Dynasty Football Win Now/Win Later Strategy

by Mark Strausberg
Dynasty Football Win Now/Win Later Strategy

Dynasty Football Win Now/Win Later Strategy debate has been raging for eons. Okay, not eons, but at least decades. Some say it's worth sacrificing a little today to make a better tomorrow. Others say if you have the cards to "push all-in", you do. So what's the right decision?

Who says you have to make a decision Leon? Much like Leon who can't decide which Stalker to take, you don't ever HAVE to make a decision. But it is often better to choose one side of the road or the other. Otherwise, you might be squished like a grape.

But if I am going to be completely honest with you, it really depends on the specifics of your league. How well dispersed is the talent? Are more people on the "same side" of the road as you or less? How easy is it to rebuild in your league--do you have a salary cap for example or can owners keep the same ten studs for ten years? Do you have a strong enough core to trade away some key assets?

And those are just some of the bigger questions. Furthermore, I'd argue that if you do things correctly, you can both win now AND win later. So how do you do that?

Here are some helpful tips.

Win Now/Win Later Dynasty Strategy

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To stand victorious in both the current season as well as the future season, here are some things to remember.

1. WRs have better long-term value than RBs but less than QBs

Running backs always go early in redraft leagues. But they have the shortest lifespans of the three primary fantasy positions:

Statistic: Average playing career length in the National Football League (in years) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

In any given year, running backs might rule the fantasy landscape. But in a dynasty league, they produce for a much shorter time.  Yes, there are some exceptions, but how many RBs have sustained success for even half a dozen years? I always think about how dominant Todd Gurley was for almost four years, but by 2020 he was absolute toast.  Sure, someone like Randy Moss had some down years, especially after his peak. But he had nine seasons alone in which he scored double-digit touchdowns. That's about twice the length of Gurley's career!

And then when you compare that to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady of the fantasy world, quarterbacks can be dominant year after year for over a dozen years. I'm not saying go all in on quarterbacks and ignore running backs. But consider the typical lifespan of the position when acquiring players of that position. Speaking of knowing the assets you're getting...

2. Know the value cycle of assets

You need to trade if you want to win your league, even if you hit the lottery in the inaugural draft. A big part of that is knowing when the best time is to trade players and picks. It’s very simple: Players are more valuable when they’re playing, and picks are more valuable the closer you are to the draft.

For example, if your team is rebuilding and you want to trade a player for draft picks, you want to do that in-season when that aging receiver can help another team and that owner doesn’t have their heart set on drafting a stud running back from their alma mater.

Other owners are probably thinking most about the draft in the offseason, but if you can get ahead of the curve and trade for a pick before they’re diving into scouting reports, you’ll probably get the pick more cheaply. There may be more people trying to trade picks in the spring, but it will come at a cost.

As an extension of that, teams are often likely to have a lower price for players in the offseason when they’re not in the heat of a playoff chase. For example, even a WR5 might be a necessary depth piece in a dynasty league when there is usually so little available in the free agency pool.

You probably know the saying "timing is everything". Well, it's true, especially in fantasy football, which brings us to our next helpful hint.

3. It's better to sell too soon than hold on too long

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Fantasy football allows you to pretend to be a GM, so why not copy the best one in the league? Bill Belichick is known for trading players surprisingly early, but it usually works out. If a couple of years into playing, you have a running back who hits 25, it may not be a bad idea to trade him before he turns into Todd Gurley.

4. Know the strengths of upcoming draft classes

This one is pretty straightforward and doesn't take a lot of explanation. It was well known that the 2022 draft was considered "weaker" than either the previous year's or next year's draft. And the 2023 draft is looking to be pretty strong at the top, but the 2021 draft was one of the deeper drafts in recent years. And the 2022 draft while not as snazzy at the top, might also be deeper than the 2023 draft.

So plan accordingly. For example, I traded away many of my 2022 picks this past season for either a stud that could help me win now; or 2023 or even 2024 picks. Just a simple google search of what is known as "Devy Rankings" can lead to insight into how valuable certain picks in the future might be.

5. The current season has more certainty in it than any other season

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I’ve seen plenty of fantasy players play in leagues like they knew exactly what was going to happen. Did anyone foresee Andrew Luck retiring? Or Antonio Brown melting down? (Okay, yes, but how many chances did you think the guy would blow?)

You just never know. You need to keep an open mind and have a vision for the future. But just like the weather, the nearer you get, the more accurate the forecast. If you have a chance to win this year, that may be more important than a future opportunity that never comes.

6. Rookies vs. Vets

Rookies may not contribute right away, but they are your best investments. Look at the top players in dynasty rankings; they’re almost all first-round picks in the real-life NFL Draft. If you were able to get Najee Harris, Ja’Marr Chase, and Kyle Pitts in your inaugural dynasty draft or auction, you could have a loaded team come 2023 or sooner, even if the cost of doing so was painful in Year 1.

On the flip side, veterans often have more proven production than rookies, and even if they are going to retire in three years, they still have three productive years. If you’re contending for a title now, a rookie may not contribute enough to help you win games. And winning titles should be your ultimate goal.

7. Value, Value, Value

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I was tempted to get cute by just listing this rule and none of the others above. I'd save myself some time while also underscoring a basic tenet. But I'd end up getting grief from you dear reader, my editors, and quite frankly myself for taking the easy way out. The reward just wouldn't be worth the downside.

And so too do you have to decide the value of every dynasty move you make. Yes, redraft owners face a lot of the same decisions as dynasty owners. But the difference is the consequences are short-term for the redraft owner. Any misstep not only impacts your current season but can cause ripples for future years.

It's why instead of grabbing the "obvious" player or best player available, I will often grab the best value on the board. It's why my dynasty teams feature players like Leonard Fournette and James Robinson. I didn't really want those players, but I just could not pass up the value I was getting by acquiring them. And that goes for trades, drafts, free agents, and so on. If you can consistently acquire value, you're going to find yourself winning a lot more than you are losing.

So if you are not doing any of these things now, adopt these suggestions and I promise you that some of these Win Now/Win Later Dynasty Strategy techniques might just work!

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