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Dynasty Startup Draft Primer (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

Dynasty Startup Draft Primer (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

At some point, the natural progression of a fantasy baseball manager presents them with the option of joining a dynasty or keeper league.

Though the game is still the game, the yearly roster maintenance without being able to start over can keep some of the best players from diving in. The great thing about these formats is the different avenues you are presented with, from Minor League systems to trading picks if you are going all-in.

Dynasty Startup Draft Primer (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

The Difference Between Dynasty & Keeper Leagues

Before diving into the thick of dynasty leagues, let’s make a clear distinction between dynasty and keeper leagues. Most keeper leagues limit the players you keep, whereas a dynasty league is the majority. Keeper leagues can vary between one and 10 on the norm. Many keeper league formats can limit the terms of how long a player can be kept to attaching round value. Dynasty will differ, as you, for the most part, will keep your entire roster. Some keeper leagues will not include draft pick trading, whereas a Dynasty league is built around pick trading. Both formats can implement some form of Minor League system, but it is standard to have a Minor League system or Minor League roster of 10+ players in dynasty leagues.

Keeper leagues can be the entry point for redrafters to start the keeper process since many have more of a built-in yearly “start-over.” Dynasty leagues are for the fantasy player who is ready to dive into theory and strategy more than they have ever before.

So, let’s talk about some of the details that I believe work well in a dynasty fantasy baseball league.

Hitter Strategy

As a general rule, I value hitters a couple of notches over pitchers.

Just like any standard roto-build, I’m looking for a balance of power and speed. I give a slight advantage to higher bat skills in this format. I want a team full of higher batting averages and lower strikeouts. Power hitters, at worst, cover three categories: home runs, RBI and runs. So make sure not to fall short there. Stolen bases are the trickiest. I am looking to spend an early pick on higher stolen bases. Once I have one or two core stolen bases players, I am willing to take some “shots.” A prime example for me is Oneil Cruz. This is not the safest player, but the exact type of younger bat I want once I have put together my “core.”

Age becomes one of the biggest focal points in dynasty. You will see quite a few 30 or older hitters inside the top 25 of my personal dynasty ranks. The biggest decline we usually see with age is speed, but many can maintain the main three or four categories we need. Your dynasty build can be important to this, but I am very comfortable taking any player if I believe they can produce at a high level over the next three years. I put most of the ranks in a three-year window. This is why I still love Freddie Freeman despite his age.

Draft hitters early and often, take a break and then take more hitters at value later. Rinse and repeat.

Pitcher Strategy

I don’t like to say I “fade” pitching, but I do devalue pitching a bit in dynasty. This is a general statement, of course, as there are always some pitchers that are worth bucking the trend. Still, pitcher injuries are so much more prevalent. The most obvious is also the length of an injury. If your pitcher has Tommy John surgery, he’s pretty much done for two years. I loved Shane McClanahan so much this past year. If you lost him midway through the 2023 season, you just won’t see a normal version of him until 2025.

Now, your format just might not allow for pitchers to drop. Points leagues would be a prime example. I have also noticed that in 16-team or higher leagues, pitching is much more valuable. If I am looking to lower my risk, I would avoid previous arm injuries.

We all want strikeouts, but finding low-walk pitchers also lowers the blow-up factors. Prime examples of this would be George Kirby and Logan Webb. Assuming you don’t want to be fishing for pitchers, I might recommend taking two pitchers in the first eight rounds and then loading up on more hitting for the next three to four rounds before re-engaging on your rotation.

Closer Strategy

This is the position that will fall the farthest in your league. For all of the questions we can put on starting pitchers, there are even more for closers. The turnover rate is so high.

Look at Ryan Pressly. He seemed like such a good mid-round bet on a great Astros team. You would not have guessed that the Astros would even dip into the relief pitching market. Then, they sign the top-closer on the market and make Pressly irrelevant. You’ll find great deals if you are playing to win now, so just wait. Most other builds will continue to let the position fall.

The closers I would be the most interested in are those who are 25 to 28 years old and have established themselves for a year or two. This looks like Emmanuel Clase or Camilo Doval. I don’t often recommend planning for anything on the trade block, but this is one position that will be available in-season.

Teams that are further away from competing should focus on setup men to be future closers. He wasn’t a setup man, but Mason Miller is a great example of a pitcher with closer stuff that might be put into that role. There are also some obvious names that have closer ability, like Abner Uribe with the Brewers. It’s common for dynasty leagues to change saves into saves/holds. If your league does that, then you now have even more pitchers to choose from. Closers on bad teams become less valuable, whereas a setup man for a winning team will go much higher. Under a save/hold format, I would be even more comfortable letting closers slide.

Drafting Prospects

This is the trickiest one. What type of build you decide on will most likely impact how you draft prospects. Prospects make dynasty ranks so difficult. I have four prospects inside my top-25 dynasty ranks. If I am trying to win now, though, I am not considering them. If I am building a young future team, I want to ensure I get them and move them up.

The prospects that get the biggest boost have proximity on their side. These are players that most likely get considerable production that season. Jackson Chourio, Jackson Holliday, Wyatt Langford and Junior Caminero are obvious. Sometimes, the talent is so great, though, that even a player who is a year away has to be valued highly. Since I view the format in a three-year window, if a player could hit the Majors in year two or become a top-10 prospect in year three, the juice is worth the squeeze. This is the simple way I have always analyzed prospects and dynasty ranks.

If you are a win-now team, don’t consider prospects until you are at the bottom of your bench, if at all. However, if you are playing for the future, start paying attention to a top prospect list by the time you get to the top 150 overall players in your draft. Then you keep loading up on future talent.

I don’t like to view players only as “assets,” but regardless of the build, keep your eye on the highest-upside players that you can add to your roster. They might fix your team or allow you to make a move for a championship push.

More Fantasy Baseball Prospect Coverage

Types of Builds

I will now present three types of dynasty builds. The most important thing to hit home, though, is that dynasty builds cannot be simplified into three categories. There are variations of everything I will mention.

Win-now

I believe this should be your top priority in going into a fresh dynasty startup. The easiest part about this is your ability to follow redraft rank lists. You want to build the best team to win right out of the gate. The No. 1 reason behind this is because of how a dynasty league can fold. You would hate to invest in a team that is a few years away, and then when it’s finally time, half the league quits.

In a win-now strategy, I will prioritize pitchers more than I would normally. This is where I don’t let starters or closers fall too much. Older players tend to fall in dynasty leagues, so I would take advantage of good older bats and arms that fall in drafts. This is pretty simple:  Draft players that put you in the best position to win now. The format you play in could change this, be it a points league, head-2-head or roto, but the mantra stays the same:  Win-now.

The biggest problem with this strategy is making sure you are competitive in the future. If you trade your picks and top prospects yearly, you might be in for a rude awakening in a few seasons. Find a balance between trading for win-now pieces and allowing yourself a few shots in FYPD drafts to rebuild.

Also, don’t be afraid to dismantle the team for the future when the team has clearly lost its dominance.

Half & Half

This actually might be the most popular dynasty build. I call it half and half, as you focus on winning now while also being comfortable taking some younger prospects and maybe even top prospects to add to your roster.

This team might take Mookie Betts in the first, Austin Riley in the second and then Wyatt Langford in the third. It’s a question of whether Langford can help you immediately, but the view is a one to two-year window of being good. The idea is you want the best players for now and in the future. Knowing that older players will drop in a dynasty format, this type of drafter will feel comfortable that they stomach the early pick of a young player who might not produce right away with a productive older player whom managers are avoiding. Knowing that we are careful about pitching in dynasty, this strategy might take pitching a bit higher, but make sure these are young, upcoming arms.

The biggest problem this strategy faces is getting lost in a draft. You can start with good intentions to compete, and then when it’s done, you are three years away from being a top team. This can also become a default strategy for managers who don’t come into a dynasty league prepared.

Future Build

In this build, we just don’t care about year one. Most of the time, we also don’t care about year two. Some can go deep into this and go super young, but I believe you should focus on being competitive by the third year.

Here, we might prioritize the biggest up-and-coming names in drafts, even if they aren’t guaranteed to play this year. You can also look at this as a 25 or younger team. You mostly focus on hitters who have high-end potential and are 25 or younger. Pitching would be the lowest priority when drafting this team. I wouldn’t set a locked number of rounds that I wouldn’t take a pitcher, but I would ensure I have six to seven rounds of very strong bats before I looked at any pitchers. Closers would be off the table. I’d focus later on future closers. The biggest problem with this strategy is never getting out of the “rebuild” stage. Make a plan, and don’t be afraid to trade dead weight.

I dumbed this down to three strategies, but there is no set way to approach your dynasty league draft or build. These might represent a blueprint of where you start, but there is a multi-verse of options that might not be written here.

Be on the lookout for my dynasty ranks (which we will link here once they are live). Adjust to the advantages and disadvantages of your format. Lastly, just have a plan. Think about the ones I mentioned, and create your own hybrid. Dynasties have the fun factor. Hit on the right prospect for bragging rights forever. Be a dynasty and own your league from the beginning. Don’t be afraid to have some fun here because this is the team you’ll go to fantasy war with every year.

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Have any dynasty questions? Join up with the Premium FantasyPros Discord to get access to myself and our community. You can find me on Twitter/X @isitthewelsh.

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