How to Play Dynasty Fantasy Football
What is a Dynasty League?
What is Dynasty Fantasy Football? A dynasty league gives Fantasy owners a much stronger feel of being a real-life owner or general manager. Unlike in redrafts or even keeper leagues, you retain all of the players on your roster in dynasty leagues. You can feel the impact of a tremendous move or grave mistake for years, just like the NFL teams we root for in real life. These leagues require much more strategy and dedication. Sticking with a bad team requires a lot more patience and perseverance. If you’re a serious Fantasy owner who becomes depressed at the end of each redraft league because you have to empty your roster of its abundant talent, dynasty leagues may be for you.
Dynasty Leagues vs. Keeper Leagues
Dynasty leagues take keeper leagues to the next level. In a dynasty, you keep your entire roster. In keeper leagues, based on the rules, you keep only a select few of your best or most valuable players. Good owners usually lament picking their keepers because they have to release many quality players back into the talent pool. With dynasty leagues, you won’t have that problem. Just keep them all, develop a young core and build a dynasty like a real NFL team. Watch your players go from promising rookies to elite playmakers. Dynasty leagues allow you to emotionally invest in players, although be careful to not covet your players simply because they are on your team. You should value talent and unrealized potential only! Take pride in your keen eye for young talent and say, “I saw his upside before anybody else did!” It really gives you a whole different perspective on Fantasy Football and NFL players, especially if you start learning about players in college or even high school!
Starting a “Franchise”
You can either take over an existing team or join a new league (which I’d advise if possible). If you take over a team, you never know what you’re going to get. Get in a new league and build your team from day one. A bad dynasty team can take years to turn around and takes an abundance of cunning and crafty moves. You can always create your own league too. It takes work but once you figure it out, it isn’t as overwhelming as it sounds. From scoring rules, waiver rules, scheduling the draft and collecting league dues, it’s a year-round league and year-round experience.
A dynasty team is a serious commitment. If you join a dynasty league, you should be prepared to manage the team indefinitely. At the same time, if you’re joining or creating a league, you want other owners who share the same interest and passion. The less turnover, the better. Things change, we all understand that, but it’s inconsiderate to join a dynasty league just to quit within a year. No one wants to be left scrambling for a replacement owner. It also takes away some of the luster of building rivalries and consistency.
Creating a Dynasty League
There are a number of things to consider when creating a dynasty league. Of course, you have the standard questions that all leagues have, including redrafts. How many teams should we have? What is the scoring system? How many players is each team required to start at each position? In general, most leagues consist of 10-12 teams, although you can really use any even number you like. Points-per-reception (PPR) leagues are very popular rather than standard, so it is probably your best bet for an agreeable scoring system. The offensive lineup I personally prefer includes one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end and one flex (RB/WR/TE). You can change the roster accordingly; multiple flexes are often utilized. There is also individual defensive players (IDP) rather than team defenses, which we will get into soon.
You also have dynasty-specific decisions to make regarding roster size. Each team should probably have at least 30 players on its roster, especially if it’s an IDP league. I prefer a 45-man roster. The deeper, the better.
Individual Defensive Players (IDP)
Dynasty leagues often times use IDPs. In general when using IDPs, a tackle-heavy point system in which big plays earn you big points is standard. Don’t forget that a sack can also count as a tackle or a tackle for a loss. Same thing goes for passes defended and interceptions. So, if you get carried away and make a sack worth seven points and a tackle for a loss worth four points, you can suddenly turn a sack into an 11-point play or more. After setting your scoring, consult what IDPs would have scored in the previous year. Striking the right balance is key. You typically don’t want to the top linebacker to score more than a quarterback, but you also don’t want to reduce a LB’s value so much that even a top option is easily replaceable.
Most IDP leagues give at least one spot each for a defensive lineman, a linebacker and a defensive back each. I enjoy a full defensive roster -- three D-linemen, four linebackers and four DBs. You can even separate defensive ends from defensive tackles and cornerbacks from safeties if you’re really intense. I enjoy being able to roster more linebackers than defensive linemen simply because LB is a deeper position, and those players score more points. But it all depends on your preference.
IDP is probably one of the most fluid systems in Fantasy Football. Make sure you understand your league’s football knowledge before instituting such a setting.
Most dynasty leagues employ a standard waiver wire system just like any other league. However, the most intriguing free agency system is blind bidding. When using a blind-bidding system, each owner is allotted a set amount of money at the beginning of the season. Each week, you can bid on players without anybody else having knowledge of your bid until the players are added to the rosters of the highest bidders. This is for more advanced dynasty owners; it’s probably best not to jump right into a 45-man roster with full IDP requirements and a blind-bidding system. Also, blind bidding is not an option on many sites.
A salary cap puts a whole other twist on things and gives you even more of a GM experience. This is only for the most dedicated dynasty owners. It is just another feature that makes the whole process more realistic and difficult. Again, not all sites offer this option.
It is very important to have all draft rules set prior to the league’s startup draft since the owners are building teams with the long-term future in mind. You can’t have teams draft and make trades all year based on the current rules and then just change the standards. That’s the kind of thing that brings contention into a league and causes it to fall apart (I know from experience). Typically, you have a date set for when each owner must declare their keepers. The draft is held not long after the NFL Draft. You can hold a draft of all available players or split up your rookie and free agent drafts. However, you should always have the amount of rounds and draft’s order planned in advance. Free agency is usually closed until the end of the preseason. However, that is optional. You can hold a live draft (which is the most fun), a standard online draft or a slow draft. A slow draft can allow owners between one and 24 hours to make their selection. The viability of such a draft depends on your league members, their schedules and location.
Trades are the greatest thing about dynasty leagues. They keep the Fantasy season going for 12 months. You can trade all offseason, including draft picks! It all depends on what you value and how you want to build your team. Do you want proven vets or do you want to go young and build through the draft? That’s the beauty of a dynasty league; it’s all about preference. For in-season trades, there is one very important decision you need to make: Are you competing for a title this year or are you rebuilding? If you are in the title hunt, you may trade a young prospect for a seasoned vet. On the other hand, if your team is down and out, you can move a talented but older player for an abundance of young talent. Trades are much more prevalent in dynasty leagues and are key to building your franchise. Just beware that the effects of any move you make won’t disappear at season’s end. A really bad trade can impact your team for a decade.