By: Michael J Gavin (Twitter: @MjGavMan)
So it’s Week 16, Championship Week, but not for you, your team was riddled with injuries and the two sexy rookies you reached for only played on specials this year. Maybe you will have more fun in 7 or 8 months when you start all over again from scratch. Or…you could be in a Dynasty league rooting to draw the first pick in the upcoming rookie only draft, your guys will be back healthy next season and those rookies have a year of development under their belts. Perhaps you want to trade away one of those young guys, or that injured guy, maybe you want to acquire future picks, or unload this year’s picks because you think it’s a weak rookie class. Believe me, you want to be doing Dynasty, if you think standard redraft leagues are addictive, Dynasty becomes a way of life. It is all year round. Once you start you will probably even look down a little bit on your friends and family who only do redraft.
So since this is a Dynasty 101 piece, let’s start by going through the basics of what Dynasty League Fantasy Football is. It is basically a full keeper league. At the onset of a new league there will be a startup draft or auction, and that will be your team that you will run forever. After the startup, you can only change your roster through annual rookie drafts, trades and waivers. You do not turnover your roster each year.
The design of a Dynasty League can be incredibly varied. Standard scoring, PPR scoring, IDP, TE Premium, Superflex, Developmental (Devy) and just about anything you can think of can be represented in Dynasty. Standard and PPR scoring along with IDP should be pretty familiar to anyone that is thinking of getting involved in Dynasty. TE Premium is typically a scoring system that rewards TEs with and extra .5 per reception, Superflex lineups include the ability to start multiple QBs and Devy leagues not only draft NFL rookies, but draft college players as well that are not yet in the NFL. My advice is to stay simple. Dynasty is a large commitment for everyone, so it is not a place to experiment. If you have never done Superflex before, it may not make sense to start a Dynasty league that includes it. If you decide you don’t like it, you can’t just ditch it, as other teams have based their strategy on it.
The key to starting a strong and enduring league is a really quality group of committed owners and strong and specific bylaws. Nothing kills a Dynasty league like turnover. You don’t want one and done guys, you want someone that will commit to a rebuild when their team turns out to not be competitive. When we started our first Dynasty league, we got a core group of guys together. We all had respect for each other as fantasy players, then we each reached out to others from different leagues we have been in. We vetted every owner, asking that they had several years of experience and one or more championships, or at the very least multiple championship appearances, and a league was born.
If your potential owners are turned off by being asked about their “resumes,” find someone else, cause they just don’t get it. You need a core group of 2 or 3 owners to put together the scoring and settings and to write a really strong document to serve as the league’s constitution/bylaws. A strong document deals with everything from basic scoring settings to how the league would handle expansion, contraction, loss of an owner and even discipline (hopefully you don’t need it). Brainstorm on every controversy you have had over your years of playing and put it in. It is great to have a document to go to for everything, it really cuts down on drama. No matter how hard you try, you won’t capture everything, so it is important to have in your document how to deal with that as well. If you would like an example or a starting point, feel free to hit me up on Twitter and I would be happy to share my favorite document.
An example of a setting I feel strongly about is that Dynasty trades should always go through without any approvals. I am not a fan of other teams voting, or requiring commissioner approval. In Dynasty, much more so than other formats the teams trading can have varying needs, and therefore traditional “value” measurements are not always applicable. A win now team making a run has very different needs than a team looking to rebuild. Any obvious collusion can be reversed. These are the types of things you need to keep in mind when creating the bylaws for your league.
Typical Dynasty leagues consist of 12-16 teams. You will sometimes see smaller, but the larger leagues increase difficulty, cultivate the idea of building with lesser players since nobody should be loaded with rosters that big and you will tend to see more trade activity. Just as in redraft, scoring can be whatever you want it to be, but I would caution against too many random scoring rules, you don’t want goofy scoring rules deciding games. I like standard scoring, either PPR or non-PPR. In my various leagues I have different little tweaks, but it all tends to be based on standard. I’m assuming if you are looking to get started in Dynasty, that you have some familiarity with standard scoring, but if you have any questions, you can hit me up and I’m happy to clarify.
Some other key decisions will be around starting lineup requirements and roster limits. You can do anything you want here, but you just want to consider how it affects everything. The first thing I think every league should do is “Kick the Kicker.” Lose the position, its lame in redraft, let alone Dynasty. I personally feel the same about Team Def, but many leagues still use them. I personally feel that if you can’t draft one as a rookie, then it doesn’t belong in Dynasty, so you should either do IDP, or skip it, but to each their own. You will often see large rosters in Dynasty because it is a more enjoyable experience when people are building with young players through trades and the draft. If you don’t have anywhere to stash guys, they sit on waivers. I like to minimize the importance of waivers in my leagues. My favorite league has 9 starters from a 25 man roster with 2 IR slots. We expand it to 40 after the championship for trades and the rookie draft and then teams can pick up other fringe guys throughout the preseason but must cut down to 25 by week 1. Many leagues use a taxi squad to stash their rookies for a year or two, but once they are promoted to the active roster they cannot be put back on the taxi squad.
A typical startup draft would be to fill out your smaller roster number and would be done in a serpentine fashion, as is usually done in redraft. You can do your startup draft any time before the start of the NFL season, but you typically would want to do it ahead of preseason, you don’t want things like injuries to change how someone drafts in Dynasty. You can include rookies, or do a separate rookie draft, but I think it is a little less complicated to have the startup draft include all players. One key thing to remember once your first rookie draft does roll around after year one, you really should have a straight draft. No more serpentine, if you get the first pick, you have the first pick in every round.
Playoffs tend to work the same as redraft leagues, but where you need to put some thought is what happens with the non-playoff teams and how do you determine draft order for the following year’s rookie draft. Ultimately you want your most needy teams to get the best pick in the draft, but you need to work against tanking. Many leagues have a non-playoff bracket that the winner of gets the first pick. I would caution against this, because typically your strongest non-playoff team will win and get the first pick and they may have just had an injury or some bad luck. My favorite league uses a lottery system, where the bottom 4 teams all have a certain amount of ping pong balls based on things like worst record, lowest points, lowest potential points, etc. No system is perfect (ask the NBA), but some are better than others, most importantly you need to make it clear that out and out tanking, like not starting a lineup will not be tolerated.
As of the writing of this article, the standard, go-to site for hosting Dynasty is I’m not at all advertising for them, there are various sites you can use, but for Dynasty, you will find they have the most flexibility for running a long standing league. You can put in your special scoring tweaks and lineup requirements and It is easy to trade future draft picks out for several years. As much as you can do online to manage your league without having to manually track things the better for everyone involved.
Good luck with your Dynasty League and hit me up if you have any questions, or if I missed anything.
If ya ain’t doin Dynasty, ya just warmin up!