and Ian Millman
Last Updated: Jul 14, 2010 7:30 PM
Fantasy Football University – Class III
Pre and Off-season Strategies for Keeper and Dynasty Leagues
The first thing to do in these types of leagues is to evaluate if your team is a contender, needs a few players to get there, or is a work in progress with several holes to fill. Once you figure out where you are you can figure out what you need to do and prioritize. For example, if you are a contender, you do not need to focus on rebuilding and long term planning. You can hold off on drafting younger guys, maybe even look to trade a few picks to move up and get another big contributor and forego some depth. Instead of rebuilding you are just looking for those last few holes you have that you need to fill.
If you are far from the top team in your league, you'll need to prepare to rebuild. Draft some more rookies or young players who have more potential upside, but may take time. You can grab some solid rookie RBs who are behind veterans this year, but could be the starter in a year or 2 (think MJD, Ray Rice, Shonn Greene).
So the first key to planning your strategy is to analyze and assess where you are now, and then formulate a plan to improve. You'll also need to figure out who to keep and who to let go.
How to Decide Who to Keep
In Dynasty Leagues you retain your entire roster for the next season, while in Keeper Leagues you hold just a select few. Those decisions will hinge on the strength of your team and the age of your players. Education may be wasted on the young, but fantasy football value is not. Simply stated, if you perceive that two players have equal value, always choose the younger one. Try to add youth and pull the plug on aging superstars.
Ladainian Tomlinson comes to mind as a player to let go after he dipped to just 3.8 yards per carry in 2008. He turns 30 in June, and rookie Ryan Mathews is now being handed the keys to the Chargers' backfield with Tomlinson heading to the Jets in a backup role behind Shonn Greene. Mathews and Greene are guys that should be chased in Dynasty and Keeper Leagues, while Tomlinson should have been shopped last year. Tomlinson is fine to add as a depth option during the season though or certainly if you have Greene, you'll want to handcuff him.
Teams that are rebuilding in this format are advised to stock up on some younger players who could break out, while contending teams with a strong core are best-suited to add quality veteran depth to solidify their club and get prepared for the long stretch of the season. The key point is that you want to keep players who are still on the way up and have plenty of mileage left on their treads.
Good starting quarterbacks are easier to find, namely since there are more to go around with most leagues starting just one. As a rule of thumb, don't keep a quarterback at the expense of a good running back or receiver (we're talking in a Keeper league where you only keep 3-6 players or so). Stud running backs generally receive a higher premium than stud receivers, so opt for the runner if you have a stud at each position and can only hold one. With Quarterbacks, unless you have one of the elite 3 or 4 QBs, you generally do not want to waste one of your valuable keeper slots on them. You will get a starting QB in your draft.
You should also try to upgrade at your thinnest position without weakening an already strong one. This point brings us to trading.
Trading For Draft Picks
The way you go about trading should also depend on where your team is, success-wise. If a fantasy owner is very strong at running back with excellent depth, then it is a good idea to trade a quality runner to fill a void at another position, like quarterback or receiver. Draft picks can also be gold, if you can land a hot rookie with stud potential, like the aforementioned Ryan Mathews.
In keeper leagues, I always have more strong talent then I can legally hold, so I try to trade some of those gems for draft picks, as the alternative of flat-out losing those excess players to free agency is not a good one. I usually am willing to overpay to get a deal done, and am always looking to “trade up”. Meaning, I'm happy to give up 2 quality players for a stud. The 2 players combine for much more points than any 1 player, but I am looking to build the strongest STARTERS, so getting a stud and sacrificing a little depth is what I am almost always willing to do.
If I can't find another stud for 1 of my spots, I am fine trading for additional draft picks, you take what you can get. But the best advice to follow is to constantly build depth during the season via the waiver wire, and then use that depth to trade up for better players by offering multiple lesser-talented guys.
The key to building a Dynasty in your Fantasy Football league is to always stay active trying to improve your team. In the off season and pre season, try to unload your aging stars before they show signs that are obvious to everyone, and lean towards younger guys who are on good offenses or good teams to be your future.
I do have one other point to leave you with if this is your first year drafting a Dynasty or Keeper League…
We haven't figured out a way to incorporate a Dynasty variable into our formulas to project them differently in the C3. We also don't put out 2 sets of projections as it's just too tough, plus in reality we are projecting what we think someone could do THIS year, so it would be the same projections.
We DO have a set of Dynasty Rankings on the site, but we put them out very early in the off season (April or May) to help guys in keeper leagues. However, we don't update them nearly as often as the C3 projections, or Main Rankings on the site so don't expect to see a separate Dynasty or Keeper Cheatsheet.
The truth is any league I draft in I draft to win THIS year, so I really don't "over" play the youth aspect even in a Dynasty league if I am starting a new team. What I do do, is use that as the tie breaker if I have 2 guys in the same tier or am stuck on which of 2 to draft. In Dynasty's Ii do look for the younger guy, and with my extra roster spots, I'll take more fliers on rookies that are expected to do little immediately or who are behind veterans.