Even though the real NFL season is winding down, it’s that time again in fantasy: STARTUP DYNASTY SEASON! Here at the new @PFNDynasty, we are moving to a primarily dynasty-based content schedule, so it’s like we’re “starting up” ourselves. While we may be new to the dynasty landscape online, our team of contributors has tons of dynasty experience and are here to help you win your league, no matter the format. The first step in a dynasty championship is nailing your draft. So when fellow PFN contributor Tommy Garrett and I were invited to join Dan (@AWLSabermetrics) and others from the Twitterverse for an early Superflex dynasty startup mock draft, we jumped at the chance. This draft will be covered by multiple sites, each with the same basic write up, to try to create as much exposure as possible.
Dynasty Startup Mock Draft – Participants and Settings
- Tommy Mo – @2on1FFB – 2on1: Fantasy Sports
- Randal K – @FF_Terminator – The Undroppables
- JetPack Galileo – @JetPackGalileo – Fantasy Football Astronauts
- Chalk – @101chalk – The Undroppables
- Andrew Hall – @AndrewHallFF – Pro Football Network
- Scott – @DynoGameTheory – Createarank.com
- Tommy Garrett – @TommyGarrettPFN – Pro Football Network
- Travis – @TSeel14 – True North Fantasy Football
- Dan – @awlsabermetrics – 2on1: Fantasy Sports
- Jake – @dabeezybff – Sons of Dynasty, The Undroppables
- Paul Lundgaard – @pauliessleepers – pauliessleepers.com, The Undroppables
- D Brown – @DBrownFF88 – Sons of Dynasty, The Undroppables
For this mock, we went with the following settings:
- Rosters: QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, 3 Flex, 1 Superflex (10 total)
- Scoring: PPR, TE Prem
- Rounds: 10 (for this write up)
Without further adieu, let’s get right into it!
1.01 – Christian McCaffrey – RB, Carolina
(Tommy Mo – @2on1FFB – 2on1: Fantasy Sports)
CMC has proven that he’s a bell cow in a league where the bell cow is becoming increasingly rare. There is no one behind him to steal reps or threaten his snap share. And he has essentially become QB-proof as he’s done it with Cam, Kyle Allen, and Grier the past 2 seasons. CMC is basically this entire offense; it all runs through him. In PPR leagues this year, CMC had under 10 points only 1 time (week 2), and has a floor of 20+ points, with a ceiling of 40+. No one this past year was more consistent than CMC, and more reliable on a weekly basis as his average ppg was just under 29 points (15 weeks).
McCaffrey also showed his versatility as he can do it on the ground (1,361 yards and 14 TDs) and through the air (933 yards and 4 TDs). Alvin Kamara is basically a poor man’s CMC (🔥). And with next year’s plan of a new HC and new QB, the outlook should be looking up for Christian. Plus, the emergence of DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel has helped to open up lanes for CMC. In any fantasy league format, whether this is 1QB, SF, redraft or dynasty, CMC is the one guy I want on my team no matter what. And with the first pick in the draft, he’s the only one I’m willing to go all-in on for next year and the future without worry or hesitation because at 23 years old he’s just coming into his prime.
1.02 – Lamar Jackson – QB, Baltimore
(Randal K – @FF_Terminator – The Undroppables)
Valuing quarterbacks in dynasty leagues is tricky. While it’s fairly standard practice to fade the position in single QB startups, the position takes on tremendous importance in Superflex leagues. And in a draft with this much drafting talent, there are only so many places to gain an edge on my competition. I feel like this is one of them.
I chose Lamar Jackson over Patrick Mahomes, in part, for his rushing floor. It’s hard to ignore 1,213 yards and 7 touchdowns from your quarterback. Those numbers would have placed him 6th in the league behind Chris Carson… among running backs! That’s an advantage no other QB in the league provides and one that I simply couldn’t ignore. And I didn’t even mention his 36 passing touchdowns, which happened to lead the league.
1.03 – Saquon Barkley – RB, New York Giants
(JetPack Galileo – @JetPackGalileo – Fantasy Football Astronauts)
Saquon Barkley is going to retire as the greatest running back of all time. Is that as valuable as drafting the greatest quarterback of all time, Pat Mahomes? This past season will probably be the low point for the careers of both these young studs after seasons marked by injury, and moving into the 2020 season, they will be locked into everyone’s Top four.
Every year, there is at least one player who destroys the fantasy landscape and stands head and shoulders above the rest. If you have this player, you’re guaranteed to make the playoffs and your probability of winning a championship skyrockets. This past season, it was Christian McCaffrey. In 2017-2018 it was Todd Gurley. Before that, it was David Johnson. MVP AP. CJ2K. Every year there is one unstoppable Juggernaut. Of all the players in the entire football landscape, professional and college, Saquon Barkley is the one I trust the most over the next decade. Saquon has multiple Juggernaut seasons in him.
I pass on Mahomes to take a 22-year-old running back fresh off of 1400 scrimmage yards. I expect six more years of elite play at the one position that can take over a fantasy season.
1.04 – Patrick Mahomes – QB, Kansas City
(Chalk – @101chalk – The Undroppables)
Like Terminator mentioned above, when building a Superflex dynasty team, there is no more critical position to gain an edge than at QB. While an elite workhorse RB is generally needed to secure the bag, dynasty teams will not even compete for a playoff spot without consistency from the QB position in SF leagues. Not only is there scarcity at the position as a whole, the drop off in production and consistency is fairly dramatic between QB tiers.
Many expected Mahomes to regress, but (as of Week 16) he posted 3,857 passing yards with 25 TDs and 4 INTs while missing two games. If he was healthy all season, 4,000/30 was probably the outcome. Either way, Mahomes put up a solid season considering the injuries that hit the Chiefs, with their playmakers (Mahomes, Kelce, Hill, McCoy) all getting sidelined at some point.
Entering the 2020 season, Mahomes will be turning only 25 years old and is still paired with Kelce and Hill, so the future outlook couldn’t be brighter for the gunslinger. Well, unless the Chiefs add one of those touted running backs in the incoming 2020 class. Imagine the high-powered KC offense led by Mahomes getting a pass-catching back with size-adjusted speed.
Young, elite signal-callers who are the faces of the NFL (see Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson) are smash locks at the top of startup SF drafts. My decision became much more comfortable once L-Jax was taken at 1.02, and Mahomes fell to me here. Other than CMC being available at 1.04, either one of these QBs would be a steal, and I am surprised that I was able to take the reigning MVP to start my build.
1.05 – Michael Thomas – WR, New Orleans
(Andrew Hall – @AndrewHallFF – Pro Football Network)
Like many others, in a dynasty startup, I tend to look for low-variance young players in the first two rounds whenever possible, and Michael Thomas is about the best wide receiver there is in both categories. Getting him at 1.05 was shocking, even for a Superflex league, since he is such a stud at the position. Also, when drafting in a startup dynasty league, I generally lean on wide receivers more than running backs since receivers tend to hold their value longer, so I had planned on taking a wide receiver if both Lamar and Patrick were gone, which they were. I was just surprised that CMC and Barkley both went ahead of Thomas, given his high level of production at a valuable position.
I’m not sure what numbers you need to read about Thomas, he’s been a fantasy stud for a few years now, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon. There is some concern about Brees retiring, but it doesn’t seem likely for at least the next few years. Therefore, lock Thomas in as a top 3 WR for at least 2-3 years in most leagues, which is easily worth a first-round startup pick.
1.06 – Chris Godwin – WR, Tampa Bay
(Scott – @DynoGameTheory – Createarank.com)
The basic strategy I employ in dynasty startups is quite simple. Load up on young stud WRs. They are very stable assets, and they tend to be the longest-lasting (except for QB). Chris Godwin is 23 years old and still has his full prime years ahead of him. I’m sure this pick will raise eyebrows for many, but to me, it’s a no brainer.
Normally I would trade the 1.06 to an owner with a zeal for one of those stud RBs (Zeke or Kamara). I would move back, acquire future assets, and still land Godwin in the 2nd. But Godwin was next on my big board, so in a mock, you just pick your guy.
Godwin has been efficient since day one in the NFL, and this past season, he became even more efficient even in the face of WR1 usage. He posted over 70% catch rate and 11.0 yards per target in 2019. It’s hard for me to envision Godwin not being an elite WR play in fantasy for the next five years or so.
1.07 – Ezekiel Elliott – RB, Dallas
(Tommy Garrett – @TommyGarrettPFN – Pro Football Network)
Of the consensus top-4 who were drafted in 2019, only Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey returned top-5 positional value by seasons end. Finding a running back to be the core of your team whose offense does not employ a committee approach is becoming harder and harder. Elliott is a true three-down back. In 2019, he was on the field for 85.7% of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps. Adding more security to Elliott’s value is the Cowboys have already invested highly in him after giving him a six-year, $90-million deal in September. With the amount of running backs that will be unrestricted free agents in 2020, give me the security for years to come that this 24-year old brings, especially at the 7th overall pick.
As for on-field production, few players rival the consistency that Elliott offers. Aside from 2017, where he served a 6-game suspension, he has never finished with less than 1,350 rushing yards. He is also a weapon in the passing game for Cowboys, averaging 404 receiving yards per season. Elliott scored less than 10 PPR points only once this year (Week 10) but went over 20 points in 7 games. Consistent play week in and week out is what builds championships.
1.08 – DeAndre Hopkins – WR, Houston
(Travis – @TSeel14 – True North Fantasy Football)
Hopkins was the pick here over Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara. Generally, I build with a strong running back core, but wide receiver longevity was a deciding factor here, along with with Dalvin Cook’s long injury history and Nuk’s’ stability at quarterback.
Hopkins has been stellar throughout his career, clearing 1100 yards in 5 of his seven seasons and eclipsing 100 receptions three times. While most of his production has been despite subpar quarterback play, stability has arrived in the form of Deshaun Watson. That stability is another reason I was confident in selecting Hopkins at 8th overall. Since Watson entered the league, Hopkins hasn’t gone under 150 targets, 95 catches, or 1100 yards. Consistency like that as my cornerstone WR1? Giddy up!
1.09 – Alvin Kamara – RB, New Orleans
(Dan – @awlsabermetrics – 2on1: Fantasy Sports)
This choice really was between AK or Dalvin Cook for me. Dalvin showed how well he could play this year while AK had the worst year of his career. My deciding factor was that even though I’m not a staunch believer in guys being “injury-prone,” Cook just hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy. Kamara suffered through a brutal touchdown regression and played several weeks through a high ankle sprain, which visibly zapped the burst he is most known for, and still finished as a top 10 running back.
With all of his negatives this season, he still finished with 4.7ypc and 94 targets. The reason people are so sour on him is the touchdown drop. Now, I’m not saying he can produce 13-18 touchdowns every season, but this season seems like the lowest output he will have for years to come. I really don’t feel the need to do a deep dive stats-wise. AK is a stud on a great offense that showed the system could win regardless if Brees is in at QB or not. As long as Sean Payton stays, solidifying a 24-year-old running back in that offense- sign me up!
1.10 – Joe Mixon – RB, Cincinnati
(Jake – @dabeezybff – Sons of Dynasty, The Undroppables)
Pick 10 was a no brainer for me. Mixon is a top 5 RB going into 2020. One of the most electric RBs in the NFL, he had 278 carries for 1,137 yds. in 19. That was good for 4.1 YPC and 5 rushing TDs. He also caught 35 passes for 287 yds and 3 more TDs. He put these numbers up on one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Cincy is in a rebuild and they most likely draft Joe Burrow at #1 overall, which is a huge upgrade to that offense. Rebuilding the line, adding a few playmakers, and Cincy has a new offense that will run through Mixon. From Weeks 8 through 16, he was seeing 15+ touches a game. Some more involvement in the passing game will only help his production. Workhorse RB1 in ‘20 with the potential to finish in the top 5.
1.11 – Dalvin Cook – RB, Minnesota
(Paul Lundgaard – @pauliessleepers – pauliessleepers.com & The Undroppables)
I always say going in to draft season that “my only plan is to not have a plan”. I want the draft to come to me to make sure I don’t miss the value and build the best team that I can. Drafting with these sharks was challenging and when my pick came up, I decided, despite the Superflex and TE premium format, that I wanted to come out of the first turn with a workhorse RB and Elite WR. Despite his injury risk, I chose 24-year-old Dalvin Cook. In weeks 1-14, he was the RB2 on a point per game basis. When he is out there, he is winning you games. And he has to finish a full season at some point, right? Right?? I digress.
1.12 – Deshaun Watson – QB, Houston
(D Brown – @DBrownFF88 – Sons of Dynasty, The Undroppables)
Drawing the 1.12 draft slot, I was hungry for a QB with one of my two picks, knowing that many would fly off the board before the 3.12 came back around to me. Luckily, only 2 QBs were previously selected, leaving the top second-tier QB, Watson, to me.
In 2017, as a rookie, Watson threw 19 touchdowns in 7 games. Let’s look at the numbers since Week 1 of 2018: 8,017 yds, 52 TD, 21 INT, 100.6 Rating. Averaging 22 fantasy points per game in his short career, there’s no denying he’s one of the bright and upcoming stars in the NFL.
Having a top 3 QB is a major bargaining chip in SuperFlex leagues and I simply could not pass him up. Had Watson gone before this pick, I would have passed on drafting a QB with either of my first two picks. In an attempt to protect their star QB, the Texans must continue to address their offensive line woes. Regardless, Watson will perform as QB1 for years to come and is a great foundation block to build my team around.