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Dynasty 101: The first off-season

The first off season of dynasty can be a real eye opener to the new dynasty player. In your redraft leagues once the regular NFL regular season ended you collected your winnings and put fantasy football away until August.

In dynasty the buildup from the end of the season to the rookie draft is fraught with anticipation and maneuvering, evaluating incoming rookies and doing research. But what does that research mean? Where do you begin, how do you know when you are ready? There are many websites putting out content and The Dynasty Nerds podcast hosted by @DynastyRich and @DynastyMatt is one of the best places to start, it can be found along with numerous articles and rankings at The Fantasy Football Roundtable,  Fantasy Football Roundtable on twitter, co-hosted by yours truly, @culture_coach, and @sportsfanaticMB on the Pulse Podcast Network release podcasts twice per week. There are some checkpoints to be aware of during the non-point scoring season of fantasy football (h/t to @dynastyouthouse).

Check point #1 is the under-classman deadline to declare for the draft. The deadline this year was January 15th, there is the full list here This is always an exciting time as the incoming rookie class gets a boost from elite talent entering the league. This year the underclassmen that gave a boost to this class include Kyler Murray, N’Keal Harry, DK Metcalf, Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery and Noah Fant.

Check point #2 are the all-star games. The biggest of which is the Senior Bowl on January 26th. The games themselves are not as important as the practices. There are numerous sites that cover the all-star games and put out reports from the practices. John Norris of Rotoworld does a great job with the Senior Bowl

Check point #3 is February 19 – March 5. That is when franchise and transition tags can be placed on free agents. When the franchise tags get applied this tells you who is likely to not be able to move in free agency. Last season we had the rare occurrence of LeVeon Bell holding out the entire year because he did not want to be franchise tagged a second year in a row. These is not usually much action at the beginning of the period, but as March 5 approaches teams will start tagging star free agents they don’t want to lose.

Check point #4 – The Scouting Combine: February 26 – March 4: Often referred to as the underwear Olympics, the combine is where the best players get invited to be weighed, measured, IQ tested, put through strength and agility tests and finally position-specific drills. It is easy to misevaluate players at the combine as they tend to look great running against no coverage. While a lineman bench pressing 225 pounds 35 times or a wide receiver running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash sounds great what we are really looking for is to get some confirmation on height and weight, and to make sure the medical reports check out.

Check point #5 – Free agency begins on 3/13/19. Why is this important? Teams start to patch the holes in their rosters during free agency and the free agents they sign can give indications as to their strategies for the upcoming draft. The Detroit Lions for instance have a wide receiver corps of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Brandon Powell. Jones is coming off injury and is 28 years old and Powell is an undrafted free agent. Potential free agents such as Tyrell Williams, Randall Cobb or bringing back Golden Tate could reduce the need to get wide receiver help in the draft.

Check point #6 is the pro days. This is when the schools host NFL scouts to come and workout draft eligible players to get more detailed evaluations and collect data for the draft process. Players may repeat some of the athletic testing to try to improve the numbers from the combine but many stay with the combine results. Keeping track of which scouts had meetings at the combine and then followed up with pro day meetings tells you how interested a team might be in a particular player. But like any good poker player teams will try to throw other teams off the trail so as not to get the player they drafted by someone else.

Check point #7 is the is the three-day wonder known as NFL draft, which takes place April 25-27. The three days where we get to see where those precious rookies will get to ply their wares while we rack up fantasy championships. By this point you should have a very good or at least some idea of who the top 50 rookies are. This is the time when you are putting the finishing touches on your rankings and weighing the impact of landing spots. Last year many people were very high on Nick Chubb, but when he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns there was an audible “what?” across the fantasy landscape. The Browns had just signed free agent Carlos Hyde to a three-year contract for starters money and had an established third down back in Duke Johnson. Hyde was solid if not spectacular to start the season while Chubb was rarely used. When he was used Chubb flashed explosiveness and showed enough that Hyde was traded at mid-season. Those dynasty owners that took advantage of Chubb sliding a few spots in the draft were rewarded during the last half of the season including the fantasy playoffs.

This leads us to the #8 and final check point in the non-point scoring part of the season, the rookie draft or drafts if you are like me. A rookie draft for a 12-team league will typically be 5 rounds or 48 picks. By now you have made lists, rearranged the lists numerous times, then rearranged them some more until you have settled on your personal rankings for the incoming rookie class. I try to have about 60 incoming rookies ranked as this will give you options as you get later in the draft. Some players drafted in the fifth rounds of my drafts that made a little noise in 2018 Ian Thomas, Jaylen Samuels, Josh Adams, Keke Coutee and Chris Herndon. Of those five players Herndon looks to be in line for the most consistent role at a shallow tight end position. Coutee has the look of a solid slot contributor in ppr formats. There is your timeline for the non-point season. The other thing you should be doing this time of the year is trying to make trades to make your team better. Whether you are trading players, rookie picks or combinations of the two, you keep trying to make your team better. We will talk about trading in another article but until then, the commissioner has set a date and draft day is rapidly approaching. Are you ready?

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