Startup drafts are arguably one of the most exciting parts of a dynasty, an opportunity to mold a team that you will hopefully be holding onto for a long time. As we enter dynasty summer and the rookie draft season begins to close, we all feel a strange itch for startups. Fantasy players love drafting, and if your rookie drafts have come to a close but redraft leagues haven’t begun population yet, that leaves a chance for new startups. In this series, we will examine a startup and discuss strategies to help us win in year one and the long term.
For this startup, we are doing a Superflex/Tight-End premium league. We will be drafting from the 1.01. This draft was 15 rounds long. Roster settings are QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, FLEX, SUPERFLEX.
Draft Spot 1.09: Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
Other options: Kyle Pitts, Lamar Jackson
My choices here were two-fold. My first decision was between an elite, young TE1 in Kyle Pitts or a QB. With this league’s TE premium, Pitts is in the discussion for a first-round startup pick. Despite that, I could not justify leaving the first round without a QB unless I were picking on the turn. For a QB, I prefer Prescott over Jackson. I will take the guy currently locked up long-term in the first round.
Draft Spot 2.04: CeeDee Lamb, WR, DAL
Other options: Cooper Kupp, Russel Wilson
When organic stacks fall to you in a startup, it is easy to go that route. Lamb will be a great, young WR1 for my dynasty squad, and I get to pair him with Prescott for the next few years. I was also considering Cooper Kupp, who undoubtedly is the better WR. He is six years older, however. The other consideration was Russell Wilson, but the QB position hasn’t dried up.
Draft Spot 3.09: Trevor Lawrence, QB, JAX
Other options: DK Metcalf, Saquon Barkley
We can solve the other half of our QB position in the next round. Lawrence may have had a subpar rookie season, but I am still buying into the profile that led to his top overall selection in 2021. A change in coaching staff may be all that is required to unlock Lawrence. My other options were skill position players, but I was staring a tier drop in the face at the QB position.
Draft Spot 4.04: Tee Higgins, WR, CIN
Other Options: Diontae Johnson, George Kittle
It may be odd taking a team’s number two option in the fourth round of a startup, but Higgins has shown the talent to produce as a WR1 even with Ja’Marr Chase in town. It was down to him and Diontae Johnson here, but Higgins is simply in a better situation. He is under contract for longer and has a more sure thing at the QB position.
Draft Spot 5.09: TJ Hockenson, TE, DET
Other Options: Terry McLaurin, David Montgomery
At TE, I always subscribe to the philosophy of “Great or Late,” and here we can land on the great side. Hockenson is one of the few elite young TEs in the league. He is a former first-round draft pick (2019) riddled with injuries. He will lock down the TE1 role on this dynasty squad for many years.
Draft Spot 6.04: Mike Evans, WR, TB
Other Options: Devonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy
Evans is going to surprise people this year. If I had to put money on it, which you can with PrizePicks, I think he is the best bet to finish as WR1 this season. We just saw this Tampa Bay offense throw over 700 times this past season, and he will be without running mate Chris Godwin for the first six to eight weeks of the season. He is on the older side and maybe without Brady next year, but we can either make a title run this season or flip him to a contender for some future draft capital.
Draft Spot 7.09: Rashod Bateman, WR, BAL
Other Options: Elijah Moore, Darnell Mooney
After taking a veteran player last round, here we return to the youth movement. Bateman finds himself as the lone WR1 in Baltimore after the departure of Marquise Brown. He is a highly talented player who was held back by injuries last year. The sky is the limit, and the Ravens are hopeful of signing Jackson to a long-term deal and having this duo for years.
Draft Spot 8.04: Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN
Other Options: Mike Williams, Skyy Moore
Double-tapping young WRs feel good here. We have seen Sutton perform like a top-24 fantasy player with the likes of Joe Flacco and Drew Lock throwing him the ball. Now that Denver has landed Wilson, his fantasy opportunity is unlimited. My other choices were Mike Williams and Skyy Moore; I feel Sutton finds a nice balance between youth and proven production.
Draft Spot 9.09: Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE
Other Options: Gabe Davis, Dameon Pierce
Fading the RBs has finally come to an end. We have filled every other starting roster spot minus the RB, and we may pay for it down the line. Hunt is the type of player that can give us some production weekly while also having guaranteed RB1 upside in case of injury. He is in a contract year and older, but with a receiver corps this strong, these sacrifices had to occur.
Draft Spot 10.04: Allen Robinson, WR, LAR
Other Options: Jahan Dotson, George Pickens
Just when we said that we need to grab more RB, there is a value we cannot ignore at the WR position. Robinson is poised for a big year with his new team in Los Angeles. As it stands, he will be forcing one of our previously drafted WRs onto the bench, which is okay. The reason we play dynasty is to make trades and moves. We have plenty of options to move some of these WRs.
Draft Spot 11.09: Rashaad Penny, RB, SEA
Other Options: Tyler Allgeier, Alexander Mattison
The options this late at the RB position are beginning to get dicey. Here we take the one player we have seen perform at a high level and at least has a chance to win a starting job. Allgeier would have been more youth with a path to relevancy, but that gamble may take a couple of weeks to pay off. The same would be said of Alexander Mattison and waiting on an injury.
Draft Spot 12.04: Matt Ryan, QB, IND
Other Options: Daniel Jones, Jameis Winston
Death, taxes, and Ryan as a stable QB3. He will give this squad a lovely floor as the third option at QB. In the case of bye weeks, injuries, or if Lawrence struggles out of the gate with a new offense, we know we can plug Ryan in and get production. He will be playing with the best offensive roster around him in a long time and should easily surpass his QB20 finish from last season.
Draft Spot 13.09: David Njoku, TE, CLE
Other Options: Jakobi Meyers, DJ Chark
Grabbing Njoku late has been a theme for me in drafts all summer in dynasty, redraft, and best-ball leagues. Cleveland just signed him to a long-term contract extension, and I am confident he is set up to smash this season. Austin Hooper and Jarvis Landry are leaving open up a lot of targets on a team that is pretty light on receivers.
Draft Spot 14.04: Kenny Gainwell, RB, PHI
Other Options: Kahlil Herbert, Nyheim Hines
With a build so light on RBs, we must take multiple shots late on guys that may be able to pop off in the next year or two. A perfect example is Gainwell. He had a semi-breakout season operating in this Eagles backfield. He was the better pass catcher than starter Miles Sanders and more efficient in specific metrics. With Sanders entering a contract season, now may be the perfect time to get in on Gainwell.
Draft Spot 15.09: Gus Edwards, RB, BAL
Other Options: Trey Sermon
With our final selection, we can grab an RB who has shown us he can be an RB1 if given the proper workload. Even on limited work, he has found the red zone enough in his past to provide us with a bye-week fill-in option at RB. My other selection here would have been Trey Sermon, but I am going with the guy we have seen do it before.
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I hope you enjoyed this startup mock draft. For more content like this, be sure to give me a follow on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for any questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!
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