Dynasty league football mailbag: Draft strategy, Justin Fields’ value and the most underrated rookie

If you don’t see your question below, drop it as a comment and I’ll be sure to give you an answer. My favorite element of covering this great game is the engagement with readers and followers of my work. If you’ve taken the time to ask, you deserve a response and I’ll make sure you get one!

As always, any referenced dynasty Trade Analyzer, player ranking or ADP data comes from DynastyLeagueFootball (DLF), the oldest and largest dynasty-centric site on the planet.

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Let’s get to it!

Everyone thinks C.J. Stroud is the next dynasty stud — do you think this too? I’ve had the temptation to cash in on a trade with him. What are your thoughts? — Chad D.

I’m not ready to declare him the next stud, but his rookie year production was noteworthy, and it was good to see, as I’m a proponent of prototypical size and tangibles in my quarterback scouting. I thought he was being unfairly faded in rookie drafts. He did enough in his rookie season that I would not want to trade him away.

How do you handle rebuilding in a league that is both a) extremely top heavy (2-3 teams roll every year) and b) no one wants to trade for veterans (I cant even get offers for Isiah Pacheco and Michael Pittman Jr.)? — Zach A.

No league is ordained to make trades. Ideally, managers should be in it to win it, working whatever strategy they find yields the best results. Top-heavy leagues can take more work. I strongly believe teams with solid productive veterans will fair better over the long haul. Your only recourse is to put more resources and time into drafting very well. Find “experts” and scouts you trust and build slowly. Don’t give up on trading when it makes sense. Don’t give up on striving for that ideal roster!

I have a trade offer for Marvin Harrison Jr. — 10-team dynasty league, PPR. The guy is giving me Jahmyr Gibbs, Brandon Aiyuk , Curtis Samuel and Adonai Mitchell for Harrison, Kenneth Walker, Jonathon Brooks and Jordan Addison. Is this worth it ? — Matthew B.

Firstly, these days there will always be a bias for top rookies. It’s something to leverage if you get a good offer. That said, I like your youth, and while I value Gibbs and Aiyuk well enough, this isn’t a trade that moves the needle for me. Samuel is a nice sleeper this year in a role which should command targets.

What is a good strategy for your very first dynasty draft? Just go for the best team right now or mix in some young players for the future even if they won’t start now? — Anthony N.

It really depends on your style and goals for your build. Some like to go very young, while others prefer to “win now” via veterans. I’m more in the middle and I like to get at least one upside rookie at each position while anchoring my production with mid-career vets, and I’m not afraid to secure late-career vets who have 2-3 years remaining, such as Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, Derrick Henry, etc. I also like to be a trash man of sorts — scooping up ADP value players who the community is down on such as Josh Jacobs, Aaron Jones, Chris Godwin, Javonte Williams, Roschon Johnson, Tyler Allgeier, etc.

I love your columns, keep up the good work. I’m in a 1QB league, picking 1.03 and 1.10, with Will Levis and Justin Fields as my only QBs. Do I pick Rome Odunze (already have DJ Moore) as the best player available and hope to get Jayden Daniels at 1.10? Or should I go for Caleb Williams at 1.03 to solve my QB issues for good? Greetings from Germany! — Andrew L.

Firstly, thank you for the comment, it is appreciated! I don’t overdraft any rookie quarterback unless I’m in dire straits and there aren’t any other options. I don’t overdraft Williams here, and I’ll take whatever receiver falls. I would then prioritize quarterback and hope for Daniels. If he’s gone, I’ll wait until late Round 2 and take J.J. McCarthy or even Bo Nix. I’m not a big Drake Maye fan in his situation.

Who’s the most underrated fantasy rookie? Feel like Xavier Legette on Carolina is gonna be a monster. — Mike S.

In the first round, I really like Odunze, but as the current 1.03, I suppose he’s not underrated. I also thought Keon Coleman was being unfairly faded due to his perceived separation issues. Overall, my favorite underrated rookie is Jalen McMillan, Odunze’s teammate at Washington. If not for injury, I believe he could have been better than Odunze, and he did outproduce him in his first season. I have drafted McMillan in 90% of my leagues in the early third round.

Any drafting tips for a first-time dynasty player? Our league is moving this year from a keeper league to a dynasty league and doing a redraft. — Adam A.

I’m a big believer in understanding the ADP in a start-up draft. Many eschew ADP as a valuable tool but I find it invaluable because knowing where others value players allows me to get ahead of the curve for players I want, or pick up value when a player is falling. Also, understand the tiers of players and fold that into your selection when on the clock with how it relates to how many players will be taken until your next selection. Understanding the depth of the tiers can help you make better decisions based on scarcity. Most of all, have a strategy for how you want to build your team via youth, veterans, or a mix, and work that strategy. Regardless of any strategy, always be willing to adapt and do not knee-jerk a selection.

What are your thoughts on KeepTradeCut? — Peyton C.

Being that I am a co-founder of DLF and we put a LOT of work into our Trade Analyzer, I would be naturally biased. But objectivity is always something I try to maintain. I’m still a huge supporter of the DLF tool because of the multiple metric points used in determining value. Over the past year, KTC’s value has gotten better, but I still don’t have enough trust in the tool for it to be a primary resource. To be honest, any trade calculator is just another data tool, and not one I prioritize.

Thoughts on Justin Fields’ future value? Feel like KTC has him pretty low. — Samuel H.

Similar to my thoughts on trade calculators above, Fields is a good example. Most have him lower than his true value, in my opinion. I think he is way low, even on DLF’s Trade Analyzer. These are the type of situations I like to leverage when the community is low on a player. He’s young, mobile, has a good arm and is now in a better situation. I think Chicago made a mistake and I’ve been buying him if I can get good value. If I can get him for a third-rounder in 1QB leagues, or a late second in SuperFlex, I’ll take that.

Hope you can help me solve a good problem here. I have picks 1.02 and 1.05 in my rookie dynasty draft and was thinking of going with Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze (assuming both fall into my lap). — Kaiden K.

Odunze is a solid choice at 1.02 (see next question). Williams at 1.05 may be a bit of an overdraft, but if you have quarterback need, you need to take him no later than 1.06, so it’s not a huge premium with your second selection. Brock Bowers is an option there, but QB-need trumps rookie tight end selection on my board.

1.02 in a 1QB, 12-team league — Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze?  — Anonymous

I have these two ranked dead even in my scoring but just elevated Odunze just above Nabers because one has to be this year’s rookie WR2. A couple weeks ago, it was Nabers occupying the position. I have selected both at 1.02. In fact, I’d try to trade back to 1.03 and let someone else take the pick while I acquire more draft capital.

Just did our inaugural dynasty SuperFlex draft, and SuperFlex was completely new to me. I had pick 1.02, so I went Patrick Mahomes (Josh Allen went first) and then took Anthony Richardson in Round 2 (10-team snake). There is a half point catch premium for tight ends, so I went Sam LaPorta in the third round. Now my top RB is Kenneth Walker and top WR is Michael Pittman Jr., so I am very weak in both positions. Did I make a mistake waiting too long for both WR and RB? — Mike T.

No mistake made in my book. My rule for SuperFlex is to get two quality quarterbacks in the first three rounds. The LaPorta pick isn’t one I would have made, even in TEP, but you have good youth at the position now and won’t have to worry about the future for a while. Walker is a fine enough RB1 as is Pittman a WR1. Just keep adding value and don’t forget about that veteran QB3 a bit later.

Long time listener, first time caller… You have written in the past that dynasty is about forward thinking, and future returns on players who are not at the top of their position groups in that moment. How do you balance this approach on your teams, and what percentage of roster spots of “buy low” players do you consider to be too high on a team? — Alan S.

Probably too long to answer here but comment below and we can chat more about it. Generally, I try to have a productive rookie/sophomore at each position as well as a production anchor late-career (2-3 years remaining) veteran at each position. Then I prioritize “known production” mid-career players for the rest. I let others fall all over rookies while I scoop up faded second-year rookies or trash heap vets who others are down on. So it’s probably a 20/60/20 build, if that makes sense.

Anthony Richardson seems like the next big thing at the QB position. But in the same way, I think he has the greatest odds to bust (injuries and small sample size being the biggest red flags). How high do you think it is OK to draft him in startup drafts? Keep up the good work. Always read your column. Cheers from Brazil! -Gustavo G.

Love our international readers! Your analysis is accurate in my book, Gustavo — couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m still willing to overdraft Richardson on talent and physical attributes alone. That means he’s a second-round selection in SuperFlex and in that fourth or fifth round range in 1QB formats.

How big of a gap is there from David Njoku and Jake Ferguson (Tier 3 TEs) to Dalton Schultz and Taysom Hill (replacement-level players)? Is it worth moving a first/second round pick to upgrade as a contender or just hold pat and roll the dice each week? — Derrick R.

If you follow me to any degree, you know I don’t prioritize moves for tight ends in almost any case. New players rise from anonymity every year and there are plenty of mid-tier assets to fill a need while you wait. So, to answer your question, there’s not enough gap for me to prioritize a move here.

How do you feel about the first half of Round 2 vs. the back half? And how would you maneuver into position for the players you want? — Ben D.

I like the top half of Round 2 to about the 2.03 or 2.04, but in this draft I can’t say I’m prioritizing a move to that spot to a large degree — it depends on team need. If I need running back or quarterback, I’ll sit in the late second round. If I need receiver, I’ll consider moving up for Adonai Mitchell, Ricky Pearsall, Roman Wilson or Xavier Legette.

What age do you start worrying about skill falloff for WR and RB? Currently a Cooper Kupp (31 years), Keenan Allen (32), and Christian McCaffrey (28) manager who is willing to ride it into the sunset with them, but I want to keep the future in mind. — Danny R.

I only worry about age if I don’t have the youth to back them up. I love age-cliff veterans because most managers are overly concerned about age. I care about production and will keep a low-value age-cliff veteran and have him retire off my roster. Davante Adams, Kupp, Allen and  McCaffrey would all be trade targets for me as long as they are producing. Less so with Allen as he’s in a new situation that I don’t trust as much.

If I’ve got Ja’Marr Chase, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Puka Nacua, Drake London, Jayden Reed and Rashee Rice, with Kyler Murray at QB in a 12-team SuperFlex league., How important is another strong QB? Should I consider trading from my considerable WR depth? — Max C.

I put max priority on having two solid starters at quarterback in SuperFlex and always try to have a third veteran starter as well. Then a fourth development name. It all comes down to price and whether you will have the draft capital to add a quarterback in next year’s draft. If not, seek out the trade.

I’m in a startup SuperFlex dynasty league where the first year is auction to distribute players ($300 budget). How should I plan on budgeting for my top two QBs? Also, I am a DLF subscriber, but I don’t see any auction calculator tool there. Any recommendations out there to use? — Jon T.

There is a loose start-up auction tool here. The thing with auctions is that they can be very tricky and a strategy can go south fast due to player runs and individual manager methodology. I would prioritize one young quarterback — perhaps overpaying — and then seek to add at second aging vet at value, followed by a third development player at value if you can get one. Let the market come to you.

I’m in a 12-team SuperFlex PPR league and got roasted by my friend because I traded for Brandon Aiyuk and Zack Moss. Am I crazy to think both these guys can repeat what they did last season ? — Ryan M.

You play your game and work your strategy and don’t let others overly impact how you think. Take it in, evaluate what others say, and if you still have conviction, you did the right thing — let it go out the other ear. If everyone thought the same way, we’d have a very boring game. I happen to love Aiyuk. I’m not overly high on Moss, but he obviously has a role and an opportunity for a big season. I don’t know what you gave up, but I have no problem with your acquisitions.

If you don’t see your question or want to engage further on your answered question, leave me a comment and I’ll answer. Please consider giving me a follow on Twitter and Threads: dvx" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">@DLF_Jeff

As always, be happy, be well and, please, be good to each other!

(Top photo of Jalen McMillan: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY)