Curtis Patrick shares 21 priority targets and 11 fallback targets for the first five rounds in his Dynasty Startup Draft Cheat Sheet for traditional, FFPC-style leagues (1QB, PPR, TE Premium).
A popular adage in the fantasy industry exists which goes something like this – “You can’t win your draft in the ____ round(s), but you can lose it.”
I’ve heard it or read it expressed multiple ways. It’s most often used for redraft as a lead-in for spotting the safest floor plays in the first round of redraft leagues. I recently made a cheat sheet for the first five rounds of dynasty startup drafts applying the same rationale. Why the first five rounds? I think it’s absolutely critical to avoid age landmines and potential value bombs in these rounds to ensure your roster equity doesn’t deteriorate over the course of the first year of your league.
The first five rounds typically capture the top-24 or so running backs and wide receivers, the elite quarterbacks and tight ends, and a handful of rookies. It’s crucial to identify which players among them are bricks (value can weather a storm) and which ones are toothpicks (value will snap under pressure) when building the core of a roster. The ramifications of a failed early startup pick are so much worse than a failed redraft pick; not only could it cause you to lose; it could cause you to lose for multiple years.
My goal in the design of the cheat sheet was to clearly identify priority targets (and visualize positional value abundance or scarcity) in the critical rounds using a combination of player age, average draft position (ADP), and our dynasty team’s rankings. Shawn Siegele and I used a similar approach for our draft in the 2019 FFPC Main Event. For dynasty, it’s obviously more complex because we aren’t just looking at ADP and production projections, we also have to consider how age affects trade value.
We’re also more likely to get it wrong in dynasty than in redraft, because there are so many alternate career outcomes possible for every player. This is why I often cross-reference my own rankings against other RotoViz rankers when faced with a tough decision on-the-clock. I typically run a draft with my own rankings, but when players from a tier-range in my own rankings have dried up, I like to cross-check who the rest of the RotoViz team might value in the same range before moving down to my next tier. So, for this cheat sheet, I’ve used our average rankings rather than my own.
Deciphering the Dynasty Startup Draft Cheat Sheet