This article is part of our Dynasty Watch series.
The RotoWire NFL Dynasty league has concluded its inaugural draft, all 20 rounds of it. The 14 teams have scooped up their 280 players, and there's plenty to consider when looking back on the process. I'll talk about some of the results that interest me, as well as my strategy since the halfway-point article I wrote previously.
You can view the full rosters here, and the in-order draft results here. We were fortunate to have MyFantasyLeague provide the league to us, allowing us to dive deep into their expansive rookie player pool.
You might remember from my previous article about this league that I, holder of the No. 7 selection, stumbled into a Zero RB approach once I committed to DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray through the first two rounds. You can read that article here.
Here are my final results, the draft round indicated parenthetically. Scroll past the tight end section for some leftover thoughts:
I invested more in the quarterback position than probably anyone else in the league. I realize quarterbacks are replaceable generally, but one of the exceptions to that general rule is a big dynasty league like this one. If all teams agree to take only two quarterbacks, somebody still has the QB28 as their top backup. Injuries happen to quarterbacks – the only reason we don't fear this scenario in redraft is because we can almost always pick up somebody to take their place. But what if multiple teams do what I did, selecting three or four quarterbacks? And if you're stuck with the QB30 as your backup on your otherwise contending squad, how much are you prepared to cough up if the starter you take for granted gets injured? What's your plan if both of your quarterbacks get hurt, and the best available free agent is Marcus Mariota?
I think a couple owners in this league are very vulnerable at quarterback, and I'm hoping I have an enviable surplus to hold hostage in trade talks once injuries hit.
Should I have spent my second-round pick on someone like Mike Evans, Courtland Sutton, or Miles Sanders instead of Kyler Murray? Perhaps. But Murray has huge upside in the Kingsbury offense – he's the only quarterback who can plausibly approach the fantasy production of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson – and I more importantly couldn't fully convince myself that Murray would fall to my third-round pick. If my team sucks, I don't think it will be because I took Murray in the second and Cooper Kupp in the third.
The Goff selection was awkward for me – I don't think he's a good player in real life – but I think his favorable playing circumstances are durable for fantasy football purposes, and I thought it was reasonable to stack Goff with Kupp and Tyler Higbee.
Jalen Hurts was a steal for me in the 16th – low cost with high upside thanks to his running ability – and the Taysom Hill pick used similar logic. I'm not expecting Hill to do anything this year, but if Drew Brees gets hurt or/and Hill is a starter for Sean Payton in 2021, then my 18th-round selection could be a top-eight fantasy quarterback within a year. Big upside for marginal risk. Not only am I prepared for the most paranoid depth scenarios, I think I have the pieces to generate substantial returns for the acquisition costs...
…Of course, when you play the Zero RB game like I did, you pretty much need to generate substantial returns elsewhere. My running backs simply existing in their current form isn't a serious long-term plan – I need surpluses at quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end to afford me eventual acquisitions at running back. Still, I'm happy with my results and I think this plan will work.
I need Clyde Edwards-Helaire to succeed for this method to have an especially viable shot, but I have the utmost confidence in CEH for PPR scoring. If I'm wrong, though, then Pollard, Edmonds, Freeman, Robinson, and McKinnon are unlikely to hold down the fort, especially in 2020. I'm only looking for one more useful runner than CEH in a given week, though, because I think I'm stacked at WR and TE. Be it an injury to Ezekiel Elliott (Pollard) or Kenyan Drake (Edmonds), Royce Freeman getting traded to a team like the Bills or Chargers, Robinson going in the first four rounds of the draft, or McKinnon finally getting his shot at the San Francisco backfield, I like my chances of one out of five coming through.
Like I mentioned in the first article, it didn't take long in this draft before I realized I wanted to take a Zero RB approach. Instead of chasing what I perceived to be scarcity prices at running back, I thought I should instead hammer the opportunity to start up to five wide receivers, the deeper and cheaper position. Running backs cost the most because the top running backs score more than the top wide receivers, but that doesn't mean it makes sense to pay $1.25 on the dollar for a running back who realistically will never break the top five at the position. In PPR scoring like this, I'd rather have an Adam Thielen than a Chris Carson.
So with Hopkins, Kupp, Ridley, and Fuller I have what I think is the best four-deep wide receiver lineup in the league. With the second flex spot I'm planning to play Austin Hooper initially, but I really like Parris Campbell and Andy Isabella at the post-hype prices I got them. If neither pans out, Hooper should see to things just fine. If one of the two pans out, then I might look to turn the resulting tight end surplus into gains at running back. K.J. Hamler is kind of the Mecole Hardman of this draft – incomparably explosive but presently limited due to his youth. Not 21 until July, Hamler is both a high-upside long-term option and an unrealistic short-term one.
Jalen Hurd was a fine WR8 selection in the 19th round, but I actually selected him with the hopes that he would get reclassified at tight end. More on that in the subequent tight end blurb...
I didn't expect to end up with either of these guys, but I think they simply fell too far for me to pass them up. Higbee displaced Brandin Cooks from the Rams offense last year, and the exit of Todd Gurley may stabilize his high-usage role. If Higbee produces like he did toward the end of last year, then I might have stole the No. 3 tight end at the 91st selection.
Hooper at the 106th pick was one I didn't plan on, but I also didn't plan on him lasting within 15 picks of that slot. As much as I think it's reasonable to doubt Hooper in standard scoring, I see basically no scenario where he fails in PPR scoring. No one gets open underneath like Hooper, and the Browns didn't make him the highest-compensated tight end to take the heat off Jarvis Landry or some such nonsense. Despite my rationalization of the Hooper pick, I will be on the aggressive lookout for opportunities to turn him into a running back upgrade...
...That would be especially true if Hurd gets his classification changed from WR to TE. That might seem counterintuitive – the 49ers have a theoretical opportunity at wide receiver while George Kittle is infallible at tight end – but I don't expect Hurd's production to stand out by wide receiver standards. By tight end standards it's a very different question. Something as low as 500 yards per year could be useful for tight end depth, but at receiver it would just make him an irritation.
Besides the lower standard of utility, tight end would be preferable for Hurd because the 49ers would be more dependent on him at tight end than at receiver. That's because Kittle has a concerning injury history by now – something that doesn't get talked about much. A Kittle injury would instantly make Hurd a leading producer at tight end, whereas an injury to Deebo Samuel still would leave Hurd liable to get outplayed by Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, and Trent Taylor.
-Yes, Rob Gronkowski was selected. Tim Shuler and Paul Martinez got him with the 276th selection, and they're presumably pleased with how the news has developed since then. Gronk is theoretically their TE3 at the moment behind Evan Engram and Jack Doyle.
-My favorite rookie values: Cam Akers (Mike, 75th overall), Devin Duvernay (Kevin, 151st overall), K.J. Hamler (Me, 162nd overall), Bryan Edwards (Tim + Paul, 192nd overall), Albert Okwuegbunam (Eric, 193rd overall), Jalen Hurts (Me, 218th overall), Anthony McFarland (Eric, 221st overall), Joe Reed (John, 272nd overall).
-My favorite veteran values: D.J. Chark (Kevin, 46th overall), Terry McLaurin (Liss, 49th overall), Michael Gallup (Jerry, 56th overall), Robert Woods (Joe, 71st overall), Tarik Cohen (Joe, 98th overall), Jamison Crowder (Jake, 124th overall), Sammy Watkins (Jake, 157th overall), Rashaad Penny (Benzine, 167th overall), Sam Darnold (Jake, 180th overall), Steven Sims (Jerry, 197th overall), David Njoku (Harry, 212th overall), Travis Homer (Jake, 241st overall), Devin Funchess (260th overall).
-It occurs to me that at many points in this draft my preferred picks were players you might consider post-hype prospects. A couple were just me playing it generally cheap – Freeman and McKinnon come to mind – but I think at a few other points the market was plainly too low on prospects who were very recently coveted as among the top at their positions. Campbell and Isabella are the best examples of this on my team, as I selected them later than numerous rookie prospects who I consider inferior in present terms, but especially in terms of original prospect grade. I get that both Campbell and Isabella had concerning rookie seasons, but most rookie receivers fail to produce, and these guys are still both top athletes two years removed from dominant college production. I got Campbell after Brandon Aiyuk, Michael Pittman Jr., and Chase Claypool, three players I consider clearly inferior prospects to Campbell, who will only turn 23 in July. Pittman will turn 23 in October. Isabella won't turn 23 until November, and I preferred him over something like 12 receivers who went ahead of him after the Campbell selection.
-I like my team a lot, but I think I would vote the best two teams to be Peter for the win-now question and Joe for the long-term roster. With Dalvin Cook/Chris Carson at RB, Julio Jones/Adam Thielen/T.Y. Hilton at WR, and Zach Ertz at TE, that's a lot of weekly upside to contend with in the short term. Peter has some noteworthy prospects that could pay off (Darrynton Evans, Eno Benjamin, Dawson Knox), but more than most teams he might need to strike first. Joe's team has plenty of top prospects – namely D'Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, and Marquise Brown – but he has some win-now ammo as well between the aging quarterbacks (Matt Ryan/Drew Brees/Ben Roethlisberger), George Kittle/Blake Jarwin at tight end, and Tyreek Hill/Robert Woods/Brandin Cooks at WR.
-If not Peter or Joe, then the team that I might find most immediately intimidating might be Chris Benzine's. He might need to trade for one of my quarterbacks after selecting just Matthew Stafford and Dwayne Haskins, but Chris' running backs might be the best in the league between Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, Todd Gurley, and Rashaad Penny. His receivers have plenty of firepower as well with D.J. Moore, Christian Kirk, CeeDee Lamb, Mecole Hardman, and Preston Williams.
-Jake's roster lists Davis Webb and Rhett Ellison, but they are merely placeholders for rookies Quez Watkins (WR, Southern Mississippi) and Dalton Keene (TE, Virginia Tech).
-My team had four rookies, which was apparently about average. Eric Caturia and Mike Doria tied for the most with seven, while Jerry Donabedian had the fewest with just Joe Burrow.