Tips for Drafting a Dynasty Startup League (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
When the idea to join an upstart dynasty league comes along, there’s a thrilling moment of excitement that will overcome you. You need more than just your standard redraft league, so you put on your prospect hat and dive deep with other owners who have the same passion as you.
But then, as draft day nears, you start preparing and for a moment and think, “What the hell did I get myself into?” Starting a team from scratch is a daunting task. In a dynasty league, it’s even harder.
No matter the size of your league or the scoring that you use, you need to go in with a plan. I’m here to help you to prepare for your initial draft and tell you the two strategies that work along with one that is just a waste of time.
Go All In
Dynasty leagues are great, but let’s be honest — a major turn off (*major turnoff salute*) is the fear that the league will disband and the teams that went with a rebuilding approach (we will discuss this below) are left out in the cold. When you’re drafting to start your league, it’s not a bad idea to take an approach to win now. A lot of veterans come at a discount in first-year dynasty leagues, and those looking to chase the title in Year 1 and Year 2 can use this to their advantage.
Players like Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Buster Posey, Nelson Cruz, and similar-aged players aren’t as exciting for their long-term prospects as they once were, but they can help you win that title now. Sure, you might struggle a few years down the road, but flags fly forever, right?
For instance, in a recent 20-team startup that I’m in, Cruz went 150th overall. Compare that to his ADP of 94, and that’s a steal. In the same league, Robinson Cano was the 209th player off the board. Another value when you compare it to his No. 123 price in redraft leagues.
Go All Out
The problem with the strategy above — it’s the one that I took in the aforementioned league — you’re rounding out your team with players who aren’t really that impressive. Players like David Fletcher, Greg Allen, and Adam Frazier round out your team in deeper leagues.
Sometimes it’s worth it not to have to deal with the headaches of filling your roster with fodder and instead elect to waive the white flag for the first couple of seasons. That’s right. I’m talking about intentionally donating money to the pot for the first couple of years.
Building your team with prospects is a fun way to go about starting off your draft. There are typically at least two to three teams who take this approach in startup leagues.
There are a few ways that you can go about this strategy, too. You can aim for prospects who are Major League ready, have Major League experience, or don’t qualify as prospects anymore, but are young building blocks.
In the same aforementioned draft, a leaguemate, Julio, took this approach. Here’s how his first 10 rounds played out in the 20-team league.
- Vlad Guerrero Jr.
- Shohei Ohtani
- Wander Franco
- Bo Bichette
- Kyle Tucker
- Brent Honeywell
- Carter Kieboom
- Yordan Alvarez
- A.J. Puk
- Kristian Robinson
That’s a pretty impressive start to a draft. Outside of Franco and Robinson, all of his picks should be contributing in the big leagues at some point by 2020, with the majority of them helping this year.
While Julio won’t be contending for the title this year or next, he’s going to be very, very tough to beat in the four to five years that follow. That is, assuming, that his prospects meet their expectations.
Another way to go about this strategy is to draft nothing but high-upside prospects. Ignore those whose clocks have started already, and grab those who are still in the minors. This is a lot riskier and makes the rebuilding process even longer. I like the approach that Julio took more.
Either of these strategies can work. That is, of course, if the league hangs around.
Don’t Go In and Out
The one strategy that you shouldn’t do, no matter what, is have one foot in the water and one foot out of the water. If you are drafting someone like J.D. Martinez in the first round and you pair him with Wander Franco in Round 2, Corey Kluber in Round 3, and Alex Kirilloff in Round 4, you’re playing a losing player’s game.
If you can’t commit one way or the other, guess where you’re going to be stuck? Just like your strategy, in the middle.
You’ll constantly have sixth- or seventh-place finishes, but what good are those? You need to commit to finishing first or finishing last.
One of the hardest things in a dynasty league to do is deciding when it’s time to pull the trigger for a rebuild. It happens to everyone eventually. If you’re living in the middle for a few years, knowing you wasted those years not seriously contending or not building up your farm so that you can compete in the next year or two is going to be even more frustrating. Pick a lane and stay in it.
So, what happens if you have to fill your minor league roster and you’re looking to compete right away? Well, the approach you take in this situation is the one that I took in the league of reference.
I went with the win-now approach. In hindsight, I wish I took the alternative approach, but my full commitment was the important part!
What I did was set my focus on prospects who are either blue chippers (Eloy Jimenez in Round 2) or prospects who would get the call in 2019 for me. I ended up with guys like Dylan Cease, Chris Paddack, Josh James, Brandon Lowe, and Jonathan Loaisiga. You’re still in the “all-in” path, and you have young assets who can help push you over the edge in the next year or two.
Of course, toward the end of your draft, you are going to have to take players who aren’t going to help you right away, but those are C-level prospects at that point. Either go into the water with both feet, or enjoy the view from the beach. Don’t have one foot in and one foot out. Trust me, you’ll regret it.