The New Reality No.161: Lessons Learned, 2021 Strategy

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of dynasty fantasy football

With just Week 16 left in the regular season, a vast majority of dynasty leagues are awarding their championship trophies this week. For dynasty GMs, it is time to get back to business - improving their roster through trades, rookie draft strategy, and proper player valuations for next season. Here are some lessons learned from 2020 and strategies for 2021:

2020 LESSONS

Value Quarterback Profiles

Some of the bigger quarterback producers beyond their dynasty cost in the offseason in 2020 were stable long-term profiles. Aaron Rodgers is one of the glaring examples. Rodgers, coming off a so-called "down" year in 2019 where touchdowns were down, but his TD-INT ratio remained off-the-charts elite, was fading down to the fifth round of startup drafts at times due to Jordan Love's drafting and the "end is coming in Green Bay" dialogue.

However, Rodgers is an all-timer, and betting on his profile (SEVEN top-six seasons entering 2020 and 10 top-12 seasons overall, the third-most top-6 seasons for any quarterback dating back to the mid-1990s) was and is a prudent one over less established options. Through Week 15, Rodgers is QB3 in PPG and QB2 in total points. On the cheaper side, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are QB12 and QB13 in PPG this season. Both were affordable (think late Round 2 picks) in the offseason and deemed 'done' by many pushing them into irrelevancy or retirement. Running quarterbacks out of dynasty town preemptively is one of the bigger mistakes in dynasty leagues, especially in premium formats.

The young relatively unproven quarterbacks are the IPOs and penny stocks of the dynasty spectrum, while the veterans who have been there and done that are the mutual funds who dispense the dividends and pay the bills. Who could be a ripe value in 2021? Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Jared Goff are examples with seven top-6 seasons and 14 top-12 seasons between them. None are particularly hot dynasty names in the offseason when it is all about the sizzle and possibilities of the next young breakout star.

Running Backs: It's a Weekly Game

Footballguys Dynasty Show co-host Jordan McNamara summarized the rookie running back twists and turns well in this week's episode. I would highly encourage a listen every week, but this week's show highlights the point I would make here - dynasty is a long-term game but a weekly rollercoaster. Injuries, matchups, snap share, touchdowns called back, depth chart changes, and more all impact the start rate, confidence level for lineups, and performance of running backs and especially still developing ones. The 2020 rookie class has seen the following in less than a full season's time:

Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Big rise with Damien Williams opting out, early producer, Le'Veon Bell signed, lagging production, now injured.

Jonathan Taylor: Blocked behind Marlon Mack, unblocked with Mack's injury, breakout game and now great, disappointing due to a murky committee and lower-usage games, now a strong producer to close the fantasy regular season and two weeks into the playoffs.

J.K. Dobbins: Sparsely plays early, rises over time, still lagging in production even with Mark Ingram II's injury and fading from a relevant part of the committee, Gus Edwards plays well, receiving usage question mark.

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