 2014 season. It was Smart Owner’s Calvin Johnson (1.01 at the time) for Lazy Owner’s 2 future 1sts, 2nds, 3rds, and incoming rookie wide receiver Mike Evans. Needless to say in retrospect that was an absolutely horrible move for Lazy Owner. For him, that particular movement was death. However, after that trade, he didn’t make any moves to improve his team. He just sat there depressed, trying to win with Megatron and a bunch of waiver fodder guys. Smart Owner, however, didn’t stop there. He kept making blockbuster trades for two years straight until today. His roster now only has four of its original 30 members.
The core of Smart Owner’s team looks like this:
QB – Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Teddy Bridgewater
RB – Todd Gurley, Devonta Freeman, Adrian Peterson
WR – Odell Beckham Jr, DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, Jarvis Landry
TE – Travis Kelce, Clive Walford
The core of Lazy Owner’s team looks like this:
QB – Blake Bortles, Derek Carr
RB – DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles, C.J. Spiller
WR – Calvin Johnson (retiring), Tavon Austin, Ted Ginn Jr, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin
TE – Rob Gronkowski, Lance Kendricks
Take risks. Trade a guy who you believe to be nearing the end of his prime. Trade for late-round picks. Bundle them for 1sts. Don’t just sit there and watch your roster get old and useless. Sure, you can make those moves during the season, but make moves when your league mates are taking a break watching March Madness and their favorite baseball team’s spring training (who does that?!). Don’t just move to move though. That brings me to the third and final point to remember about the dynasty off-season.
No Zero-Value Moves
A Zero-Value Move is one that results in your team either remaining at the same competitive level or a lower one because of inept team management. What does that look like in practice? That looks like dropping a bench warmer in the off-season instead of trading him for the last pick in your rookie draft. It looks like trading a young stud that just finished 17th at their position for an aging vet who finished 12th. In order to know what a zero-value move truly is, you have to constantly educate yourself as to what that looks like.
You should definitely be following several different dynasty writers & contributors on Twitter, checking the dynasty sub-reddit, participating in mock drafts (rookie and start-up), and checking average draft position (ADP) data to help you gauge where every single one of your players’ value currently lies. Doing all of those things allow you to make smart high-value moves that make your dynasty team better every day.
You can quickly learn things like the fact that rookie picks are nearly impossible to attain at fair market price in between the NFL Combine & Draft. It’s most likely too late right now, unless you can get an owner like Lazy Owner and take advantage. You’ll learn that rookie pick values nearly always increase over time, so go get you some. After you have made several trades involving picks you’ll get better at gauging your league mates tendencies and values of picks & players at differing times throughout the year.
Value in dynasty is the key to success. Every player’s value is volatile. Your job as a dynasty owner in the off-season is to find the peaks and valleys in the value of players and picks every dynasty off-season and strike to take advantage so that you can truly build a dynasty that dominates for years to come.