A lot goes into building a successful dynasty franchise. It takes much more work than being successful in a redraft league. You have to do a lot more research and spend considerably more time on it. A dynasty league is a 12-month commitment. You research, plan, trade and even draft throughout the entire year. From identifying young talent to trading your stars before they lose value, managing a dynasty team is only for dedicated owners.
Balancing Young vs. Old
The most difficult thing about dynasty leagues may be figuring out how to find a balance between the young upside players and proven veterans. You have to make the tough decisions such as when the time is right to go with the 23-year-old running back who is about to get a heavy workload over the 29-year-old back who has been playing at a high level for the past seven years. You need the vets to win now, but you need youth to sustain success. The best example of this in the NFL is the Indianapolis Colts’ decision to part part ways with Peyton Manning, clearing the path to draft Andrew Luck. Indy made the wise choice and went with the young QB who will lead them for the next 15 years instead of sticking by their aging future Hall of Famer, even though he still had a 50-touchdown season in him and went to the Super Bowl with his new team the following year. Those decisions are what dynasty league football is all about. Just make sure you don’t abandon a star too early.
It’s a bit more difficult to decide exactly when to move on from an aging player. These following numbers are not written in stone, but here the approximate ages for when a player at each position may turn into someone who is “over the hill:”
Quarterbacks: 34; running backs: 29; wide receivers and tight ends: 31. Of course, moving on can be easier said than done, especially if you grow attached to player after he’s helped you win for years and years. Learn to take emotion out of the equation when constructing your roster.
Before you trade, you need to determine your team’s needs and what your franchise is trying to accomplish. If you’re in first place at midseason, but your team just lost a running back due to injury, trading away some of your future for a 28-year-old stud RB who can help you in the present is sensible. You should never pass up an opportunity to win a title. Conversely, if you’re clearly out of the playoff picture, you should be looking to move those aging stars while they are at their peak value to acquire some young, high-upside players.
In the offseason, when all is equal, that’s when things get interesting. The youngest players inherently carry a lot of value. However, the 24-to-27-year-old proven commodities will always hold the most value. They are in that sweet spot area as reliable Fantasy players with age still on their side. A promising rookie will very rarely have more value than a player who has been to three straight Pro Bowls prior to the age of 27. You want to exploit the owners who lean too heavily in either direction. Some people fall in love with upside, and you can take advantage of that by snagging their great veterans in return for players who have nothing more than potential. Some owners get starstruck and are constantly in win-now mode. You can force them to overpay for the big names and obtain an abundance of young talent. Always do everything in your power to sell high and buy low.
Determining Player Value
The best way to determine a young player’s value is to actually watch them. Watch college football and read the scouting reports. If you want to take it to the next level, break down some game film. Of course, breaking down film and knowing what you’re looking at is not as simple as it may sound. As a former scout, I can tell you there is a lot to look for. Still, you can watch a player and determine if you like him or not. Become familiar with the players surrounding him in his offense and his coaches’ tendencies. You can also utilize the SCOUT Fantasy staff. We can all be reached on the SCOUT Fantasy forums and on social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.
IDP vs. Skill-Position Value
When a dynasty league requires IDPs, it’s important to understand the value of defensive players relative to offensive players. You don’t want to disregard defensive players. At the same time, you don’t want to get carried away and draft the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the second round. You never want to trade a starting running back for a linebacker or anything crazy like that. Just be sure to have a full understanding of your league’s IDP scoring. There really is no universal format.
I’m a believer in filling out your starting lineup before adding depth. Fill out your offense first; just don’t go too deep before getting to the defense. A lot of owners do not value defensive players, so you can get real steals on IDPs. I don’t even hate trading my offensive depth for starters on defense. It’s important to remember that players on your bench don’t get you points, starters do. Like with everything else, use common sense. If you have four great RBs, don’t trade one away for a defensive back; you still want to get equal value or something close to it whenever possible. But if you have a solid backup with a slew of stars in front of him, he may be worth moving.
You will need to have patience when building your dynasty team. Do not give up on a player if he’s not a breakout star as a rookie. Many players take time to develop. Actually, the majority of players don’t begin to peak until their third or fourth season. They may have to work their way up the depth chart as a youngster or perhaps their game may needs refining. You see this often with young players who have issues with blocking. They have a ton of talent yet struggle to get snaps early in their career because they are a neophyte in pass protection or run blocking, which causes them to come off the field in many situations.
You also must be patient with those talent-laden players who have no choice but to bide their time behind an entrenched star. Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for three years before being given the starting job. Then you have a guy such as Drew Brees, who struggled so badly through his first three seasons that the San Diego Chargers used their first overall pick in 2004 to acquire Philip Rivers, who also sat for two seasons until Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints. There are plenty of examples like this, but the moral of the story is: Managing your dynasty roster takes patience. Be the owner who takes advantage of other impatient owners, not the one whose franchise is set back because you bailed on a superstar prematurely.