Dynasty Fantasy Football Tips: Noob vs Expert Decisions

Addison Hayes

In case you didn’t know, DLF has a YouTube channel! We post FREE video content over there at least five days a week covering dynasty trades, strategy, and player analysis. For my videos specifically, I write out a script to basically read when I record, but I realized that script could be turned into written content for anyone who doesn’t want to watch YouTube to read too! So, without further ado, here is an “article-ized” version of one of my recent videos covering tips to become an expert dynasty player!

I don’t believe there is one specific point or event when playing dynasty where you can no longer label yourself a beginner and you’re just immediately an expert. Instead, I think it’s more about your ability to continually make smarter and smarter decisions every single year, and most importantly – learning from your mistakes. We all have our misses, this is fantasy football – no one is batting a thousand here. But those misses are okay as long as you learn from them so as not to make those mistakes again.

And that’s what this article is about today – mistakes I see new dynasty players make all the time (including myself) and how to not make those mistakes in the future.

Mistake #1: Beginners do not understand the importance of roster construction in dynasty

Subpoint #1:

There are two subpoints to this, and the first is building your team around running backs, which might be what a lot of beginners try to do as it’s what we’re told to do in our redraft leagues. Running backs are the most important position in fantasy football on a weekly basis, but in dynasty, they are perhaps the least valuable position entirely. In fact, I would go as far as to say your RB2 *should* be the weakest part of your roster.

Running backs have shorter NFL careers, shorter shelf lives in terms of peak production. They are the position most likely to get injured in fantasy football, and they are the position most likely to be replaced out of the blue as the NFL cycles through running backs like they’re just batteries in your smoke detectors (seriously, make sure you’re replacing those twice a year. Stay safe out there.)

Instead, you should be building your team around the wide receiver position. Receivers are very stable year-to-year, especially at the top, they have longer career arcs, longer shelf lives in terms of production, they are less likely to get injured, and overall just way better assets to hold onto year over year.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t care about running backs in dynasty, they are still important seasonally to help you win championships. But you just need to be more selective about which running backs you’re rostering and how you’re acquiring them. You might be more apt to go zero-RB in a dynasty startup, in fact, I would recommend it. It might feel weird to bypass Austin Ekeler in favor of DK Metcalf, but that’s the smarter move to make because Ekeler is about to be 28 and Metcalf is only 25.

The best way to acquire running backs is in your rookie draft. That’s where they’re the cheapest and also the youngest. If you’re able to build out a core of four-five good receivers, then you can spend your picks on those running backs and take as many shots as possible on starters that then turn into elite players.

Subpoint #2:

The second sub-point to roster construction is caring about your starting lineup during the off-season, especially in the first six-seven months of the year. Dynasty is a year-round game, so we are able to trade and make waiver moves and all that kind of stuff all year long. But we don’t set lineups in March, so why do you care what your starting lineup looks like in March? That leads you down so many wrong paths that can ruin your dynasty team.

Instead, your only goal in the off-season is acquiring as much value as possible, regardless of position. Don’t be afraid to trade away your RB1 for another WR1 just because you won’t have a starter – we can fix that later in the year. Don’t worry that your best tight end is Tyler Conklin and go make a bad trade out of desperation for a better tight end. It’s ok to assess your team and try to plug some gaps in your roster, but not at the expense of your team’s overall value because again, we can fix that problem later in the season with all of the value you acquired throughout the year.

Mistake #2: Drafting rookies based on need

We have a saying here at DLF which is, “draft for value, trade for need” and you can see how this goes hand-in-hand with not worrying about your starting lineup. The issue with drafting rookies based on need is you are actively passing on better prospects and better talent just to address a hole in your roster. That is never what you want to be doing in dynasty, especially in your rookie drafts.

A good example of this is actually what a lot of you might be considering this year if you have the 1.01. In every single league, Bijan Robinson should be the 1.01 because he is that good of a prospect and a generational talent. But, if you’re in a superflex league and you need a quarterback, you might be tempted to take Bryce Young or CJ Stroud ahead of Robinson because you need a quarterback.

No, don’t do that.

Expert dynasty players would be trying to trade back to 1.02 or 1.03 to take a Young or Stroud, or better yet, just trade out of the pick entirely for an elite quarterback. Yes, there are times when talent and need align when you’re on the clock, but if you find yourself rationalizing your draft pick by saying “I really need this position to fill a gap on my team”, no, that’s unwise and you’re playing dynasty like a beginner.

Mistake #3: Misusing trade calculators (and other tools)

Speaking of playing dynasty like a beginner, raise your hand if you have ever been sent a screenshot of a trade calculator during your trade talks with a league-mate, or maybe you yourself have sent that screenshot. Yeah… stop that.

See trade calculators can be great tools for dynasty players, especially beginners, but that’s all they are – a tool. They are no different than any other tool, app, chart, table, or anything that you use to get your edge. Trade calculators are no different. They are not gospel, they are not law, they should not be used as a 100% yes or 100% no on if you make a trade or not.

The biggest problem with trade calculators is there’s no consensus among the multitude of calculators out there in terms of how players are valued. Let me show you an example using one trade in a normal 12-team superflex league – Dameon Pierce and George Kittle for Tony Pollard and Dallas Goedert:

In our DLF trade analyzer, you can see this trade comes out in favor of the Pierce/Kittle side, by a difference equivalent to about the 1.12 or 2.01 missing from the Pollard side.

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From our friends at Dynasty Trade Calculator.com, this same trade comes out basically the complete opposite, in favor of the Pollard/Goedert side by the equivalent of the 2.03 missing from the Pierce side.

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But then, I know a lot of you out there probably use KeepTradeCut as a resource, their calculator has this trade as almost dead even, with a difference equivalent to just a measly Sammy Watkins.

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And that’s just those three dynasty calculators, there are many more out there that would have various opinions on this one trade. And I’m not saying any of them are right or wrong, they’re just tools trying to quantify how the people that work at those sites value all these players.

But if I’m being honest, the only person’s opinion of how a player should be valued is the person who has that player in your league. Every league is its own market, so if you’re trying to buy, I don’t know, DK Metcalf because someone like me told you to go buy him for one first, but the person in your league still wants two firsts, then that’s his price in your league. Calculators can only get you so far because, at the end of the day, they’re just a tool in your toolbox, just like everything else.

Mistake #4: Trading away all of your rookie picks

Honestly, out of all the mistakes you can make in dynasty, I think this is the WORST. So often, I see teams that are just completely dead in the water – they have a bunch of worthless veterans on their team that they thought would be productive. Any young players they do have are like Zach Wilson, Kyle Philips, and David Bell. And the worst part about their team is that they have no draft picks in the upcoming class and possibly next year’s class.

If there is anything I want you to take from this article, it’s this part right here:

There are only two ways to improve your roster in dynasty: trades and rookies. The reason why draft picks are so valuable is that they are THE ONLY ASSETS that are capable of doing both. They never lose value, they never get injured, and they don’t take up a roster spot – they are the most liquid assets in dynasty and it’s not even close.

What happens when you trade away all of your draft picks is you now lose all of your future flexibility and limit yourself to improving your roster JUST by trading the players you have on your team. And in doing so, you open yourself up to so much unforeseen risk you can’t even imagine would happen – players don’t produce well, players get traded, or even worse cut, players get hurt, suspensions, arrests. The NFL happens. Life! Happens! And limiting your roster to only one way to improve is like jumping out of a plane with only one parachute.

addison hayes
Dynasty Fantasy Football Tips: Noob vs Expert Decisions