We’ve asked our writers for their most controversial picks and probed their brains for roster construction strategies to find out if they prefer to Win Now, Win Later, or Win Always. We also learned who they consider their best values to be. Today we find out what they learned over the course of the 2018 dynasty startup mock.
Q) One of the toughest things about this mock was the inability to trade picks. How would you trade picks if this were a real startup dynasty draft?
I would have tried to trade out of the fourth through sixth rounds, mostly to acquire future rookie picks. I figure I can find enough production in the mid-to-late rounds to try to compete. Those extra rookie picks will guarantee I’m in a decent position next offseason. – Brian Malone
Same. As I mentioned in the previous strategy article, especially with a draft this early in the offseason, the value is pretty flat for a long time after the 3rd round. I would also consider trading up to get Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Todd Gurley, Odell Beckham Jr. On the forums, someone is asking about the 1.02, 1.03, 1.04 for Bell, Corey Davis and the 1.09 . . . this is basically valuing Bell as an early 1st round pick i.e. the best player in fantasy straight up for Derrius Guice who doesn’t even have a situation yet. So depending on your leaguemates, trading up to get the superelite players can be extraordinarily cheap. – Devin McIntyre
I’d be trying to trade future picks to get more picks in the top 10 rounds of the startup. I’ll be light on rookie picks but will have mucho startable depth this year, which will either help me compete now, or give me chips to trade later. – Charlie Kleinheksel
I would probably try to trade out of the rookie draft for more startup capital. My goal is to acquire as many picks in the first 3 rounds as possible. – Anthony Amico
In the past, I’ve both traded future picks for additional startup capital and traded startup capital for future picks. A lot will depend on how your leaguemates value picks. While it’s true future first-rounders are frequently overvalued, I’ve also seen players willing to trade their future firsts for mid-round startup picks, or even just to move up a few rounds. Once I’m out of an area where I feel the players I’m drafting will hold most of their value regardless of how their season goes (as others have said, starting somewhere in the 4th), then I’m comfortable trading a startup pick for future draft capital that will have stable value. – John Lapinski
Future firsts are typically worth more during the time leading up to the rookie draft than during the startup, so it makes sense to try to acquire them during the startup. But my strategy depends on what everyone else is doing. If a lot of owners are trying to acquire future firsts, they become more valuable during the startup, and I’m happy to trade them away for more startup picks. If a lot of people are trading away rookie picks, then I want to acquire them, since they tend to be cheaper in that case. Whatever the rest of the league wants to sell is what I want to buy, and vice versa. If nobody is doing anything then I prefer to acquire future firsts–they’re often undervalued during the startup. I also often try to trade out of the middle rounds to get more early/late-round picks. – Blair Andrews
I tend to trade down early to acquire extra middle-round picks and then try to move back up in the second and third rounds. – Matt Wispe
Similar to Brian, I would have traded picks in Rounds 5 to 7 as I wasn’t thrilled with the players available. – Jeremy Marin
As Blair mentioned, future firsts hold more value leading up to the rookie draft than the startup. I’ve also found that future firsts appreciate in value over the course of the season. I’d only recommend moving your future firsts assuming you’re trying to trade into the first three rounds of the startup. Value typically plummets after the end of the third round, and if you’re moving an asset that gains value, you want to ensure that it’s for a top-36 player.
Q) Assuming this draft included rookie players, are there any rookies that would’ve cracked the first four rounds?
I don’t think any would crack it for me pre-nfl draft. Let’s not forget Derrick Henry’s landing spot. – Devin McIntyre
Saquon Barkley would have gone for sure, maybe even in the first round. After that it’s tough to tell. Maybe if someone had a strong feeling on guys like Rashaad Penny, Derrius Guice, etc. – Anthony Amico
I don’t even know who the rookies are yet. None in the top four rounds though. – Charlie Kleinheksel
Barkley is the only sure thing to crack the top four rounds. I don’t think any of the WRs in this class would make it, though that could change if someone slaughters the combine and then lands in an ideal situation. – John Lapinski
Saquon Barkley will almost assuredly be a top-16 pick by August, so you’d have to assume he’s gone early. None of the other rookies would be worth it. – Matt Wispe
I’d have a hard time passing up Barkley if he were there in, say, the third. Depending on landing spot I can see him as a 1st-round pick. – Blair Andrews
Agree with the rest. Outside of Barkley, I can’t really see it. – Jeremy Marin
Even though Barkley is considered to be a top-tier prospect, I find it hard to draft him at cost in a dynasty startup. Its not fun passing up on one of the best RB prospects we have seen, but by not gambling early, you’re doing your best to set up your team for success in the long run.
Q) 10 RBs were selected in the first two rounds of our draft. We know that peak value RBs are the most valuable assets in dynasty. Is it imperative that dynasty drafters try and lock down RBs in the early rounds, or can they wait?
I drafted one RB in the first nine rounds (Carlos Hyde at 4.12), so I sure hope you can wait on RB. There’s still a lot of year-to-year turnover at the position, and I think I can piece together RB2 production with a bunch of dart throws — I drafted seven RBs in rounds 10 through 22. – Brian Malone
Pretty much echo Brian’s sentiments here. I typically try to buy RBs early in the season once I can see what roles the players have. Zero RB is, in my opinion, easier to implement in a dynasty setting for that reason. -Anthony Amico
The upside of Gurley/Bell/Johnson/Ezekiel Elliott put them in a unique position since we’ve already seen those players completely dominate their backfield – including targets – at the NFL level. I don’t think it’s imperative to target them early, but I also think there are more talented RBs in the league right now than there were five years ago and that we might see more staying power for some of these guys than we did in years past. – John Lapinski
I think getting top RBs with stable workloads (in both phases of the game) is pretty important in dynasty–the longer time horizon makes them more predictable. That is, even though Johnson got injured this year, he’s still a top dynasty asset for the next few years. RBs who catch a lot of passes still outscore WRs, and getting one or more of those top guys gives you a big advantage. If you can’t get an RB like that, though, then I like waiting rather than reaching for someone in the next tier. I’d rather have Tarik Cohen at his cost than Jordan Howard at his, for instance. – Blair Andrews
Getting a great RB can be an advantage, but Zero RB works because RB isn’t a stable position. Stockpiling WRs has always been my goal. – Matt Wispe
I grabbed two RBs in the first eight rounds and still felt great about my team. You can easily grab a good running back early and still go WR heavy as a modified Zero RB-type strategy. Grabbing one and waiting, or just waiting, shouldn’t impede a team’s ability to compete due to turnover at the position, whether it’s injuries, age, or performance. – Jeremy Marin
Even though I defended trading up for Bell, Johnson, and Gurley, we have to acknowledge that there is a serious danger in chasing those peak RB seasons. Very few RBs keep cranking out that production year after year. I would consider it, because I want to build teams to win in Year 1, but I don’t think it’s imperative at all. This is especially true since RBs can produce as rookies, making them very enticing targets for future rookie picks (i.e. because I’m looking to get RBs in future rookie drafts, I’m leaning towards building a foundation of WRs in the startup). – Devin McIntyre
Not mandatory at all. Those players are fantastically valuable but so was Alvin Kamara and remember that time Elliott got suspended, Bell got injured, and Johnson got injured and… – Charles Kleinheksel
Chasing past production with RBs is always a dicey proposition. However, the elite upside of several of the RBs mentioned makes it worth drafting several of these players early. You want to try and lock down the players who not only see the bulk of the teams carries, but also a good chunk of the target share. To this end, I would add that Melvin Gordon makes for a solid selection as well.
Q) Do you try and trade players during the startup draft?
Absolutely. Whenever someone says “Nice pick” or “You sniped me,” I translate that as “Please send me a trade offer with the player you just drafted.” – Brian Malone
Corollary: If you think a pick went at a great value, but couldn’t swing a trade to get the guy, you don’t have to stay silent in order to keep information from your competitors. Saying “nice pick” could net you a trade offer that you still consider a good value. – Devin McIntyre
In a startup I did last year, trading wasn’t allowed, and I was drafting at the turn. Yuck. You should always be trying to trade to improve. – John Lapinski
I’m typically willing to trade away players, but I rarely attempt to acquire a drafted player. – Matt Wispe
Every player can be had for a price. Same can be said for picks. If someone is willing to pay, I listen. – Jeremy Marin
Always try and keep an open eye for trade values. Dynasty players often have different valuations for each player drafted, and it’s always worth reaching out to see what kind of deal would work for both drafters. That being said, drafting during the startup is often tricky, as dynasty drafters may overvalue certain players. In that case, it’s best to try and swing a trade during the regular season.