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4 Essential Pre-Draft Tasks for Every Dynasty Fantasy Football Manager

JJ Wenner details the essential steps for every level of dynasty manager that must happen before your draft. Everyone needs a refresher.

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By JJ Wenner

Dynasty managers divide themselves into two groups. The first group has managers who seemingly don’t work or have any responsibilities outside running this particular team. They send you multiple offers per week and scoop up players the second their name appears on Twitter. During your draft, they sit on the clock and negotiate trades like they are a Gekko. This group is very good at what they do, but they are about as much fun as a box of rocks. I take that back; you can at least do fun things with a box and rocks. 

The second of the two groups is filled with the rest of us, the managers who have lives. There is a wide range of managers in this group, from “Pretty dedicated” to “I want to quit, but I need this league to maintain my parole.” If you are in this group, you don’t pay too much attention to your leagues until there is something to do. 

We can argue about the minimum amount of activity needed to be in a dynasty league. Still, the reality is that most people aren’t “all-in” on fantasy. However, If you are like most of us and are in the second group, the offseason’s first significant milestone is on the horizon. The NFL Draft will start on April 29th (Check out our latest Mock Drafts by Don or Ryan). Before this happens, you need to do the following essential steps in this predraft checklist for dynasty managers. 

1. Pay That Man His Money!

Pay that man his money

First, I should probably retitle this step as “Respect Your Commissioner.” It is a thankless job, and they spend most of their time answering questions that are spelled out in the constitution. How many times have you asked your commish a question without seeing if it is mentioned in your league rules? If the answer is more than zero, knock it off. 

Now that we understand where I am coming from, it is time to pay your dues. If you are not able to pay, proactively tell your commissioner. If you can pay, do it. Nobody likes to talk about money, and that includes your commissioner. 

If you are quitting a league, tell your commissioner immediately. It is only fair to allow the league ample time to find a replacement owner. If you are on the fence about quitting, then just leave. There is nothing worse than being in a league that you dislike. 

2. Till the Soil

A dynasty manager should be looking at their roster throughout the offseason and ranking their own players as we move through the NFL phases. Players switch teams, get cut, and sign new contracts, all of which provide you with information about a player’s value. 

Churn the bottom 15% of your roster in Dynasty Football leagues

You should churn the bottom 15% of your roster annually. Replace your Mike Boones, Olamide Zaccheus, and Jaeden Grahams with the next batch of perennial sleepers like Ryquell Armstead, Josh Reynolds, or Josh Oliver. 

How do you do this? 

  • Look for disappointing players from 2020 and research them. Was it playing time because they are sitting behind a veteran, or are they being outplayed by JAGs? 
  • Look for your roster’s free agency moves. Who on your roster changed teams? The contracts can tell you a lot about a players’ new opportunity. In a vacuum, the higher the pay, the more they play. Now, every year high-paid players are benched or cut; however, this is an excellent way to get a quick glimpse of the front office’s intentions. 
  • Look for any adverse changes to the depth chart for your players. Darius Slayton hasn’t changed locations, but the addition of Kenny Golladay has changed his outlook. Conversely, a player who received more playing time because of an injury to the starter will probably lose that extra time this season. 
  • Not all changes are negative. When a team lets a star player leave via free agency, some player will step into that role. Look for the depth players that might move up or compete for that position in the summer. Bud Dupree’s departure from Pittsburgh moves Alex Highsmith into a starting role. 
  • Look for great articles like Three Players to Target in 2021 to find opportunities. Sometimes we don’t have time to do all of the research ourselves, so find a site that helps you with this research. 

Don’t be afraid to cut players who you love just because you drafted them in the late rounds. I know that Daesean Hamilton was a late-round darling, but it is time to let him go. Seriously. 

3. Somebody’s Watching Me

Every league has drama, and that can lead to teams quitting. Hell, even without drama, most leagues lose two managers per year. This is generally a good thing, as long as your commissioner can fill the orphans with quality managers. Most commissioners do a decent job, but some take the first person who replies. 

Most dynasty managers invest minimal effort in a league outside of managing their rosters, and we know plenty who can barely handle that responsibility. The easiest way to get information on the new manager is to ask them. 

So, do something crazy. Reach out and welcome new people to your league. You can do this easily through GroupMe, Discord, Slack, or whatever communication system your league uses. Your message doesn’t have to be unique; just start a conversation. When they make a move, ask them about it. “I was surprised that you dropped Josh Rosen; I think that he still has some value and would have offered you X player.” You can practically write anything to start a conversation. 

Just talk to other managers and see if you can use the information you learn to facilitate trades. Before sending an offer to the owner, Discuss the proposal and start from a proper position. There is no quicker way to make a poor impression than attempting to lowball a new owner. Just don’t do it.

Heck, you might be better off losing a trade just to open the pipeline. This is the moment when a dynasty manager has the least emotional connection to a team. They didn’t draft them or find them on the scrap heap before everyone else. Use this to your advantage and try to find mutually beneficial trades. 

4. Here Comes the Judge

There is a chance that you are the type of owner who checks out in January. You don’t even look at your messages once you are eliminated from the playoffs. If this is you, you may have missed a few league votes over the past 2 months. Generally, this is when leagues will open the discussion about new rules. 

The changes can vary in significance, but every change should be significant to you. If you haven’t been paying attention, now is the time to make sure you are up to date on any new or amended rules. In fact, reread your league’s entire constitution to make sure you know all of the nuances of this particular league. 

Now that you are up to date on the changes, ask yourself if the changes affect your players or strategies. Really take a look and determine whether you need to adjust. Be ahead of the curve.  

Alright, now that your team is ready for the draft make sure that you check out our other Dynasty Basics articles by visiting our website, www.RideorDynasty.com. We will be posting a ton of content to get you ready for your rookie drafts.

JJ Wenner – Writer
@JJWenner
Ride or Dynasty

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