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Dynasty Startup Draft Strategy Bonanza

Not sure which strategy to use in your startup drafts? We try out a few.

Elijah Moore

Take a look at these four starting lineups and pick your favorite…

Lineup #1

Lineup #2:

Lineup #3:

Lineup #4:

You might be able to use your lineup choice to determine just which dynasty startup strategy is right for you.

Each month, I host multiple dynasty startup mock drafts in order to curate our ADP data. In order to best monitor these drafts and keep them moving, I participate in each mock. Obviously, participating in all drafts gives me a small bit of “power” in how some players are valued. With that in mind, I strive to avoid drafting the same player in more than one draft, letting the remainder of the community ultimately decide the ADP and value of each player.

In this month’s drafts, I decided to try out some specific startup dynasty strategies and asked my Twitter followers for suggestions on what they wanted to see. I got some excellent ideas and ultimately tried four different methods for dynasty team-building through a startup draft.

The four suggestions I settled on were as follows:

I’ve written quite a bit about the strategy I coined as Productive Struggle. Find the first mention way back in 2014, with an updated look at the strategy last off-season as part of our Dynasty Draft Guide. In case you missed those, the basis of the Productive Struggle is being willing to tank, or give up, the first season of dynasty league with the goal of building a powerhouse filled with young, valuable assets.

When applying the Productive Struggle strategy, there should be no concern with winning in year one, though that does occasionally happen. Also, no need to sweat exact position requirements. Often, PS teams are built around the wide receiver position because that is the one with the best combination of high value and long career span. While youth is a focal point of this strategy, it’s not an exact rule. The real goal is to load up on players who are likely to gain value, hence the mid-round selections of Will Fuller and Curtis Samuel. While I don’t see these players as centerpieces of a future contender, I do expect each to gain value in the coming months, perhaps leading to trade opportunities. Typically, this strategy would also involve moving up and down the draft board and acquiring future rookie picks, via draft pick trades, but that is not an option in our mock drafts.

Next up, I tried a “win now” team. This was very different for me as it has been years since I went into a league with this goal in mind. While the team and resulting potential starting lineup are quite enticing, the future value drop would also be in the back of my mind. Of course, in a win-now build, the main goal is to construct a team that would be considered the favorite in the upcoming season. Not only are future years sacrificed via player age, but also by the willingness to trade upcoming rookie picks in order to create the strongest possible team in the moment.

In most of my team builds, I am uneasy about relying on early-round running backs due to their relatively short career span and fluctuating value. In a win now, short-term-focused structure, that is not nearly as important, which results in a running back heavy squad.

  • 1.07- AJ Brown, WR TEN
  • 2.06- Deebo Samuel, WR SF
  • 3.07- Chris Godwin, WR TB
  • 4.06- Calvin Ridley, WR ATL
  • 5.07- Chase Claypool, WR PIT
  • 6.06- Tyler Lockett, WR SEA
  • 7.07- Rondale Moore, WR ARI
  • 8.06- Robert Woods, WR LAR
  • 9.07- Van Jefferson, WR LAR
  • 10.06- Will Fuller, WR MIA
  • 11.07- Kenneth Gainwell, RB PHI
  • 12.06- Alexander Mattison, RB MIN
  • 13.07- Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR GB
  • 14.06- Cedrick Wilson, WR DAL
  • 15.07- Chris Evans, RB CIN
  • 16.06- Tim Patrick, WR DEN
  • 17.07- Brevin Jordan, TE HOU
  • 18.06- Quintez Cephus, WR DET
  • 19.07- Eno Benjamin, RB ARI
  • 20.06- Darius Slayton, WR NYG

In case you are not familiar with his Twitter persona, it is DLF’s very own Scott Connor who made this suggestion. Scott is one of the sharpest dynasty players I’ve ever come across so when he suggests something dynasty-related, I do it. I love that Scott is not a slave to any favorite player or team. He is excellent at reading the market and adjusting his team-building strategy to take advantage. In the moment, that means shifting back to wide receivers as the building blocks of a dynasty franchise, backfilling with running backs and essentially ignoring quarterbacks and tight ends.

For the record, I slightly mishandled Scott’s suggestion by mistake. I waited ten rounds, not twelve, before adding some running backs and selected a late-round tight end because, well… I forgot what strategy I was using. I think the gist of his suggestion still came through with the final product.

  • 1.10- CeeDee Lamb, WR DAL
  • 2.03- Javonte Williams, RB DEN
  • 3.10- Cam Akers, RB LAR
  • 4.03- Elijah Moore, WR NYJ
  • 5.10- Jerry Jeudy, WR DEN
  • 6.03- Justin Herbert, QB LAC
  • 7.10- Kadarius Toney, WR NYG
  • 8.03- Pat Freiermuth, TE PIT
  • 9.10- Justin Fields, QB CHI
  • 10.03- Josh Palmer, WR LAC
  • 11.10- Cole Kmet, TE CHI
  • 12.03- Irv Smith Jr, TE MIN
  • 13.10- Dyami Brown, WR WAS
  • 14.03- Trey Sermon, RB SF
  • 15.10- Jalen Reagor, WR PHI
  • 16.03- KJ Hamler, WR DEN
  • 17.10- Eno Benjamin, RB ARI
  • 18.03- Albert Okwuegbunam, TE DEN
  • 19.10- Larry Rountree, RB LAC
  • 20.03- Jordan Love, QB GB

Just before the 2021 NFL season began, longtime friend and high-stake fantasy football superstar Norm Cruz approached me about sharing his recent dynasty startup draft strategy through a guest article on DLF. I was excited about the chance for our readers (and myself) to learn from the highest grossing earnings leader in FFPC history. Soon after, Norm sent me the article and I was again amazed with some of the teams he had built using a fairly simple and straightforward strategy. Check out his article for more details on what he calls “All-22,” but the idea is to draft only players aged 22 years or younger.

The results of this may end up looking a lot like a Productive Struggle team, which is probably why I like it so much. Also, as Norm pointed out in his article, this strategy makes startup draft trades a must. Again, that wasn’t an option for me, which resulted in a few obvious reaches. Also, I cheated again. Since we do not yet have the upcoming rookie class as draft options, I added a year and selected only players who are 23 years old or under.

This goes without saying but there is no one “right” dynasty strategy. I suggest trying out multiple options and I think mock drafts are the best and safest way to do that. Find the team-building plan that works for you and have fun building a dynasty your way.

Ryan McDowell
Dynasty Startup Draft Strategy Bonanza
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trappy31
4 months ago

This line from the article pretty much sums up most of my dynasty teams: “I forgot what strategy I was using”

Charles Day
Reply to  trappy31
4 months ago

Sometimes it’s hard to stay on strategy when you see players you targeted beginning to go in a run. I plan to add two new startups this year with different strategies. One is a contrarian strategy. If my pick falls in the middle of a run on one position, choose the BPA at another position instead of grabbing at a lesser player out of fear of being short at the position having a run.

Ryan Coppinger
4 months ago

Love being able to see the teams with the different strategies side by each. So many times I feel like it’s abstract to compare X strategy to Y strategy, seeing the roster constructions for each strategy was cool!

Charles Day
4 months ago

I’m currently playing only superflex. One strategy I want to use to choose a start-up is a zero-RB strategy. Start with the two best young QBs available, then start picking up top/upside WRs and a top TE. Let RBs fall where they may. I have a team built this way a couple of years ago that now, after a blockbuster trade in last year’s draft (I gave up Russell Wilson, CEH, and my 2023 first round pick for picks that became Justin Fields, Ja’Marr Chase, Pat Friermuth, Nico Collins, and Khalil Herbert), looks like this:
QBs: Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Justin Fields
RBs: Michael Carter, Tony Pollard, Justin Jackson, Jeffery Wilson:
WRs: Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Diontae Johnson, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, Mecole Hardman, Nico Collins
TEs: T.J. Hockenson, and Pat Freiermuth.
I like that this is a young team with a lot of potential to improve with player growth.

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