Fantasy Files: Layers of Dynasty Football, 2015 Edition

It’s the third edition of “Zach displays what a bad dynasty owner he is”, I mean The Layers of Dynasty Fantasy Football. We’ve played this game in 2013 and 2014 and what have we learned? In dynasty you can have a bad year and not all is lost. 2014 was not good as my team finished 4-9. The silver lining was that I “earned” the 1.04 rookie pick and I still have Mike Evans on my squad.

I’ve noticed that when I do mock startups because the real ones are too expensive, I draft young almost all the way. It’s close to impossible to have a team totally comprised of youngsters, and what’s more, it’s not ideal. You can’t win consistently in any level of fantasy football with just one methodology. When you lean too much on players younger than 25, you’re missing out on the value of veterans who have that big number age-wise but still have the talent to bring home top-12 scores on a weekly basis, which is the ultimate goal.

The best part of the offseason is you get to reflect on your entire squad. Do one simple thing, and that’s make a Week One lineup with your current roster. How does that make you feel? How “deep” does your bench feel. Are you holding onto “flier” guys too long, or are you churning your roster so much that it looks like a roulette wheel?

Here are the broad strokes of the layers again:

Layer One: Your Starters

If you’re an obsessive like me, you can do this without going to your league’s site. What you’re looking for is a tough decision on some spots because of a glut of talent, not a glut of Kenny Irons-level draft picks. Most likely your rookie draft has concluded and there will be but a trickle of free-agent activity so you are more or less set. Another benefit of being an obsessive is you have a better feel of value and can make some trade offers to fill out the thin spots.

Layer Two: Backups

Did the NFL create bye weeks to give players a much-needed midseason rest or to torment fantasy owners? It’s a push. If there are injuries, and there will be, and when you get through the seemingly longer every year bye week gauntlet, you have to know who’s “next up”. You’re going to be flexible here as preferable matchups become more obvious during the season. If you’re seeing John Kuhn as a viable option, you may need help.

Layer Three: Future Guys

I see the world through the lens of my unique dynasty league and team. I’ve been in the league since 2005 and haven’t joined another one since. Because of that, I’m always scouring the bottom of NFL team depth charts to fill in those last roster spots when we’re allowed to hold a staggering 60 during the summer. It’s a lot more fun to pick up that UDFA from Never Seen It State and hope that you found the next Arian Foster or Joique Bell.

Layer Four: Spackle

Half the battle is showing up, some otherwise morally questionable individual once said. If you look back at weekly scoring in fantasy leagues, you’ll be appalled. Top-12 Week 1 scorers last year at RB included Knowshon Moreno, Darren Sproles, Rashad Jennings, and the man formerly known as Chris Johnson. Remember when I laughed at people picking up Justin Forsett as a waiver claim? OK, it was more of a chortle. In any case, some weeks you have to start a Donnie Avery. If a player is starting at WR in the NFL and doesn’t play for the Browns, he’s a candidate for scoring. Depending on your league’s depth, you may need a few of these ‘just a guy’s.

Let’s see, as I’ve maxed out my roster once again so shortly after our rookie draft, what my team looks like.

QB
Cam Newton (starter, one key reason why I went 4-9 last year)
Josh McCown (tentative “please let it be one week” backup and a guaranteed guy we’ll talk about at the Fantasy Writer’s Old Folks Home when we can’t remember our names)
Johnny Manziel (I may need a new category for him)
Tim Tebow (the Spackler)

When I thought I was “set” with a QB trio of Cam/Jake Locker/Johnny Beer Funnel (I know he’s getting help, more power to him), the fantasy gods laughed like they were watching an Eddie Murphy stand-up special from the early 80s. I’m still depending on Cam, and he’s slightly less invincible than I thought.

RB
Starters: DeMarco Murray, Joique Bell, CJ Anderson
Backups: Dan Herron
Future: Duke Johnson, Malcolm Brown, Trey Williams, James Wilder, Josh Robinson, Javorius Allen
Spackle: Zac Stacy, Jacquizz Rodgers, Bilal Powell, Joe Banyard, Kendall Hunter

Last year was a weird one with Murray having a season for the ages and otherwise my RB situation was the pits. Stacy failed, Joique was half broken down most of the year and CJ Anderson came on just in time to damage my draft position. I’m hoping to get something out of that Dan Herron/Josh Robinson duo.

WR
Starters: Mike Evans, Charles Johnson, Kendall Wright
Backups: Michael Crabtree, Victor Cruz, Kevin White
Future: Stedman Bailey, Jeff Janis, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson (IR-bound), Bud Sasser, Tyrell Williams, Albert Wilson
Spackle: Harry Douglas, Taylor Gabriel, Justin Hunter, Allen Hurns, Denarius Moore, Da’Rick Rodgers

Mike Evans soared, Charles Johnson was the best-case scenario from a forgotten free agent pickup, and all else was House Stark at the Red Wedding. Michael Crabtree was my highest draft pick ever (#2 in 2009) and not exactly a sound investment.

TE
Starter: Julius Thomas (assuming healthy, big assumption)
Backups: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Josh Hill
Future: none
Spackle: Heath Miller (Steelers fans hate me now)

I like this group despite not having an obvious star. I think all four players can start for me. It’s going to be a matchup thing, and to hope that the Julius Thomas TD rate from Peyton continues with Blake is pretty insane.

K
Starter: Cody Parkey (no backup on the roster)

DL
Starters: Sen’Derrick Marks, Mike Daniels, Charles Johnson

I kept squinting my eyes but JJ Watt wasn’t on my team. Here’s the scoring disparity at DL. Watt scored 21.237 points a game. Only one other player at the position scored more than 50% of that. My top DL scorer from last year, Marks, scored 200 fewer total points than Watt. I can somewhat punt the position.

LB
Starters: Justin Houston, CJ Mosley, Paul Worrilow
Backups: Kiko Alonso, Mario Williams (position change under protest), Donald Butler
Future: Denzel Perryman, Jake Ryan
Spackle: David Harris

Why is a position change for Mario Williams such a big deal? He would have been LB20 last year and finished as DL5. I’m not sure what the solution is for IDP positioning but perhaps and “edge rusher” designation would help. You see why a third-round rookie pick is a better investment at LB than offensive anything as C.J. Mosley finished as LB6 as a rookie. Whoever had Chris Borland, pour out some arsenic.

DB
Starters: Mike Adams, Jairus Byrd, Rodney McLeod
Backup: Prince Amukamara

I’m pretty much treating DL and DB in this league as the waiver-wire fest, as it should be. I didn’t keep any DBs when we dropped to 40 players and there still are plenty of quality waiver options.

It’s fun to look at a roster in one-year increments. Players whose value jumped the most in the last year have to be “Big” Mike Evans and Josh Hill, the latter whom I picked up off waivers in mid-season on the very low probability that he broke out on a second team a la Delanie Walker. Players whose value dropped the most in the past year include Zac Stacy (oh, the pain), Johnny Manziel (mostly perceived value), and Victor Cruz (pouring out a jar of salsa).

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