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Drafting ‘All-22’ in a $500 FFPC Dynasty Startup Draft

What happens when you employ a strategy of drafting players exclusively 22 or younger?

Jonathan Taylor

Editor’s note: This article is by Member Corner writer Norm Cruz. Please welcome Norm and provide constructive feedback in the comments section.

There is drafting young, and then there’s drafting ‘All-22’ young. In this article, I will examine what it looks like to draft a dynasty team exclusively of players 22 and younger in a 2021 $500 FFPC Superflex Best Ball Dynasty startup draft.

I am Norm Cruz, also known as Cavalier King Charles in the high stakes dynasty community. I am a long-time dynasty player and was the first in the FFPC to reach $100,000 in career gross dynasty earnings back in 2019.

Playing dynasty for me is a for-profit business, so I am always looking for the best way to draft a startup dynasty team for the most long-term gain. Like many, my goal in startups is to build a team that can stay young, avoid long rebuild scenarios and of course, win money. In 2021 (as it was in 2020), drafting a team exclusively of players 22 and younger may just be the best strategy of them all.

League Setup:

This league is a Superflex PPR dynasty league (TE premium) that starts 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 Superflex, and 2 regular flex positions. This is a Best Ball league, meaning you don’t have to set a lineup week to week as the software will automatically set your optimal lineup after each week is played.

Basic Plan:

The overall plan is to draft only 22-(or 21-)year-old players regardless of other players on the board with potentially higher perceived values. While it may be extremely tempting to take another older player who presents huge value at a particular draft pick, I’ve learned from past mistakes that staying disciplined and taking the appropriate 22-year-old is the best approach.

Why draft so young? In a nutshell, drafting players 22 and under gives the best chance for a team to peak in value and strength in year three while still maintaining dynasty values for several years after (so you can trade, rinse and repeat). The short-term goal (years one-three) is to dominate in year three while potentially winning a championship as early as year two.

The Draft:

Here is the draft board as it played out (through 18 rounds, look out for Cavalier King Charles):

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The chart can be confusing because it is a snake draft, but reads left to right for each round. For example, Derrick Henry was the 2.12 pick (not the 2.1). I started in the 1.1 slot and made several trades for better positioning and to pick up three 2022 first-rounders (for four total) along with an additional 2022 second-rounder.

Here is my team:

One way I like to evaluate my startup teams is projecting what they might have in year two in terms of startup value. Here, I project Swift to be a first in 2022, and Dobbins a second (or vice versa). I project Wilson to be a first-rounder (late) as well. I have Williams as a third. Sermon and Jones would be fourth-rounders, Waddle a fifth, and Bateman, Moore, and Love each an eighth.

I project the future first-rounders to be the 1.1, 1.3, 1.7, and 1.8 (startup value of a second, second, fifth and fifth). Based on these projections, the team in 2022 would have startup values equivalent to two first-rounders, three seconds, one third, two fourths, three fifths, and three eighths. That would be five players in the first two rounds, eight in the first four rounds, and fourteen players in the first eight rounds. These projections may be optimistic for some of the players, but others might outperform, and in any case, the huge potential is evident.

Still, just looking at the roster, it may be difficult to get a feel for how good this team really could be. To get a better sense, we can look at how similarly constructed All-22 teams in 2020 turned out in 2021.

2020 All-22 Startup Teams:

“2020 Team 1” is a team I drafted in a $500 FFPC Superflex Dynasty Best Ball in 2020. QB-2RB-2WR-TE-2 Flex (one of which may be QB). This team left the startup draft with five future first-rounders (including my own). Here are the notable players on that team as of May 2021 just after the rookie draft.

Estimated Finish: Favorite to win in 2021 (year two), heavy favorite to win in 2022 (year three)

Note that the drafting of Amari Cooper was a good example of why it is important to stay disciplined if you are employing this type of strategy. On the clock at the 4.12, I opted to draft the value veteran who was “too good” to pass up when the next 22 on my list would have been CeeDee Lamb whose ADP was another 6-12 picks away. I reasoned that I could trade Cooper for Lamb early in the season and maybe even pick up something extra. Wrong, and lesson learned.

This team is clearly a powerhouse with the help of having hit big on Jefferson and Claypool. This represents what may be the very high end of the results you can reasonably expect employing the All-22.

“2020 Team 2”, another $500 FFPC Superflex Dynasty Best Ball team that I drafted in 2020, represents what may be a more realistic expectation for this strategy. This team left the startup draft with six future first-rounders (including my own). Here are the notable players on that team (post rookie draft) in 2021.

Estimated Finish: Competitive in 2021 (year two), heavy favorite to win in 2022 (year three)

This team lacks the jackpots of Jefferson and Claypool that 2020 Team 1 had, and a number of the picks like Edwards-Helaire and Tagovailoa under-performed relative to my projections. And yet, I feel like this team is still a ridiculously good dynasty team by brute force of the strategy itself.

Part of the reason 2020 Team 2 may have lacked the big winners of 2020 Team 1 is that it started out with more 2021 firsts which limited the number of mid-draft lottery tickets I was able to draft. That extra first or two could have contributed to missing out on Jefferson and/or Gibson as an example. For 2021, I am thinking that three-five future first-rounders may be the sweet spot in the All-22 so that you still have enough maiden draft picks to take advantage of the current crop of 22s.

For a final comparison, “2020 Team 3” is a non-superflex team I drafted in a $250 FFPC Dynasty Best Ball employing the All-22. QB-2RB-2WR-TE-2Flx. This team had only three future firsts (including my own) coming out of the startup draft in 2020.

  • QB Justin Herbert (13.10)
  • RB Jonathan Taylor (2.3)
  • RB D’Andre Swift (3.2)
  • RB Antonio Gibson (8.3)
  • RB Travis Etienne (Rookie 1.3)
  • RB Javonte Williams (Rookie 1.4)
  • WR DK Metcalf (4.3)
  • WR CeeDee Lamb (5.7)
  • WR Justin Jefferson (5.10)
  • WR Tee Higgins (10.3)
  • WR Jaylen Waddle (Rookie 1.8)
  • WR Jalon Reagor (6.3)
  • WR Henry Ruggs (6.11)
  • TE Noah Fant (7.10)
  • TE Harrison Bryant (22.3)

Estimated Finish: Among the favorites to win in 2021 (year two), heavy favorite to win in 2022 (year three)

Who wouldn’t want a team that looked like this after year one?

All three of these 2020 comparison teams are primed to win, if not in year two, then in year three (and beyond). After year three, the vast majority of the players on these teams will be only 24! At that point, I would be looking to cycle some of the 24s back to 22s and future firsts to keep the team rolling indefinitely.

Comparing this year’s All-22 team to these 2020 teams, this year’s team is very similar in construction, start quality, and projected trajectory. Due to the quality of the 22s this year, I think the results from 2020 can absolutely be repeated in 2021. While the 2022 rookie draft is unlikely to yield as many home runs as the 2021 or 2020 drafts, I don’t think that will make an appreciable difference for purposes of this strategy. I should still be able to fill holes through the rookie draft next year and add a few more potentially elite players, which next year won’t seem fair to the rest of the league.

This is not to say that simply picking all 22 year-olds and acquiring a handful of future firsts in itself is some magic formula that will result in a powerhouse team. In addition to some luck, you will still need to position yourself throughout the startup draft, make the right adjustments, pick the right players, acquire the right firsts, make the right trades, and do all the things good dynasty players do to maximize their teams.

However, I believe that this is the strongest play this year and is incredibly fun regardless, whether or not the results are the same. Employing the same strategy in startups next year may be more difficult depending on the quality of next year’s 22-year-old player pool, but I’ll deal with next year when it comes. For this year, this is the strategy I’ll be employing all summer.

Drafting ‘All-22’ in a $500 FFPC Dynasty Startup Draft
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Stephen Paratore
1 year ago

Thanks for sharing, for sure this is a high risk, high reward start up plan. Good luck, sounds like you have done with with FFPC leagues.

BigDee
1 year ago

“HEY NORM” thanks for sharing this very interesting article. Very interesting indeed. I think I’ll try some mock drafting playing this strategy to see what I can come up with.
(I bet you never tire of the Norm thing)
Thanks again

Norman Cruz
Reply to  BigDee
1 year ago

Thanks, BigDee. I don’t tire of it, but I think you meant “NORM!”

BigDee
Reply to  Norman Cruz
1 year ago

LOL, I did

joseph kepple
1 year ago

Great article. Love the strategy. One question, do you think you should adjust your strategy for TEs? I know the idea is under 22 but not all positions are created equal and I might change the age to 24 for TEs and maybe even QBs. TEs take so long to figure out the nfl game and have a longer shelf life. QBs play forever too. Just my 2 cents

Norman Cruz
Reply to  joseph kepple
1 year ago

Thanks for the feedback.
I had the same exact thought last year, and I ended up drafting Dallas Goedert at 8.12 in one of the leagues I mentioned in the article. Goedert was young, but not 22-young, but I just didn’t have any confidence in the TEs last year. In hindsight, I would have been happy with Kmet late and used the Goedert pick on a higher upside rookie. This will depend year to year. This year, I think Freiermuth late is a good option. Kmet is still only 22, so he is a good option as well. You don’t need TE production for another year or two, so you can always trade for a TE later if need be.
Another factor on whether I’d be more inclined to bend the rules is whether I am playing best ball or a regular league. You can get by with a few decent cheap options in best ball, whereas you’d want something better in a regular league that you can start each week. In a non-best ball league, I might be more inclined to go ahead and lock up an older (but still young) TE (unless you are able to land Pitts).
As for QBs, there are plenty of great options this year in the rookie class, so no need to stray there.

Richard Fearn
1 year ago

Thanks for the article. I tried a modified approach like this in a startup league in 2015. My first 8 picks were all under 22 and all were WR, RB, TE. No QBs. In the 6 years since, I have won the league 3 years and was in the money 2. One year, injuries put me in the middle of the pack. I’m drafting as we speak, and I’ll go til at least through round 10 at age 23 or less

Randypage26
1 year ago

It’d be nice to see the trades for future picks seems like he always moves the first rounder for a haul the flips even more every year

Andrew Susott
1 year ago

Great article Norm, I believe a lot of the success will come with the trading of the draft picks to acquire additional 1st round draft picks for the subsequent year. Any advice here as to how you went about establishing the value of these picks and could you provide a few examples of your trades?

Norman Cruz
Reply to  Andrew Susott
1 year ago

Here are the trades I made to acquire the 1sts in this year’s $500 Superflex Startup:
1.01, 12.12 and 18.12 for 2.06, 6.06 and 2022 first
6.11 and 14.12 for 2022 first
6.12, 11.01 and 2022 third for 2022 first
16.12, 17.01 and 2022 first for 2022 first (pick swap)
I would say that in a Superflex League, a mid/late 6 or early 7 for a future “random first” is what players should shoot for.  I am happy to pay more if I think a pick will be better than average.  After a few rounds, I start to get a sense of where teams might finish and rank them accordingly. I update my initial team rankings throughout the startup draft.
One thing to keep in mind as you are trading for future firsts early in the startup draft is that by doing so, you are helping the very team that you are hoping will fail. You are giving that team, that is already looking to “win now” and probably drafting older vets, an extra 6 or 7 advantage on top of that. Accordingly, on average, the pick you are buying is not really a “random” first but more likely a worse than average first.

Norman Cruz
Reply to  Norman Cruz
1 year ago

It may be worth mentioning that the second and third trades above were made at or near the time I was on the clock for the 6.11 or 6.12, so I had an idea of what I might be getting.

Andrew Susott
Reply to  Norman Cruz
1 year ago

Great, thanks so much, very helpful.

Jonas Hürbin
1 year ago

Great read, I was so inspired, I am trying this approach right now in a startup, SF, Bestball draft.
Problem is with my first pick I already failed by choosing Herbert (23) 😀

I have added 3 First next year and a second, only skipped my 2nd round pick, moved up from 7 to 6 and added 2 10th and 1 15th round pick… Kept the rest of my picks or moved up/down within the same round…

Picked Herbert 1.05 and Trey Lance 3.05.

Norman Cruz
Reply to  Jonas Hürbin
1 year ago

That is an excellent start! Trey Lance at 3.05 in particular is great value.

Jonas Hürbin
Reply to  Norman Cruz
1 year ago

We are now in round 8, I added CEH (4.12), Zach Wilson (5.01) and Javonte Williams (6.08) and added 2 more 2nds in 2022.
And now having 7 upcoming picks in the next 34 picks…

Josh Krueger
1 year ago

Great article Norm! It looks like a big part of your strategy is getting the future first in the start up draft, how would you employ his strategy in an auction draft?

Norman Cruz
Reply to  Josh Krueger
1 year ago

Thanks, and excellent question. 

Future 1sts have always been a key to my starts (not just in this All-22 version).  I once started a $2,500 FFPC league with 10 future firsts and a $750 FFPC with 9.  However, I don’t think it’s all that necessary for the All-22, as long as you keep your own pick (likely a top 4 pick).  

I am currently drafting a $750 FFPC Best Ball Dynasty non-superflex and have only my own First.  We are currently in the 5th round and I have drafted the following:  2.1 Ja’marr Chase, 2.9 Travis Etienne, 3.2 Javonte Williams, 4.1 Tee Higgins, 4.11 Jaylen Waddle, 5.4  Jerry Jeudy.  If you believe, like I do, that the 2020 and 2021 drafts were abnormally strong, it may be an advantage to forego the additional firsts unless you get a good deal on them, and the teams you are buying look promising.

As for auction leagues, I haven’t had the opportunity to play one in many years (they are not offered in high stakes dynasty as far as I know), but I think it would be really interesting to employ the All-22 in one.  At least you can avoid getting sniped on the 22s you really want!

JAMES MCNAMAS
10 months ago

Hi Norm. Where can I find follow up articles about this league. Thanks

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