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Choosing the Right Direction for Your Dynasty Fantasy Football Roster

by Jason Kamlowsky | Featured Writer
Apr 20, 2020

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If you play fantasy football, the goal is to win a championship. Dynasty leagues offer a twist, though the fundamental premise remains the same. Roster construction in any format is the foundation of which a winning team is built and dynasty leagues present a unique challenge: Balance short-term success with long-term sustainability.

For most dynasty owners, committing to a rebuild is a difficult task as it requires time and patience. The rewards, however, can be massive and when done correctly, a monster team can be built. This piece will focus on the steps to rebuilding your dynasty roster and, hopefully, give you the tools to do it effectively.

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Identifying the Rebuild

When looking at your dynasty roster, some truth serum will go a long way. Are you built to win now? Are you hoarding youth and draft picks in an effort to win down the road? Are you one or two moves from being a competitor? Are you plodding along with no clear goal? If you can answer these questions honestly, you already have an advantage.

A lot of fantasy owners suffer from an inability to see their team as anything other than a contender. This leaves them no choice but to spin their wheels just to stay in the middle of the pack. They choose to make an effort to remain in contention despite overwhelming odds against them doing just that. Year after year they make short-sighted trades to improve a roster that is further away from winning a championship than teams that have already committed to tearing it down.

Which brings me to my first, and perhaps most important, point: Commit to a plan. Unless you are built to win now, rebuild your roster in an effort to win later. Remember that truth serum? Take a big dose of it and look at your league compared with your own team. Is your roster capable of outscoring your league mates at 65% of the time? Does your roster possess a combination of a week-winning ceiling and a week-saving floor?

If the answer to either of those is “No” it might be time to look at a rebuild.

What Type of Rebuild Is Best?

Rebuilding a dynasty team can be done in several different ways with roster construction being the driving force behind the decision. This strategy will likely force you to start from the ground up but it can be a profitable way to win long-term. If you choose the “scorched earth” approach, you must be willing to sell off any asset at the right price. No player is untouchable, no matter how valuable to you they might be. This means trading a player like Ezekiel Elliott for a couple of high rookie picks and Miles Sanders. This is an arbitrary example, but you get the idea.

A total rebuild also allows you to perpetually buy-low on players and exploit market inefficiencies. Take someone like Kenyan Drake, for instance. If you took the chance and bought in on him at the beginning of 2019, you likely got him for next to nothing. Same thing with Peyton Hillis in 2010 or Justin Forsett in 2014. You can capitalize on this unexpected success and turn them into future assets in the way of draft picks and youth through the trade market.

Hoarding Draft Picks and Churning Your Roster

In some ways, dynasty leagues mirror the NFL with regards to picks. The risk is just as high as projecting player productivity in the NFL is an inexact science for both real life and fantasy. The strategy that makes the most sense is to get as many bullets in the chamber as you can. The more rookie picks you have, the larger your margin of error. Given that rookie picks have a lot of variance, this theoretically gives you a better chance to hit on your picks. In this regard, it is good to be a hoarder. Obviously first-round picks are great but there is plenty of value to be found in the 2nd and 3rd rounds most years.

I have employed many of these strategies in both dynasty football and baseball leagues with a great degree of success. It requires that you stay on top of player performance which is where the investment side of this venture comes into play. The easiest way to stay engaged with your league when rebuilding is to search the waiver wire for diamonds in the rough. Churning through the back end of your roster is a good practice no matter what type of league you are in so don’t be hesitant to add and drop.

Taking the Difficult Step

So why is rebuilding in dynasty such a difficult step to take? For starters, tearing down a roster requires patience and a process-driven approach. No easy task given that most people by nature want everything now and are outcome-based. Another problem is owners can’t admit they drafted a bad team. Inherently we all want to think we are the smartest guy in the room and a rebuild is a signal that you might not be. So, in an effort to avoid that, owners chase down an illusion that their roster is a player or two away from being a contender.

This is what we call the eternal rebuild.

Teams that get stuck in this cycle are often just good enough to finish above .500 but nowhere near the top of the standings. There are a few guys like this in every league and if you can’t spot them within a year of playing, you probably are that guy.

Ultimately, how you view your dynasty team is your choice but remember: The goal of playing fantasy sports is to win championships. If you choose to go all-in on a rebuild, there is some risk involved but I would rather lose trying to get to the top than win trying to stay in the middle.

Import your team to My Playbook for instant Lineup & Trade advice >>

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Jason Kamlowsky is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @JasonKamlowsky.

Dynasty, Featured, Featured Link, NFL