A devy league is like being an investor and trying to find the perfect initial public offering (IPO) to invest in. These player assets are similar to investing in new companies that are just hitting the market. You can make a small investment in a player and see massive gains by the time they enter the NFL. On the flip side, you can make a rather large investment in a player who never ends up playing in the NFL. The type of league you choose is all based on how risk-averse you would like to be. Let’s look at how to find the perfect devy league and detail what to expect in each.
WHAT IS A “DEVY”?
“Devy” is an abbreviated version of saying a developmental player. A developmental player is technically any player that is not currently in the NFL. Typically these players are college football (CFB) athletes. CFB is the most common path to the NFL. However, some devy leagues may allow high school players and players in other professional football leagues such as the XFL or Canadian Football League.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DEVY LEAGUE AND A DYNASTY LEAGUE?
Devy leagues by nature are dynasty leagues. A dynasty league begins with a startup draft of the entire player pool; once you draft a player they can stay on your roster forever. What differentiates a devy league is the player pool expands to college players and any other players that fit into the devy cohort. Once you have a devy player, they are automatically transferred to your roster when they enter the NFL. This excludes other owners from drafting them in the annual draft.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO PLAY IN A DEVY LEAGUE?
Superflex dynasty leagues are taking over the dynasty community as the most popular startup setting. Devy leagues are the next evolution of fantasy football. In a devy league, you not only get a piece of the NFL action, but you also draft college players from your alma mater. Another reason to play in a devy league is that you are a master of seeing the long-term value and believe that you can build a true fantasy dynasty. Most importantly, you play in a devy league because you love playing fantasy and want another advantage over your peers.
HOW CAN DEVY PLAYERS BE ACQUIRED?
This is dependent on your league. The most common form of acquiring devy players is through a draft. Some leagues will have a separate draft with one exclusively for devy players. Others will have a single draft with one pool composed of NFL rookies and devy players. The formatting of the devy acquisition creates unique decisions. We will go over the different types of devy leagues later on.
HOW MANY DEVY PLAYERS ARE AVAILABLE?
This is based on the comfortability of the owners. If you are interested in devy leagues but inexperienced, I suggest looking for a shallow devy league. One that allows two devy players per season is a sweet spot for both beginners and advanced devy players. It gives you the option to invest heavily in prospects, or minimally, without the future ‘devy depleted rookie classes’ being too devalued after the inaugural season. There are also deeper devy leagues for more experienced dynasty players. It is crucial for fantasy players of all experience to understand the league’s bylaws and complexities before joining.
WHAT DOES “DEVY DEPLETED” MEAN?
In devy leagues, an owner may use the term ‘devy depleted’ to gauge the value of picks in rookie drafts. Some players are rostered before they become rookies lowering the number of high-caliber players available in rookie drafts. In deep devy leagues or ones where many devy players are owned, there is a significant impact. In shallow devy leagues, the impact on rookie classes will be much less noticeable.
For a more in-depth look at what a devy depleted class means we can use, for example, a 2020 draft that had a five-round combined rookie and devy draft, and this was the first year the league drafted devy. In this situation, the teams in the league drafted on average three devy players each in this draft. Therefore there are 36 players that would be considered rookie or devy players that are no longer available in the 2021 draft. As time goes on this will continue to compound. Thus in 2022, it is possible that the top 72 rookies are already rostered.
The continued lack of players that you can roster will create a clear divide between the savvy drafters and the not so savvy drafters. However, don’t let this scare you off from devy leagues; the best practice is to take devy rankings and superimpose the draft pick that would be used in valuing them. For the last few years, Trevor Lawrence has been rostered in devy leagues. However for valuing him, one could simply look at it as the 2021 1.01 pick in Superflex.
HOW DOES A DEVY PLAYER IMPACT THE ROOKIE DRAFT?
This is considered the most significant difference between dynasty leagues and devy leagues. Since other owners have a good idea of who will be among the most valuable players in the upcoming drafts, this will “water down” rookie draft picks. This does not mean that the rookie draft picks are worth nothing. NFL prospects will unexpectedly break out and become among the most valuable draft. This year, for instance, Trey Lance, Zach Wilson, and Javonte Williams can be considered top rookie selections not on the radar of many devy leagues at this point last season.
DO DEVY PLAYERS AFFECT SCORING?
In some leagues, they may, but in a devy league, they will not. They will likely be known as a “taxi squad” which is similar to an NFL’s practice squad. However, unlike practice squads, a devy player may not be signed to a different team on the taxi squad. These will be a placeholder, meaning once you draft a devy the commissioner will place a created player on your roster that will be replaced with the player.
WHERE CAN I FIND INFORMATION ON DEVY LEAGUES?
At DFF we provide year-round content to make you a master of the devy league. Between updated rankings and year-round articles, DFF will be the only place you need to properly gauge the devy market and dominate your leagues. But I’ve included my top 45 rankings to get you started!
HOW CAN I FIND A DEVY LEAGUE?
Devy leagues are becoming more and more popular and you can find these almost anywhere. The first place I would look is by going to Twitter and reaching out to the DFF team such as @DynastyDiagnos1 and @DocFFFN among many others!. We will quickly redirect you to either a new league being formed or an orphaned devy team. Another great place to check is online forums. They often have communities made to help new dynasty players find a league that suits their interests. However, if you have a specific format that interests you, don’t be afraid to start your own! Again, reach out to a DFF team member on Twitter. We will be sure to help you spread awareness of your league and be a resource for you in filling it.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEVY LEAGUES AND HOW CAN I FIND ONE THAT FITS ME?
TRADITIONAL DEVY LEAGUE
The traditional devy league will be your typical dynasty league with the addition of an annual devy draft separate from the rookie draft. This will be the most linear way for new devy players to get their feet wet, without being in danger of the “fantasy sharks”. The annual separated drafts will allow you to easily value the players at each section of the draft and make decisions based on your player valuations.
In a 12-team traditional devy league, there will be a two-round devy draft, with only current college players in the player pool. Then after the NFL draft, a separate four-round rookie draft will take place. Thus, each offseason will have 24 new devy players and 48 rookie players acquired in drafts.
CONVENTIONAL DEVY LEAGUE
The conventional devy league will be similar to the traditional. The difference being there is only one annual draft with the player pool composed of both NFL rookies and devy players. In this league, you will have to weigh the rookies and devy prospects against each other and pick on the spot. These leagues allow for a little more competitive strategy that can cause teams to be more polarized.
In a 12-team, conventional devy league four-round drafts take place after the NFL draft takes place. The player pool will include both rookies and devy players. You then decide the ratio at which you select active NFL rookies versus devy players within these 48 total players.
DEVY RIGHTS LEAGUE
The devy rights leagues will be very similar to the conventional. However, there will be only one annual draft with the player pool composed of both NFL rookies and devy players. You will have to use the additional “rights” to draft devy players.
Typically in this format, one or two devy rights will be awarded to each team, setting a clear limit to the number of devy players available in the league. In these leagues, you will need to weigh the benefits of using your rights on a devy player early to attain a top devy asset but missing out on the top rookie prospects. Compared to waiting until later in the draft where you can use the rights on a devy once the rookie talent pool starts to thin out.
CAMPUS TO CANTON LEAGUE
Otherwise referred to as C2C leagues, these will automatically place players from your CFB team roster on your NFL roster once they enter the NFL. There are many more complexities to be aware of, rather than just viewing the players as devy players. You also must consider how productive they will be at the college level, which requires a heavy dose of research.
You must have an idea of how strongly to value NFL players versus CFB players. These leagues will also have severely devy depleted drafts and drafts of the incoming freshman to college football.
KITCHEN SINK LEAGUE
They call it this because everything is being thrown at you but the kitchen sink. These leagues have separate drafts between rookie and devy. However, they are all auction-based rather than the typical snake draft.
Kitchen sink leagues require owners to be wary of all current bankrolls. Player values are tied to these bankrolls. If you time it correctly, you can get unbelievably valuable players at extreme discounts. On the flip side, if you fail, you may be paying massive premiums for players that will not hold much value.
The hybrid league is currently an exceedingly rare format but my personal favorite for devy beginners along with the most experienced fantasy players. In a hybrid, you will start with a three-round NFL startup auction. If there are 12 teams there will be 36 players included in the auction. Teams can try to buy top valued players like Patrick Mahomes and Christian McCaffrey or build a team of many mid-range value players. Then a one-round devy auction with an additional bankroll plus whatever is leftover from the NFL auction. The remainder of the draft is the typical snake draft format. This allows the owners to not be dependent on their team’s randomized draft order while adding a devy component that doesn’t depreciate the rookie pool too significantly.
Thank you for reading my article! This article also could not have been done without the help of my wife and co-author KD. If you enjoyed it, keep an eye out for my future articles. You can also follow me on Twitter @DynastyDiagnos1 and reach out with any questions, comments, or ideas you’d like me to explore for a new article.