An Adventure, An Introduction, and Three Guiding Principles
When Bret approached me about helping him expand The Dynasty Guru to include dynasty football and basketball content, I was intrigued. I had just started my own blog (RIP “TheNostraThomas.com”) and in its short life, I really enjoyed the creative outlet and sharing my enthusiasm for the dynasty format with others.
I hemmed and hawed—people seemed to really think the URL was clever. How could I give that up? Could I really turn my back upon the dozens upon dozens of mothers and in-laws that I sent my articles to after weeks of loyal reading?
Then he told me the specifics of what an incredible following he and his colleagues at TDG have already garnered. I could not resist but to jump on the bandwagon and, Godzingis* willing, help it grow further.
I could not be more excited about getting started at TDG. If you’re like me, you come to TDG for the rankings and stay for the thoughtful analysis of specific players throughout the year. In the short term, I will focus on producing rankings for hoops and football, along with contributing to the baseball rankings, and update them as much as I possibly can.
Whether you choose to follow those rankings is up to you, but perhaps I can pull back the curtain in to how I evaluate players.
I owe much of my success in dynasty sports to three philosophies that govern most of my decisions.
Philosophy 1: Delay Gratification.
If you’re playing in a competitive league with other competent owners, your edge can be your willingness to delay gratification. At its most extreme, this philosophy can be put into action best in year one of a startup. For example, if you’re willing to punt year one by investing in young players, strategically picking up extra draft picks, injured veterans at discounts and buy-low candidates along the way, you can emerge as a powerhouse when everyone else was unwilling to think about next year, yet you were thinking about the next five.
Philosophy 2: Concede how much you do not know and then cling to what you do.
You probably can’t figure out which reliable ace pitcher will require Tommy John surgery. Odds are you can’t consistently call which running backs will make it through the season healthy and productive.
So what do we know? We know that bats are safer than arms, so have the best damn offense in your league and figure out the pitching second. We know that wide receiver performance variance is much lower than running back variance, so make sure you have the best wide receiver core in your league and stack up on cheap backup running backs after.
Philosophy 2a: Concede you don’t know which prospects are going to succeed better than consensus.
This ties in to conceding how much you don’t know (hence “2a”… you get it). When it comes to prospects, it’s good to know how to scout and develop your own preferences along the way. After all it’s really fun and it’s how you might have identified a second round pick like Nikola Jokic before he broke out last year. However, if you’re willing to be agnostic between similarly-rated prospects, there’s often ways to exploit other owners’ overconfidence.
You know how dumb NFL GMs continue to trade up in the draft every league? Your league has a lot of dumb NFL GMs, so to speak. There’s no magic profile for when a prospect becomes “can’t miss,” nor is there an arbitrary round in the draft that makes them worthless. In reality, prospects are all just walking, talking probabilities with a wide range of outcomes ranging from star to bust. This is particularly relevant in dynasty football, where I consistently hear that dynasty rookie picks outside rounds one and two are “worthless” (and I continue to see starters go in those rounds).
Philosophy 3: Be a sponge.
I don’t watch college football. I don’t watch college basketball. I certainly don’t tune in to MiLB.tv to catch the RailRiders’ latest exploits. The way I scout is by aggregating many dozens of data points. That could include Bret Sayre’s opinion, the beat writers at training camp, Kevin Pelton’s WARP projections of hoops prospects and any number of scouting reports of MLB prospects.
If you can combine a working knowledge of the latest anecdotal reports to gauge things like development and opportunity, with a strong working knowledge of a player’s statistical profile, you’ll give yourself an information edge.
Philosophy 4: Check to see if your readers are paying attention.
I said THREE philosophies, folks. That’s it.
*Yes, I am a Knicks fan.