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Diary of a Dynasty League Rookie: My Draft Experience

Some of you probably know that I write about NFL DFS here at RotoBaller. What you might not know is that I’ve never played in a dynasty football league. I know, crazy right?

I’ve spent years playing in a regular fantasy league with the same small group of friends and we all agree that our live in-person "Draft Day" is the adult-male equivalent of Christmas morning, so we’ve never messed with a formula that’s always worked for us. While that league is fairly high stakes, and the lifelong friendships make it ultra competitive by nature, I’ve found that it’s pretty easy to go on auto-pilot if you aren’t in the playoff mix and adopt an “I’ll-get-’em-next-year” mentality. So while I’ll always love playing in that league - and though I spend the majority of my energy on DFS during the season - I’ve been curious about dynasty leagues for a couple of years now.

Why haven't I jumped into dynasty before now? Well, I’ve found it kinda hard to be honest. You’ve either got to find a good group that’s willing to start completely from scratch, roll the dice with random strangers, or adopt an orphaned squad. Fortunately, the perfect opportunity came about for me recently when RotoBaller’s NFL Editor Pierre Camus asked if I’d like to join a start-up dynasty league composed of RotoBaller’s resident experts. While I was a little hesitant about jumping in the deep end with all of our sharks, I also thought it would be a great opportunity to learn from the best, while also keeping whatever money I lose in the RB family. My goal with this diary is to share my experiences as a dynasty-league rookie and hopefully help some of you that want to expand your fantasy football portfolio!

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The Setup

I’ve always used either Yahoo or ESPN for my standard leagues, but for this dynasty startup we will be using FFPC, a site that’s geared toward high-stakes fantasy football and offers every type of league imaginable, including classic, best ball, super flex, and more. The sign-up at FFPC was no problem and the layout is super-easy to use. They even have a system for ‘Side Action’, which quickly lets me know this is my kind of site!

It was determined that our league would be made up of 12 teams with a Full PPR scoring system. The starting rosters look like this:


The Draft

Drafting has always been my favorite part of fantasy football leagues. However, this one would work a little differently than the in-person drafts (parties) that I'm used to. We employed FFPC's slow draft, which gives you up to eight hours to make your pick and pauses overnight. Having tons of time allotted to make a decision was honestly pretty torturous for a dynasty rookie like me, as indecisiveness quickly set in for me.

In my DFS world, I've become geared to only focusing on one week at a time, while these dynasty decisions would impact my team for YEARS to come. Should I try to win now? Go for youth only? A blend of the two? It was definitely a different animal.

To make matters even more difficult, I would be picking from the eighth spot, a position that I'm definitely not crazy about. Even as I write this, I'm still not really sure how I did. Here's the breakdown of my maiden dynasty draft and the thought process for each pick. View the full draft board here.


Rounds 1-5 (The Foundation)

Round 1, Pick 8: Davante Adams (WR, GB)

Right off the bat, I wasn't crazy about drawing the eighth pick, as I knew I would be left out in the cold in the "Stud RB" arms race. Sure enough, Full-PPR stars like Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, and Alvin Kamara were gone when it came my turn, with premium pass-catchers Michael Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins also off the board.

This left me to consider a couple of options...bruising Titans RB Derrick Henry is coming off a monster year, but offers very little in the way of pass-catching out of the backfield and feels like a prime regression candidate. Young Raiders back Josh Jacobs was certainly an intriguing option due to both his 2019 workload and age, but I again was concerned about taking a RB this high that isn't - or at least hasn't been utilized as - a true three-down player.

Eventually I decided to go with PPR monster Davante Adams, the Packers top (and basically only) option at WR. Adams missed four games last year due to injury, but was still targeted 127 times in 2019. He might not be as flashy as some other picks I could have made here, but Adams offers a solid foundation on which to build my team.

Round 2, Pick 5: Nick Chubb (RB, CLE)

With a run on pass-catching backs at the turn that saw Austin Ekeler, Miles Sanders, and Joe Mixon all come off the board - and with the first QB (Lamar Jackson) and TE (George Kittle) also selected - I was left with another difficult decision in Round Two. Do I go "Zero RB" and snatch an explosive WR like Tyreek Hill that's still available? Or perhaps take a swing at a high-upside rookie RB like Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Jonathan Taylor?

Ultimately, I pulled the trigger on Cleveland's Nick Chubb, someone that I'm not completely in love with for Full PPR purposes. But he is a player that I felt had slipped a bit too far down the board in this draft. Chubb's value undoubtedly decreased when Kareem Hunt joined the Browns offense late last year, though the 24-year-old still finished as the RB8 in full-PPR scoring for 2019. I'm not overly concerned about Hunt's presence in a dynasty format, but Chubb's value will certainly be hurt in the short term. However, Chubb has proven himself to be an explosive player and still produced very usable fantasy numbers last season despite being in a Browns offense that sputtered throughout the year. I'm banking on a Browns offense that will see a resurgence under a new coaching regime.

Round 3, Pick 8: Kenyan Drake (RB, ARI)

As I sat idle, four - count 'em four - stud rookie running backs came flying off the board. I definitely had my eye on grabbing one of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, or D'Andre Swift here, but with all of them gone, I was faced with a tough decision between L.A.'s draft pick Cam Akers or Adam Gase-P.O.W Kenyan Drake.

Apparently, my opinion of Drake is a little higher than the other guys involved in this draft, as I was honestly surprised that the Cards back was still available this late in the third round. I guess it's easy to forget that Drake finished as the RB17 in full-PPR formats last season, despite only playing 14 games and being stuck in Miami for the first half of the year. After he was traded to Arizona in Week 9, the 26-year-old was actually the RB4 for the remainder of 2019.

It's also easy to underestimate just how running-back-friendly Kliff Kingsbury's system is because things didn't work out with the ghost of David Johnson, as Drake averaged just over 4.3 targets per game and demonstrated explosiveness running the ball, while proving himself to be a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield.

Round 4, Pick 5: Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN)

After (hopefully) solidifying the RB position in rounds two and three, I was looking for a young WR in round four, only to see a string of names like D.K. Metcalf, Odell Beckham, and Kenny Golladay go off the board in the three picks prior to mine. Man, the guys in this league are good!

I was actually more than happy to land Denver's young Courtland Sutton in this spot. The jury might still be somewhat out on the 24-year-old and this Broncos offense, but I view him as an explosive receiver with his arrow pointing up. Sutton finished 2019 with 1,112 yards and six TD on 125 targets in what was a true breakout year. He quickly developed a relationship with rookie QB Drew Lock after he was inserted into the Denver starting lineup in Week 13 and received 10 targets in two of Lock's five starts toward the end of the year.

You could argue that offseason acquisitions Jerry Jeudy and Melvin Gordon III will cut into Sutton's workload, but I can actually see those weapons making life much easier for him, as defenses will have to account for more than just Sutton.

Round 5, Pick 8: Deshaun Watson (QB, HOU)

I will totally understand if I get some blowback from this pick, as the when, where, and who is always a hot topic for debate when it comes to the QB position. With both Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes going off the board in the second round - and Kyler Murray being selected with the first pick of the fourth round - there was definitely an argument for simply waiting on QB. However, I felt the selection of Murray triggered the "second wave" of quarterbacks being selected in this draft.

With Jackson and Mahomes clearly in a league of their own, I feel the second tier of dynasty QBs is the aforementioned Murray, Deshaun Watson, and Dak Prescott. With Murray already gone, I wanted to ensure that I snagged one of either Watson or Prescott if possible. It's a tossup between the two for me - and you can make a strong argument for either - as Prescott finished 2019 with more fantasy points than Watson, although Watson played one less game. Both are young (Watson is 24 & Prescott is 26) and should be great for years to come. Personally, I prefer Watson because I think he's simply more talented and his big games tend to be BIG, but Prescott does have better weapons around him. The decision between these two is one I'll probably be debating internally for some time.


Rounds 6-10 (Solidifying the Core)

Round 6, Pick 5: Le'Veon Bell (RB, NYJ)

My first total dust-ball pick of this draft, Le'Veon Bell certainly isn't a player that has tons of years left in a dynasty format. However, the 28-year-old demonstrated that he could still play last season after a year-long layoff. Bell was stuck on a bad offense with a bad offensive line last season - not to mention playing a portion of the year with ridiculously-bad backup QBs.

A healthy Sam Darnold and an upgraded o-line should help Bell to a couple more productive seasons. There are whispers that his workload will be reduced this year, but Bell logged over 300 total touches in 2019 (eighth in the NFL) and it's hard to imagine the Jets are gonna pay his huge salary for him to be part of a true RBBC. So, while I'm definitely mindful of the fact that you need to look years down the road in dynasty leagues...winning a league in year one doesn't pay any less than winning it in year five, and Bell is a solid "Year One" type of player for my roster.

Round 7, Pick 8: Tyler Lockett (WR, SEA)

The Seahawks' passing game and offensive philosophy is its own separate article, but I think there's plenty to like with Tyler Lockett at this point in the draft. Maybe it's Lockett's small stature that often makes him go overlooked, but this is a guy that was the fantasy WR4 through the first nine weeks of the season. Despite tailing off due to injury toward the end of 2019, the KSU product still finished with over 1,000 receiving yards and eight TDs. He's 27-years-old and has Russell Wilson at QB, so even though Seattle stubbornly refuses to turn the passing attack loose, I was very happy to find Lockett still available here.

Round 8, Pick 5: Hunter Henry (TE, LAC)

A run on the tight end position at the end of the seventh round and into the beginning of the eighth forced me to pay attention to what was still available at TE. I decided to grab LA's talented, but often injured, Hunter Henry. He once again missed multiple games in 2019 with an injury, but continued to prove that he could produce when he's on the field, averaging double-digit fantasy points in games he suited up. Henry will go from Phillip Rivers to Tyrod Taylor (a downgrade), with first-round pick Justin Herbert (an unknown) set to be the QB of the future. If the 25-year-old can stay healthy (a big if), he should be a solid fantasy asset for years to come at the always-tough TE spot, in spite of the uncertainty at the QB position.

Round 9, Pick 8: Marlon Mack (RB, IND)

I know all the reasons why Marlon Mack shouldn't be drafted - Indy drafted stud Jonathan Taylor in the second round and he's not a pass catcher - but I just couldn't ignore the 24-year-old that ran for over 1,000 yards in 2019 with an average of just over 4.4 yards per carry here in the ninth round. Yes, things look bad for Mack right now, but weird things can happen in this league. Maybe Taylor won't be as good as advertised, maybe there's an injury situation, maybe Mack finds himself on another team sooner rather than later. I'll understand any criticism of this pick, but there are worse spots to grab a game-proven RB than in the ninth round.

Round 10, Pick 5: Denzel Mims (WR, NYJ)

I didn't want to get completely left out in the cold with this rookie class, so I made what might be considered a stretch pick here with Denzel Mims. Baylor wideouts haven't had much recent success in the NFL, but Mims has a chance to break that streak. He's a BURNER that recorded a 4.38 40 time at the Combine and also possesses prototypical size at 6'3" and 207 lbs. In addition to the juicy measurables, he steps into an offense for which he should get immediate playing time, as well as the chance to grow with New York's young QB Sam Darnold. Rookie receivers are always something of a dart throw, but Mims is one of my favorites in this uber-deep draft class.


Rounds 11-15 (Seeking Value)

Round 11, Pick 8: Jonnu Smith (TE, TEN)

While I love the talent of my first TE selection Hunter Henry, it's not a secret that he's been very injury prone throughout his career. So though I hope Henry can stay healthy, I definitely wanted some insurance and feel that I found it here in the 11th round with Jonnu Smith. The 24-year-old's arrow is pointing way up, as the Titans have officially moved on from Delanie Walker. The move opens a clear path for Smith, a player who also has a very nice rapport with newly-extended QB Ryan Tannehill that resulted in 35 catches for 439 yards and 3 TD last season. Smith's numbers don't jump off the page at the moment, but there's lots of room for growth here.

Round 12, Pick 5: Phillip Lindsay (RB, DEN)

In taking Phillip Lindsay here, my thought process was similar to the Marlon Mack selection a few rounds earlier...the guy is a solid, proven NFL player that's in the middle of a depth-chart mess. As if tangling with Royce Freeman for snaps wasn't bad enough, Denver brought in Melvin Gordon, which muddies the waters even more for Lindsay. The 25-year-old has shined at times when given the opportunity and players like him just find a way to get on the field, although his future might not be in Denver. I probably wouldn't give Lindsay a look in a season-long league, but I'm cool with taking a stab in this dynasty format.

Round 13, Pick 8: Julian Edelman (WR, NE)

Obviously, this is a "win-now" type of pick. The 34-year-old's best days are behind him due to his age, injury history, and the departure of Tom Brady. It appears as though Edelman will be reliant on first-year starter Jarrett Stidham for the upcoming season, as New England failed to make a QB move in the draft and hasn't signed a signal caller in free agency other than career backup Brian Hoyer. Edelman's fantasy-relevant days are numbered, but as the unquestioned top dog in the Pats receiving corps he should be able to provide a couple more productive seasons.

Round 14, Pick 5: Parris Campbell (WR, IND)

Speaking of receivers, Parris Campbell is a player that was a trendy dynasty pick last year, but proceeded to basically do nothing following the retirement of Andrew Luck. Campbell's lack of production can be partially attributed to sketchy QB play, but he was also devoured by the injury bug, as he suffered through both a broken hand and broken foot in 2019. The Ohio State burner will hopefully stay healthy this year and the departure of Chester Rogers should help open up some playing time.

Say what you want about an aging Philip Rivers, but he qualifies as an upgrade for Indy at QB. Best case scenario, Campbell turns into the big-play threat that we thought he'd be last season, which made this an intriguing "buy low" situation for me.

Round 15, Pick 8: Antonio Gandy-Golden (WR, WAS)

By this point in the draft I'm feeling comfortable enough with my present-day fantasy contributors to turn my eye toward the future and start taking some longshots on young players. It's fair to classify Washington's fourth-round pick Antonio Gandy-Golden as a long shot. Gandy-Golden lit it up for FCS Division-I program Liberty, racking up over 2,400 yards and 20 TDs on an average of 17.7 yards per catch over his last two years in school.

His 4.60 40 time at the Combine was slightly disappointing, but we're also talking about a guy that's 6'4" and 223 lbs at just 22-years-old. I like the landing spot, as the 'Skins don't really have a true third receiver. He's a cool little "stash and hope" prospect.


Rounds 16-20 (Filling Out the Roster)

Round 16, Pick 5: Van Jefferson (WR, LAR)

I'm still firing at these young receivers! Van Jefferson is a player that slid in both the real NFL Draft and dynasty drafts after it was discovered at the Combine that he had a foot fracture. Jefferson is a tough receiver with SEC experience that could slide into a better-than-it-looks situation with the Rams, who are now without Brandin Cooks. He'll still have to compete with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods for targets, but L.A's Josh Reynolds failed to truly impress when given opportunities last year. There seems to be a mass exodus from this Rams offense by fantasy experts, though I wouldn't be surprised to see a bit of a bounce back from Sean McVay and company.

Round 17, Pick 8: Golden Tate (WR, NYG)

As we're closing in on the mandatory "Defense and Kicker" portion of the draft, I thought I'd grab one more "win now" type of player in Golden Tate. He's a receiver that has been productive for basically his entire career, despite making stops with multiple teams along the way. The 31-year-old probably doesn't have a ton of football left, but he recorded a solid 2019 with 676 yards and six TDs on 49 catches, despite missing five games due to suspension and an ankle injury. The combination of a second-year Daniel Jones and new Giants OC Jason Garrett lead me to believe that Tate can once again contribute to fantasy lineups this season.

Round 18, Pick 5: Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens
Yep, this is a kicker league and I'm cool grabbing the best one in the game. Nothing to see here, moving on.

Round 19, Pick 8: Minnesota Vikings, D/ST
As with the kicker position, I also need to snag a defense. A mini run in the 18th round thinned things out a bit, so I'll take the Vikings here and be on my way.

Round 20, Pick 5: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Carolina Panthers
I wasn't really planning on drafting another QB and was prepared to roll out of the draft with just Deshaun Watson. However, I thought maybe I should grab the tiniest bit of insurance with my last pick in this draft and landed on Teddy B, the new Panthers QB. It looks like Bridgewater is slated to be the #CheckDownKing in Carolina, but he might also have some sneaky fantasy upside. He's got some good weapons around him on offense and this rebuilding Carolina defense might put Bridgewater and this offense in lots of "catch up" situations in 2020.


Post-Draft Thoughts

My first dynasty draft leaves me feeling a little unsure of myself, and if I were giving out grades for this league's draft, mine would be one of the lower ones of the bunch. I was bummed with the draft position I randomly drew, as it took me out of contention to secure a true Tier 1 running back. I'm also disappointed that I didn't make a move on a premier rookie RB, although I feel like my position would have perhaps made me reach in order to secure one.

Taking Deshaun Watson over Dak Prescott is a decision that I'm sure many will (perhaps rightfully) I'm actually still debating with myself about it. I realize that my team skews a bit older than most of the others, but I feel like some serious value continued to fall in my lap. Perhaps that is just my dynasty-drafting inexperience talking? The young receivers I grabbed late do give me some hope for the future, though I'm aware that the position carries a high miss rate.

One thing I did take away from this experience is that even the experts in this league have different strategies, as our RotoBaller NFL Editor Pierre seemed to lean on players with a short-term impact, RB contributor Collin Hulbert seemed dead set on packing his team with up-and-comers, while our super-sharp analyst Phil Clark appeared to find a nice blend of the two. Overall, I'm excited to embark on this journey and look forward to taking you guys along for the ride. I'll be back soon to update my progress!

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