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It has been far too long since the last time I posted my thoughts here, so what better way to get over writer’s block than breaking down a recent dynasty startup draft?

I have participated in several “expert” dynasty leagues over the past few years, but I find spending most of my time and efforts in leagues where I have money on the line.  It is human nature to focus more when the reward is greater.  Don’t get me wrong, experts leagues are fun and challenging, but often times interest is lost during the season when the only prize on the line is bragging rights.

In my first startup dynasty draft for money since the Fantasy Premier League last summer, I gladly accepted the challenge from my fellow website co-founder Andy Miley to join “The League” (which needs a new league by the way).  I was eager to put my dynasty rankings at PFF Fantasy to the test.

Before I start breaking down my team and strategy, I should get some of the specifics about the new league out of the way.

First, the competition.  This is not your run of the mill dynasty league.  Several owners in the league are well-respected in the fantasy football industry including:

Second, the rules:

  • 35 roster spots
  • Start QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, 2 Flex (RB/WR/TE), K, DL, DL, LB, LB, DB, DB, 3 Flex (DL, LB, DB)
  • PPR Scoring, 1.5 PPR for TE, 5 points per TD pass, 6 points all TD, 1.5 per tackle, 3 points per sack/interception

Here are the full draft results.

Now that I have set the stage for you, it is time to get into what I planned on doing, what I did, and I what I would have done differently.  I will say that I am personally ecstatic the way my team, the Hooksett Hurricane, turned out.  My strategy will not suit everyone, so read on with caution.

Pre-Draft Strategy

Going into this draft, I had a strategy of focusing on young players in the first 10 rounds and then build out my depth and starting lineup from there.  I wanted to build a team that was a dark-horse candidate to win the league in the first year, but ultimately would be set up for dynasty dominance in the next few years.  I also decided to wait on drafting any defensive players until I was satisfied with the core of my offense.

I did have a short list of players that were must drafts on my board:

  • QB Sam Bradford – Rams.  After the top-tier QB’s, Bradford is the highest upside player in my rankings that can challenge to become the top overall QB in dynasty leagues.
  • RB Ryan Mathews – Chargers.  He had a down year as a rookie, but I believe in his talent and can challenge to be this year’s version of Arian Foster for San Diego.
  • WR A.J. Green – Bengals.  The top player on my rookie draft board.  He has the talent to challenge for the top-10 immediately.
  • WR Greg Little – Browns.  I wrote an entire feature article on why I think Little can succeed at the pro level.  He does not come without risk, but his upside is Terrell Owens in the West Coast Offense.
  • TE Jermichael Finley – Packers.  In a tight end premium scoring format (1.5 points per reception), I wanted the best young tight end in the game on arguably the top offense in the league.

Finally, I wanted to maximize the value on my draft board by trading down from either my first (1.08) or second (2.05) round pick.  I knew several players I liked would be available in the third and fourth round that I would consider taking in the second.  More on how my trade worked out in a little while.

Draft Results

As I mentioned before, the draft could not have gone better for my team.

First up, I was able to land four of the five players I targeted pre-draft.  I took a gamble in the third round that the team picking in-between my two picks would not take a third running back to start the draft.  Much to my surprise after I selected Green, Mathews went off the board at 3.11 and I settled for Mark Ingram instead.

I was able to trade my second round pick (2.05) and eight round pick (8.05) for a third (3.10) and a fourth round (4.03).  After the draft was completed, I essentially traded QB Michael Vick and TE Zach Miller for RB Mark Ingram and QB Sam Bradford.

With the 2011 rookies as part of the player pool, and not in a separate rookie only draft, I went for several rookies throughout the draft for a total of 10.  Many of the rookies I selected were at the top of my rankings at their positions and I was able to land four of my top five rookies overall (only Julio Jones eluded me).  Although rookies make up 28.6% of my roster, in a league full of dynasty diehards, the price to acquire young talent can be astronomical after a startup draft.

What I should have done

Surprisingly I do not have many regrets or missteps from this start-up draft.  I mentioned earlier on missing out on RB Ryan Mathews earlier which may come back to haunt me.  The only other move I am kicking myself for was passing on RB Delone Carter in the 11th round for my third QB Jay Cutler.  With Shane Vereen still on the board, I thought Carter had a very good chance to fall back to me in the 12th round after the turn.  My counterpart Andy Miley snagged Carter a few picks later.  He astutely let me know afterwards that he has never had Vereen higher than Carter on his draft board.  Man, if I had only taken the time to look at his rankings on the site!


Several factors determine if you have a successful draft or not.  Some things to keep in mind as you get ready for your own startup drafts:

  • Have a plan for your team, but be willing to shift gears during the draft.  Be like water as Andy Miley says.
  • Figure out if you want to go for broke in year one, or if you want to build for the future.  Teams that miss the mark will find it extremely hard to rebuild their team through the rookie draft only.  Trades for young talent are often hard to come by with a group of knowledgeable owners.
  • Have a list of “your guys”.  There is nothing more enjoyable than having a roster full of players you root for or think can succeed.
  • Do not be afraid to trade up or down in your start-up draft.  There is nothing wrong for trading up for a specific player you need to have or trading back and stockpiling talent.  Your startup draft can be your one chance to build the team you really want.
  • Do not draft your team based on what others think or what others think you should do.  In this draft, I zigged while everyone else was sagging and landed a ton of young talent.  Not all young talent pans out, but I am comfortable with that risk even though I took a ton of flack for being dubbed the “Rookie King”.
  • And finally have fun!  Startup drafts only happen once, make the most of it and your team will be set up for plenty of future success.

Follow Bryan on Twitter.



  1. Man, you got fleeced in that trade, and that 52’s team looks like it’s the real deal! Haha
    All jokes aside, I think the most important thing for readers to take out of going with a strategy like yours is that if you’re going to go that route, make sure you go for broke and stay fully committed to the strategy. There were lots of times where it would have been easy for you to take a “better” player, but you stayed on course and ended up getting the team that you wanted.
    Oh, and for the record, if Andy didn’t draft Carter on the way down, I was snagging him on the way back up. Haha

    • eric
    • Posted June 8, 2011 at 12:54 AM
    • Permalink

    Having no knowledge of your plans here, I executed the exact same strategy in my own .5 PPR IDP roster 35 league that is winding down as I type this response. I’m just as happy as you with the outcome, albeit with a few different players. But the core concept is very similiar and I believe I have a perennial contender here.

    • Great roster Eric, looks like it will be a contender for some time

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