The year was 1978, and after winning 13 championships over 20 years, Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics just experienced a losing season. Making things worse, John Havlicek had previously announced he would retire at the end of the season. Going into the 1978 NBA Draft, Auerbach and the Celtics had a long way to go to rebuild their fallen dynasty. With the sixth pick in the draft, Auerbach made a wild gamble. Auerbach selected a junior out of Indiana State University. The prospect planned to not go to the NBA but to return to school for his senior season. That junior was Larry Bird, who would lead the Celtics back to greatness. It was then that the “devy league” was born.
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 players. College football is certainly the most common path to the NFL. However, some devy leagues may also allow for high school football players along with players in other professional 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 is defined as rosters being constant year over year, with an annual draft for incoming rookies. While a devy league will have annual drafts, once you have a devy player, they are automatically transferred to your roster. This excludes them from the annual draft.
Why Would You Want to Play in a Devy league?
There are many reasons to join a devy league. By far the number one reason is that you enjoy both the NFL and college football. In a devy league, you get to not only get a piece of the NFL action, but you also get to draft college players from your alma mater. Another reason to play in a devy league is that you are a master of seeing 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. By playing in a devy league you will have a leg up in all leagues, having valuable insights on which rookie classes to go all-in on and which to stay far away from.
How Can Devy Players Be Acquired?
This is dependent on your league, however, 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 many unique, and sometimes complicated, decisions. We will go over the different types of devy leagues later on.
How Many Devy Players Are Available?
This is completely based on the comfortability of the owners. If you are interested in devy leagues but are not very experienced, I suggest looking for a league that allows one devy per team per season. A league 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 important for fantasy players of all experience to have a full understanding of the league’s bylaws and complexities before joining the league.
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. You own some players before they become rookies, thus there will be an impact on the level of players available in the rookie draft. In deep devy leagues or ones where many devy players are owned, there is a significant impact. In shallow devy leagues or ones that allow only a few devy players, the impact on rookie classes will be much less noticeable.
How Does a Devy Player Impact the Rookie Draft?
This is considered the most significant difference between typical dynasty leagues and devy leagues. Since other owners in the league have a fairly good idea of who will be among the most valuable players in the upcoming drafts, this will “water down” the value of 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, Joe Burrow and Clyde Edwards-Helaire can be considered top rookie selections, and they were not on the radar of many devy leagues at this point last season.
Do Devys Affect Scoring?
In some leagues, they may, but in a basic devy league, they will not. They will likely be on what is 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 when on the taxi squad. The devy players will also likely be a placeholder, which means once you select a devy player, like Trevor Lawrence, the commissioner will place a created player on your roster which will be replaced with Trevor Lawrence once he decides to go pro.
Though there is another type of league called “campus to Canton, where an owner will have two separate teams, one NFL and one college football (CFB) both with rosters and scoring. In these leagues, players on your CFB rosters will automatically go to your NFL roster once they enter the league as well.
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 constantly updated rankings and year-round articles, DFF will be the only place you need to properly gauge the devy market and dominate your leagues.
How Can I Find a Devy League?
Devy leagues are becoming more and more popular. Now you can find leagues almost anywhere. The first place I would look is by going to Twitter and reaching out to the DFF team. We will quickly be able to 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, as well as be a resource for you in filling it.
Thank you for reading my article! This article also could not have been done without the help of my wife KD, who co-authored this article. 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.
Check out The DFF Devy Manual: Part 2