Dynasty fantasy football is one of the fastest growing segments in the fantasy football industry. Each week this season I will sit down with a leader in the fantasy football industry to talk about the state of the game, how the season is going, and what moves dynasty managers need to make to grab the ring.
My guest this week is none other than the top Nerd, Rich Dotson, co-founder of DynastyNerds.com, host of the DynastyNerds podcast, fantasy analyst for ESPN CLE & Fox Sports STO.
Rich has been playing dynasty fantasy football for more than 20 years and his passion for the game comes through every week on the Dynasty Nerds podcast. I had the pleasure to sit down and discuss where Week 1 has left us and what moves we should look at before the season gets away from us.
How Dynasty Nerds got started
Dennis Bennett: As a long time listener to the Dynasty Nerds podcast, I know you have been at it for six-and-a-half years. How did the show get started?
Rich Dotson: Well, six-and-a-half years ago was actually seven-and-a-half years ago. At that point, I had been playing dynasty for almost 17 years, and there wasn’t really a lot of content out there at the time for dynasty. I was like, ‘Man, I should start a dynasty fantasy football website.’
Dynasty fantasy football was something I was very, very passionate about, something that consumed a lot of my time. I felt I had an excellent grasp of the game and who is talking about it, but it just never came to fruition.
About a year later, one of my best friends, Josh, who happened to build websites, came over. I was like, ‘well, let’s let’s build a website.’ He’s like, ‘If we’re gonna do this, I think we got to do a podcast.’ I’m like, ‘What the hell is a podcast?’ Josh is like, ‘it’s going to be important.’
Josh was right because, without the podcast, I don’t know where Dynasty Nerds would be today. Matt and I have been doing a podcast every week for six-and-a-half years. Another friend, Mike, was on for the first couple of years, and Garret joined about a year-and-a-half ago.
Creating a buzz
Dennis: When I start playing dynasty five years ago, I had no idea where to find dynasty content. I joined my first dynasty league through Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Life App. One of my first moves was to ask where I could find information about dynasty leagues, and members of the app referred me to Dynasty Nerds. Since you started the website and podcasts, what shifts have you seen in the industry related to dynasty fantasy football?
Rich: There is a plethora of content now. It’s overwhelming. I know what helped us when we got in the game is that there weren’t many people out there. There was Dynasty Nerds, DLF, Under the Helmet, a couple of other guys. Those were the main dynasty podcasts. There weren’t many options when it came to podcasts.
Now, as you know, you host your own podcast, you can find 50 different dynasty podcasts out there. You can find tons of different websites out there today with dynasty content, which is fantastic. There is an abundance of content. You have no problem finding other people’s dynasty fantasy football takes. The game has grown significantly, and we see more growth every day. We see people like Matthew Berry tweet about his dynasty teams, and the Fantasy Footballers talk about dynasty leagues, and major players in the redraft world are starting to talk about dynasty.
The game has grown, and we’re just waiting for those floodgates to open all the way because we still feel any redraft player that tries dynasty whatsoever is going to convert. It’s the most fun way to play fantasy football to me, hands down.
Dennis: You’re known for hitting on your rookies, tell me a little bit about your process for evaluating rookies.
Rich: It’s watching the tape. Honestly, it’s that simple. For me, I don’t sit here and watch college football throughout the season. There is not enough time for that. I wish there were. I watch Ohio State as much as I possibly can. The prime time, big-time games. I’ll try and catch as much as I can.
When it comes down to it, I’m always paying attention on Twitter. I follow their social media, keep tabs on what’s going on. I look at the box scores of all the games when I can. But I don’t really watch the players until the NFL season is over. I try to focus on the NFL when the NFL is playing.
Watch the tape
When that’s over, I’m full-blown rookie mode. I start watching film in the Dynasty Nerds film room. It helps me get a little bit ahead of the curve. In the film room, I can watch these games in five minutes. I get the big names I know out of the way early. For instance, I’ve already watched a lot of tape on Trevor Lawrence. I’ve watched tape on Chuba Hubbard and Travis Etienne because I knew they might come out last year. So I’m ahead of the game there.
So with college games, I just dive in right around January or February, and I’m in rookie mode. I watch all of the tape I can get my hands on and then just go from there. I have my process and how I do it, and I come out and give out my evaluation.
I’ve just been fortunate enough to have a really good hit rate so far in the industry. I would put my dynasty rookie takes against anybody in the industry when it comes to hits and misses. I put in the time watching these rookies, but it still comes down to hits. I’ve been on the lucky side of the coin more often than not.
Second year steals
Dennis: It definitely does take a little time and I love the film room as well. It’s a one stop shop to get yourself prepped for your rookie drafts
Let’s talk wide receivers. Conventional wisdom says they take two to three years to really hit. You get the occasional first-year stud breakout like OBJ or Michael Thomas or DK Metcalf, who breaks out in year one. The 2019 class had some guys that didn’t pop in year one. Who is the second-year guy who was highly regarded that you think will do something this year?
Rich: I think Parris Campbell is my guy. He’s one of my favorite buys right now in dynasty after week one. He was one of my favorite buys in the offseason. I went out acquired a lot of Parris Campbell shares where I could. It’s one of my favorite maneuvers in dynasty. I watch the rookie tape, and I give my first-year evaluations on players. And guys who get first-round or second-round grades and don’t do much, whether it be, he didn’t get enough snaps, or in Parris Campbell’s situation, he had three different injuries.
I love to buy those players as much as possible because you’re going to get a discount. You get Parris Campbell, where I was taking him in the first round of rookie drafts for a late second, maybe even a third in some cases. To me, Parris Campbell is somebody I had ranked him and Terry McLaurin pretty close throughout the process. But I liked Parris Campbell’s tape a little bit more than Terry McLaurin. So with his speed, his route-running savvy paired with a guy like Jonathan Taylor, and right now they have Philip Rivers who loves throwing the ball short. I think he has a very good chance to be that number one weapon in that offense.
So for me, I’m trying to get Parris Campbell shares now, before he takes another step forward. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I think Parris Campbell will be a WR1, but I think he has the potential to be a John Brown type receiver, a mid-range wide receiver. Some people don’t put enough value on those type of players. Fantasy players are always trying to make those big trades looking for those WR1’s, RB1’s, but you need those WR2’s and 3’s.
Making the injury call
Dennis: So you talked about players that maybe didn’t perform for whatever reason. I will take that same concept and switch it over to how you decided with somebody like Mike Evans last week. You drafted him, probably in the second round, and he’s a guy you need. But he’s got that that tweaked hamstring and then Arian’s decides to play him. How do you decide to leave Evans out of the lineup?
Rich: I think it’s easy when you go all week and they’re questionable. When it’s something like a hamstring you just don’t play them if they are not practicing close to full.
For fantasy football players, you’re gambling right, you’re playing odds. It’s kind of like what are the best odds, who gives me the best odds of scoring points.
Rookie running backs
Dennis: Alright, so we’ll wrap up here with running backs. Let’s talk about the rookie class. I don’t think we need to spend any time really on CEH and Jonathan Taylor. We know who they are. But let’s talk a little bit about Joshua Kelly and Antonio Gibson. They seem to be a little bit different. Kelley had a lot of run in college and seems to be more of a grinder, but maybe a “jag” plus. Then you have Gibson, who didn’t get a lot of run but is definitely a great athlete. Suppose you had to count on one of them to help you later this season. Which one do you go in with?
Rich: After week one, Joshua Kelley looked really good for LA. But it comes back to the tape, and I’m not going to overreact after week one. I really liked Antonio Gibson’s college tape. I really did. Even though he had a limited amount of carries in college. I thought he could be used in a Percy Harvin kind of role and be a weapon for Washington, and that’s somebody who you’re going to manufacture touches for. I’m just looking at who has the best opportunity to get the most touches now.
But what’s going to happen when Justin Herbert gets in there? We don’t know. Joshua Kelley looks like a very solid running back. But he’s also got Austin Eckler, who signed a big contract, who is probably locked in as the guy ahead of him.
So for me, I’m going to lean more toward Antonio Gibson because he has a more direct route to touches than a guy like Joshua Kelley, so that’s the way I’m going to gamble.
Dennis: As we wrap this up, is there any last bit of strategy or a player you want to talk about?
Come back player of the year?
Rich: We have to talk about Jerick McKinnon
Dennis: We can talk about Jerick McKinnon, comeback Player of the Year.
Rich: I can’t go on any show, I can’t do any article or podcast without bringing up my guy. I’ve put myself out there for two years, talking about the opportunity. And people go, yeah, there goes Rich again, talking about Jerick McKinnon.
Again, it’s just week one, and you can just go off week one, but I was very happy to see what I saw from Jerick McKinnon. He will always be utilized in that offense. Kyle Shanahan consistently has a top-three running back in receiving yards and receptions.
McKinnon had an opportunity to get another touchdown. He just missed that, as well. He could have had a 20 point game, but a 13.4 point game in PPR leagues from a flex guy was pretty phenomenal. I think he’s one of the best values. Obviously, that value has gone up after week one. But if you listened through the whole process, even before the season started, I said, go out there and buy Jarick McKinnon he’s looking healthy.
I still think if you’re looking for running back help, and who is not looking for running back help, no matter how you’re playing. The best bang for your buck this year is still going to be Jerick McKinnon. He offers you week in, week out double-digit fantasy points and finishes the year as running back 16.
Whoa! RB what?
Dennis: Wow. So you think not only is he going to leap frog Tevin Coleman, he’s gonna push Raheem Mostert of the way?
Rich: I don’t think he’s going to push Mostert out of the way. I don’t think he needs to push Mostert out of the way. Just like I don’t think Nyheim Hines needs to push Jonathan Taylor out of the way. I don’t think Kareem Hunt needs to push Nick Chubb out of the way. When it comes to these running backs, you don’t need them to push anywhere. Last year we didn’t need Austin Eckler to push Melvin Gordon out of the way. You don’t need that to finish at a high level. All you need to do is catch the football, be involved in the red zone, and produce. McKinnon could do just that.
To open up that running game, they need to move Jerick McKinnon out to the slot. Give him a couple of carries to keep the defense honest. If he gets 30 to 50 yards on the ground, those are bonus points as long as McKinnon is catching four to six footballs per game and getting 50-60 yards and finding the end zone, maybe six to eight times throughout the year that is great for fantasy.
That wraps up my conversation with Rich Dotson. I’ll wrap this up with what we learned.
- Rookies matter. Figure out your process and keep working to improve by using tools such as the Dynasty Nerds Film Room
- Look for second or third year players that might not have performed to expectations and look to add them at a discount
- Watch your injury designations, players that don’t practice much usually don’t play. And, if they do, they are frequently just a decoy
- Rookie running backs can help you win. If you can’t get the elite, look for ones with the clearest path to playing time
- Not all injuries are created equal. The scheme fit for Jerick McKinnon looks like it will pay off for the patient dynasty manager
I’ll be back next week with another installment of The Saturday Evening Post with…
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