As promised, here is the draft break down of the most recent high stakes startup draft (that I know of), The Monster Dynasty League, a $250 entry fee dynasty league. I’ll be studying both the overall draft itself (posting here my observations for each round) and studying the teams themselves and the strategies they used (in a follow up blog entry).
The basic rules are as follows: WCOFF scoring and lineup requirements, 25-player dynasty rosters, victory point system, and 6 teams in playoffs with top 2 teams (based on VP) receiving a bye.
First, the overall draft. Here are the draft results (through round 12 only): The Monster League Draft
No surprises here. In fact, in a high stakes draft like this, this is very close to how I would mock what I would consider to be the perfect first round (or, if I were in the draft waiting to draft again at the 2.05, the worst case scenario first round). I would not recommend drafting Aaron Rodgers in the top 7, which is where he went in both high stakes FFPC dynasty leagues I drafted, but at the 10 slot, Rodgers is a good choice – I do believe he is worthy of a first round pick in dynasty leagues.
I had the 7 slot, which is very nice to have. Going in, I would’ve considered getting a top 4 pick awesome, especially in a high stakes draft. Top 7 would have been almost as good. 8 and beyond (as I got in the FFPC $1250 and $750 dynasty leagues) would have been a huge downer. At 1.07, I was guaranteed to get an ultra-elite player, one of CJ3, MJD, Rice, ADP, Fitz, AJ or Calvin. The decision was made for me in this league when Calvin was the only player left available from that group.
Again with the perfect drafting through 2.05 with Jonathan Stewart just missing me by one pick. So, at 2.07, I had a tough call. My normal move would be to take another WR, maybe Crabtree, Rice, Desean Jackson or Dez Bryant. I decided to mix it up here and take a player that I do not have in any of my other 20+ dynasty teams, Steven Jackson. Like most, I am concerned about his long term prospects since he takes a beating each year, but I like him enough for the next couple of years to take him here. I also felt like already having Calvin on board, the ultimate long term player, afforded me the flexibility of taking more of a redraft player in Steven Jackson in the second round. As a side note, I did plan before the draft to draft a team that would be among the favorites to win it all in 2010. As for the rest of the round, I thought Turner went too early given his advancing age (although I took Steven Jackson, so who am I to criticize the Turner pick), and I also thought Shonn Greene and to a greater extent, Knowshon Moreno, went too early as well for other reasons. Crabtree at the end of the 2nd round is a nice value.
In a 1ppr league, I think the third round is just too early to take a tight end, even one with the upside Finley has. Randy Moss went earlier here than I have seen him go in any other dynasty startup this year that I can remember, high stakes or not. Then again, I don’t consider the pick a bad one by any means for a team looking to win now. How could I, when I ended up taking Reggie Wayne at the 3.07 and felt REALLY good about it. Wayne has gone well ahead of 3.07 in other fantasy football dynasty leagues I have drafted this year, but he is no spring chicken either so 3.07 is about right in terms of where I think his market value should be. The Wayne pick pretty much solidified that I would be going all out for the win in 2010, there was no turning back now.
As a side note, the absence of a key owner (Follow Me (Mark Moyer), a league mate of mine in a number of other dynasty leagues including this league’s sister leagues) opened the door for me to draft this kind of team in this league. Mark is a terrific dynasty player and ALWAYS drafts a great win-now team. In his absence, I was able to pick up players that he might have taken first (win-now heavy players like Reggie Wayne) and to take over the role he likely would have played were he in this league. With Calvin, SJax and now Wayne, so far so good.
Other picks that stood out were Matt Forte (earlier than most dynasty leagues but could end up being a steal), Chris Wells (great value in the 3rd round) and Deangelo Williams (also a great value here).
I like Felix Jones in the 4th round in dynasty leagues (in fact, I took him in the 3rd round in a $500 dynasty league earlier in the year, although that was well before the reports of Barber looking quicker this year and the reports of the swelling in Jones’ knee). Vincent Jackson near the end of the 4th is going to look like a great pick this time next year, but the pick also puts a team at a huge disadvantage for 2010. Biggest surprises were Mike Sims Walker in the early 4th round (based on his usual 5th round ADP) and Cedric Benson (whom, even before the troubling news this year, was a typical 5th rounder).
My pick, Peyton Manning. What I have found in dynasty leagues that differs from redraft is that when going for a win-now team, grabbing an elite QB early can be a viable and effective strategy. For example, in a dynasty league, you can draft Aaron Rodgers at the end of the first round, and still pick up enough veteran players at other positions later in the draft that slip further than they might in a redraft (e.g., Tony Gonzalez and Hines Ward) to make up the deficit at other positions. Try that in a redraft and you will likely find yourself in a hole that you can’t escape.
Wes Welker’s draft slot at or near the top of Round 5 is consistent with other high stakes dynasty startup drafts, but this is a little too early for me given that we just don’t know if he’ll ever be the same WR that he was. By the time we find out (probably the fall of 2011), he’ll be over 30 years old and likely on the downslope of his career.
The TE floodgates opened in this round. The league waited a while after Finley got taken in the 3rd round to take the next TE, but then 5 got taken in this round alone. For each one you can make an argument that they belong among the elite and are fine values in the 5th. I joined the fray myself taking Dallas Clark at the 5.07, the perfect player for what I was trying to accomplish in this league. Normally, I prefer to wait until the 8th or later to take a Zach Miller or Dustin Keller in a dynasty league using this format, but Clark, as with Gates (and possibly Witten), can potentially give a win-now team such a big advantage over the rest of the league that a 5th round pick is well worth it.
I am not as high on Matt Schaub for dynasty as some others, so I thought taking him in the 5th was a bit early considering that CJ Spiller and Jeremy Maclin were still on the board (both of whom I would have taken before Dallas Clark as well in most dynasty leagues). It may have been too soon to grab Jay Cutler here as well, but if your a believer in the Cutler/Martz combo, 5.12 could turn into a bargain (although still too early for me in dynasty).
There goes Mike Wallace again in this round, something that has become commonplace of late. Its no secret that I think he may be overrated, but I am starting to think I may just be way off on this guy. A closer look is warranted and that is definitely on my “to do” list.
Jeremy Maclin and CJ Spiller are incredible bargains here in the 6th. Unfortunately, neither made it onto my team. I was certainly not nearly as active here as I am normally in startup drafts (I just had a lot of stuff going on at the time), so I was not able to capitalize on these type of values. Plus, drafting a win-now team kind of lends itself to just staying put and letting the win-now values fall to you.
Garcon has been a standard pick in this round, and I like Demaryius Thomas as a dynasty value here (although not for my particular team). The rest are all kind of iffy values, so I am inclined to say that Round 6 is where value starts to dry up a bit in a WCOFF-style dynasty league. In fact, looking at the list of players taken here (outside of the 4 I mentioned above), I had a hard time figuring out which one I could have picked (and then realized it was Chad Ochocinco, making this league the only league in which I own him). I suppose he was a nice fit for this team, but he definitely is not one of “my guys”. He is a great WR3 though, particularly for a team already set at QB and TE, and he should remain that way for another year or two.
Justin Forsett is getting drafted earlier and earlier. The rest of the picks are fine players, but I just can’t get excited about them as 6th round picks (I consider them more as good late 7th/early 8th values.
Despite his offseason issues, I still really like Kenny Britt in the 7th in a dynasty league. Joseph Addai in the 7th is a fine pick if you’re looking to go for it in 2010. His value is way up in the air though after this year (and really only has room to go down from here in future years). I thought Darren McFadden was a decent gamble here for a fantasy football dynasty league. If I had waited on TE, Zach Miller at 7.12 would have been a fine value (although I might have been inclined to wait until the 8th and probably would have missed out on him entirely).
Devin Aromashodu was a big reach here imo. His perceived dynasty value has cooled off quite a bit recently (with Knox and Hester getting all the hype out of Chicago), but surprisingly, this is not the only recent dynasty league in which he has made an appearance this early. I would have preferred to take Devin Hester (went 1 pick later) if I were to take a Chicago WR not named Knox (taken 3 picks before).
Again - Malcolm Floyd in the 7th round in a high stakes dynasty league. Not my favorite choice for sure, but he could produce in the short term and is a decent redraft pick in this round. I am just not high on him for any sort of sustained dynasty value and would be very surprised if he gets drafted this high in startups next year.
I ended up with Ahmad Bradshaw, as I wanted to roster some upside youth. He’ll also be a decent RB3 for 2010 (although being my 2nd RB taken, not necessarily ideal). I ended up compensating for this in Rounds 8 and 10 by taking redraft-type RBs to shore up the position for 2010.
Kevin Kolb and Matt Ryan could end up being nice values in this round.
Steve Slaton is creeping up dynasty draft boards as of late. Definitely a gamble, though, even in this later round. Joe Flacco is a great value here (I like him better than Kolb and Ryan actually). Dexter McCluster I thought went too early here. Reggie Bush has gone a lot earlier than I would have expected in a bunch of startups this year (going in the 5th through 7th rounds in some startups). It seems that the Saints’ magical season has done quite a bit in restoring his dynasty value. The 8th round I suppose is ok for him, although I still would not be able to pull the trigger on him here. Among other concerns, I am worried about his knee long term. I took Ronnie Brown in the 8th with the intention of taking his running mate Ricky Williams in the 10th. This is by far the earliest I have seen Austin Collie get drafted in a dynasty league (or any league for that matter). The owner taking him this early must be really high on him – I like him as well (although he probably could have safely waited another round or two or three to take him).
With the CJ Spiller holdout in full swing, Fred Jackson could end up being a nice redraft-type value here in the 9th. He is another player though where I would be surprised if he gets drafted any higher in dynasty league startups next year. The redraft-type picks came out in full force in this round with Brandon Jacobs, Donald Driver, Carnell Williams, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Bryant getting taken here. Of that group, I like Tony Gonzalez the best for a win-now team. Chris Cooley is a pretty nice dynasty value in the 9th round (and a decent redraft pick here as well).
Again, I could not for the life of me figure out which pick was mine (did I trade out of this round entirely?). When I looked and found out it was Cooley, I was relieved (for a while there, I thought it might have been Brandon Jacobs with the draft style I was using). I am just not used to drafting this way in dynasty leagues, so this was a bit of a strange draft for me.
Here is where teams started taking upside flyers (a good time for that). Eddie Royal could end up being a nice pick here. Big Ben for sure was a nice value. I’ve taken Tashard Choice myself in this round in other leagues, so I get that pick. Stafford was a nice pick this late. As I mentioned earlier, I took Ricky Williams which is obviously nothing more than a one-year (possibly two-year) redraft rental (but a nice pairing nonetheless with Ronnie Brown). This is the second league in which I have taken Ricky Williams within the first ten rounds of a dynasty league startup draft. I am not proud of that fact, but in both circumstances, the pick served a purpose.
At the end of the round, a QB I really liked was still on the board (Eli Manning), so I decided to trade away my 2011 1st rounder (which I do not expect to be any better than 1.8 and more likely a 1.9-1.12) to take him at 10.12. This opens up the possibility of me later trading his brother Peyton if I need help at another position, although I am more likely to keep both rostered through 2010.
Rounds 11 and 12:
Picks I liked here: Dustin Keller, Heath Miller and Mark Sanchez. Picks that I didn’t like so much: Ravens defense, Jon Dwyer, Packers defense and Terrell Owens. My picks: Lee Evans and Mohammed Massaquoi.
Overall Draft: I thought the owners here did a great job in drafting in this league. It was clear to me pretty much from the beginning that I was up against a very high overall level of experience and skill, and that was reflected by the very few values left in any given round.
My team (starters in bold):
QB Peyton Manning
, Eli Manning, Matt Leinart
RB Steven Jackson
, Ahmad Bradshaw
, Ronnie Brown
, Ricky Williams, Lex Hilliard
WR Calvin Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Chad Ochocinco
, Derrick Mason, Lee Evans, MoMass, Buster Davis
TE Dallas Clark
, Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Rob Gronkowski, Shawn Nelson, Dennis Pitta
K Rob Bironas
, Shayne Graham
I came into the draft with a definite plan in mind and stuck to it for the most part. I am liking my chances going into 2010 (as the pre-season favorite to win it all imo) and think that my team as assembled can do very well in 2011 as well. Still, I am fully aware that this is a rebuild waiting to happen (which I am looking forward to trying to pull off when the time comes). The trick will be making sure I get the rebuild going before it is too late but without jumping the gun either where I end up leaving potential prize money and possible championships on the table.