It is never too early to start getting ready for fantasy football season. The NFL Draft is over and most of the free agents that will have an impact in fantasy scoring this season have found new homes. This is a fun time to draft a team or two and to try a new format. But before you jump into the deep end on a dynasty draft, if you have been a lifelong redraft or keeper league player, you need to practice.
Strategy Differences Between Dynasty and Redraft
One of my reasons for loving dynasty formats more and more are that unlike redraft, with a finite number of winning strategies, in dynasty there are many ways to build a winning team for now and in the future. Over the first five rounds, it is rare for me to draft a player over the age of 30. I also tend to stress the wide receiver more in the first round and the quarterback and tight end positions earlier than in a redraft league.
One part of my draft strategy that stays the same between dynasty and redraft that differs from the masses shows why they call me the “Fantasy Contrarian.” Instead of saying you need X number of RB or WR picks early, over my first five rounds of ANY draft, I pick the best player available regardless of position. If I am tossed up between a great RB and a great WR in the 3rd through 5th rounds, I will sometimes grab the weaker position on my team, but otherwise I take the best player available.
The best way to teach strategy is to show you a mock draft I am participating in and my thought process round by round.
Dynasty PPR Mock: Rounds 1-3
In this draft that included experts from several different fantasy football websites, I picked in the fourth place position. When I am mocking it up, I like to sample different spots in the draft lineup to see how a different position might change my overall team building strategy. Here we go…
There were no real surprises in the first three picks ahead of me, with Saquon, Zeke, and Kamara being picked. This is not only what I expected, but what I wanted to see happen. It’s not that I didn’t want any of those guys, but each comes with their own question mark more than the two players I expected to be on the board when I picked. I could either go RB with CMC or I could go WR with Hopkins. In this PPR format, CMC is the last of the 1st round worthy players at his position. While Hopkins is the best choice at WR again this year, in all formats, there isn’t as much of a drop-off in a PPR format. Figuring one of the elite players at WR would last until my pick at 2.09, I took CMC with my first round pick.
Unfortunately, there was a mini run on the receiver position and my top five guys all left the board by pick 2.05. The top TE Travis Kelce did go very early, as expected, at 2.03. There are another five or six players at RB that I started targeting once I saw JuJu leave the board at 2.05. The last of my 2nd round worthy players at the RB position left the board at the 2.08 position, one pick before mine! Should I reach for a WR or RB that I don’t think is worthy of 2nd round selection because I read the draft wrong?
There is never a need to settle for second-best in fantasy football, so at pick 2.09 I change my strategy for the first time and take the best dynasty QB choice, Patrick Mahomes. Now I am set at QB for the next 7-10 years easily! Hopefully I will start a mini run at the QB position and the second and third players at TE will probably depart the draft board before my next pick at 3.04. Never let yourself get dragged along in a strategy that is not working and, when possible, be the FIRST player to start a run at a new position.
While unfortunately a mini run didn’t happen at QB, we did see the second TE come off the board, with Zach Ertz going at 3.01. Any time I see a position go off the board that I do not want that early, it is time to celebrate. With each pick like that, the odds of one of my targets at WR falling to me increases. Allen, Diggs, Cooks and Hilton were the four players I had in mind at the WR position when I decided to take the plunge on Mahomes in the 2nd round. Remember, this is dynasty format. If this was a redraft, I would have probably gone with a 2nd RB or my first WR instead of Mahomes.
TY Hilton was the last of the elite second-tier players left at WR when my turn came to draft, so he was the easy choice. Hilton finished WR14 last season despite playing most of the year on a bum ankle. That toughness of producing through pain with limited options to take coverage heat off of him makes him a WR1 to own this year.
Summary After Three Rounds
While it was not by design, I ended the 3rd round with an elite player at each of the three major positions. Hilton is the oldest of those players, starting the year at 29, with CMC 23 years old and Mahomes 24 years old when the season starts. That is a good core to start the year with. The worst cases for each are QB3, RB5, and WR10 respectively, which is great value after three rounds in a dynasty format PPR league. Keeping with my usual method, I will write down my top three players at each position that I am likely to pick in the next round. Mack, Henry and Michel are three players at the RB position I hope fall to me at 4.09, while Green, Golladay, Woods, Godwin and Boyd are five players at the WR position I would like to see at my next pick. In my opinion, it would be too early to go for Kittle, with additional receiving options on the 49ers roster this year.
We will mock it up more when the next three rounds have been completed.