Welcome, one and all, to the inaugural start-up draft of the XPCL League.
XPCL Draft Recap – Indigo:
Similar to the great Ash Ketchum’s original, legendary odyssey across the Kanto Region with his loyal friends, the Indigo League Draft was a war of attrition for all 12 managers as they pursue that same level of mastery and supremacy as Ketchum all those years ago.
The draft’s first four selections went largely according to plan: Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, and Herbert. It was at that point at danny2good began to lean into his quest to make his mark on the infant Indigo League, trading up from 1.09 to 1.05 to secure the rights to WR Justin Jefferson, the first non-QB selected in Indigo.
After that initial deal, danny2good began wheeling and dealing like his life was on the line, making 29 (yes, twenty-nine!) additional trades (and counting) before we even get to the new NFL league year, with many of his deals of the blockbuster variety.
My thought process in this draft was to start in full rebuild mode. With the 2023 rookie class being deep with great but not elite talent. I wanted a flood of late first and 2nd round picks this year. I plan on getting as many of the 2nd tier RBs and WRs in 2023 as I can. And then next year where there are true elite talent in Caleb and Marvin and the Mich RBs. I want lots of first in the 2024 draft. I did all that in my mind. I have 5 2024 first. 2 2023 first and pretty much the whole 2nd round. Both 2023 and 2024 will probably be painful. But I think and hope that by 2025/2026 I have a very deep and especially young team to compete for a long time. I also have a few known pieces on my team now that I can parlay into some decent picks trading with a contender around the trade deadline.danny2good
Following danny2good’s initial trade for Justin Jefferson, the only other surprise of Round 1 was QB Justin Fields going 1.08 to ben1501 ahead of fellow ‘21 classmate QB Trevor Lawrence (1.09) and QB Lamar Jackson (1.10). Even with Fields’ youth, ben1501’s strategy seemed to be centered around players who are ready to contribute right away.
The future is never guaranteed, so I drafted my team to compete right now. I grabbed players hovering around ~26-28 years old who I feel confident have at least a few seasons left in them. I’m banking on guys like Kupp, McCaffrey, and Ekeler to carry me into the first XPCL Champions League Tournament. I also made sure to get some youngsters like Fields, Toney, and Metchie on my squad to prepare for the future.ben1501
The next two rounds were dominated by the wide receiver position. Through three full rounds, 13 wide receivers went off the board, compared to just eight running backs. Kyle Pitts and Mark Andrews were the only tight end to be drafted in the first three rounds.
Indigo largely slow-played rookie picks/kickers. Typically, we see kickers being severely overdrafted in this format where kickers/rookie picks are draftable in the start-up draft. AshKetchum took the rookie 1.01 at 2.02 of the startup. Only three rookie picks went in the first three rounds.
egp13 and hoffspur weighed in as well on their perspective on the rookie pick format:
I also am not a huge fan of taking rookie picks early when proven players are still available, so this presented an opportunity because a couple guys wanted all of the Ks. I did, however, select a few early Ks, which facilitated acquiring Ja’marr Chase after the draft. Overall, I went heavy on WR and TE, less so on RB. A good mix of youth and proven production, which ultimately left me pleased with how the startup went.hoffspur
My goal heading into this dynasty startup was to operate without a concrete plan or roadmap. I wanted to stay fluid and seek out value wherever I could find it, whether that meant trading out of the first round to acquire additional draft capital or prioritizing the best player available approach regardless of perceived position needs. I was also able to use those extra assets to trade up in the third round to acquire pick 1.02, which gives me flexibility to continue to build through the rookie draft. I also targeted a list of core players after Round 15 to add depth and round out my roster.egp13
Overall, the Indigo League startup draft was pretty close to ADP in most rounds. This indicates that the managers know what they are doing, and largely, are playing pretty close to the vest early on. The one exception to this was danny2good. It will be very interesting to see his journey from the bottom up and watch it all unfold as he tries to build a winner.
XPCL Draft Recap – Johto:
In the Johto region we took a leisurely pace picking our first Pokémon…eh, I mean players for our teams. The beginning of the first round went as expected with quarterbacks going as the first four picks. The one surprise being Joe Burrow going third in front of Jalen Hurts. mtrimble421/Lee11 broke the cycle at pick five taking Justin Jefferson as the first non-quarterback off the board. The round continued with Justin Herbert then Jamar Chase coming off the board, followed by Trevor Lawrence.
At pick nine Johto saw it’s first trade with tyler5734 trading up to grab Justin Fields. FFHulsey followed immediately after trading up to grab Lamar Jackson, giving him Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson as the foundation of his roster.
PrestigeFF shook up the draft at pick 11 taking the 1.01 and winning the Bijan Robinson sweepstakes. It wasn’t until pick 2.03 that the first running back officially came off the board with Breece Hall being selected by ryasch11. Kyle Pitts was the first tight end to be drafted at 2.09 after trading up one spot with DirtyMike70.
As expected quarterbacks and wide receivers dominated the first two rounds of the draft. The third round reversal resulted in a brief run on running backs with Jonathan Taylor, Kenneth Walker, and Travis Etienne being drafted with three of the first four picks of the round, only being broken up by the forever young Travis Kelce at pick 3.02.
As the draft moved into rounds four Johto picked up the pace and began to swiftly fill our Pokedex. In rounds four through eight we saw strategies begin to show. DirtyMike70 leaned into the young wide receivers grabbing Drake London and Jerry Jeudy to accompany Garret Wilson and Devonta Smith. DMICmedia was building a roster to compete immediately and did not hesitate to draft players 28 and older taking George Kittle, Amari Cooper, and Derrick Henry to go with Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams.
These rounds saw wide receivers and quarterbacks come off the board frequently. Draft picks 1.05 through 1.12 were also taken in these middle rounds. While some owners leaned into specific tactics others seemed to make moves based on available player value. There were 19 trades throughout the draft with CopelandFFWorld involved in nine of them, by far the most in the league.
As a whole the Johto league managers built their rosters around wide receivers and/or high drafted quarterbacks. There were a few players that avoided drafting any rookie picks for the 2023 draft while a few others went heavily into the 2023 rookie draft. The Johto league saw many interesting strategies and strayed a little further from ADP than the owners of the Indigo league.
Below are some thoughts on strategy and the draft from a few of the Johto league managers.
We went a unique elite WR route instead of the drafting a QB that was the beginning of our tier 2. We’re also both anti-TE early(Kelce or bust). So we felt like we were able to find a few values in the middle rounds as well. Stacking young players with older vets should allow us to pivot in either direction as the season starts which was our ultimate goal.mtrimble421/lee11
With the luck of the draw I got 1.02 going into the draft. I had been hoping for anything in the top 6 so I was happy with 1.02. From there I knew I would be landing either Mahomes or Allen and likely looking to draft with a hybrid idea of competing now without sacrificing all youth and future for year one.Gonie
As the draft began I started with Allen and was hoping that the board would fall to give me the ability to start the draft with 2 QBs, however QBs and receivers were flying in rounds 1-2. With the idea of competing in year one in mind I decided to follow up Allen with CMC with my QB/WR targets already gone. A RB this early was very out of the ordinary for me, but the third round reversal had me lean towards an anchor RB to help with the win now thoughts. Coming back on the third round I was aiming for either a young WR or hopefully a top 4 rookie. The WR trend continued though with rookie 1.03 and 1.04 also going just before me. To my surprise though Andrews fell to me at 3.11. With the 0.5 point per 1st down and TE reception bonus I was very happy to take Andrews.
Moving into the 4th there was a handful in a tier for me which lead me to trade back a few spots in order to move up in the later rounds. I ended up taking rookie 1.06 from the 4.7 spot. Between there and my 5th selection several WRs I had queued continued to come off the board. Going into the 5/6 turn I was looking at several options but decided to gamble on the combination of youth and upside with Jameson Williams. This pick easily could turn into either my best or worst of the draft with the range of outcomes that comes with Williams. I followed up on one gamble with another after a one spot trade back to 6.03 to take Dobbins. Again the idea of being this RB heavy was new territory for me in a startup, but I think Dobbins will be a real value in startups this year.
From the 7th round on I continued pushing back picks where I saw opportunities to stay within my tiers while moving up in later rounds. The focus throughout the rest of the picks was to continue targeting players who would help with a competing roster this year while still leaving an opportunity to grow in value. Some picks that I would highlight for that outlook were Njoku and Sutton, both in the 11th round.
In the end I feel that I constructed a roster that by the start of the season can be shaped into a solid contender which still has some depth pieces which have room to greatly grow. It ended up being a draft that was very unusual and uncomfortable for me at times, but I did my best to roll with the twists and turns in what was a very fun draft!
This is the 1st startup I’ve done with a 3rd round reversal. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled that I was picking 3rd, because going in I was hoping to land a 2nd QB (thinking Watson/Dak/Kyler) in the 2nd. But due to the scoring format I went with Hurts over Burrow/Herbert, and given that it’s 0.5 points for rushing first downs, I’m pretty thrilled with my selection.DirtyMike70
From there, and with no good options at QB remaining, I wanted to hammer young talented wide receivers. Garrett Wilson showed me a lot last year given he put up the yardage that he did with one of the worst QB situations in the league. I selected him in the 2nd because I’m praying he falls somewhere in between that Lamb-Jefferson trajectory of early career success.
Devonta Smith has lived up to his draft billing and it was tempting to stack him with Hurts
Drake London will have to overcome Arthur Smith’s play calling tendencies, but given his youth and target share percentage I decided to roll with that risk
I started thinking about when/where/who I’d like as my QB two, and figured there would be a good chance of taking (pre Sean Payton) Russell Wilson in the 7th if I could beat the QB rush, so that weighed on my decision to take Jeudy in the 5th.
From my experience in startups, older running back value was going to be pushed down the board, so I was pretty thrilled to land the pair of Dalvin Cook and AJ Dillon in the 9th and 10th rounds.
Rookie picks were flying off the board, and given the volatility of them and where we are at in the pre draft process, I basically just ended up with the 2.10, 3.01, and 3.05
As awesome as it was to land Russ/Jeudy before the Sean Payton hire, it was equally unawesome to draft Brock Purdy 72 hours before his elbow exploded.
My only other notable late round picks were Khalil Herbert in the 11th and Greg Dulcich in the 12th.
XPCL Draft Recap – Hoenn:
Hoenn got off to a hot start, burning through a few rounds the first day. There were a couple early trades which really emphasized how critical the quarterback position is in superflex start-ups.
Arguably, the biggest early trade came from Philosiraptor, who contributes to the Multiple Firsts Dynasty Football YouTube channel. Be sure to check them out, sub, and like their content!
Originally drafting from the 1.07 spot, he worked his way into the 1.04 pick as well. His strategy?
I always try to build around the QB position in Superflex. This year, the ranks of top QB assets have swollen, with Hurts, Lawrence, and Fields all leveling up; meanwhile, the QB middle class has collapsed, thanks to a poor 2022 rookie class and the decline of Russ, Stafford, Ryan, Wentz, and Rodgers.Philosiraptor
So when I drew the 1.07 slot, I immediately asked myself, “Can I get up from 2.06 into the top 5 picks, and get 2 elite QB assets?”
Being able to make that happen, and coming away with a Herbert/Lawrence start, should leave me as a top-6 contender every year for the next 6 or 8 seasons.
I added some young WRs I love whose value should rise in the next year (Aiyuk, Jeudy, Dotson), as well as an abundance of draft capital (8 picks by the 4.03), giving me a young roster around my young QBs.
Meanwhile, FFDF – a contributor at The Undroppables (click the link then bookmark it!) – had a similar strategy based around early quarterback selections and future draft capital. Drafting from the turn at 1.12/2.01 can allow for a wonderful start, as evidenced by FFDF’s elation. Here’s his strategy:
The first startup of the 2023 offseason, and I get the 12th spot? How did I get so lucky to watch the draft fall to me and take advantage of the Third Round Reversal setting to set my draft strategy? So how did my first three picks go? I drafted Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, and Garrett Wilson. So happy to get a future Dynasty WR1, along with two great QBs, even with one coming off a significant injury.FFDF
But that isn’t even my favorite move of this draft. I was able to move my 6.12 for a 2024 First round draft pick (the new owner drafted Derrick Henry, whom I was never drafting), and on top of that, I did draft Trey Lance at 5.01 but later traded him for another 2024 first-round pick! So already locked down 25% of the 2024 first round, and the season hasn’t even started.
Follow me on Twitter and catch me at The Undroppables this off-season for all dynasty content and rankings.
Not everyone was so cheerful about their draft though…getting picked off time-and-time again doesn’t help. That’s what happened to bball798 who was posted at the turn on the other side.
Drafting from 1.01 is a unique experience, potentially made frustrating with a 3rd round reversal. He certainly made the most of it during the draft by absolutely dominating the 2023 draft capital. He was even able to sling a couple trades. Here’s the experience in his own words:
My draft was quite frustrating. I have never had the 1.01 in a startup before and after making the call on Allen over Mahomes, which I think is the best choice in a 4pt TD point per first down league, I got sniped by iidrew on literally every pick in the first ten rounds. Always going on my second or third choice wasn’t great, and several times I just liked the rookie pick value more than the available players. I think the strength of this draft is the depth from the late 1st through early third, so ending up with so many of those picks I thought was a good value play. That being said, looking back I am definitely too exposed to this class. I’ll be in a bad spot where I probably won’t compete, but won’t be bad enough for a high pick next year.bball798
The DeVonta trade was one I wasn’t terribly excited to make as I think Smitty is underrated, but the value of 1.09 plus 2 2nds and a 3rd felt like a solid deal.
All in all, picking from the 1.01 I think limited my ability to move around the draft board like I normally do, but there was an overall lack of trading in this startup compared to my last several, so perhaps I wouldn’t have been able to move around anyways.
Drafting just behind bball798 at 1.02 in SF effectively guarantees you either Mahomes or Allen, and one hell of a good start. While iidrew didn’t brag about his brutal and consistent sniping of bball798’s picks, he did lend a bit of insight into his starting strategy, and of one pick in particular.
Pick 2.11 – ’23 rookie draft pick 1.03.iidrew
This is a strategy/value pick. In every dynasty SF startup I always try to go QB/QB. I was pretty surprised here that this pick fell all the way here. This pick ensures that I have a chance at Young/Stroud. I project both to be top 12 QB options for the foreseeable future. Pairing one of them with Mahomes gives my team the foundation that I seek.
We got to see a number of different draft strategies implemented in Hoenn. Some are shooting for youth. A few took their shots on value picks. While a couple have really set themselves up nicely for an early run at the Hoenn championship, and making a go for the XPCL Tournament.
We’re just getting started! You can keep up with all the action through the XPCL official league twitter by giving us a follow, or through periodic articles posted here.
Also, we’ve got a number of league members who contribute on their own sites, YouTube channels, and through Twitter. We’ve linked to their content within the article, so be sure to check them out; bookmark, subscribe, follow, and like their content. There’s a lot of amazing content, and they’re working hard to continue providing the best fantasy football content on the internet.
Your typical know-nothing wannabe who never played American football growing up, Andrew grew up playing the REAL football, dreaming of being the next Ronaldo (the Brazilian one).
One fateful day in 1998, Andrew was introduced to one, Randy Moss, who would almost singlehandedly vault American football to the forefront of a young twelve-year-old’s flimsy attention span.
Twenty-some years later, Andrew, now a father, coach and rabid Tottenham supporter, still loves both footballs.
A fantasy football degenerate with an extreme love for the game. The only position Sam has ever played in any form of competitive football is armchair quarterback.
An affinity for football and watching games together was a part of growing up for him and his three brothers. 30 plus years as a Vikings fan has made him a glutton for punishment and a believer that he can do something his hometown team can’t, put together a championship roster.
Now 22 years into his fantasy football general manager career he is here to offer insight, advice, and the same hope for championships that he desperately clutches to for his Purple People Eaters.
That guy who wraps up the #1 seed by week 13, dominates the points scored column, and gets blown out by the #8 seed in the first round of playoffs…annually. That’s Ben.
He’s also the guy who constructs a trade calculator for fun, and builds a fantasy football website when he wants to share his thoughts with the world.
As a Vikings fan and a poor golfer, Ben lives in a perpetual state of frustration. In his fun-time he’s a husband and proud father of two.