2017 Dynasty Startup Mock: RotoViz Writers Debate the Win-Now Approach

With only one game left in the 2016 season, we turn our attention to 2017 in the form of a 12-team dynasty startup mock.

In this round table discussion, our mock drafters comment on the big startup draft issues.


Our dynasty mockers fell into two broad categories in the way they approached the draft: those who placed an emphasis on Year 1 and those who placed an emphasis on accumulating the most total years of talent.1

Group 1: Already in the “Window”

Last season, Jason Lewis looked at the age premium and found that not only does it exist, but that buying younger players can cost you a lot of value in the easiest year to predict … the next one.

Three owners discuss their reasons for prioritizing the Year 1 title:

My goal is to compete right away in year one, while remaining competitive into the next few seasons. I don’t shy away from older players. In a league that starts up to four WRs, I want lots of depth; and in a sport that churns RBs, I also want depth. I ended with seven RBs and 11 WRs. To get there, I was willing to go light at TE and QB.2 – Charles Kleinheksel

When entering a startup, my strategy is to draft a team that’s formidable in Year 1 and doesn’t over-emphasize youth. Building around the WR position is a high priority given the expected shelf life we can project for most of these players. I’ve also found myself willing to attack a stud QB or TE as a reliable source of fantasy points if the board falls right. Given the PPR scoring format, I’d rather pursue receiving-type running backs over potential workhorses. I’ll take stabs at potential workhorses in future rookie drafts while still accruing a steady stream of fantasy points from my receiving backs in the meantime. – Tyler Buecher

My strategy was to build a competitive team in year one by chasing production. We love WRs here at RotoViz and great work by Jacob Rickrode tells us that we should be loading up on proven talent. I tend to fade the fragile positions (RB/TE) early but sometimes the value is too good to pass up. – Tim Talmadge

Group 2: Future’s So Bright

On the flip side, we have owners who are more skeptical about the predictability of the short term and will attempt to stockpile assets for the long run. In 2014 Ryan Rouillard wrote what remains one of my favorite series on RotoViz. He theorized that dynasty players are like stock options and that their prices are dependent on intrinsic value, time to maturity, and implied volatility.

While elite veterans may carry justifiable price tags for 2017, those prices rely almost entirely on intrinsic value. Due to age, the time to maturity part of the equation virtually guarantees that they will decline in value.

The trick is to use implied volatility as a weapon to build a roster with protected downside and exploding upside. Of course, our ability to discern the volatility of players is imperfect, which is where the fun in drafting/trading comes in.

If you have ever read any of my Dynasty articles on the site, I always emphasize ideas of antifragility, arbitrage, and not only understanding my own biases, but taking advantage of others’. People have shit memories. People also are highly overconfident in their ability to predict the future. People also heavily overreact to what has happened most recently. By being cognizant of these natural flaws in human thinking, and admitting that I am as guilty of them as everyone else, I try to play fantasy football (not just dynasty) in a way that maximizes my benefit of others’ folly. – 14TeamMocker

My preferred startup strategy is to draft for maximum potential future value in every round. I stay generally aware of my overall team composition, but especially in the single-digit rounds, I am simply drafting the youngest talent possible. Unless there is an early, unexpected run, I’m almost always going to leave a startup with one of my top five TEs.3 – Curtis Patrick

My dynasty philosophy fits into this second group, but I think it’s one of the most interesting and relevant debates in fantasy.

Despite the Rise of the Uber-Back, It Was All About the WR

We heard a lot about a RB Revival this season, and I love this development. Regardless of your Zero RB politics, elite RBs are very good for discussion and extremely positive for fantasy football in general. On the other hand, 75 percent of startup owners in 2017 will not be able to own David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, or Ezekiel Elliott. The fifth-best RB in 2016 was DeMarco Murray, an admittedly older back with Derrick Henry breathing down his neck. But Murray fell to No. 59 overall and RB14 in our mock, which speaks not only to disagreement about RB value but also the quixotic nature of RB projections.

Matt Wispe explains his positional approach:

This is a RotoViz startup, right? If I wanted any chance at young WRs with upside, I had to take them right away. Four WRs to start was an absolute must to develop a team core. So, as you’d expect during any mock with RotoViz writers, I applied some semblance of ZeroRB. I didn’t consider a RB during any of my first four picks (Yes, I would have taken Julio Jones ahead of any of the elite RBs if forced to choose). My biggest goal overall was to create a team that would get better rather than deteriorate each year.

Post-Draft Reflections

The WR Stockpile Approach also played a big part in our post-draft reflections.

It’s hard to stockpile elite WRs when everyone else seems to be trying to do the same. – Charlie

You don’t realize how difficult drafting can be when so many people know your playbook until it happens. – Matt

It wasn’t the only trend, however, as drafters were surprised at how long the TEs lasted.

I think many of us noticed the RBs falling down the board, but I found it equally surprising seeing how few TEs went off in the first couple of rounds. I was extremely tempted to take Jordan Reed as the TE3 at the Round 3-4 turn, but ultimately decided to lock up two WRs instead. I was stunned that 22 picks later not a single TE other than Reed had gone off and that I could close Round 5 with Tyler Eifert. It didn’t stop there though: Greg Olsen going 96th, Delanie Walker 118th, Kyle Rudolph 131st, and even Jared Cook and Cameron Brate barely made it into the 14th round. The position as a whole felt extremely neglected. – Jason Lewis

We also saw in 2016 a massive shakeup at the tight end position. This uncertainty was reflected in our draft with many of us unwilling to spend high capital on a position loaded with question marks and potential incoming rookie talent. – Tyler Buecher

Of the three main positional groups, TE did see the weakest relationship between 2015 expected points (reEP) and 2016 expected points, and another no-show season from Rob Gronkowski conspired to limit interest in the position.4

In Part 2 of the round table we’ll talk about the biggest surprises, the most controversial picks, and our favorite values.

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  1. To be sure, competing right away and competing every year are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  (back)
  2. That’s mildly risky, but even though every team except mine took two or more QBs, a handful of likely starters remain on waivers. – Charlie  (back)
  3. Just a quick aside, if I end up with a book-end pick in a startup with other youth-happy drafters, I leave myself an escape route of going all-in for a year one win via grabbing two elite veterans at the turn. After all, a year one win can pay your entry fees for many years to come while you concentrate on tearing the team down and building it back up. I think it’s worth mentioning that it’s good to have a backup plan entering a startup, especially if you don’t know many of the other owners. If you don’t give yourself permission to veer from your strategy, you can end up chasing second-rate players and sinking your team. – Curtis  (back)
  4. There were only three TEs under 30 who averaged 12-plus reEP, and I made it a priority to select the two stars in Travis Kelce and Jordan Reed. Kyle Rudolph was the other. – Shawn  (back)
By Shawn Siegele | @ff_contrarian | Archive

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