Shaping Your Dynasty Roster
October 18, 2015 | Kevin O'Brien
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In-season management is a crucial part of shaping your dynasty roster. On competing teams, we balance the win now, but with as much long term responsibility as possible. On rebuilds, we are looking to make timely moves that either capture value or acquire a waiver wire asset. In either case, we want to continually make improvements and adjust our roster with a structure in mind. This structure should be the core guiding principles that help mold the roster you build to last. I view this structure in three components; the core, the depth, and the fringe.
Every dynasty roster should have its core, the players you believe that will anchor your team either as a champion or as you rebuild. The core should be ideally 4-6 players depending on the size of your league, at minimum 20% of your roster. This core should only be tradable to obtain another player or players which you would include as your core. Too many rebuilds abandon their core only to acquire depth players which could have been acquired in other ways. I refer this as to trading a horse for ponies; I want to trade ponies for horses.
The depth of your roster should be around 60% of your total player limit. These players should be players that are tradable, but have the ability to provide quality production or valuable assets for future trades. Examples would be aging veterans like Larry Fitzgerald, Vincent Jackson, Frank Gore, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Jason Witten, etc. These are players that will contribute, but are players that you can move at the trade deadline or use to fill out your starting lineup. These players really can be acquired at any stage. Typically, I am an aggressive owner and I want to make the playoffs and pick up players that get me competitive. I was never a one step back, two steps forward kind of owner, always moving toward winning.
At the end of your roster lies the fringe. This is where I have really made my money, creating value from nothing. The fringe are the players that are generally made up of your fliers, late round rookie picks, or that casual hot waiver add you see come across your timeline on Twitter. Typically I recommend about 20% of your roster be players for the fringe. I love the old football adage of playing complementary football. With respect to your roster, the fringe should focus on your weakest position. In one particular startup I built, I focused my draft on securing a solid WR group that would stand the test of time and provide production. However, it meant that I neglected the running back position. Given this situation, I made sure that I collected extra fliers at running back. I filled these spots with guys like Reggie Bush, Ronnie Hillman, and Dion Lewis, but also late round rookie RBs, like Cameron-Artis Payne and Karlos Williams. There’s little likelihood that these players would ever pan out. However, there is nothing like “home-grown” players that you can use to either fill a need or create depth from minimal cost. Many focus on talent for these positions, and as much as I support having talented players, there are less talented players emerging every year. There’s part of my experience that led me to wanting to be lucky and deliberately target talented players. Too often I was spending hours mining out talented prospects, only to get beat in a given week by a waiver wire Dion Lewis type out of nowhere. I wanted to cast a wider net. This led me to dive deep into minicamps and think outside the box.
The in-season management of your roster should be constant. No matter the state your roster is currently in, always scour the waiver wire, drop players as they are released by their NFL team and not picked up by another. Read the trade block, and ask your owners if they are looking for help where you have expendable players. As injuries happen, see if that opens the door for a trade. Monitor the standings and look for teams falling in the standings; look for teams that are .500 looking for an extra piece that you might have available. One of Murphy’s Laws is that things left to their own devices only go from bad to worse. So let’s not just leave our teams on cruise control, but rather drive to a championship; if we’re lucky, we might just build a dynasty.