Let’s admit it. Fantasy football is addictive and dynasty football is just the next step in the cycle. It isn’t for everyone though because it does take a lot more time, dedication and effort than a normal re-draft league. There is also a fairly significant learning curve all new owners must go through and it isn’t easy. You need to adjust their way of thinking to include projecting talent and production, not just acquiring it. You also need to start balancing the short term and the long term. In order to help out the new or newer dynasty owners out there, I’m going to give you a few pieces of advice to hopefully help speed up the process and lead you towards the playoffs.
Know Your League Rules
Every league is a little different. They all have some unique little quirks, different starting lineups, different scoring and different deadlines. Your exact league rules could very easily change the evaluation of players and trades. In general, we here at DLF tend to look at standard PPR scoring with rewards pretty close to four points per passing touchdown and six points for other touchdowns. For yardage it is one point for 20 or 25 passing and one point for ten rushing or receiving. If your league has different scoring, it could definitely change our evaluations and rankings. Little rules such as bonuses for big plays or points for first downs can definitely change them as well. Make adjustments as needed. In addition to scoring, make sure you know your league’s rules on items such as taxi squad, injured reserve, and roster requirements.
Know If You Are Competing Or Rebuilding
In re-draft leagues, everyone has an equal chance to win each year and all the teams are going for the championship – that isn’t the case in dynasty leagues and thinking it is will kill your chances. The ugly truth is there are typically only a handful of teams with a true shot at the championship each year. The rest of the teams are either rebuilding with young talent or worse yet, in the middle ground where they think they are competing, but are really just pretenders. As a new owner, you need to look at your team with an objective eye and decide if you are a top team. If not, then you are rebuilding and will need a few years before being competitive. Competing teams don’t worry too much about age and instead focus on immediate production. Rebuilding teams sell off old veterans for potential. Teams that try to do both are destined to be stuck in that middle ground year after year. Figure out which one you are, make a plan and follow through with it.
Don’t Fall In Love With Certain Players
I often see this from new owners. They come into a dynasty league and pay an arm and a leg for a player who they really like, most often someone from their favorite team. You need to try to separate emotion and personal bias from your new dynasty team. It is always nice to like the players on your squad, but just because you like them doesn’t make you score more points. The flip side of this is when an owner immediately says someone isn’t available. Everyone has a price. It doesn’t matter if they are the top scorer at their position, your favorite player, or your neighbor growing up. Don’t close the door until you hear the offer. If someone is going to give you a good deal, take it.
Potential is one of the most overused words in all of dynasty football. How often have you talked with someone about a player and it comes up, usually in the context of “He has the potential to be a top five guy.” Here’s the thing. Potential doesn’t mean the same thing as production. There might be 20 different receivers with the potential to be a top five guy, but there are only five who actually are. Don’t be sold on potential alone. Just because someone has the potential to be a WR1 on your team doesn’t mean you should pay WR1 prices for them. Sure, there are players who are trending up and some who are trending down, but don’t pay for the best case scenario. Too many things can happen to prevent a player from reaching their full potential and then you simply overpaid.
Know The Value Of Draft Picks
This is a tricky one because the value of draft picks is constantly changing. They reach their peak value from the time that the NFL Draft occurs until you have your fantasy draft because people can attach players to the picks. They have a much lower value during the season when the draft class is in flux. Also realize that in general, future draft picks have less value than current draft picks. A 2014 second round is really worth the same as a 2013 late second or early third. The longer out the pick is, the less it is worth due to the wait. Another item you need to realize about draft picks is that they are question marks. They are a key currency in how you build your team and become a winner, but they are far from a sure investment. Be careful with them.
Do Your Homework
One of the biggest things that separates the winners and the losers in dynasty leagues is the amount of time people spend. I’m not saying you need to know the fifth receiver on every team. I’m talking more about staying on top of the latest news with injuries, depth chart changes and player progress. I’m also talking about knowing where to go to get questions answered (the DLF Forum is one great place), news updates and accurate depth charts. Before you do anything with a player, make sure you go look up the recent news on them. Don’t make the mistake of selling what you think is a backup a few hours after the starter went down with an ACL injury.
This might be one of the most difficult things to do and something that a lot of veteran dynasty owners also struggle with. When your star running back goes down with a knee injury, it is going to be difficult to overcome. Don’t make things worse by going out and selling them for pennies on the dollar as soon as the news breaks or going out and overpaying for another running back to replace them. Instead, take some time to let the news cycle work and until you know exactly what happened don’t do anything. Once you know exactly what you are dealing with, make a rational evaluation of how that changes things and adjust accordingly. Is paying top dollar for a replacement actually going to make your team better or is it best to just go with the next man up on your roster? Keep in mind that dynasty is a marathon, not a sprint.
Learn From Your Mistakes
You are going to make mistakes. That’s just the way it is. Make sure you learn from them. In one of my first years in a dynasty league, I traded a first round pick, a third round pick and Cedric Benson for Willie Parker after one of my running backs went down with an injury. I made several mistakes with that trade. First and foremost, I overacted. I also didn’t do my homework, understand the value of draft picks and let personal bias cloud my better judgment. Parker was the bigger name and better producer up to that point. He was also much older and had injury issues. The bottom line is I screwed up. At the time, Benson for Parker straight up would have been fair value. Including picks was crazy. I learned and moved on, though. Make sure you learn from your own mistakes as well.
Learn To Accept Friendly Advice
Like I said above, you’re going to make mistakes. Leaguemates might make comments about something or you might post it in the DLF Forum and get comments on it. Don’t get offended by the comments saying you screwed up. The very last thing you want to do is get defensive (especially with leaguemates) because it comes off very poorly. Most players want to be in competitive leagues. They are only speaking up because they saw something that could ruin that competitive balance. Listen to what they have to say. Ask about their viewpoints and try to take in a different perspective. They could be wrong, but they could help you learn more, too.
Activity doesn’t mean making lots of trades and having a completely different roster within two weeks. Activity means you are responding to trade offers and messages, participating in discussions and voting on polls. There are few things worse than sending out a trade offer to someone and not hearing a peep for days and days. If you need time to think, that is fine. Just let the other person know that so the dialogue continues instead of stagnating. In dynasty leagues, silence is definitely not golden. If you can’t check your email and respond at least every other day, even during the “off-season,” dynasty football might not be for you.
If you’re new to dynasty football, I hope your first year goes well. Hopefully these pieces of advice help you overcome the learning curve a little faster than most. If you’re a dynasty veteran, what other pieces of advice would you give the newbies?