The fantasy league draft is the most anticipated event for fantasy football enthusiasts. At the fingertips of each drafter are their targeted players, a hometown favorite, or a rival player playing for the arch-nemesis of their hometown team. It provides each owner any number of ways to construct their team and in a Dynasty format, the approach with which the team is constructed can take on many layers on whether to build a team ready to win in its first year or allow the team to mature and compete beginning in year two to three and onward.
Tools for the Draft
In anticipation of any Dynasty startup, I ensure my Dynasty rankings are up-to-date, and I’ve factored in how players finished at their respective positions the year before. In a piece I published last year, How Do I Rank Players I wrote about my method for rankings players and why you should have as much information at your disposal to provide clarity in determining where to rank players. Along with rankings, I also ensure I have the most recent average draft position (ADP) for Dynasty startups, if available.
The go-to source for FFPC ADP is Fantasy Mojo. They have historical data dating back to 2010 and cover the wide range of leagues FFPC offers, from redraft to Dynasty and even Dynasty Superflex leagues, and at different levels of pace, between slow and live drafts. I bump my rankings against the ADP data to provide me a general idea of where I see pockets developing in the draft indicating where the players chosen in that range don’t match up with where I value those players.
Once my rankings were updated, I awaited my draft position and the onset of trade negotiations that would ensue afterward…
The Anticipation Builds
Exactly one month to my draft date of May 5th came the anticipated email with my draft position of 6. The middle position has a couple of perks, such as being able to lock down a top-of-the-tier type of player at either the running back or wide receiver position and being in the thick of any positional runs that may occur during the draft. As with any Dynasty startup, the time between the determination of the draft order and draft date is a time for movement within the draft board. This should be the time to move up to either the first or second round if the plan is to solidify multiple top 24 talents on the roster or move back out of areas you feel a pocket exists where the ADP doesn’t justify the value.
In this particular draft, I only completed one trade in advance of draft day, and that was to acquire a 2019 1st Round pick for my 5.06 Startup. The price I paid was a little much. This trade was to serve as a message to fellow league mates that I am open to trading, and a trade doesn’t always have to go in my favor. What gets lost in most trades is that both teams should benefit from the trade and fulfill the direction of each team’s structure and roster construction.
In this trade, I wanted to acquire a 2019 1st, regardless of placement, begin to put the foundation pieces for a young team, and move out of an area I felt contained a pocket of players that may not meet the criteria of my team build. The team I traded with obtained a mid-5th round start up, which with over two weeks until the draft could provide some different possibilities. The NFL Draft had yet to occur, and free agents were still finding homes, so the range of outcomes for what the 5th round would look like was still wide open.
Saturday, May 5 had arrived, and 10:00 am ET was showing on the clock, so the picks were about to begin…
The Early Rounds
The snapshot of rounds 1 through 5 shows a similar trend to what we will see in 2018 redraft leagues, and that is a focus on the running back position early. Thirteen running backs were selected within the top 24 with tight end Travis Kelce sprinkled in among the skill positions. Just one year ago, nine running backs were selected within the top 24 with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce selected at 21st and 24th respectively. 2018 is proving to be the year of the running back resurgence in all fantasy formats.
If you still believe in a roster constructed around wide receiver there is immense value in rounds 2-4, so the wise play is to trade back. I did just that on day two of the draft when I completed a trade to move out of the 2nd round (2.07) and acquire another 3rd round pick (3.03) and move up three rounds from 10.07 to 7.03.
I traded away a 2019 3rd round pick as part of the deal. This secured my ability to obtain two wide receivers in Allen Robinson and Corey Davis, to add to Odell Beckham who fell to me at the 6th overall selection to start the draft. I was very pleased with the result and adding Brandin Cooks as my WR4 in the 4th round. This gave me a “Core 4” of players I could maintain for years and other pieces added would be moveable if needed. I wanted to build a strong group of players that could be as valuable in year three of the league as they are in the first.
Rounds 6-10 is where things typically get interesting in a startup. Quarterbacks start falling off draft boards, and a sense of an owner’s team construction becomes more transparent. This allows for the ability to shift players up and down your personal draft board depending on how other teams are selecting player around the time of selection.
The 7th round is where I had penciled in a tight end. When David Njoku was taken at 6.06 I felt I needed to take a player I value highly in O.J. Howard. Howard’s value on his own team may have become muddled with the re-signing of Cameron Brate, but that shouldn’t damper his longer-term value as a premier tight end option.
In the 7th round, where I owned two picks, I intended to select two running backs, but instead, I chose rookie wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Christian Kirk. I had intended to take my first running back at the 7.03 pick with Aaron Jones. Those plans changed when he was taken just one pick prior, so I went with the two young pass-catchers. Both of which are in an opportune position in 2019 if each team goes their separate ways with veteran players ahead of them on the depth chart.
I traded out of the 8th round (8.07) to move back a round and acquire a 2019 2nd round pick, which also included me moving back one pick from 9.06 to 9.07. (Disclaimer: There will not be a test on this later). The goal with this move was to target another young tight end, in either George Kittle or Mike Gesicki, but as shown in the draft board, those plans changed when both were taken before my two selections, so I settled on the number two options at their respective positions, neither of which were ideal players. My attempts to trade back were unsuccessful.
In this area of the draft, we start to see quarterbacks become the focus for many teams, including myself. Nine quarterbacks were taken within the first ten rounds. 11 were taken in this group of five rounds. I typically don’t draft more than one quarterback in a Dynasty league, but I couldn’t help myself and rostered three.
Marcus Mariota was the target for the entire draft and once Jameis Winston was taken, it wasn’t going to be long before Mariota was the next as they seemingly continue to be paired closely with one another whether it is in the 2015 NFL Draft or their average draft position in Dynasty leagues. At the time of this publication, Mariota was exactly one round (11.8) ahead of Winston (12.8) in startups, based on Fantasy Mojo.
I added another running back and tight end in Giovani Bernard and Austin Hooper. Bernard more to fill a position of need and Hooper to add the young tight end I was targeting in round nine.
Closing the Draft
Rounds 16-20 are the time to fill rosters positions left scarce in the prior rounds and targeting players with positional upside. My selections of Tre’Quan Smith and Chad Williams were my positional upside plays and Ameer Abdullah gave me my third running back, to go along with selections at the defense and kicker positions.
Selecting Ameer Abdullah at the 18.7 pick as my third running back gives an idea as to how my team was constructed. This was not the ideal result of how I wanted my team to look, as shown above, but with some of the players chosen just before me and how the draft played out, it pushed me into the direction of drafting nine wide receivers in total and only three running backs. I would have liked to have two more running backs, which could have resulted in two less wide receivers or quarterbacks, but this draft went in a direction I wasn’t expecting.
Drafting is similar to whitewater rafting, in that you don’t know exactly where the currents of the river will take you and rocks, both on the surface, and underneath become the driving force for the direction you are led. The other 11 teams drafting with you are those rocks and being able to move consistently and effectively during a draft are the key to constructing a team you will be happy with.
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