Benjamin Franklin once said that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. This statement rings especially true for a Dynasty Sports Empire fantasy football draft. In this article, we are going to look at some of the different strategy paths one can take. However, before we delve any further into that, no matter what direction you decide to go in you must have a plan before your draft starts. It is also imperative that you fully understand the leagues rules and scoring system. These might sound like obvious pieces of advice but without fail every year people don’t take these simple steps.
Now that you understand your league rules you can sit down and figure out what your strategy is. Is it going to be:
- Zero RB
- Go QB early
- Take an IDP early
- Try and trade for extra Rookie picks
- Trade your rookie picks for extra Free Agent picks
- Draft older players and try to win now
- Draft younger players and build for the future
- A combination of older and younger players
- Risk averse
- High risk, high reward
- Something else outside the box
The reality is there is no definitive right answer for all but there is one for you. Before you decide which direction to take do some self-scouting. What I mean by this is understand your personality and what strategy is the best fit for that. Are you a patient person who believes in your ability to find good younger players? If so, then maybe go with extra Rookie picks and build for the future. Are you ultra-competitive and impatient? You might want to try to win now by taking more established players. The worst thing you can do is pick a strategy that you won’t be able to stick to over the long-term. This will lead to poor decisions in the future as you try to get your team to where you want it to be.
Understand your situation. What I mean by this is know where you are picking in the draft and what players might be available in that slot. This can help you determine your strategy. For example, last season I decided that I wanted to trade away my Rookie picks and focus on the Free Agent draft in my startup league. I made this decision because I had a Rookie pick with some value (#2) but didn’t really like the players that were available at that slot. If I had the first pick I might have chosen a different strategy, but based on my situation I crafted a strategy to fit that.
If your approach involves trading be patient. This is an easy thing to say but a hard thing to do. Making trades is fun. Better said, making good trades is fun and making bad trades is potentially damaging long-term to your team. My suggestion is once you have your strategy in place and know that it will likely call for some trade put a message on the Wire. Let the rest of your league know you are open to moving up or down in the draft and let them come to you. Take your time with this and try to find multiple scenarios that may be out there. Go back and forth with the other owners and get to the point where you have a full idea of what the market is for your pick or to move up. The more information you have the better decision you can make.
If you find that you aren’t getting a lot of responses or if you have a specific spot you are targeting reach out individually. The worst that happens is that owner says they aren’t interested in moving that pick. Often you can get very valuable strategy information from those discussions. You can find out who is going young, who is going for it, or who has no idea what they want to do. All of this has value as it can help you during the draft to understand what direction those teams are going in. For example, if you are picking at the back-end of a round and you know that guy after you is going young and you have two players you are deciding between that information can help you decide. Maybe you take the younger player thinking he won’t get back to you and then you might get the older player coming back around because the other team isn’t going to take the older player.
Even if your strategy doesn’t include making trades always be open to opportunity. I suggest always listening if someone comes to you wanting to make a deal because you never know what they might offer. While everyone that plays in DSE knows what they are doing that doesn’t mean they also do what is logical. Maybe you can get someone to make you an offer you simply can’t refuse. If that happens, while it wasn’t your original plan, go for it. I had this happen last year in the DSE league I was in where I had drafted Antonio Brown in the first round and someone in the league posted that their #1 pick was available. I realized that Julio Jones was on the board and went after his pick. This was not my strategy going in but I knew I had to take advantage of that unique opportunity. We got the deal done without my having to severely hurt my entire draft, and I left the first round with Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. This only happened because I was willing to adjust on the fly and seize the opportunity when it presented itself.
This leads into my next point which is while it is important to have a strategy, you also must be flexible. Say your draft strategy is to take one of the top RBs in round 1 but by the time it gets to you they are all gone. Instead of panicking and taking a RB just because that was what you had planned call an audible. Look at the board and see where the opportunity is. Maybe that means that a top WR dropped to you that you didn’t think was going to be there. If that’s the case take the WR and adjust your plan. In the startup I was in last year my plan was to take a QB early and back them up with a high upside, younger guy like Mariota or Winston a bit later. However, someone in my league decided their strategy was to hoard QBs and took 6 in the first 8 rounds. I had to make an adjustment as soon as I realized what he was doing. I focused on taking WRs early and waited to take a QB a little later. I got lucky and took Tom Brady later in the draft due to his suspension. This only happened because I could make that adjustment and see where the opportunity existed.
When it comes to your DSE draft you must go in with a plan. Once you have that plan, understand what it is going to take to execute that plan whether it is trades or simply what position you are going to focus on early in the draft. As important as the plan is you must be able to be flexible an adjust that plan if an opportunity presents itself. Should that happen, take advantage of the opportunity and adjust your plan accordingly. In the next article, we are going to look at some of the strategies mentioned above and what those might look like on draft day.