One of my favorite parts of dynasty is doing a startup draft. There’s something thrilling of drafting a new team that you can build into a championship winning team. It doesn’t always happen in year one, but if you have a sound draft strategy, coupled with the ability to adapt you can draft a team that is an immediate contender. After all, the goal in fantasy is to win. There are many different strategies to attacking a startup from many different sites and analysts. I usually play in leagues with a Superflex element and some sort of TE premium or 2TE setup, so this one in particular may work better in those kinds of leagues.
In all startups, my favorite thing to do right off the bat is to trade down or out of the first round. If you do end up with the 1.01, Odell or Hopkins would be a terrific pick. However, the idea of adding extra draft capital early in the startup or rookie picks is always a good strategy. Plus, the chances of getting the 1.01 or 1.02 aren’t that good, so we’ll try to make a plan without that in mind for the sake of this article.
In my most recent startup I got the 1.05. Certainly not a bad pick. In this league it’s 12 teams. We start 1-2-3-2-2 flexes and a superflex. It’s PPR, 0.1PPC, with TE Premium. There’s also some points for return yards. The draft started off Zeke, Hopkins, Gurley, and David Johnson. At the 1.05 my first instinct is to go OBJ. The highest ranked player on my board, and I may have taken him if I got the 1.01. However, with all of the scoring caveats, I definitely wanted to explore moving down. I ended up finding a deal to move down to the 2.02 and get the 4.02 on top of it. That means my first five picks would be the 2.02, 2.08, 3.05, 4.02, and 4.08. I was able to start the draft Gronk, Deshaun Watson, the 1.02 rookie pick, Marcus Mariota, and Tyreek Hill. That’s a really good core of players. I was able to get the top TE in the NFL, which is huge in 2TE and TE Premium. I got my 2 starting QBs for years to come, a possible top 10 dynasty WR, and the 1.02. That pick could end up being Derrius Guice, who would be a great RB to have, or someone may make a great offer for it when I’m on the clock.
While you can collect startup picks, you can also collect rookie picks for the next years draft. If I were to move down from the 1.05 and was targeting 18 1sts, I might have been able to get the 2.02, and 18 first, and maybe another pick a little later in the startup. That’s also a good way to build up capital, though it may lead to a slower build.
Trading down is great in a startup, but you also have to recognize when it’s time to move around, even trading up. After taking Tyreek at 4.08, Engram and Kelce were next off the board. In a league with TE premium and start 2TE, my plan was to get two of the top 5 TE going into the draft. I started engaging in trade talks to the owner of the 4.11, and he offered me a deal of me moving up to his pick for my 5.05. It included a pick swap in round 8 and a 20th round pick. That was a good deal for me, so I took it. You won’t always get good deals, but you have to ask or you’ll never know. I took Ertz there and was happy to do it.
Every year, there’s value in startups. Guys are going to fall for a multitude of reasons. One of the biggest reasons I notice are positional runs. For example, if the top five QBs are gone in the draft above, maybe I’ll take one with my next pick. The guy after me sees a top QB target go, and he doesn’t want to be left out, so he grabs the next one. Then all of a sudden, eight straight picks could be QBs, and a stud WR falls to your next pick. One of my biggest strategies going into any startup is to be the one that starts the run, not the one on the end of it.
To put into perspective, let’s say you’re considering Stefon Diggs in the third round. That’s a fair price for him, but maybe you like Marcus Mariota at that spot too. I’d be much more tempted to take a QB there to spark a run on the position. Maybe Diggs falls, and maybe he doesn’t. However, chances are a comparable player such as Tyreek or Jarvis Landry might fall to your next pick. In that scenario, you could end up with Mariota and Landry, versus getting maybe the eighth best QB during that run, maybe a Matt Ryan or a Drew Brees. Which side would you take in a trade in this league setup? Drew Brees and Stefon Diggs or Marcus Mariota and Jarvis Landry? I’m talking the Landry side every day of the week.
The most important part of a startup is to analyze your league settings first. See what the lineup requirements are and the points settings to determine where you want to prioritize your draft spending. Maybe you want to take Gronk in the first in a 2TE and TE premium league. Maybe it’s Russell Wilson in the first. Maybe it’s trading down if you have a large lineup requirement. Once you have an idea of what you want your lineup to look like, it’ll make it easier to make decisions when you’re on the clock. That will lead to you building a lot more dynasties in the future.