Dynasty Roster Crafting - How to Build Your 1 QB Roster


Alright, you have been given the opportunity of a lifetime. One of your close friends, a family member or your favorite coworker has asked you to join a dynasty fantasy football league. We have all been there, and believe me, I know how hard it is to keep it together when you hear that magical question. That elation, while it never goes away completely, can be quickly replaced with the uncertainty that comes with the most important question in dynasty football. How do I go about creating my team in the first year? Hopefully in reading this, that question can be answered, and seem a little less daunting.


To me, a simple but necessary tactic is to learn as much about your league-mates as you can going into the draft. Maybe your league is 9 or 11 of your closest friends - well congrats you have been doing your research for the past 15 years. More than likely though, you are in a league where there are at least a few people you don’t know well, if at all. One of the most important nuggets that can come out of this research is what their favorite team is. The amount of “homer-ism” in fantasy football never ceases to amaze me. I have seen jabronis value players like Adrian Peterson, even after he was well into the twilight of his career, just because they were waxing nostalgic from five years prior. I have even seen value placed on Mitchell Trubisky for no other reason than he wore a Bear’s uniform. Knowing that, you can use that owners heart against them when making trades down the road. In regard to the question you are about to ask, the answer is yes. You should absolutely use someone’s heart against them whenever and wherever possible in fantasy football.


Now that you have done your due diligence, you can focus on the next step, what are the league rules? Far too often do people go into drafts with little to no understanding of what the rules actually are. With the vast array of “out of the box” scoring options that we see in all leagues these days, you are killing yourself if you don’t do this simple step. Let’s say you are in one of those leagues where tight ends get 1.5 points per reception. Well, all of a sudden, someone like Hunter Henry is more important in the flex spot than receivers like Tyler Boyd or Courtland Sutton. With that, you’d be wise to be a little more invested on tight ends in that draft. This is also a great time to see if your commissioner is going to be someone you can respect, or if they are someone that you should immediately begin trying to undermine and unseat. How do they handle rule challenges? What are the scoring settings and league rules? Are they a fan of your favorite team’s rival? The wrong answers to any of those questions could be enough justification to tell the league they best be looking for a new league member as you turn tail and run away from guaranteed frustration. There are few things more frustrating than drafting an amazing team and being set up for the next 3 – 5 years, only to have the league set up and run so poorly that it disbands a year or two in. Paying attention to how things are run from the top down is important, and can prevent heartbreak for you if you notice some of these things early. Remember this very true quote, “People leave leagues because of commissioners”. A quality and engaged commissioner can calm a lot of stormy seas should the winds pick up.

Ok baby birds, I’ll feed you. I know the whole reason to read this is, “How do I draft?” You draft for the future and the present. I know what you are thinking, "This is just another boring ass political answer made by someone who is too scared to take a stand." To that I say, "Whoa, let me explain myself, I am only a few sentences in." I have to assume that your league is set up with, at the very least, a separate dynasty pot where the funds continue to grow until someone wins at least back to back. That is the vantage point that I will continue writing from. I think the best way to draft your team is to be at your most relevant two to three years in and beyond. Winning the first two championships in the league is a great flex you can hold over everyone else, but that is about it. Sure, you win the pot, but it’s not like that sum of money is going to be appreciably different than a redraft league. Not to mention, if the league isn’t strong, that scenario can be its demise. I have seen leagues completely disband because someone won the first two championships and were poised to at least be in the conversation in the third year. Now you certainly do not owe it to your league mates to not be the most dominant force out there, but you do owe it to yourself to win as much money as you can. With that said that I find the most successful strategy is to target a position or subset of players in the startup draft. It is at this point that I will make a stand, and this is something I won’t budge on. There is only one way that a dynasty league should draft in the initial year and that is an auction format. Every owner should have a shot to draft every single player. You can’t subject a long term league like this to the luck of snake draft which can reward those who don’t know what they are doing and punish the less savvy drafter.


Is it important to be relevant in the first year? Not in my opinion. If you are in this league, you are in it for the long haul. So, to me, whatever annual payout there is for playoffs, while nice, doesn’t move the needle for me. Would I like to make playoffs? Sure. Am I questioning my squad if I miss the playoffs? As long as I didn’t spend 80% of my draft dollars on Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook and Kyle Pitts, then no, I am not questioning that at all. In fact, I am secretly happy because I have a better draft pick. Draft capital is so unbelievably important, and often underappreciated by other owners. I’ll dig into that a little bit more later.

What I like to do is to key in on one position to get some serious base strength going into the next few seasons. That could mean something like drafting Justin Jefferson, Jaylen Waddle and Cooper Kupp if you were doing a start up draft coming into 2021. We already knew that Jefferson was a stud and is so young, so you are set at WR1. Then you take a chance on a rookie like Waddle. I target Waddle, not just because we know what he turned out to be this year, but because he would likely be a top 12 draft pick in a rookie draft. He was cheaper than someone like Chase and DeVonta Smith in a start up. Then you go with a guy who has proven to be consistent each year he has been in the league like a Kupp. No way did we see the success he realized this year happening, but that is just a bonus for taking him. This strategy hopefully has you set for the next 7 years plus at WR and you likely didn’t have to absolutely break the bank to do it. Injuries are always a possibility, but you can sleep like a baby knowing you have that trio to start week in and week out if needed. From there, you have to decide which direction to go next.


Personally I look at getting either one stud running back or two mid level depending on what the draft board is looking like, and what money has been shelled out already. It is wise to nominate the high end players first, provided you aren’t looking to draft them, because you can see 2 or 3 owners have to sit on their hands in a hurry if they empty the bank on Derrick Henry coming into this season for example. You can set yourself up for failure, though, if your tandem ends up looking like Chris Carson and Mike Davis. You don’t necessarily need to go for a top 5 running back, but I like to look at a young top 15ish guy. Or two. I could be pretty content taking Swift and Gibson as my two backs. Another situation where neither guy is going to break the bank, but there is a ton of value there. Especially after guys like Henry, Cook, Barkley, Taylor and Kamara fly off the board with huge price tags.


Being that this is an auction draft, it doesn’t matter when you draft these guys, just that you stick to your plan. I have seen drafters have absolute melt downs when their plan goes sideways. You need to come into the draft with at least two backup plans. One thing I don’t waiver on, however, is the tight ends. I have to make sure I target a few of the top 5 tight ends. A guy like Kelce isn’t worth going after in this strategy because he is expensive and older as far as fantasy is concerned. Coming into this season, you could get guys like Mark Andrews and George Kittle for pennies on the dollar, which is pretty nice to pair with the trio of WR’s you have already.


At a certain point the draft, inevitably, completely switches to value rookie picks. Obviously you’ll track some average depth at the RB and WR positions, but I like to take a chance on as many under the radar rookies as I can. Elijah Mitchell, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Michael Carter and Rashod Bateman just to name a few examples of those under the radar rookies. All of those players named could have been drafted for less than $5 in an auction league start up draft before the start of 2021. While some of them didn’t pan out all season long, that doesn’t matter. You weren’t trying to dominate this year anyway. I would call you a liar if you had all of those pieces on your bench and you weren’t doing a little dance going into next season.

You probably thought I forgot about QBs. I didn’t, I just thought the position could wait a little bit to be discussed. They get enough attention anyway. My QB strategy is to target a very good older veteran, and Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady would be examples of that. After that I try to go for a younger possibly unproven QB. Kyler Murray, Justin Fields or Justin Herbert are all guys that would have gone in the $5 range likely coming into 2021.


Now that you’ve got all this depth, regardless of how proven it is, it is trade time. Looking at things through the lens of today, I have a few pieces I am looking to move. Andrews is coming off a phenomenal season, but I have Kittle and maybe another flyer like Freiermuth. I am looking to sell Andrews and get as much high draft capital as I can. If there is even the slightest chance that I can turn him into the next Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson via the draft, I am throwing that dart so hard. I would rather take the risk of Chase churning out 8 great seasons than sit on Andrews for potentially 3 more high level seasons. I would be looking to target a team that needs a QB too depending on what the draft class and what your league draft order is looking like. If a team thinks they are only a good QB away from the next level, this is the time to squeeze them for it. Given the season he had, I am looking to see what outrageous price I can get for Kupp. Obviously there’s no way he duplicates what he did, but if you can cash in on that, that is the definition of buy low sell high.


The last thing you can do is get emotionally attached to any of the players on your team. Your roster shouldn’t really look the same from year to year, and you cannot afford to sit on someone until their value goes away. Owners of Todd Gurley know this all too well. It is beyond the imagination that after his 2017 and 2018 seasons, he would be relegated to largely irrelevant two years later and out of the league three years later. This is where you need to appreciate the fact that he likely was a major part of the reason you won in 2017 or 2018, but you need to consider selling high. It is not a far fetched price to acquire multiple first round picks among other pieces for a guy who had 21 rushing touchdowns. Obviously, this is an extreme example and significant injuries are the catalyst for this fall, but it could happen to anyone. You are much better missing out on a season or two of good production, and replacing them (hopefully) with young talent, than you are sitting there holding the bag a year too late. Having to drop someone like Gurley to free agency is not a good feeling. If you are able to appreciate and accept that truly no one is off limits, you will set yourself apart from 70% of your league mates guaranteed. At that point you just need to be careful about flying too close to the sun and making too many trades. There is a delicate balance that must be observed, but you might need to get burned a time or two before you find it.

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