The Mega-Industry SuperStar #DFBInvitational Industry Dynasty Fantasy Football League
Of all the industry leagues that I have ever played in, the DFB Invitational dynasty fantasy football league (organized by Scott Barrett from Pro Football Focus) is maybe the most prestigious fantasy football league that I have ever played in. The league is a 12-team PPR Superflex dyntasy fantasy football league with the option to start multiple tight ends AND tight end-premium (meaning 1.5 points per reception for tight ends. All of the bells and whistles for the 10-player starting lineup leagues influenced draft strategy in an interesting way. To wrinkle things further, rookies themselves were not included in the player pool but rather the rookie picks were. Instead of Kyler Murray being draftable, the rookie pick 1.01 was the drafted option.
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The murderer’s row that drafted in this startup dynasty fantasy football league was:
- Scott Barrett and TJ Calkins
- Bob Harris
- The Seige
- Danny Kelly from The Ringer
- Graham Barfield from NFL.Com
- The guys from DynastyTradesHQ
- Jeff Collins from NumberBall
- Matthew Berry from ESPN
- Evan Silva from Rotoworld
- Rich Hribar #LordReebs from RotoWorld
- Pat Thorman
As you can tell, this draft was not going to be easy. While not everyone in the league had played in a dynasty league before, I would say this is one of the sharpest groups that I have drafted against and the draft went accordingly. There are not very many times in the startup draft that anyone made a pick I dramatically disagreed with but there were certainly picks I wish that I had made instead of my opponents.
The balance of a league format that really differs from a normal 12-team PPR league always makes first rounds interesting. The first QB did not come off the board until BarrettCalkins took Patrick Mahomes at seventh overall which really does point to the strength of this league. My guess is that Rich would probably walk back his selection of Todd Gurley at 1.04 and that Seige feels even better about Odell Beckham at 1.09 now than he did at the time.
In back to back picks, Graham and CJ made maybe the most hilarious picks of the draft. CJ ran hot getting Travis Kelce in the second round of a TE-premium dynasty league and Graham lost his second-round pick when he selected Tyreek Hill before the news dropped that he likely will not be with the Chiefs in 2019. Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck and Baker Mayfield all went in this round. I made my mind up at the beginning of this draft that I would not chase QB production, particularly after Patrick Mahomes. Stringing together veterans like Big Ben and Derek Carr was my pre-draft strategy and I was able to implement it. You’ll notice I traded back from my pick at 2.10 because nothing would be worse than having to select Keenan Allen.
Jeff Collins and I traded down quite a few times in this draft (though I would say Jeff did a much better job of it than I did particularly my deal where I traded the 4.10 for a 2020 rookie first). In general, these industry startup drafts are pretty aggressive with the trading and my stance is that in the first ten rounds, you’re probably winning if you’re trading back and you’re probably losing if trading back in the double-digit rounds.
Hat tip to the one and only Scott Barrett for putting together this graph. Jeff’s approach wielded 11 top-100 players. Bob, CJ and I lag behind the group with only six top-100 players. Part of the reason why I felt comfortable moving my 4.10 for a future first was that I wanted to have some flexibility in the season if I ended up competing (or not). It’s easier to trade a future first than a fourth-round value player because the first can be whatever the other owner imagines it to be as opposed to Matt Ryan (who went with the 4.10).
Overall, I feel that my roster is pretty strong. Eight of my starters every week will be pre-determined with Ben/Dak/Chubb/Elliot/Golladay/Godwin/Hooper/Doyle complete no-brainers. I don’t think I had the best draft or am the best drafter of this group but I also don’t feel like I was out-gunned. What follows are some specific thoughts about the context of this massive league from myself and others in the league.
Best Pick Of The Draft: D.J Moore at 5.01 to The Ringer’s Danny Kelly. It is pretty safe to say that Moore’s average rookie year is being undervalued by the market. His unique combination of yards per target and rushing yards gives him a unicorn profile and without Devin Funchess, he has a reasonable chance at his first WR1 season. Moore was one of the best wide receiver prospects of the last five years, went in the first round and performed as a rookie. This was at least a round too late if not more. In general, Danny had a really strong draft; I think he crushed it.
The toughest thing to overcome doing the startup draft was having three different owners with different styles and different favorite players attempting to co-own a team. We were excited about the experience. We knew if the three of us worked together we could end up with a strong team. Of course, we expected some bumps in the road. We were right on both counts. We ended up with a competitive roster and it was sometimes tough to agree on the player to draft at certain points in the draft.
Our best move in the rookie draft was Noah Fant at 1.09. As you know, our rookie draft took place before the NFL draft. We would have drafted differently after knowing landing spots as everyone would have.
We could break down the finer aspects of our roster, draft strategy, trades and what not, but is that really what the people want to know? Wouldn’t you rather know what it’s like drafting with perhaps the greatest collection of fantasy minds that any normal dudes could ever draft with? I don’t care how sure of yourself you are, it’s a little intimidating when you realize that Matthew Berry is OTC in your draft? You are waiting for Matthew Berry to make a pick for three days because he’s a little distracted with that whole NFL Combine thing. You don’t even care how long the draft is on hold because you’re drafting with MATTHEW BERRY. Imagine that feeling elevenfold. Anyone that’s played fantasy football in the last six years has used the phrase #KonamiCode at least once when describing a running quarterback. It’s a strange feeling when the guy that created that phrase, Rich Hribar, is making you a trade offer.
As far as our actual roster. We drafted quarterbacks with two of our first three picks, which was a failure of reading the room on our part and (perhaps) an overvaluing of the position due to the Superflex format. However, coming away with Deshaun Watson and Jared Goff to lead our team for the next decade is encouraging. Josh Rosen as a wildcard isn’t bad either. In order for our investment at the QB position to pay off, we’ll need many seasons that resemble the 2017 season when the QB2 outscored the QB10 by 4.7 points per week, as opposed to last season when the difference was just 1.7 points per game. It must be noted that if you are going to go heavy at one position it’s not the worst thing to go heavy at quarterback in a Superflex format.
Our wide receivers are especially strong at the top with Michael Thomas and Mike Evans. We landed A.J. Brown in the rookie draft and while we hoped for a better landing spot for the instant impact situations can change quickly in the NFL and we still have Brown ranked as our second wide receiver of class. We’ll go ahead and forget all about our Hakeem Butler selection at 1.05 in the rookie draft, just as the NFL seemingly forgot all about him until day three. High upside players like Geronimo Allison, who averaged 14.25 points per game in his four full games last year, Robert Foster, and Albert Wilson round out the WR room. While our running backs could use some help, going light at this position was by design, as it’s the easiest position for us to fix in a hurry. And we are encouraged by our tight end position led by Superfreak Noah Fant.
Most Hilarious Group Of Players: The Seige’s quarterbacks. Teddy Bridgewater, Nick Foles, Will Grier, Deshone Kizer, Tyree Jackson, Jarrett Stidham, and Drew Lock are backing up Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston. I’m higher than the market on half those guys and still find it hilarious that they are all grouped up on the same team. Kizer and Jackson might complete 1.5 passes in the next 24 months!
“We drafted better, traded better, drafted better again, waivered better and will ultimately waiver better again than everyone else.” — TJ
“This is a TE Premium Superflex league. We have the best tight ends and the best quarterbacks in the league. We’re probably the best team in the short-term as well as being the team best-positioned in the long-term. Truly a dominant performance all-around from Team DFB.” – Scott Barrett
The Baltimore Ravens Memorial Tight End Hoarder: Graham Barfield’s EIGHT (8) tight ends round out another strong roster. Don’t get me wrong, Mark Andrews, Eric Ebron, Jace Sternberger, and Irv Smith Jr. are all pretty strong dynasty holds or buys but having eight tight ends on one dynasty roster is as Ozzie Newsome as it gets.
In essentially a 2 QB Dynasty league, QB’s are at much more of a premium so I traded up to get Mahomes. Trubisky is a fine QB2 w/ rushing upside. Brissett is a FA after this yr & I believe he’s a starter somewhere next yr (NE?). Like what I saw in Allen last yr. Case: a warm body
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) April 12, 2019
Matthew’s move to trade up for Patrick Mahomes was probably the strongest move of the entire three months of the existence of this league and I’ll be honest, I wish I owned Mahomes. Berry’s team won’t be worried about the quarterback position for the next decade.
Love my tight ends. Ertzx was a top 10 (non QB) player in this format last year. Waller and Dissly nice young sleepers – Waller getting raves from OAK coaches. DET signed James to a big deal for a reason. Olsen is good trade bait this year if I fall out of contention.
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) April 12, 2019
Best Onesie Positions: This has to go to Jeff Collins. Jeff has four starting quarterbacks, one young stud tight end and one old stud tight end. Jared Cook and O.J Howard might run the league at the tight position in terms of combined points. Cam Newton, Jimmy G, and Josh Allen all have QB1 upside and I’d argue if we play this season 100 times, Allen and Newton might end up as the top two fantasy QB’s more than once.
Danny Kelly’s Thoughts:
One of my primary strategies in this draft was to hoard WRs, and I felt pretty good about how that went. I landed Julio Jones and DJ Moore as two high-floor starters, took a gamble on Corey Davis, then grabbed a couple high ceiling guys in Will Fuller and Dante Pettis at the 8th/9th round turn. I avoided trading for the most part during the draft because I liked being at that turn position between rounds, but a few times that conservative tack probably bit me in the ass when TEs I was targeting got sniped a few picks before.
Ultimately, I love Saquon and my receivers group, but I’m shallow at QB (just two right now, meaning I’ll probably have to flip a WR for one at some point) and my TE group could end up being a big weakness in the short term. As for my rookie draft, I picked seven times, and had a few fortuitous landing spot gambles hit: Mecole Hardman was a penny slot pull in the late third round that has a chance to really hit the jackpot, and I’m bullish on both Darrell Henderson and Josh Jacobs being fantasy factors early on (and Henderson’s long-term outlook is potentially massive w/ so many question marks about Gurley’s knee). Ryquell has a shot at fantasy relevance w/ Fournette’s injury history and issues with the Jacksonville front office. Oh, and Kahale Warring is a stud.
Worst Trade: I have to wear this hat. Moving the 4.10 for a 2020 first was just a misreading of the market. I would much rather have Kyler Murray than any 2020 first (even though it is rumored that the 2020 draft is loaded with #studs). The logic I used at the time of the trade is still fine but I lost that trade by 10% or so which is not a fun spot to be in.
Bob Harris’s Thoughts:
With our initial draft taking place in advance of (and during) the free-agent signing period and our rookie draft taking place before the actual NFL Draft, it’s fair to say the timing presented challenges. In the end, it turned out to be a mixed bag for me. As unhappy as I was to see Tevin Coleman sign with the 49ers shortly after I drafted Jerick McKinnon, I was equally pleased when Dwayne Haskins was drafted by the Redskins giving him as clear a path to a starting job as I could have hoped for.
Which brings me to my biggest weakness: I’m set at quarterback coming out of the chute with both Andrew Luck and Drew Brees ready to lead my starting lineup. But the minute something happens to one of them, it’s going to be panic time unless Haskins is an immediate starter in Washington. I’m not pretending it would be ideal, but the former Ohio State standout would at least give me a viable option behind my two superstars (and some hope that I’ll have a talented youngster waiting in the wings when Brees calls it a career).
No complaints about my front-line players, especially Luck and Brees. I need Dalvin Cook to be healthy and busy (with history suggesting half of that might be a reach) and I need DeAndre Hopkins to be DeAndre Hopkins (which seems all but guaranteed). I love Jets tight end Chris Herndon in this format as I have high hopes for him (fortunately, the Jets not only have similar hopes, but plans to make good on his potential).
I have ample PPR firepower in my second-tier wideouts (Jarvis Landry, Jamison Crowder, Cole Beasley and perhaps even Marqise Lee should be plenty busy) but question marks at running back. In addition to Cook remaining healthy, I need Sony Michel to continue being the dominant force he was down the stretch (and especially in the postseason). The Patriots subsequent selection of Damien Harris is a concern there. LeSean McCoy, McKinnon, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead might get enough playing time to be viable on any given Sunday, but it’s going to be impossible to pick which Sundays those are in advance.
Based on all that, it’s safe to say I’m approaching this as a long-term build. Which is “Dyanstyspeak” for “My draft could have been better.”
Which is a kinder way of saying “My draft mostly sucked.” But that’s the joy of Dynasty. I get another chance to screw up further next offseason.
Pick They Wish They Could Take Back: This has to be close between Rich and Graham. Obviously, there was very little Graham could do with the Tyreek Hill situation but Rich has to be similarly tilted with the news that Todd Gurley’s knees are made out of pudding combined with the third-round pick the Rams spent on Darrell Henderson.
Rich Hribar’s Thoughts:
I rarely ever handle a startup Dynasty draft with the intention to slow-play things, but when I saw the layout for the draft, I was near certain that this group would have more teams drafting/playing for immediate results than a typical Dynasty draft. I play in a lot of leagues with some of the people here that approach their dynasty teams in a year-to-year fashion and had a hunch the guys with a DFS background weren’t about the long term ROI life.
The hope with that actually then playing out is that those teams weakened each other throughout the draft process and the bulk of those rosters that fail to cash in – closing fantasy championships is hard – will only immediately depreciate as we press forward while my roster appreciates. Several teams even chose to forego the 2018 rookie draft entirely. Even with what you may say about the ambiguity of this rookie draft class, historically, rookie picks hold or increase immediate market value into the second year of their careers. Plus, we inherently know that that outside of fantasy championships being hard to close out, that a few of these teams we perceive as strong right now, won’t play out to the strengths we assume today.
My oldest non-quarterback (excluding Todd Gurley’s knees) is only 27-years old and I also acquired two extra future 2020 First Round Picks as part of my startup draft. I play in a lot of SuperFlex dynasty’s and I do like to wait on the quarterback position in startups. While typically I will get a gaggle of QB2-types, knowing I was inherently foregoing 2019 competition barring some magic, it allowed me not to press the position. I was definitely highlighting a few guys during the draft (Carson Wentz comes to mind as someone who went a few picks ahead of where I was hoping to get him), but they never happened to fall to those target picks. But quarterbacks become more available in SuperFlex leagues than assumed. With extra future picks and the opportunity to still move assets in the season to teams trying to cash out in 2018 firsthand, I’m not pressing about all but punting QB2 to start out. In a league like this, I appreciate the challenge of giving the field here a head start.
Four Leaf Clover Shopper: If Evan Silva runs even at 75th percentile expectation, he might steamroll us. Silva could get 16 games from Joe Flacco in Denver, have Malcolm Brown or John Kelly take over for pudding knee Gurley in Los Angeles, own the Dylan Cantrell dynasty fantasy football breakout for the Chargers, have Josh Gordon be re-instated to the NFL yet again, get Rob Gronkowski returning from retirement in September, or get a healthy Jordan Reed season. This is a roster to be feared if things break in Silverback Silva’s favor.
I like to start my dynasty leagues with as much star level talent as you can get, no matter what happens those star guys will have value whether it be to my championship contending team or to help propel a quick rebuild. I did the same here trading up as often as possible (and using 2020 picks as collateral as well). The result here led me with a fantastic stud foundation of Odell Beckham (1.09), Joe Mixon (1.12), Travis Kelce (2.01), James Conner (3.09), and Jameis Winston (4.02).
I was surprised by the amount of Jameis hate in the draft room. If you take away his one 4th quarter relief appearance, he was #10 in QB PPG in 2018 and gets a coaching staff upgrade and doesn’t have to deal with the suspension at the start of the year.
After these 5 picks, I didn’t pick again til the 9th round which meant that my QB2 was going to be a tricky fill short/long term but I was able to get Dalton/Foles for 2019 which will be a perfectly acceptable duo. Long-term I made QB a priority in the startup (Teddy Bridgewater) and the rookie draft (Drew Lock, Will Grier, Tyree Jackson), with guys who can get jobs in 2020-2021 as Dalton/Foles phase-out of the league. It’s not a perfect plan but given the stud power at the top I got, I was pleased how the QB’s filled out.
Depth on this team could have been a major issue but I was able to get some major steals in Tyler Lockett (10.01) and Carlos Hyde (16.02). This draft was before the sad Doug Baldwin news and I can’t imagine Lockett would make it out of round 6 if the draft was re-done today. The Chiefs not drafting an RB means Carlos Hyde is locked into the platoon with unproven, injury-prone Damien Williams and the upside here is immense.
My worst pick was Chris Warren at 17.12. It’s not so much about the player (I love the player/situation), but I totally misread the draft room. Warren was a 2018 Preseason DFS stud who had won a roster spot before getting hurt in the final preseason game and going on IR. In Jon Gruden’s career as much as he wants a #1 RB, only in 2 of his 12 years coaching has a back eclipsed 225 carries, so there is plenty to go around. Regardless of how much I love the player, I could have taken him 6-7 rounds later which makes it a horrible pick.
On the converse, my best pick was Diontae Johnson at 4.12 in the rookie draft. Getting a 3rd round Pittsburgh Steelers WR with the last pick of the rookie draft was a steal. I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to get him after professing my love for him on the DynastyTrades podcast a couple of weeks earlier but thankfully Scott Barrett hadn’t listened to it and traded me the pick. If the rookie draft was held today, I don’t think he’d get out of the top 3-4 picks in the 2nd round. He should be an immediate flex option which was a huge team need heading into the rookie draft.
Best Roster: There are a lot of good teams in this league. I like Matthew’s roster and BarrettCalkins is pretty strong but I would swap rosters with Pat Thorman right now. He has fantasy QB1’s in Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield, Alvin Kamara as his blue-chip running back, Brandin Cooks, Stefon Diggs, AND Sammy Watkins at wide receiver before his triumvirate of Patriots tight ends paired with David Njoku. On the converse, Seige believes “If things fall right for Scott Barrett that team will be hard to beat but there are a lot of unknowns on that team and they have a ton of injury risk players. If things don’t break right for them, I think Evan Silva, Jeff Collins, Pat Thorman and myself could steal the year 1 title.”
Overall, drafting in this league was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done in my whole career in the fantasy football industry. Anytime you have the chance to get dunked on by Scott Barrett, you just have to sign up for that opportunity. Superflex drafting when combined with TE-premium made for a lot of really difficult decisions and almost everyone in this draft can come away thinking they did a good job with their roster.