Do you play in a deep dynasty league? Perhaps you’ve noticed something. Judging by your rival’s (and perhaps your own) behavior, it often feels like the point of the game isn’t to win the league. Instead, it’s a race to the bottom to see which owner can compile the youngest roster with the most “value.” While value can win leagues, first one must convert that value into production.
This race to the bottom mentality can make it easier to contend than rebuild. As most of your rivals fight for every scrap of youth, fringy prospects may return legitimately decent major league performers. This process of cycling iffy minor leaguers for established veterans can help to extend a competitive window for many years.
First, a poll.
Do you play in a deep dynasty league?
Let’s define “deep” as any mixed league that rosters 700 or more players leaguewide or any AL/NL Only with 350 or more players. At least half of players are kept.
Choice #2 is: I play in a dynasty league, but it’s not that deep
— Brad Johnson (@BaseballATeam) January 7, 2019
Certain conditions are required for this approach to work. You must understand the depth of your league. Is the prospect frontier Carter Kieboom (i.e. shallow), Jeisson Rosario (medium), or Osleivis Basabe (very deep)? I’ll call these “frontier prospects” going forward. Basically, they’re the guys with enough plausible future value to be keepable in your league. Add players at or better than your league’s prospect frontier as often as possible. Develop them for a few months, and jump on opportunities to trade them. These usually occur when a player goes on a hot streak or a rival decides they’re burning down the house.
Dynasty trade deadlines can often be a different sort of race to the bottom. Supposedly must-trade veterans are marketed to a smattering of contenders. Buyer’s markets are common. Dynasty contenders usually have a full major league roster and only covet premium upgrades at bargain prices. Meaningful prospects like Eloy Jimenez are only available for already-elite talents.
A cycling approach to prospects, taking players who frequently don’t have a fantasy-relevant future and trading them for current assets can create considerable value. Last season, some players who were frequently moved cheaply included David Peralta and Anibal Sanchez. Peralta has since settled as a consensus top 150 player in redraft. In our 25-team Dynasty To Be Named Later draft, he was the 151st player chosen. In most dynasty leagues, he was available for the equivalent of one or two frontier prospects.
Sanchez was even cheaper. When traded, he was frequently used as a zero-value throw-in to a larger deal. Although he’s still going very late in dynasty drafts (640th in DTBNL), I have him ranked near the front of The Glob for 2019 redraft purposes (I’m aware that’s a controversial position). A win-now roster should be very happy to keep Sanchez in, say, a 20-team format.
These are just two examples. Dozens of serviceable veterans were available for frontier prospects last season. Not all of them will be useful keepers for the 2019, but the same can be said for those frontier prospects. Many will be cut loose for whatever form of draft your league uses. Meanwhile, you’re free to rinse and repeat next season. In this way, you can stave off a full rebuild for years while remaining competitive. And if you happen to catch the right bargains – like an early-breakout Max Muncy – you may escape the rebuild cycle altogether.