Playing Your League

Playing Your League

“Playing Your League”

Tell me if this sounds like you.  Your startup draft order has been finalized.  Based on your draft position, you begin running through all the hypotheticals.  You have a general idea about which top players will probably be gone by the time you’re up.  You begin to think about whether you want to trade up or even out of the first round.  Will you attempt to reach on any players you believe are primed for a breakout campaign?  Will you look to draft a talent surplus at a specific position and risk having roster imbalance?  While there are several variables that go into your team building strategy, the often overlooked variables are your league settings.  This article will provide my own suggestions and insights on how to build a team based on the league you’re playing in. 

Scoring Settings:

The most influential league settings are going to be the scoring settings.  Variations in scoring settings give different values to different position groups, depth levels, etc.  My top scoring settings to be mindful of are the following:

Reception Value - Standard, Half Point Per Reception, or Full Point Per Reception

Passing TD Value - 4, 5, or 6

Position-Based Premiums - RB Reception, WR Reception, TE Reception

Misc. Premiums - Big Play, Big TD, etc.

Reception value is going to drastically alter how you look at pass catchers at both the WR and RB positions.  In standard scoring (which I personally think should be banished from fantasy), your aim is to amass players expected to gain the most yards and score the most TDs.  In full PPR, certain players that may have been afterthoughts in standard, become essential parts of your team.  For example, let’s look at Jakobi Meyers.  In 2021, as the Patriots’ de facto WR1, he posted a laughable 2 TDs.  In that same campaign, he saw a minimum of 4 receptions in all but 2 games.  He saw a minimum of 6 receptions in 6 games which equates to the same value of 6 more TDs over the season.  A player like Meyers can serve as a great complementary WR piece alongside other players that maybe produce more boom/bust weeks.  The same thing can be said for pass-catching RBs.  Outside of Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb, You typically want to target WRs with the ability to catch the ball.  Receiving work is the great equalizer and gives RBs a solid floor especially when they don’t get bellcow sort of volume on the ground.  In half and full PPR, backup RBs and 3rd down RBs are able to hold standalone value outside of just being handcuffs.

Passing TD value is pretty simple for me.  In a 4-pt league, a 30 passing TD campaign gets you 60 less points than in 6-pt.  In 4-pt, I place a higher value on mobile QBs and specifically QBs expected to take some goal line TDs.  While rushing upside remains a cheat code for fantasy QBs, 6-pt begins to even the playing field a bit since rushing TDs are typically worth 6 points as well.  Passing TD value is typically my deciding factor in startup drafts when I’m choosing between a low end QB1 and taking a top WR or RB.  

Scoring premiums are a bit more tricky.  As a general team building rule, you typically want a balance between players you expect to produce a solid weekly floor and more risky players that have boom/bust potential.  Since big plays and big TDs are typically the result of broken coverage, a perfectly placed downfield ball, etc, you can’t actively predict when those plays will come or how many there will be.  Targeting players with historically consistent YAC numbers is always a sound tactic that can be an indicator of big plays, but it’s difficult to say those two are correlative.  On the other hand, position-based premiums are much easier to act on when putting a team together.  I’ve seen a lot more leagues going toward TE premiums on receptions due to it being so difficult to find consistent production outside of the top tier of guys.  In a full PPR league with a 1-pt TE premium, a TE with a 5 rec / 100 yrd / TD game would score 26 points.  That’s a low to mid QB1 performance.  When you begin to weigh the values of scoring and premiums, you begin to rethink values of different positions.  Depending on your scoring, maybe QBs no longer need to be the foundation of your team.  

Starting Lineup Positions:

Your startup draft as well as any subsequent trades need to be approached while keeping starting lineup settings in mind.  The most important lineup variations to note are the following:

Number of startable QBs - Single QB, multi-QB, Superflex

Number of WRs and RBs - Typically 2-3 of each position

Number of flex players - Typically anywhere from 1-3

Number of bench spots - There really aren’t any standards for bench spots

In most superflex leagues, you see leaguemates that attempt to roster 3+ QBs.  Most startup draft 1st rounds are littered with a who's who of top QBs, and as I’d previously mentioned, each league mate needs to decide if they want to be that 1st person to buck the trend of drafted QBs.  As previously discussed in the premiums section, you now can see that certain scoring settings can make an RB or WR or TE into a QB-equivalent so to speak.  Even the very best QBs have off weeks or have weeks where the TDs happen to go to the running game.  Depending on your QBs DST matchup, you could very well see several of your other players outsourcing some if not all your QBs.  Keep an open mind and try not to place blind faith in the QB position. 

Most leagues typically force you to start 2-3 RBs and 2-3 WRs.  When the starting lineup contains 3 WRs, I tend to lean toward drafting both QBs and WRs early.  When it’s 2 RBs and 2 WRs I typically like to go with a more balanced approach.  Flex and bench players on a roster will typically influence how I go about the middle and later rounds of a draft.  The more flex spots on a roster, the more WR-heavy my draft typically is.  I lean this way because I know that the middle and late rounds are typically sparse at the RB position whereas there is still a plentiful group of starting WRs left on the board.   

There really isn’t a standard number of bench spots and that number really shouldn’t drastically impact strategy.  If anything, Number of bench spots will play a role in how much depth you look to amass.  In past articles I’ve talked about using the “deleveraging” strategy where you attempt to take a stud player and move him in a 2 for 1 or 3 for 2.  While depth is important, having more depth than you can start isn’t always useful.  Depth is important to protect against injury, but having depth sit on your bench all year doesn’t always work out.  Long story short, don’t overthink bench spots.

The goal for every dynasty player, regardless of league settings, is to assemble a group of players with the highest likelihood of putting up consistent weekly points while also being capable of spike weeks.  While you may be able to assemble the best team on paper, the best team is organized in such a way that takes advantage of league settings.  It’s often said that championships aren’t won in a draft but they can be lost in a draft.  While dynasty is a slow burn, you need to draft a team that takes advantage of league settings in order to give you assets that are attractive for future potential trades.  Drafting and/or trading for assets that don’t compliment your league settings lead you to having sunk assets that nobody wants which then forces you to spend rookie draft capital in trades or reach for help at a position you could have drafted better from the start.  Remember that your dynasty team is one that should be fluid and dynamic even when the season is going well.  While there is such a thing as to much tinkering, you always want to be on the hunt for cost effective assets and good deals to help strengthen your team’s core.    

As always, thank you to the Truth Serum team for letting me share this week’s column!

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