About one year ago, I posted about the layers of a dynasty fantasy football team, using my Zealots 34 squad as an example.
It’s impossible to have a single layer of talent on your team. You have players on your dynasty team in different stages of their career, whether it’s a Peyton who may have between one and three years left but could taper off at any moment (I could have mentioned any RB with a pulse there), or a hyped rookie like Sammy Watkins who could be fantasy-relevant for a decade, which is your dream scenario. In short, you need to know the status of every player in your league to know where you should add talent. The default is “a lot of running backs and wide receivers”.
To summarize, here are the layers:
Layer One: Your Starters
Even though it’s late May, you can set your MFL lineup for Week 1 at any time. It’s a fun experiment and lets you know where you feel confident and where you’re going to need some help. Leagues with free agency throughout the summer can help you with those more obvious holes.
Layer Two: Backups
We all hate bye weeks with a passion, probably as much as real NFL players love them. Who’s coming in during those weeks, in your best case scenario, and when you have injuries/poor performance, which is the worst (aka most realistic)?
Layer Three: Future Guys
This depends on your league. I’m in a league with 53-man regular-season rosters that expand to 60 during the offseason. Some leagues offer taxi squads and that’s where you stash your upside guys.
Layer Four: Spackle
You fill some holes as cheaply, and in dynasty, as old-ly as possible. There are certain vets like Jerricho Cotchery who are as fun to be stockholders of in fantasy as it is to drink a Natural Lite. Sometimes you have no other choice, and occasionally you get that 10-TD season out of the blue. On the IDP side, you can get players like this practically for free.
Here’s my 2014 Z34 roster, fresh off a rookie draft, and each player’s designation:
Cam Newton (starter)
Johnny Manziel (future, backup by end of year)
Matt Schaub (backup, borderline spackle)
Jake Locker (backup)
David Fales (futures)
Starters: DeMarco Murray, Zac Stacy, Joique Bell
Backups: Ray Rice, Kendall Hunter, C.J. Anderson, Lance Dunbar
Future: Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr.
Spackle: Michael Ford, Michael Bush, Bilal Powell, Jacquizz Rodgers
WR (think 15 guys is enough?)
Starters: Victor Cruz, Kendall Wright, Michael Crabtree
Backups: Denarius Moore, Stedman Bailey, Justin Hunter
Future: Mike Evans, Chris Boyd, Charles Johnson, Paul Richardson, Jeff Janis
Spackle: Vincent Brown, Sidney Rice, Mike Brown, Kenbrell Thompkins
Starter: Julius Thomas
Backups: Heath Miller, Taylor Thompson
Future: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Roster: Greg Zeurlein, Ryan Succop
Starters: Charles Johnson, Mario Williams
Backups: Justin Tuck
Future: Quanterus Smith
LB (11 guys shows that I had issues at this position in 2013)
Starters: Kiko Alonso, Justin Houston, Paul Worrilow
Backups: Donald Butler, Donald Harris, Zach Brown, Colin McCarthy, Nick Roach
Future: Lamin Barrow, Jelani Jenkins, C.J. Mosley
Starters: Mark Barron, Michael Mitchell, Duron Harmon
Future: Brock Vereen
I’m not thrilled with my potential starters at DB, but this is the most volatile position in fantasy so I am fine with guys popping up off waivers as the year progresses. Cam and his amazing almost entirely new WR corps isn’t giving me warm fuzzies. Improvement in WR and LB this year should get my team back in “the hunt”, finishing more like 8-5 than 5-8.