dynasty league fantasy football

Family, Football & Seeing the World

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo

Life is nothing if not a series of experiences. Some good, some bad, some in-between. Some within our control and some not so much. Regardless of where they land in all of the different classifications, they shape who we are. How we react. How we present ourselves and how we carry ourselves. They drive our perspectives and deliver our goals for growth and progress.

Without these life experiences, good or bad, we would be nothing but an empty shell – a blank slate. 

For me, the most important experiences, the ones that have shaped me the greatest, all relate back to travel. Seeing the world. It forces me out of my comfort zone, and it compels me to view the world in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. 

The Travel Bug

Growing up in Colorado always sounds so amazing to people who aren’t from here. I get it. It’s a beautiful state with generally nice people. It’s filled with clean, crisp air and sunshine. We have incredible mountains and rolling plains. Sometimes, when it snows, it looks like something straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie. There is certainly no denying that it has been an incredible place to live and grow. 

But it’s also very, for lack of a better word, boring. Colorado isn’t especially diverse, especially in the suburbs. If you’re like me, Caucasian, most everyone you see looks like you. There were approximately two Black students who went to my high school in the four years I was there. The Hispanic representation was greater, but still lacking. At 18-years-old, I knew very little about the world outside of my little bubble in Wheat Ridge, a suburb of Denver. 

I was lucky enough to get to go on a class trip to Washington D.C. in eighth grade and Disneyworld with my family when I was 19 (it was as fun as you’d imagine being a bratty, independent young adult). While I remember those trips, it’s pretty spotty. 

The ones I remember most are family trips to Lake McConaughy in Ogallala, Nebraska, to visit my grandfather at his lake house, or as he liked to call it, his cabin. It was something I always looked forward to, as we didn’t really have the means to travel elsewhere. I even enjoyed the three-and-a-half-hour drive through the hot, boring Eastern Colorado plains and farm country. 

They were always fantastic trips. The days were spent out on the lake fishing and swimming out of my grandfather’s boat. Our evenings were spent at the cabin eating the spoils of our fishing trips, usually walleye or catfish, and enjoying each other’s company. It was a simple escape from our usual lives, but an escape nonetheless. 

As I got older, the trips faded away and my grandfather sold his cabin. I continued to go to the lake, organizing some massive camping trips that turned into week-long parties on the beach – yes, there is a beach in Nebraska, believe it or not. Eventually, those trips faded into the sunset as well. But my desire to travel did not. 

I transitioned to long mountain drives – sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends. I would wander the winding Rocky Mountain roads for hours upon hours, just trying to see parts of Colorado I had never seen before. It was my way of getting out of the boring city and seeing more of the world, albeit the world very close to me. It was what I had, and it fulfilled my desire to roam.

As much as I had the “travel bug” then, I had no idea what was to come. In 2006, at 24 years old, I traveled outside of Colorado on my own for the first time. My younger sister had moved to Dana Point, California, and I decided to visit her for her 21st birthday. It was a great trip, even though it was short. I felt so independent and free, and I enjoyed it so much I started making plans to move to Orange County, California, and start over with the help of my sister. I was literally one foot out the door when I met my wife, Jen.

Travel Buddies

As fate would have it (if you’ve read any of my previous columns, you know our story is about as fate-filled as it gets), the love of my life was also someone who had the travel bug and with the experience to back it up. Her family regularly found themselves traveling about the country, as well as internationally. They spent summer weeks in places like Lake of the Ozarks – yes, the one from the award-winning Jason Bateman series – in Missouri, Lake Powell in Utah on a houseboat or Lake Havasu in Arizona. There were also trips to Europe and Mexico. 

Jen was no stranger to wandering, and I was intrigued and excited to join her.

Our first trip together was a short five months after we had met. In March of 2007, Jen surprised me with a trip to a city I had wanted to see since I was very young: Boston, Massachusetts. It was unbelievable. The history was enthralling.

Napa California Travel
Jen, and I with our son Jackson at Goosecross Vineyard in Napa Valley, California, in 2018.

The early days of America were everywhere. Cemeteries with graves dating back to the 1600s, Paul Revere’s actual home, historic Revolutionary War battleships. For a history nerd like me, it was paradise. 

And Fenway Park. I had dreamed of stepping foot in the ballpark since I was a 6-year-old kid obsessed with the Boston Red Sox. It was the trip of a lifetime for me, and it just further ignited my desire to travel outside my comfort zone and see what else was out there.

In the years since, Jen and I have traveled frequently, mostly to Napa, California, where her sister and brother-in-law live, but we’ve traveled nonetheless. We were married in Orange County and honeymooned in Napa Valley. Generally, we are good for a twice-a-year drive for a week-long stay at her parents’ lake house near Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and we are three-time week-long Lake Powell houseboat trip veterans. We went on a cruise when she was pregnant with Jackson. We’ve seen New York City at Christmas time and New Orleans in the height of Mardi Gras. 

Regardless of our financial or familial situation, we have always found a way to create new experiences and see new places. Jackson has been on an airplane more times at three-and-a-half years old than I had been at 30 years old. 

Having a child has only increased my desire to branch out and see more of the world around us. My experiences in places outside of my hometown have helped me grow into a better, more well-rounded person, and I want that for my son, as well. I want Jackson to know that the world is a beautiful, wonderful place full of astounding sights and amazing opportunities. 

I want him to see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears, feel with his own senses, the different cultures and foods and climates that are so opposite from what we know at home. I want him to understand that our way of life, here, in the United States – and even just here in Colorado – isn’t the only way of life. There are other customs and languages and belief systems that exist and are different, but also still amazing and beautiful. I want my son to be a student of the world and not just the one around him, but the one beyond as well. 

And Now For Some Football

Being well-rounded applies to many things in life, including being a competing dynasty league fantasy football manager. This offseason I am going to take a deep dive into all things dynasty-related. Now is the time when you get better. Improving your roster through trades and rookie drafts is how you keep yourself in the championship conversation year-in and year-out.

Watching film and diving into metrics and analytics will go a long way to helping you understand your roster construction and what you need to do to stay relevant and in the hunt. These actions will allow you to evaluate players more thoroughly and make moves for your team that make sense. 

The stats and numbers can get overwhelming at times, especially if you are new to the format. This isn’t your grandfather’s redraft league. What do air yards have to do with anything, and why do they matter? Is aDOT (Average Depth of Target) even important? How do I evaluate film? How do you value rookies with no NFL resume to speak of? It’s like trying to read a book you’ve already read but in another language. You get the gist of it, but the details are lost in translation. That’s where I hope to help. 

And why wait? Let’s get to it!

Decoding Dynasty

The best place to start in any new situation is with the basics. The premise is simple and implied by the name. Much like the historic Chinese Khan Dynasty, dynasty league fantasy football teams are forever (or at least several years). Every league, at its inception, has a start-up draft. Sometimes this will be referred to as a veteran draft. This is where you build your team to live on for the rest of time. These players will be with you every season. You can make changes through trades and free-agency of course, but there will never be another opportunity to draft your entire team. That’s why this draft is so important. 

In subsequent years, you will have the opportunity to add to your team in what are called rookie drafts. This will allow you to draft from the pool of incoming rookies, as the name implies. There are many different schools of thought on approaching these rookie drafts. Some managers hoard picks like there will never be another rookie draft ever again, while others tend to trade them away for known entities with some level of NFL experience. 

Every strategy has its pros and cons, and a lot of what strategy you decide to employ will have to do with a plethora of factors including roster construction, the scoring system of your league and the strength, real or perceived, of the incoming rookie class. This is a topic I will be touching on in greater depth as we approach draft season, which generally comes after the conclusion of the NFL draft.

One of the things that separates dynasty leagues from redraft leagues, aside from the obvious, is the structure and willingness of league managers to engage in trades. It’s an almost daily occurrence in my leagues to see someone swapping rookie draft picks and free agents to fill needs or clear roster space. It keeps managers engaged not just during the season, but during the offseason as well. 

It stands to reason that with the volume of trading you will find in most dynasty leagues, player value is incredibly important. Average Draft Position (ADP), how most redraft managers evaluate a player, has no significance here. We’re in this for the long haul, and that is an enormous factor in assigning value to a player. 

Here is an excellent example: In redraft for the 2021 season, I would rank Aaron Rodgers as a top-five quarterback, most certainly ahead of players like Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence. However, in a dynasty format, there’s a good chance I’m willing to trade away Rodgers for someone like Joe Burrow, Hurts or the opportunity of drafting Lawrence. These younger quarterbacks hold more long-term value in my opinion, making them offseason acquisition targets in my leagues. 

Dynasty league fantasy football is a lot to comprehend. When I first jumped into this format, I was like a deer in headlights. You’re going to see a lot of numbers thrown out, stats that make no sense – remember when I referenced aDOT and Air Yards? – film study that seems so subjective you can’t make anything out of it and a ton of rankings claiming to know which players are ahead of the pack. It’s daunting to unpack and make any sense of. In the coming months leading up to the start of the NFL season on Sept. 9, I am going to do my best to help you make sense of it all. You’re not in this alone!

Did you think I forgot? I could never! Dad jokes are my thing, and there is no offseason for cringe-worthy humor! 

What is brown and sticky?

A stick!

As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @jenatejack2017.