Welcome to dynasty diaries. In this series, I will give you an inside look at all of my teams, their history and my plans for the future. I’d like to provide some insight into struggles I’ve faced, and reveal weekly thoughts and feelings on anything and everything football. Join me as I succeed or crash and burn. If there is anything more you’d like to see or any questions you have, please let me know in the comments section.
I love the game of football. Always have, always will. But in comparison to most of the writers at DLF (and I’m sure a lot of the readers), I am a dynasty ‘noob’. After gaining interest in the concept in 2013 due to a summer of Twitter, NFL Game Pass and The Audible, I set up my first dynasty league (‘International Dynasty League’). Considering I’m a fan of the non-traditional (in all walks of life), I had to add something wacky and wild to my first league – a second quarterback spot. I’d dabbled in 2QB redraft, but didn’t play every season. But the idea of adding some intrigue and staying away from simple settings appeals to me. It means more research and more effort is required, and those who follow the fantasy status quo will be doomed. It worked a treat, as all sorts of strategies were on show and I couldn’t resist bringing the experience to DLF.
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In 2014, I wanted more. The Twitter community obliged. A 16-team, 0.5 PPR league with various Twitter friends? Bring it on. And last off-season, I really ramped it up – joining Ryan McDowell’s newest Kitchen Sink League (KS3) and Joshua Lake’s ‘Groundhog’s Dynasty’ in a dispersal draft.
These are my leagues, and I want to give you an inside scoop of what my teams look like and what goes on behind the scenes, as I believe this real-life insight is hard to replicate. It’s also a good way to keep myself accountable, and is a chance to share some experiences and hear some of yours. I’ll begin with a short intro to the four leagues:
- 12 teams
- 25 man rosters (+1IR)
- Start 11: 2QB/2RB/2WR/1TE/2Flex (1RB/WR, 1RB/WR/TE)/1K/1DST
- Non PPR
This was my first league, and is made up of friends from home, University and some mutual friends from America (hence the ‘International’ tag’). Highlight – drafting Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson in the startup draft. Lowlight – sending Keenan Allen, Lamar Miller and a second round pick for Arian Foster (a trade I’ve discussed before in ‘The Gift of Giving‘). The 2QB experience is certainly worth talking about, and changes the league dynamic drastically.
- 16 teams
- 20 man rosters (+2IR)
- Start 9: 1QB/2RB/3WR/1TE/2Flex (1RB/WR, 1RB/WR/TE)
- 0.5 PPR
Another one of the leagues I am commissioner of, this was formed through Twitter with some great people who were looking to join a fairly deep league. We rotated through a few different owners in the first two years (16 teams is a lot), but have only had one change since a four team dispersal draft last year. I will explain why I saw quarterback as very important in this league, and why I think 16-teamers are all about top-level talent over depth.
- 24 teams (2 leagues of 12)
- 30 man rosters (+8 Taxi, +5IR)
- Start 10: 1QB/1RB/1WR/1TE/1SFlex/5Flex
- 1 PPR (1.5 for TEs)
The Kitchen Sink leagues are a special breed. Complex and deep, Ryan McDowell has created one of the best experiences for any dynasty owner as he keeps things weird in his Kitchen Sink leagues. These have everything – super flexible lineups, devy players, contracts and toilet bowl playoffs. A ton of fun. I’ve ended up with a team that is extremely running back-heavy, and I love it. Why? Flexibility.
- 10 teams
- 27 man rosters
- Start 10: 2QB/2RBs/3WRs/1TE/2Flex
This was my first dispersal draft, and I approached it all wrong. What I learned from that experience was to work to maximize value when rebuilding – every asset has a price, so don’t sell them at below the price they should go for when your team value is already low. I built an old roster I thought could compete in year one, only to see it lose both games and value along the way. I’ve been working to trim down the fat, but it will require a lot of activity. Let’s see if we can rebuild this team.
Dear Diary – Random Ramblings
As well as some insight into my leagues, I also want to share things I’m thinking, advice I believe in and helpful articles I’ve read. This section is my chance to do so.
1. What are you looking for in week one? We’ve spent months preparing for this. In fact, when you’re a dynasty owner, you’ve probably been building a team for years to compete for a title. At this point, I’m not looking to make any last minute moves – let’s see some value shifts and work from there.
2. I set all of my lineups across all leagues (dynasty and redraft) on Thursdays, having evaluated matches and assumed full health for everyone in question. It’s an exercise in “what is my best lineup” and prevents panicky changes – the only time I tinker a lineup at the last minute is if a player doesn’t see the field. Simple but important note – never use a flex spot for the Thursday slate unless absolutely necessary (i.e. you’re starting a ton of players in that game).
3. Any tough decisions about starts/sits, I’m focusing more on the player than the matchup early in the season. Although we think we know which defenses are strong, we also know that things change a lot from year-to-year a lot for defenses, whereas most players ‘are who they are’. On this note, I’m starting Arian Foster over Jordan Matthews – I know Foster faces an extremely tough defense in Seattle, but it’s still Arian Foster and he will be the focal point of the offense. If he’s healthy enough to start, he plays. With the uncertainty over where Carson Wentz will go with the ball and how effective he will be, I’m not yet ready to start an inconsistent Matthews. If you have any tough decisions to make, be sure to post a question in our Lineup Advice page.
4. On Twitter, I pay more attention to the pre-game tweets (injury news) and the in-game reporting than the emotional tweet reactions. Flicking through the timeline during games offers an extremely instant and reactionary viewpoint of things – it’s best to let the dust settle before we go too crazy about any one player or play.
5. I certainly go through ups and downs when it comes to trade activity. Naturally around rookie draft time you’re assessing your players, picks and prospects for the upcoming season so things are busy. Some owners are extremely active all year round, but often trade activity comes in flurries. I think the early part of the season is a great time to shake things up. People react, overreact and underreact. There will be windows that open to acquire players who you wouldn’t usually be able to acquire. There will be chances to move players with big performances who you didn’t realize held so much value. Make sure you’re prepared to trade by reading two recent posts by Nick Whalen (‘Dynasty 101: Trading‘) and Mark Johnson (‘Trading Post‘).
6. There a few ‘last chance buys’ who I’ve been trying to snag everywhere this off-season, and former DLF-er Russell Clay recently highlighted a couple of them:
Re-drafters – Breshad Perriman and Josh Doctson need to be on all your benches in drafts you’re doing this week. Alfred Morris also.
— Russell Clay (@RussellJClay) September 5, 2016
Russell is talking redraft, but I feel that these two, in particular, may take a little longer to develop so you may have a week or so to make a move. If they show out this Sunday, it might be too late. Marcus Mariota and Melvin Gordon two others who I believe will see major price increases over the season.
7. On a similar note, it’s always worth strongly considering future value when determining a dynasty trade target. Seriously, sit down and think about it. Although the goal is production, think about the value – where will it be even if they produce? Where will it be if they don’t? I’ve invested in Demaryius Thomas this year in a redraft league this year, but even if he comes up with yet another 1,300 yard season is there any chance he ascends in dynasty value? It might be even more important than what you think a player will produce, because if he doesn’t produce he’s going down in value anyway. This is reflected in Ryan McDowell’s latest piece, ‘Projecting 2017 ADP‘. Ryan was able to correctly predict 18 of the top 24 players in this year’s ADP with his piece last year, and attempts to better that looking ahead to 2017. Ascending talents are key to building a dynasty.
8. In the piece, Ryan has a second round filled with young running backs. I’m really expecting there to be a resurgence at the running back position in the near future, and we might see it start this year, even ahead of the arrival of a formidable 2017 class. Firstly, I think the fall of running backs has partly been due to the overwhelming depth of talent at receiver compared to backs, not necessarily a devaluing of the position itself. There are simply so many good receivers. While this isn’t set to change any time soon, there is going to be an influx of extremely talented backs. In fact, I expect Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott to lead by example this year. There are also a ton of mid-range backs who I expect to over-perform this year (I see you, CJ Anderson). Watch out for the return of the back.
9. Finally, I’m very excited to see how some of the preseason stories play out in the regular season. I wrote about the main dynasty narratives that seemed to be talked about, but I certainly plan to revisit those so we can continue to better understand how to actually use the preseason to our advantage. One thing I do know is that these elite receivers won’t stop doing what they do. Welcome back, Dez Bryant.
Remember, the season is long and you have time to adapt. Whatever happens tomorrow, there will be time to assess all of your players, teams and situations. Next time, I’ll look at how I approach each league based on the league settings and setup. I’ll also report back on notes and observations from the games.
That’s it from me, but I’d love to hear from you. How many leagues are you in? Do you have a lot of variety? How do you approach trading at this time of year? What are you focusing on the most in the first few weeks?
If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments section.
As well as editing for DLF, James writes for Sky Sports and can be found on Twitter at @JS_Football