You might be here because you have just started playing dynasty. Maybe you want some knowledge bombs to blow your mind and help guide you on your way. Welcome! Others of you may have played dynasty for years. You are checking in to confirm what you already knew, that you are much smarter than me. That’s fair; thanks for joining! Maybe, you simply saw my fantastic photoshop skills and thought, hey, that is pretty hilarious; I remember that movie! To you, I say, you are most welcome of all! (Bonus nerd points if you noticed Herbert has the number ten on his chest!)
In this article, I will share several interesting stats or trends I have noticed over the last five seasons. I am focusing on a five-year window as I think it will help inform how the league is currently trending. I have also included a couple of “Trends” that are not stats-based but just personal observations that I think would be useful to chat through.
Full disclosure, I didn’t realize this would be such a long article when I started, but here we are. So pull up a chair, get a coffee (or tea?), and please join me for these ten trends.
1. Targets>Attempts for elite RB production
Everyone wants an elite RB, and why wouldn’t you? They are game-changers. If you play in a PPR or even a half-point PPR league, targets matter massively to elite RB production.
In the last five years, an RB1 has averaged 80 targets per season in a PPR league! Over the same time frame, an RB2 would only receive 47 targets. If you compare that with average rush attempts, we see that the difference is nowhere near as drastic. An RB1 averaged 237 rushing attempts per season in the last five years, while an RB2 averaged 190. In layman’s terms, that is a 70% increase in targets for an RB1 over an RB2 vs. only a 25% increase in rush attempts in a normal PPR league.
If you play in a half-point PPR league, the average number of targets an RB1 received over the last five seasons is 68.5. An RB2 would average 48 targets a season over the same time frame. The difference in rush attempts breaks down to 241.5 for RB1 and 187 for RB2. In half-point PPR, that equals a 43% increase in targets and a 29% increase in rushing attempts. The difference is not quite as dramatic but still very noticeable.
There are always outliers to this, players like Derrick Henry. He skews the stats slightly as he receives very few targets and rushes a LOT more than most. In actuality, that means targets are probably even more important. These stats suggest because, as the old saying goes, Derrick Henry’s don’t just grow on trees!
Conclusion: Think about a running back’s pass-catching prowess when deciding who to draft or trade for in your league. Look at which teams use pass-catching running backs the most. Prioritize a dual-threat RB over just a one-dimensional pounder.
2. Less than 10% of rookies will finish top-24
I know this is unfortunate news to bring you right at the height of Rookie Fever season, and I wish I could say it isn’t true….but sadly, it is. Your best bet (statistically speaking) to get a top-24 finish from a rookie comes at the RB position. We have seen an average of 3.5 RBs, 1.5 WRs, 1.5 QBs, and 2 TEs finish in the top-24 at their position in the last five seasons. Since you can’t have half a player, we can be generous and round up. It still leaves us with only two of each position and potentially up to four RBs inside the top-24 at the season’s end.
This is a critical point to accept and remind ourselves of this time of year. We all like to imagine that our rookies will lead us to glory!
Conclusion: If you are in a startup or a rebuild and load up on rookies, don’t expect to compete straight away. Your best bet is to have a balanced squad with proven vets and some high-quality rookies who can develop without being relied on.
3. Elite TE production is a massive advantage
I am team EliTE, but I understand if people don’t feel comfortable spending up on one. I have almost always done it, and I generally feel most happy and confident with my rosters with at least one of the top options at my disposal.
The trick with TEs is there are only a few that are elite. The good thing about the TE position is that it is fairly stable and easy to project who the studs will be. I will present the stats based on a normal PPR league over the last five seasons (no premium involved).
There are only between three and four TEs a year who manage to break the 200 point barrier. Since we can’t have half a TE, I will talk about the top four. The top four have averaged 229 fantasy points per season or roughly 14.5 ppg over the last five years. That would be the equivalent of a mid-WR2 in your TE roster slot.
If you decided to pass on the top tier and snag a TE9-12, you would be looking at 145 fantasy points per season or 9 ppg. When you think about it, there are a couple of problems with this strategy.
A. You will still have to spend a fairly early startup pick to acquire a TE9-12. Everyone is always thinking they can be a “value” or are about to “break out” (Tyler Higbee anyone?!)
B. You are at a significant disadvantage every time you play a team with one of the top TE’s.
C. The drop off after the top-six TEs is far more substantial and abrupt than at any other position.
Conclusion: I would think about prioritizing at least one elite TE in a startup, especially if it is a TE premium of any sort. This can create a mismatch at that position against most of your league.
4. In SuperFlex, QB is king
Some might think this is hyperbole, but I genuinely believe it to be true. I am not saying you can’t be successful in an SF league without stud QBs, but it is certainly more difficult. Check out a couple of these interesting stats from our sample size for your consideration.
The average QB1 has scored 315 points per season over the last five years. During this time, the average RB1 has scored 280.5, and the average WR1 is sitting at 276.5. Starting two QB1’s in your lineup is certainly the optimal strategy. It trumps all, even if you could have an RB1 or WR1 in the SF position.
A couple of other very interesting stats to mention re QBs in an SF league. Over this sample size, a QB who has been healthy enough to play at least 14 games in at least three of the last five seasons repeated as a QB1 68% of the time. The QB position achieves the highest level of consistency (minus potentially elite TE) while also maximizing average points scored.
The same set of parameters run for the other skill positions (only asking for 13 healthy games), and it gives a return of 50% for both RB1 and WR1. The bottom line is, QB is almost 20% more likely to repeat as a top-tier option. QB is also likely to score close to 15% more than the other skill positions throughout the season. I also get the sense that QB is a lower injury risk, though I do not have the data to make this argument conclusively.
Conclusion: I would prioritize at least two solid, starting QB’s whenever possible in an SF startup. My personal preference is to have three or four QBs by the end of the draft in a 12 team league. I would also try to snag a QB in every rookie draft when possible. Even a below-average QB can be traded for solid profit, and QBs are never cheaper than in the startup!
5. Targets>TDs for WRs
This is one for the newer dynasty managers out there. We all want the WR, a TD monster, and it’s a fantastic feeling when your WR1 is on fire in the end zone. Touchdowns are not a “sticky” stat, and they go up and down most years. You can’t bank on any receiver getting 10+ TDs a year. You can bank on target share, though.
Over the last five years, a WR1 has averaged 143 targets per season! Interestingly enough, they only averaged nine TDs over that same timeframe. (In case you are wondering, the numbers are almost identical in PPR and half-point PPR). A great example of hitting on both at the same time is Davante Adams in 2020. He had 149 targets and also scored 18 TDs. As you can guess, he easily finished as the WR1. On the other hand, Stephon Diggs only scored eight TDs yet finished as the WR3 on the strength of his 166 targets!
If we look at DeAndre Hopkins over the last five years, he has only surpassed nine TDs twice in that time. He has been a WR1 four out of the last five seasons because the least number of targets he received was 151 in 2016.
Conclusion: Look at the targets a receiver is demanding in his offense when assessing who you will target in drafts or via trade. Any discrepancy in market value vs. target share can be exploited, i.e., Diontae Johnson and Jerry Jeudy.
6. Your league’s scoring/format needs to impact your strategy…MASSIVELY
I know some managers who approach every draft in almost the same way. They have a list of players and how they value them. Then they go down the list drafting who they think the best player is regardless of league size or scoring setup. This is a massive mistake. (Honestly, I made this mistake a few times myself, so that is how I can speak so confidently about it.) You have to draft differently depending on league size, roster demands (SF, two TE, four flex, etc.), and scoring settings.
You would not believe the number of startups I have done only to have managers mention about halfway through that they did not realize we got return yards in this league or that the TE premium was THAT high. You need to check out the scoring and be clear on how it affects your players before the draft!
Conclusion: Always check the scoring setup and be clear about how that impacts the players BEFORE you start drafting. If you are in multiple leagues, remind yourself of the scoring settings before offering or accepting trades.
7. You need to trade!
This “trend” is a personal observation over my time playing dynasty. I have yet to see a team with the long-term success we all want for our squads that isn’t a regular at the trade table. Player values change; you cannot just rely on your drafting ability and start-sit decisions year in and year out. Many new managers are very intimidated by the idea of trading in a dynasty league. I wanted to give a couple of hints and tips on how you can start gaining experience and confidence in your trading.
First, get a trade calculator. There are a ton of options out there, some better than others. Two of my personal favorites are the Dynasty GM from Dynasty Nerds and the Dynasty Trade Calculator. Both of these options will require a small monthly or annual fee, but honestly, it is worth it. You don’t need to throw the trade calculator in everyone’s face and be annoying with it. Take a look at it yourself if you aren’t convinced about an offer, or make sure you are getting good value for your assets.
I would also suggest finding a friend that knows about trading in dynasty and bounce trades off of them. It is always good to get a rational second opinion on a trade. It can stop you from making some silly mistakes.
I would NOT recommend making trade decisions based on Twitter polls. You have no idea who is actually voting on the polls. Also, it is effortless to click an option on a poll and a lot harder to give up a valuable player from your actual roster.
There is no wrong method of trading. Send blind offers if you want to. Direct message the other managers and discuss options if you want to. You can put players on the trade block and wait for offers to come in. Find what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to try new approaches.
Conclusion: Get some support if you are not feeling very confident about your trading and start sending some offers! Once you feel more confident, it can become one of the most enjoyable parts of the game!
8. “Konami Code” QB is real
Most people understand that the “Konami Code QB” is a thing, but I don’t know if everyone understands just how crucial it is for fantasy football. If you haven’t heard the term, Konami Code is referring to mobile QBs. A QB will get one point for every ten yards rushing vs. one point for every 25 yards passing. Hence, a QB that does both will far outscore a traditional pocket passer. Also, a QB that is deficient as a passer can more than make up for that if they are mobile, especially around the end zone, hence the “cheat code.”
In 2016, the average QB1 ran for 254 yards that season. If we look at 2020, the average QB1 rushed for 368 yards. That is a 45% increase in rushing yards over the last five years to hit the QB1 threshold. In case you thought Lamar is mostly responsible for that number; take him out of the equation, the number is still 310 yards or a 22% increase from 2016 to 2020.
To put things even more into perspective, I will dig a little further back to 2013. In 2013, a QB1 averaged 213.5 yards rushing. The fascinating difference is that in 2013, seven out of the top twelve QBs ran for less than 100 yards. When you look at 2020, only two of the top 12 QBs did not achieve at least 100 yards rushing – Matt Ryan and Tom Brady.
Conclusion: The future of the QB position is Konami Code. In dynasty, if your QBs aren’t mobile, I would be looking to fix that as quickly as I could.
9. Every player should have a price
This is another personal observation rather than a purely stats-based trend. It is also a hard lesson to learn. Like SUPER hard. One of the reasons we love dynasty is because we love building rosters full of our favorite players. The reality is, dynasty is a game of value, and you don’t get to hit the reset button every year like in redraft.
You have to trade and move players to keep your squad fresh and competing. If someone is willing to overpay for your most prized assets, you should let them. You don’t have to actively shop everyone on your roster if you don’t want to. If you want to win and build a dynasty in your league, then every player should have a price.
Conclusion: If you are interested in winning your leagues regularly, always be willing to ship any player if the price is right. Also, try to set real-life bias aside! I hate the Patriots, but I will certainly roster them in dynasty if they help my squad.
10. Potential ≠ Production
This last trend is relating to something we see every year in dynasty around draft time. The allure of the rookie pick/rookie can lead to counting on potential as if it is proven production, which it is NOT! We all get super excited by rookies in the offseason; I am just as guilty of this as anyone. (To be clear, I am not anti-rookies or anti-rookie picks by any stretch of the imagination.) However, if winning your league is the most important thing to you, look to get proven players over rookie picks in most circumstances.
I know many dynasty managers who will trade away an outstanding player for a single first or a couple of picks spread over a couple of years. The problem with this strategy is, IF you are lucky, those picks might turn out to be just as good as the player you gave away. Chances are they won’t do it in their rookie year (as we already discussed.) If I am trading away a stud, I almost always want a pick(s) AND a player or two in return. I want someone I have already seen flashes of or believe in their continued success or ascension.
Remember, there are many first-round rookie picks that turn into Laquon Treadwells, N’Keal Harrys, or Ke’Shawn Vaughs. The stats suggest that only about 50% of first-round rookie picks actually hit, and the numbers plummet from there!
Conclusion: Try not to get carried away with rookie fever. If you want to win, cash in on your rookie picks for proven vets. Please, please, please don’t give away valuable vets for peanuts just because it is the rookie-draft season!
That’s it! We made it! Thanks for sticking with me! I hope you enjoyed that and maybe just maaaaaaybe even learned something useful you can put into practice in your league(s). Check out the Dynasty GM and get to trading! Hit me up on Twitter @FFEvanlution if you want to chat about anything I covered or just fantasy football in general.
All stats were researched using Fantasy Pros data from the last 5 years.
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