Dynasty Strategy: Winning Now (Fantasy Football)
A common misstep among dynasty fantasy football players, especially newer ones, is that they can’t see the forest for the trees. Part of the appeal of dynasty formats is the ability to nurture a team over several seasons by using your knowledge to acquire lesser-known rookies and potential breakouts before the rest of your league.
But like all fantasy leagues, your goal in a dynasty fantasy football league is simple: win. Sure, you need to and should be concerned with the overall long-term health of your franchise.
But many owners fall into the trap of continually targeting draft picks and rookies at the expense of their immediate needs. Often those owners spend years at the bottom of the standings, as they continuously search desperately for the next big thing.
Looking a few years down the road is critical to sustained success, but unless your roster is barren, don’t forget that your ultimate goal is to win and, if possible, win now. Many times, you can take advantage of other owners’ desire to look so far into the future that they neglect the upcoming season. So let’s look at some ways that dynasty owners can try to execute the very basic, but often ignored, strategy of winning now.
Draft for the present
If you’re just starting your dynasty league, your start-up draft is where you can take full advantage of the win-now strategy. For the most part, the first round or two of a dynasty start-up draft is similar to what you’d see in re-draft leagues. But after that, many owners start looking to young talents, and especially receivers, who should hold long-term value.
In a dynasty start-up draft, you can begin to deploy your “win-now” mentality in Round 2 or 3 by drafting running backs who should give you fairly high-end production, but who may not be able to help you down the road. After all, running backs have short shelf lives regardless, so most dynasty owners are not going to want to waste premium picks on veteran rushers. Then, in the middle rounds, rather than drafting for upside, stick with safer wide receivers who have higher floors in the upcoming season or two, but less long-term ceiling.
In the end, to put it as simply as possible, if you’re interested in winning now, you should approach your dynasty start-up draft like a re-draft league. While your opponents eschew veterans who are currently producing in favor of drafting young players with potential, you should be able to craft a powerhouse roster for the upcoming year and be in prime position to put yourself in contention for a championship.
Trade for high-floor players
As with your draft, you’ll notice that many owners are focused much more on the future than the present even during the season. The vast majority of teams in dynasty leagues are just not built to compete in the current season and are instead focused on how to set themselves up for future years.
Take advantage of the mentality by targeting high-floor players who may lack some of that exciting ceiling. In any given year, about a third of your opponents in a dynasty league are going to have no shot at legitimately competing right out of the gate. Rather than shooting for the stars, merely loading up your team with quality, high-floor players will give you an advantage over most of the field.
The best part is that many dynasty owners, because they’re usually thinking about the upside of younger players, are often more than willing to dish high-floor, low-ceiling players in exchange for potential. Fantasy owners generally, and dynasty owners specifically, almost always prefer the excitement of the unknown. Use that to your advantage!
Focus on depth
Because many dynasty league owners are looking to the future, they don’t have enough quality depth to survive significant injuries or the bye weeks. But because you’re playing to win now, you’ve made that a focal point of your strategy.
Unlike re-draft leagues, you don’t necessarily need to worry about maximizing your points every week. You just need to make sure the train keeps moving all season long.
While you’ll always want some upside on your bench, make it a point to have players who will get guaranteed touches each week. These players may be unexciting and lack long-term appeal, but having a deep bench is one of the critical ways to ensure that you compete in your current season.
None of this is rocket science. In the end, playing to win now in a dynasty football league only means playing it safer and more like a re-draft league.
Yes, you’ll always need to keep the long-term health of your franchise in mind, and you may even need to do a full rebuild eventually. But you’d be surprised how far you can go over the course of several seasons simply by focusing on the present.