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Dynasty Theory

Basic Dynasty Thoughts on Roster Construction

Dynasty Theory

Since it is the offseason, I thought I would offer some high-level theory for dynasty owners.  This is the second in the series.  We are getting into the full offseason where rookie drafts and roster building is the focus.  The NFL Combine was last weekend and everyone is now focused on the rookie draft.  I want to offer some thoughts on roster construction, following up on the positional value discussion in the previous article. 

In that article, we discussed how few quarterbacks are valuable dynasty assets, worth at least a first-round rookie pick in leagues that start just one passer.  As with any league, know your league’s scoring rules.  If your league scoring does not value quarterbacks, then there is little reason to use more roster spots on the position than the absolute minimum.  You can check the positional values by looking at last year’s scoring leaders.  Look for players who offer a points-per-game edge over others at the same position.  Yes, if you are lacking a legitimate starting fantasy quarterback, then you may need to roster some upside passers with the hope of hitting a Dak-like home run.  As the earlier article indicated, proven veteran passers can be acquired for as little as a 2nd or 3rd-round rookie pick.  This includes players like Philip Rivers, Andy Dalton, and many more.  But, this thought should make sense.  Since few at the position are worthy of a first-round pick, this means that every other passer is worth a 2nd rounder or less.  Given the low price to acquire a quality starter, there is no reason to either pay for a premium starter or have a large deficiency at the position.

Most of the above are true also for the tight end position.  With so many startable options coming from the in-season waiver wire, there is little reason to trade for a non-elite tight end.  Also, this valuation aligns with the scoring distribution.  Only 2 points per game separated TE3 and TE12 in points-per-reception leagues in 2016.  With many in that group of startable tight ends acquired via the waiver wire, it is best to just take fliers off waivers and hope to get lucky.  Also, this is the same reason to not invest more than a 2nd-round rookie pick at the position.  Yes, I know that this year’s tight end class is talented and deep, but that is all the more reason to let someone else spend a first-round pick on a tight end.  Your roster distribution should reflect your league’s scoring.  Most dynasty leagues value the wide receiver position highest, and running back next, followed by tight end, then quarterback.  Even if the quarterbacks score well, the difference between QB5 and QB15 is nominal in most leagues.  The trade off with the ball carriers is that the career expectancy of players at the position is short relative to the other positions. 

There is a reason you do not see a Guard, Center, Safety, Inside Linebacker, and other positions taken high in the first round of the NFL Draft.  This is because the NFL has deemed a few premium positions (e.g., Quarterback, Left Tackle, Cornerback) and teams would rather take the third-best option at a premium position than an elite player at a non-premium position.  There will be multiple Offensive Tackles selected in the upcoming NFL Draft before the top Guard or Center is taken, and this draft class has elite talent at those positions.  Expanding on this thought, consider how even backup quarterbacks are worth more than a first-round pick in the NFL Draft while top players at the non-premium positions are allowed to walk without any compensation.  To confirm this point, we consulted overthecap.com for contracts of the top players at each position.  See the table below.

Rank Player POS  Team Avg $/Yr
1 Drew Brees QB Saints $24,250,000
2 Kirk Cousins QB Redskins $23,944,000
3 Joe Flacco QB Ravens $22,133,333
4 Aaron Rodgers QB Packers $22,000,000
5 Russell Wilson QB Seahawks $21,900,000
6 Ben Roethlisberger QB Steelers $21,850,000
7 Carson Palmer QB Cardinals $21,000,000
8 Eli Manning QB Giants $21,000,000
9 Philip Rivers QB Chargers $20,812,500
10 Cam Newton QB Panthers $20,760,000
11 Matt Ryan QB Falcons $20,750,000
12 Tom Brady QB Patriots $20,500,000
13 Ryan Tannehill QB Dolphins $19,250,000
14 Von Miller 34OLB Broncos $19,083,333
15 Jay Cutler QB Bears $18,100,000
16 Brock Osweiler QB Texans $18,000,000
17 Tyrod Taylor QB Bills $18,000,000
18 Tony Romo QB Cowboys $18,000,000
19 Matthew Stafford QB Lions $17,666,667
20 Sam Bradford QB Vikings $17,500,000
21 Muhammad Wilkerson 34DE Jets $17,200,000
22 Fletcher Cox 43DT Eagles $17,100,000
23 Antonio Brown WR Steelers $17,000,000
24 Alex Smith QB Chiefs $17,000,000
25 Olivier Vernon 43DE Giants $17,000,000

 Notice how only a few positions are represented?  Of the top 20 players listed, 19 are quarterbacks.  This is the "premium" position for NFL teams.  Your dynasty league is very similar in that some positions are valued more than others. 

To summarize, your roster construction and the use of your rookie picks should reflect your league’s scoring.  Invest in the premium positions.  For non-premium positions, look to get starters on the cheap, whether via trade or off the waiver wire.

Feel free to email me (Tefertiller@Footballguys.com) with feedback.  Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.